Sunday, July 16, 2017 0 comments

Homo Deus


In the era of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc, I seriously feel that the attention span of people has gone down. People are highly addicted to their virtual environments and have little time for real face to face conversations or doing simple things which do not involve cameras or mobile phones.

I believe we should make an active effort to detoxify ourselves or this is only going to end badly. Most people would not even prefer to read detailed articles on blogs, and can seldom go beyond a few paragraphs. We all need instant gratification, immediate pleasure. Meaningful relationships are giving way to the Hook Up culture. Even when people go out to travel, they are more focussed on taking selfies and uploading pictures than living in the moment.

Most of the youngsters constantly crib about their work life and their bosses, but very few of them actually do anything about it. We really do not know what is the kind of future we are heading towards. I would recommend anyone who likes to read, to get hold of the two masterpiece novels written by Yuval Harari, ‘Sapiens’ and ‘Homo Deus’, to get a broader perspective on life and human beings in particular.


Monday, February 27, 2017 0 comments

I am a Feminist, and why you should be one too


Okay, to be honest, this post is not about Describing or explaining Feminism, or about bashing pseudo feminists. Lot of people have already done both in the past. I am simply trying to put into words the reason for me being a feminist. Do note that I shall mainly be focussing on the Indian context only, as I have little or no experience of Feminism views outside the country.

In the past few years, Feminism as a principle has been bashed almost unequivocally throughout the country. By media, journalists, politicians, social activists, college students, working professionals, the common man, and so on. It has almost become a fad of sorts- If you are a feminist, you should be treated akin a criminal. How dare you even think of supporting women, who have just no other work than to surpass men and disparage their efforts in every possible way. How can you be so blinded by their hogwash? Can’t you see they are just trying to dominate, and make lives miserable for men? Girls are asking men to stand up for a reserved seat in a bus or a train. That is just beyond criminal. How can we think of reserving seats for them in the Parliament or in top Business schools such as IIMs? How can women claim to be equal to men and then ask for reservation? Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy? How can a girl log onto a dating app as Tinder and claim she does not want to ‘Hook up’. Isn’t that criminal?

I think you get the idea. Female bashing has become the new trend. Shortly after the New Year incident in Bangalore (Sexual Harassment of hundreds of women), a new Hash Tag was born- #NotAllMen. Of course the men had to stand up for this shocking incident. By proudly proclaiming that Not all men were rapists or molesters. That there are many good men like ‘them’ in the world as well. How dare the women say that all men are criminals (its unsure who and where said that though). More and more men were coming forward and bravely posting their comments on Social Media, as to remind everyone(especially women) that Not all men were bad, not all men were sexually harassing others. That is such a noble thing to do, isn’t it? [Note- Heavy Usage of Sarcasm, and if you could not get it, then bless you]

A few days ago, I read a comment on Quora [A Popular website on writing Questions and Answers or General topics] in which a girl had mentioned that she is Proud not to be a Feminist, as she believes Males should get equal rights as Women. Reading that statement actually sent me into a state of shock. Here is the Dictionary Meaning of Feminism, just to get it clear:-

-‘The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’- Webster
-‘The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’- Oxford
-‘Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women.’- Wikipedia

If you go through any of the above meanings, it becomes apparent that nowhere Feminism endorses the denigration of rights for men. It is really unfortunate that many people, even now, feel that feminists try to belittle men and criticise them for anything and everything. Most of these people have not read about the history and the past, where women have struggled for even basic rights. They did not have the right to vote, the right to live an independent life, or even the freedom to marry someone of their own choice,or to have legal and social equality. I would recommend everyone to read about the three different waves of Feminism, and more on the History of the past few hundred years before jumping to any conclusion.

I first heard of the term when I was in school, maybe in Standard 9 or 10. One of my schoolmates told me that he considered himself to be a ‘Feminist.’ He tried to explain to me what it was, but at that time, I could not really comprehend what it was all about. But what I did notice is that lot of males shy away from using the term to describe themselves, even if they believe in equal rights for men and women. Some of them think the term ‘feminist’ is too effeminate. It will make them look unmanly if they start calling themselves a Feminist. Others think that one can only be a Feminist, if he or she attends Protests or Demonstrations holding Placards and Charts advocating women rights, shouting at the top of their voices. Hence it is highly probable that if you ask a person, especially a male, if he is a feminist, he will answer in the negative. Fortunately, over a period of time, I learnt that gender discrimination is wrong. Girls have just as much of a right to education and a decent living as boys do. It is high time that men learnt to keep their (gender) superiority complex in check.

Lot of men write that Women abuse lot of laws to their advantage. A notable example being the infamous Sec 498A in the Indian Penal Code, which has been misused by several women to imprison their husbands or his relatives, on the pretext of harassment, and to get hold of his property/money. Or maybe the law on Adultery (Sec 497), which is currently biased in favour of women. While it may be definitely true that women might have used the law to their advantage, but the fact is that Both men and women use the law to their advantage. It would be extremely unwise to focus on one aspect and ignore the other. If there are laws which (presumably) favour women, then there are many laws which favour men too. We still do not have a concrete stand on Marital Rape or even Domestic Abuse, which is prevalent throughout the country, and almost all the victims being women. The majority of victims of sexual harassment continue to be women, and there appears to be little improvement in this regard. We continue to bash the victim with an archaic mindset(blaming her clothing, her upbringing, her nature and everything else except for blaming the criminal). This is a typical drawback of a highly Patriarchal society such as India.

Hence the call of the day, is that we need more Feminists. We need them to come forward and promote the cause of Equality, while supporting social, judicial, economical and legal rights for women. And we definitely do NOT need more men reminding us that they have never harassed a girl and how proud they are of themselves for doing so(almost as if it is an achievement- ‘not to molest’). If you are a man, I would just ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a woman for just a few minutes. You might perhaps understand, that women are judged every single day. For their looks, for their behavior, for their basic actions. We live in a society where women have to be on their toes throughout, in fear of being attacked or harassed(physical, mental, emotional, anything).

Let us come forward and do our best to make our society a better place for women. There is lots to be done.

Saturday, December 31, 2016 0 comments

2016 in Remembrance


So i sit at my laptop, on New Years eve, all alone in my room, with a glass of Apple Juice and a jar of Cheeslings in hand, I wonder-'How have things gone so far.' And yet another year comes to a close, with more insights. Let us think about the year that went by, and what did it bring about for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 0 comments

Metal Gear Solid the Phantom Pain: Game Review



Okay, I recently finished Metal Gear Solid 5, the Phantom Pain, and I decided I would write a Game Review for the same.


I shall be referring to the game as MGS5 for the remainder of this blog post. I would be pleased to say that this game definitely lives up to the Hideo Kojima Masterpiece of a Gaming series. Let me divide it into the following categories:-

i) Graphics:
Undoubtedly one of the major highlights of this game are its mind-blowing graphics. You will need to play it yourself to believe it. Whether going down the valleys of Afghanistan or the Grasslands of Africa, you can almost feel yourself to be present at the surreal locations. The character designs have been done pretty well as well.

ii) Gameplay:
This is probably the best part of the game. The gameplay includes improved controls, while at the same time keeping it simple. You have a wide arrays of weapons and items to choose from. You also need to save civilians and other people during a multiple array of missions. You have Buddies to support you, and you can call upon Helicopter support, Bombardments, and so on. For travel, you can use Horses, Jeeps, Trucks, and what not. As you gain experience, you can build upon more sophisticated equipment and weapons. Though one negative point is that some of the missions seem repetitive with almost similar objectives. Maybe instead of having 50 missions, they could have restricted it to 25, so that the repetitive factor would go.

iii) Story:
This has always been the USP of all MGS games, and once again the story does not disappoint. Set in the early 1980s, this game is a Prequel to the current MGS universe, and features Big Boss, the original Snake. Without giving away any spoilers, I would like to say that the story definitely captivates you and also explains a lot of things on past events which ultimately ended up shaping the future.

iv) Replay Value:
You can definitely replay some of the missions at harder settings, and there are around 150 side missions to choose from. For sure, you will not end up getting bored. I devoted a good 35+ hours to this game, without even completing majority of the side missions.

Overall, MGS5 is definitely recommended to all gaming fans and a Must for all MGS lovers. Just get it and deep dive into the Universe which gave us Foxhound, Outer Havens and Diamond Dogs.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Until next time, adios.

Monday, November 21, 2016 0 comments

The Himachal Solo Trip


So here goes. My first solo trip. Destination- Himachal Pradesh. I shall not be elaborating much on the places, but only covering the basics.

There are multiple ways to reach Himachal of course. I took a flight to Chandigarh, from Mumbai, and then took a train till Kalka. From Kalka, I took the Toy Train to Shimla, which takes around five hours in all. It was a pleasant ride, on the hills. Of course, if you go by road, it will be faster, but I wanted to try the train ride, and it did not disappoint. There were several foreigner tourists in my coach, mostly middle aged or seniors. I had a nice conversation with an elderly couple, who were from London, and visiting India for the first time. They had taken a tour package for a duration of three weeks and would be covering the major parts of North India, such as Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, etc. Here is a shot taken from the toy train:


I reached Shimla by early evening, close to 5:30 pm. My hotel was near the station and I decided to walk down. After getting some rest, I went for a walk on the famous Mall Road. It was a bit chilly at night, and I had not brought any warm clothes with me. But by the time I reached Mall road, it was already late and most of the shops were closed. I still had a good leisurely walk and returned to the hotel.

The next day, I booked a cab and did a Shimla tour. I covered some common tourist spots, such as the Jakhoo temple(devoted to Lord Hanuman), which had lot of monkeys roaming around, and Kufri, which is famous for adventure sports and Horse Rides. I tried my hand at few of the mini sports, including a Reverse Bungee jump. Picture below.


After Kufri, I visited the Viceregal Lodge, which is a typical portray of British Architecture. The gardens outside are well maintained. They charge you an entry ticket of Rs. 20 for visiting the garden and outside area, and Rs. 40 for a guided tour inside. Unfortunately the guided tour would only be done after 2 pm, so I took the garden pass and roamed around the beautiful area. Co-incidentally I met the British couple from my train ride over here as well.

The final destination in Shimla for me, would be the Army Museum. Amazing place and very well maintained. There is a Golf Ground nearby as well. Very scenic and picturesque.


I reached my hotel by late afternoon, and ventured towards Mall Road again, this time a bit early.I bought a jacket, as I was actually freezing by now, and walked for some 2-3 kms, before returning to my hotel. This was the end of the Shimla tour, and I took a bus to Kullu the next morning.

The bus ride to Kullu took more than eight hours. The roads are bumpy, but the view is really good. You can see the mountains, and later the river Beas flowing by. It is actually a sight to behold.


I reached the hotel by late evening. I decided to visit Manikaran and Kasol the next day and then move towards Manali, which is around 40 kms from Kullu. Unfortunately I had a minor accident that night, as I slipped and fell into a drain, injuring my right leg. I went to a Pharmacy shop and got the leg bandaged. Nevertheless, that did not dampen my spirit, and I was looking ahead for the things to come.

So next day I took a taxi to Manikaran. Manikaran is famous for its hot water springs. It has a Gurudwara and a Ram Temple. It is a good place for sight seeing. On the way to Manikaran, you pass through Kasol, which is actually a small town located on the valley. It has got the rather infamous name of being a Doper’s Paradise. From there, I went straight to Manali. I ended my day with a visit to the Hidimba Temple, and finally called it a day at my hotel.

The next day was devoted to roaming around Manali. I covered Solang Valley, which is famous for adventure sports when it snows. However, at the time when I visited, only Para-gliding was one. With my bum leg, I could not have done it. So I just chose to take a Cable Car ride. It reminded me of my trip to Mt.Titlis in Switzerland. The view was pretty good, and I took some good pictures before coming back down. Rohtang pass is another area which you can visit from Manali, but the Hotel person told me it was 50 kms away and not really worth going at, unless it snows. So i decided to skip the same, and head over to a place called Naggar, where you had a Castle(where some shooting of Bollywood films such as Jab We Met has taken place) and an Russian Art Museum, which took some amount of climbing up. Finally, we took a visit to the Manali clubhouse (Nothing much to do here but check out on some scenary and buy some gifts) and to the Mall Road, which is similar (but not as comprehensive) to the one in Shimla. There was a shooting of some Indian tv serial going on(I did not recognise the cast). Finally, headed back to the hotel. I had a night bus to catch for Dharamshala.

Unfortunately, this was the worst part of my journey. I wrongly estimated my arrival time at Dharamshala to be 6:30 am, whereas I actually reached at 4 am. Throughout the bumpy ride, I stayed awake, and started feeling nauseated. Ultimately, I puked in the bus. It was a horrible ride to say the least, and here I was, dropped at 4 am at a deserted place somewhere in Dharamshala. Somehow I managed to locate a taxi, and asked him to drop me to my guesthouse, which was at Mcleodgunj. I did an early check in and just crashed.

I woke up at 10 am, and decided to walk down to the Buddhist Temple, which is also the residence of the Dalai Lama. There were lot of monks of all age groups walking down the streets. It was a serene and resplendent sight to behold. Obviously there were lot of tourists there too, including foreigners, some of whom were practicing meditation on the temple grounds. After roaming around for some time I decided to walk back to the guesthouse. I inquired about a place which had waterfalls, named Bhagsu. So I decided to walk down there. It was a total distance of around 4 to 5 kms from my guesthouse, but made pleasant by some of the scenery nearby. You need to climb the steps for around half an hour to reach the top and get a good view of the waterfall. However it is not recommended to step into the water, as it can get risky. There have been cases of people getting drowned or thrown down.

I called it a day after coming back to the hotel. The next day was reserved for the Triund trek, which will take the better part of the day. I started at around 9:30 am and it took me roughly three and a half hours to reach the peak. I must admit it was quite a pleasant trek, and almost anybody can attempt it. I spoke to few people on the way, and accompanied a couple to the top. There were lot of foreigners too, and all of them were wishing us Happy Diwali. All in all, I would definitely recommend this trek, even to amateurs or newbies. I was back on the base by around 4 pm. Post which I took a taxi to the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala. It was a well maintained stadium and after clicking few pictures i returned to my guesthouse. I took a bus to Chandigarh the next day. Had a short detour to the newly built Japanese Garden before heading back to Mumbai.

So there it ended, my first solo trip in Himachal. I really had a good time, and would hopefully return there again someday. In case you have any comments or questions do feel free to reach out to me. Until then, adios.

Thursday, November 3, 2016 0 comments

My First Ever Solo Trip- Some Tips & Tricks


Himachal Solo Trip- October 16

So here goes. My first ever Solo trip. And what an adventure it has been. I will be writing about some of the places which I visited, in Himachal Pradesh, which is in the north part of India. Before I begin writing about my trip, however, I suppose I could share some information for those people who are also looking to go on Solo Trips. For the expert traveler, you can kindly skip the next few paragraphs.

First of all, even though you might be going alone, it is advisable to keep few people, maybe in your family or friends about your location, in case of any emergency. This is even more important if you are staying alone, in hotels or guest houses, and not at a place of a friend or acquaintance. These are some of the things I did, before embarking on my trip.

Packed Light, as I knew I would be doing a lot of walking. Honestly, carrying an insane amount of luggage with you makes no sense whatever. Pack light, travel light. Will save you lots of trouble.

Carry a medicine and/or first aid bag with you. This is essential, you do need to carry basic medicines with you. Plus, I was going on a mountainous region, so I also carried some anti-vomiting tablets. And I make it a habit to carry some basic gel, band-aids and stuff. At a time of need, the pharmacy shop may be far away from you. So be prepared.

Made an itinerary, based on my budget, for roughly a week’s duration. Did all the bookings online, and well in advance. This saves a lot of hassle later on. The two important things are travel and lodging. I even booked buses to travel within Himachal, through redbus.in (a pretty handy site). Some of the other websites used to search for accommodations are-
www.trivago.in
www.cleartrip.in
www.booking.com
www.stayzilla.com

And others. Based on my budget, and the hotel ratings, I booked the hotels in all of the locations where I would be staying. Most of the hotels will not charge anything during the booking. You can pay when you check out. Make sure you read the other traveler reviews of the hotel to avoid any last minute bad experiences. Of course, depending on your preference, you might want to stay at dormitories, couch-surf, or look at guest-houses. I, personally prefer hotels, even though they are expensive, as they are safer, and offer more comfort. It’ s of course a personal choice.

Keep some loose cash with you, preferably in alternate locations (bags, shirt pocket, etc) in case you need it during an emergency. Also, some of the places where I visited did not accept debit/credit cards. So it is essential to keep cash. Do remember that unlike in metro cities, ATM’s are not very frequent. You might have to travel a bit to reach a working ATM.

Make a list of the places which you want to visit. Remember not to over-stuff too much of activities in one day. You might not be able to cover everything. Just because you are on vacation, does not mean you need to stress out. Keep some free time in between. Also, it would pay to have a basic look at Google Maps and get an idea of the location where you are traveling. For example it might take 8 hours to travel from Manali to Dharamshala by road. We need to factor all of this in our vacation.

Keep a photocopy of your tickets and necessary documents ready. You might need it at any time.

Also do not forget, to carry at least one Government Id proof with you. This is mandatory for checking into any hotel.

Rest, use your common sense and bring whatever item you would prefer. Though remember, not to overstuff.

Always remember to be alert. You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of your belongings. On a solo trip, you are alone. Do not get too relaxed, and get your stuff stolen in the process. Do not venture off alone in any deserted area, especially at night, if you are unsure about the location. It is also advisable not to carry extremely valuable stuff with you.

At the end of it, have fun. That’s what you are on a vacation for, right. Go discover yourself, learn to know your strengths and weaknesses better, and grow as a person.

Before I start writing about my trip, I would like to thank my good friend, Divya Gonnabathula, for telling me about all the places I should cover in Himachal, and sharing some good information. For those who would like to read about her experiences, this is her blog link:-

http://divyasojourns.blogspot.in/

Stay tuned for the next post on the Himachal Adventure.


Sunday, May 29, 2016 0 comments

Life at 27


The following answer was written by me, originally in Quora. I thought I would share it here as well.

Here's the link to the original answer

Question- How is life at Age 27 in India?

I have read most of the answers in this thread, and I can relate to a lot of them. For me personally, life is a bit confusing. There are good parts and there are not so good parts. Lets try to put it into bullet points(too much of MBA stuff again):

* You realize the value and worth of true friends, especially when you have very few of them by your side

* There are times when you wish to meet up with someone, but you are left all on your own(not necessarily a bad thing)

* More often than not, your job tends to take a toll on you, you have arguments with your boss, with your colleagues, and that leaves a bitter taste even after you go back home. As you rise up the corporate ladder, you do tend to see the ugly side of things

* If you are staying away from your family, you realize that you can never take things for granted. You do learn to manage things independently, but you also realize the importance and value of a family.

* If you have roommates, again it can go both ways. If you connect, then there is nothing like going for group events, watching theatre plays/movies/house parties, etc. But if you start having arguments, things can take an ugly turn

* If you stay alone, you might start questioning a lot of things. About life, relationships, values, work, money, pleasure, spiritualism, etc

* If you are in a relationship, at least you have a support. You can share both your pleasures and your pain with your partner

* You realize the value of money. No matter how much someone might say money doesn’t matter, it does. You should learn to invest and to save. Wasting money on useless activities is a sin(According to me)

* Learn to manage your finances, and invest into health stuff, such as books, physical activities, etc(linked to the previous point)
* Often, you might tend to go into depression. Especially if you have a hectic job, with little time for yourself, or your family/friends. Make sure you do manage a work life balance, as far as possible

* Most corporate jobs suck. Period. No matter how high you go, there will be lot of aspects of your job that you will not like. There will be a lot of colleagues you will not be able to get along with. Learn to accept it. Its part of life.

* Occasionally, you might start questioning the purpose of life. The truth is that life has no meaning. Its entirely what you make out of it. There is no hidden truth. Simple. Learn not to complicate things(saying out of experience)

* Value your relationships and the people around you. Ultimately, it is them who will come to your need, when you are in a crisis.
* You will learn to handle multiple responsibilities, and in a better way.

* You will often encounter people with high egos. Try not to get into a fight with them. Understanding the human mindset is essential for a good living. Arguments and fights rarely help anyone.

* You will often be tempted to eat junk food, and indulge in binge drinking to ward off the stress. Try to avoid this as far as possible.
* Travel as much as you can. It opens the mind to new experiences and culture.

* Do not hesitate to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. It will reward you in the long run. Delaying instant gratification also helps.

* In the end, try not to take life too seriously. At the end of it, we are just a part of an average planet in an average solar system, with an average sized sun, in a remote corner of the Milky way galaxy, which itself is part of billions of galaxies in our vast Universe. Take things with a pinch of salt.

Ultimately, this post turned out to be more of an advice thing, than specifying how life is at 27. Still, am glad I wrote it.


 
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