सर्द से लम्हे…

जब रेत यादों से उड़ी,
ख्वाब सब ही बेवजह लगने लगे
और काँच के ये आईने
अब आँखों में चुभने लगे

तू भी यून बदलता रहा
जैसे वक़्त निकलता गया
तेरे पीछे-पीछे मैं भी
आँखें बंद करके चलता रहा

Winter's Sorrow — teapalm

उदासी भारी यादें सभी, उस जगह पे बिखरेंगी
जिस लम्हे में मिलेंगे हम, देख लेना
हर दर्द भी तो टूटेगा, हर तड़प भी पिघलेगी
जिस लम्हे में मिलेंगे हम, तुम देखना

हाथों से मेरे इस पल
क्यूँ ये लम्हे निकल चले हैं?
आखों में मेरी क्यूँ
सब यादें सिमट गयी हैं?

मेरी साँस बह तो रही थी ठीक से
जो तूने लम्हे चुरा लिए
तो गुज़र ना सकी तेरे नज़दीक से
दर्द गुज़रता रहा सीने से, दिल भी निकल सा गया सीने से
चुभती रही तेरी यादें, जैसे काँच के टुकड़े बारीक से

Raining-wallpaper-cool-whatsapp-status-024

Picture courtesy: Pinterest

A Lot Is Wrong With The Citizenship Amendment Bill

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) seems to have taken the country by storm. The Bill hasn’t been received well by the minorities. Many believe the Bill is ‘undemocratic’ and aims to hamper the nation’s integrity.

People believe that the country is fast turning into a majoritarian state (much like the Sinhala-led Sri Lanka). Recently, Assaduddin Owaisi, the leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), tore a copy of the Bill in the Lok Sabha. The AIMIM chief believes that the Bill will divide the country into countless fragments.

The CAB hasn’t been well received by the minority communities because it violates the constitution.

Here is how the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) violates the Indian Constitution:

First and foremost, the Bill violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality to people (Indians and foreigners). Categorising people along religious lines violates Article 14 of the constitution.

Next, the classification of people along religious lines is unjust. Classifying people based on religion is against the idea of secularism, unless the govt. wants to turn the country into a radical Hindu state.

India is a secular state, and the same has also been mentioned in the Preamble. The Preamble is the guiding light that helps interpret the constitution.

Image result for cab

Furthermore, the Bill also ends up violating the Assam Accord of 1985 by granting citizenship to illegal immigrants (on the basis of religion) who came here before December 31, 2014. The CAB clearly violates the Assam Accord, which says that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh (those who came after March 25, 1971) will be deported.

The CAB will also nullify the impact of the National Register of Citizen (NRC) in the state of Assam if people, who were left out of the final list, are given citizenship through the CAB.

In recent times, the Election Commission and the Assam Border Police have labelled many as illegal immigrants (many of them happen to be Hindus). The govt has proposed to drop all of the charges against the Hindus, which means only Muslims will be deemed as ‘foreigners’ by the law. Earlier, the contracts of those classified as ‘foreigners’ were terminated by the BJP. Now, we’ll have only Muslims standing before the Tribunals, which will make the exercise even more unjust and discriminatory. 

The curious case of the Lankan Tamils

The problem doesn’t end here. More than 2.5 million Lankan Tamils have been excluded from the list. Why isn’t the govt paying attention? The Lankan have witnessed some of the bloodiest struggles in the history of mankind. They ought to be included in the CAB if it is a genuine attempt to grant citizenship to the Hindus.

Culturally, the Tamils in Sri Lanka have a lot in common with the Tamils in India (The language and diction might differ a bit). Most importantly, Indian Tamils will be more than happy to welcome their long-lost brothers from the island nation, then why has the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ denied citizenship to the Hindus in Sri Lanka? And, why is nobody questioning this? Recently, Tamil actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan questioned the govt’s intentions after the Lankan Tamils were not included in the CAB. 

Possible reasons

Tamils aren’t considered a vote bank by the Bhartiya Janata Party. They account for little in BJP’s Hindu Rashtra because a majority of them do not speak Hindi. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is not a Muslim-majority country wherein the Hindus are being suppressed. As long as Muslims don’t come into the picture, the issue does not make it to the BJP’s list of priorities.

To draw the curtains

Simply put, the Bill isn’t a symbol of BJP’s love for the Hindu population residing in the neighbourhood. It is a tool that has been meticulously designed to pin-point the Muslims. The CAB seeks to achieve what the NRC could not. It seeks to disintegrate the country by alienating the Muslims. 

The Knight Before Christmas Sets The Tone For The Winter Festivities

Image result for the knight before christmas

December’s here. Yes, Christmas is around the corner, which means we will get to see some lighthearted comedy films. Also, most of us have started loving title puns. ‘Falling Inn Love’ happens to be a prime example.

Now, we have The Knight Before Christmas, a film that features a Knight who’s on a quest that needs to be completed by midnight on Christmas eve. Well, if you are tired of watching those slam-bang action flicks and want to watch something lighthearted, then The Knight Before Christmas just has to there on your list. Let us take a closer look at the film.

A brief overview

The Knight Before Christmas follows Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse), a 14th century Knight who gets transported to 2019 from 1334 as part of a quest to transform into a ‘true knight.’ Here, he gets to meet Brooke Winters (Vanessa Hudgins), a cynical teacher who doesn’t believe in love. According to her, knights in shining armour do not exist. The rest of the story deals with Sir Cole’s adventures in the modern world. 

Image result for the knight before christmas

An engaging yet simple plot

The plotline is quite simple– there’s a lovely young lady who doesn’t believe in love. Fifteen minutes into the film, she bumps into Sir Cole, a handsome knight. In all fairness, the story has nothing new to offer. It has all the elements of a classic children’s’ fairytale. The predictability of the plot does leads to an element of monotony (at times). Watch it, and you’ll be able to predict just everything.

Performances

Josh Waterhouse is the star of this medieval rom-com. He looks perfect in that shining armour of his. Girls are bound to go ‘aww’ over his ‘chocolate boy’ looks while watching the film. He nails his part to perfection.

Let us discuss Sir Cole in detail. He is our knight in shining armour. His name sounds continually like Sir Cool (read: circle) as the other actors mouth it. He comes from Norwich (1334) and lets us know that he was knighted by King Edward III’ six years ago.’ Cole says that he hasn’t had the opportunity to see his parents since he was sent away to be a squire while sympathizing with Brooke over the loss of her parents. This guy can bring down a Christmas tree with a single stroke of an axe. Also, he loves chocolate mead.

Image result for the knight before christmas

Vanessa Hudgins plays Brooke Winters ( that surname sounds interesting). Less than five minutes into the film, she says, “We all grow up fantasizing about being a princess, and finding true love with a knight in shining armour and living happily ever after, but the thing is, that’s all it is. A fantasy.” Boy, and I thought I was disillusioned.

Hudgins hasn’t been provided with much material to work with despite being the film’s producer, but looks quite believable. Her dialogue delivery sounds quite convincing, and she ends up breezing through her role with ease.

What works

The Knight Before Christmas is your rudimentary rom-com flick. If you wish to enjoy the film, then keep your brains aside. If you happen to search for logic in just about everything that you come across, then don’t watch it. Moving on, the film has a much broader (and moving) message to convey. The film makes us realize how fortunate we are. It motivates and pushes us to lend a helping hand to those who aren’t as fortunate.

Image result for the knight before christmas

What might not work

Do keep your expectations in check if and when you are planning to watch the film.

The verdict:

The Knight Before Christmas is your lighthearted rom-com that makes for a decent one-time watch. It’s one of those gushy-mushy films that get you in the mood for Christmas.

Rating: 3/5

The toothbrush story…

The last time I experienced a severe toothache
I was 16 years old
I had eaten shit loads of chocolate cake
And drank cola
Boy, it was too cold

Mornings were tough
Toothbrushes were rough
Life was a rush (it still is)
We made our way to school
Something without bath and brush

Brushing teeth was boring
But the toothpaste was not
One fine day, I ate an entire tube
In the act, I was caught

Brushing teeth was mundane
It was a pain
I would say to my mom:’brushing teeth isn’t cool’
She would say: ‘You’re a pretty big fool’ XD

Now that I am a grown up
I know that brushing teeth is important
While going out on a vacation
I always keep a toothbrush, a mouthwash, and a drinking cup

Colas and cakes are guilty pleasures
They’re priceless, just like treasure
But brushing teeth is still a boring exercise (very much)
But skipping it comes with a heavy price

 

 

 

Fatal Mist…

Sit in a closed room, close your eyes and imagine this: Salman Khan pulling a pack of Marlboro cigarettes out of his pocket and smoking a few of them before going all guns blazing against the bad guys. After that, think of Ranbir Kapoor smoking a cigarette while reliving the fond memories he spent with his beloved.

Now, think of a man sitting in a dark room. He is too weak to move. Imagine him smoking a pipe and coughing continuously. After that, imagine him lying still on his death-bed, vomiting blood. He’s dying a slow and painful death because of lung cancer. Does that sound ‘cool’?

Every day after having lunch, I have this habit of taking a stroll right outside the office area. It happens to be a great way of keeping yourself up and running. The moment I step outside the office, at least 10-15 people can be seen gossiping and smoking cigarettes with filters lying scattered all over the place.

There’s a young lady I used to work with. Back in 2016, she was in her late 20’s. I must confess I haven’t seen a writer as good as her. One fine day, while attending a client call, I saw her carrying a lighter. She held it firmly in her right hand and was on her way to the smoking zone (just outside the office). The very sight of her making her way to the smoking zone made my heart sink in an ocean of gloom. That’s because I had a crush on her. XD

I followed her while she was making her way to the smoking area. She had one cigarette, which she was sharing with one of her female colleagues. She took a few puffs and passed it to her colleague. I stood there motionless as I saw them smoking and giggling.

I wish I could barge into the smoking area and snatch that cigarette from her. I wanted to tell her that smoke wasn’t the only thing that was being blown away by her. Quite frankly, I didn’t utter a word, but the sight of those giggling faces kept flying through my mind for the rest of the day. Take a minute and look around yourself. You’ll see a lot of people smoking around us. From colleagues to friends to strangers outside Metro Stations, the list is never-ending.

A lot of people hesitate to admit that they smoke. Questions about smoking are often swept under the carpet. Some people might even go on to bully you, saying: ‘Man, grow up’ and ‘You haven’t lived your life’. Now, would someone be kind enough to tell me how on earth is smoking associated with growing up?

Smoking kills nearly eight million people globally. (That’s a huge number). College goers and young working professionals are falling prey to this menace. Earlier, cigarettes were cheaper, and people could light a cigarette almost anywhere. Cigarette manufacturers used to sponsor charity events, discussions and seminars. However, in those days, access to information was pretty much limited, and people weren’t ‘aware’ of the health risks associated with excessive tobacco use.

Today, the cost of cigarettes has skyrocketed, and people can no longer smoke as openly as they once could. Smoking is banned in public places. Furthermore, a warning sign pops up whenever a person lights a cigarette on the big screen.

Why do people smoke?

A common ‘reason’ they give is: ‘Zindagi mein Bahot tanaav hai’ (My life’s stressed-out). I quickly follow it up with another question: Would it fade away after you’ve smoked? What follows my question is indomitable silence.

As individuals, all of us need to decide how we want to live our lives. People need to understand that the real face of smoking isn’t glamorous, and neither is it cool. The real face of smoking is covered with misery and disease. It is a disease that intensifies every time you light a cigarette.

Limerence? Not Quite…

A tale of trembling hearts
With words erupting like a volcano
Impudence isn’t there, just fragility of thoughts
I spend hours attempting to join the dots.

Can’t find words, they just erode
When you stare at me, with eyes heavy and broad
Half full or half empty, I don’t know
Are you hiding something similar beneath those eyelids?
Let me know

The moments we’ve spent together,
are both the serendipitous memory
As well as a perpetual sorrow
They were a harbinger of spring to this day
But might soon turn into a steady drizzle by tomorrow

It ain’t fragile, it never was
Neither is my love a gimmick
In fact, my love has reached a point
Where both you and I are synonymic

All my words are lying before me
Like dead weights
Soft sounds emerge from my lips
But perish before reaching your ears
Lips begin to ache
And all that remains at hand is a multitude of snowflakes…

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

Of fake news, WhatsApp universities, and everything in between…

It is all-pervasive. It is growing at a rate of knots. It’s an indomitable force. Wonder what I am talking about? It’s WhatsApp.

The online messaging app has become so popular that it doesn’t need any kind of publicity. No advertising, no PR events, and no conferences. WhatsApp is installed on every smartphone these days. Gone are the days when people used to purchase message cards. I remember buying a new Airtel message card every second day as a 16-year-old back in 2010. Calling somebody was quite exhausting. Dropping a message was way too easy. Back then, nobody had predicted that the world of messaging would soon undergo a major transformation.

A farmer in southeast Punjab talks on his cellphone. (Photo: CIAT/Flickr)

Nine years down the line, WhatsApp is the undisputed king of the online messaging market. As far as the numbers are concerned, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. In 2018, India was home to more than 200 million WhatsApp users (no prizes for guessing). Everybody is using WhatsApp – from a rickshaw puller to the CEO of a multi-billion MNC. Messages become viral within minutes.

Fresh and new memes are churned out every minute. Even our dear Prime Minister hasn’t remained untouched by a never-ending avalanche of memes.

There’s another thing that’s getting viral these days, but it’s not as cool as memes. Fake news seems to have found a perfect pairing alongside WhatsApp. No matter how fake or idiotic the story might sound, there would be people who will read it, believe it, and then share it. Every single time people get a link to a story on WhatsApp, they share it within seconds. Of late, WhatsApp has become a major avalanche in triggering an avalanche of fake news, giving rise to the term Ravish Kumar coined ‘WhatsApp Universities.’

 

According to a report published by the BBC, around 40% of the total messages sent and received on WhatsApp dealt with scams pertaining to conspiracies and technology. There were stories related to nationalism, such as culture and ‘common man’ stories. The researchers from the BBC interviewed as many as 80 people across three different countries, i.e. Nigeria, Kenya, and India.

Friends discuss their lives over their phones. (Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr)

The interviews were conducted over a period of seven days. Researchers analyzed the respondents’ ways of media consumption and the use of Facebook and WhatsApp for information sharing. They realized that respondents across all three countries did not make much effort to explore the original source of the information that was being shared.

Research conducted by the BBC has thrown light on the fact that more than 70% of the Indian population has not been able to differentiate between fake news and real news. To top it all, these results showcase the need to improve digital literacy among Indians.

Of late, several incidents of lynchings came to light owing to the dissemination of fake news over social media and messaging platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The number of times a message can be forwarded on WhatsApp has now been limited to five (in one go). Well, never in my life have I seen the common man enjoying so much power. And that got me thinking.

Why Do People Forward Messages?

It goes without saying that people love to forward messages. Indians, in particular, love pressing the forward button the moment they receive a piece of information on WhatsApp. There are quite a few reasons behind this reckless forwarding spree.

Forwarding Is Easier Than Composing

In an age governed by the internet, nobody likes to compose an original piece of content. Everybody’s busy in copying and pasting the work done by others feat human nature and procrastination. Nobody wants to go through the long and tedious process of creating new content because one has to spend a good amount of time as well as energy to do that.

Nobody is ready to put in the hard yards. In such a ‘helpless’ situation, there’s nothing easier than getting to forward a “pakaa-pakaaya” (already in form) message.

Literally, Free Of Cost

Now, there’s nothing like it. Forwarding a message doesn’t cost you anything, maybe that’s why it’s so popular. If online messaging companies start charging people for forwarding messages, the number would certainly come down significantly. Messages are being forwarded recklessly because no one charges people for doing so, and no one cares.

Moreover, there’s nobody governing the outflow of messages. The credibility of the news sources is also not being checked. In such a situation, a person can forward whatever they want to, as anyway the person forwarding has nothing to lose.

We Love To Argue

Ah, all of us just love arguing, don’t we? Arguing happens to be a preferred pastime for many. Forget constructive arguments and discussions, there are some who keep on arguing just for the sake of killing time. Today, we just forward a message and wait for the person to reply with an emoji. As soon as the reply is received, begins a never-ending saga of arguments, most of which are redundant.

Drawing The Curtains

We are in dire need of constructive arguments, and not fake news. Having a communication channel as powerful as WhatsApp is undoubtedly a blessing, but it is not being used to the best of it’s potential. In fact, it is being misused to spread and share fake news.

Understand the responsibility that comes with disseminating information. All you have to do is check the credibility of the story you are planning to share before pressing the forward button.