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.
I used to remain extremely depressed when I was 18 years old. To be very honest, I was a loner. I felt lonely and tired in a crowded room filled with unknown people. I would go to my apartment and just sit there for hours doing nothing. Everything used to remain quiet, lonely and still. A few creaking sounds made by an old wooden door used to break the shackles of silence.
I used to leave the television on just to feel that somebody was there with me all the time. As many as seven years have rolled by, but my situation happens to be quite similar to what it was back then. The biggest irony in the world is to have 500 friends on Facebook and yet be so terribly depressed and lonely.
In all fairness, there is absolutely no pleasure in being lonely. The trouble with me is not that I am depressed and likely to stay depressed, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely for the rest of my life. It seems as though there is a hole in this world, and I find myself walking around that hole constantly during the daytime. I tend to jump into that hole during wee hours of the night.
Moments before falling asleep, I tend to feel alive, with a thousand fragments of unspoken thoughts flying through my mind. I have this habit of bringing each moment into the bed with me much like a five-year-old brings pencils and pens. And then, I turn motionless and fall into the depths of sleep, just like a lump of sugar melts away in a child’s mouth.
Well, when I had a closer look at my plight, I realised that there is a huge difference between being lonely and being alone. I reach home at around 8 PM every night and start abusing my Netflix subscription. I also love to roam around aimlessly on a lazy Saturday evening. I have always had to struggle in order to keep myself away from being overwhelmed by people. Well, it is not the easiest thing to do, but you tend to get used to it as the years roll by. There are people who believe you’re ‘egoistic’ just because you don’t talk. Not everybody understands the meaning of silence.
Quite frankly, no price is too high to pay if you wish to experience the pleasure of ‘owning yourself’. At times, it becomes absolutely necessary for you to take out time for yourself. It provides you with an opportunity to rejuvenate yourself.
I must also admit that I was quite an annoying student and used to ask a lot of questions. Not much of it changed after I graduated. I was quite an introvert when I started working as a copyeditor for one of the leading financial dailies. Back then, I was untouched by joy or sorrow and used to work tirelessly.
Just because I am an introvert, you’d be thinking that I don’t have friends. Well, that’s not true. I do have a small circle of good friends, and I must admit that I have been quite fortunate to have a bunch of jolly good friends. No matter how dire the circumstances are, they are always ready to help me out with things. I love indulging in constructive arguments with friends over a hearty cup of coffee, but I won’t jump into an argument just for the sake of gaining attention.
To end it all on a positive note, I would like to say that I’ve seen great men being lonely. Ah, I am not saying I am a great man:). I am a lonely little chap who feels shy while eating in front of too many people. At times, people set up extremely high standards for themselves that they are bound to feel lonely. But at the same time, loneliness becomes an integral part of their ability to create something out of the extra-ordinary.
It goes pretty much without saying that life isn’t a bed of roses for women athletes in India. Despite their best efforts, the gulf between male and female athletes in India keeps widening rampantly.
Take this for an example: The likes on Twitter and Facebook erupt like a volcano, the moment a male athlete wins a medal. Also, it is quite unsurprising to note that male athletes are paid way more than their female counterparts. Back in 2008, Abhinav Bindra turned into a national icon after becoming the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal (individual sport). On the other hand, countless women athletes are struggling to keep their bodies and souls together. Nobody talks about their achievements. Consequently, they end up fading away into the depths of oblivion.
Almost all of us know that R.S. Rathore won a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, but not many of us know that MC Mary Kom has won as many as six Boxing World Championships. Women athletes keep exceeding our expectations, but we hardly pay heed to all the good work done by them.
It is heartening to note that a considerable number of women athletes have made their presence felt in recent times. The likes of PV Sindhu and Hima Das have taken the sporting world by storm. Today, both these women have turned into role models and cultural icons.
Let us take a look at some of the rising women athletes who have made us proud in recent times:
PV Sindhu (Badminton)
She seems to have answered all her critics with her racquet. In the recently concluded Badminton World Championships, she decimated Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets to win her first gold medal. The world number 5 has won as many as five medals in six appearances at the world championships. Boy, that’s no mean feat.
Hima Das (Track and field)
They say the size of your success is always measured by the strength of your desire. Hima Das, the 19-year-old sprinter, broke quite a few records during the 2018 edition of the Asian Games held in Jakarta by covering 400 metres, in a fraction over 50 seconds. Also, she won a gold medal in a track event during the IAAF World U20 Championships. She is the first Indian athlete to bag four gold medals in 15 days. Wow, these are staggering numbers!
Dutee Chand (Track and field)
She made journalists lose a lot of ink, after winning a gold medal in the women’s 100-metre sprint at the World University Games (Napoli, 2019). The 23-year-old smashed quite a few records after clocking 11.32 seconds in the final and became the first Indian athlete to bag a gold medal at the event. One has to say that this lass from Odisha knows how to handle extreme pressure.
Mithali Raj (Cricket)
The seasoned and wise ‘yodha’ of the Indian Women’s cricket team became a household name after leading her team to the finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. In a career spanning over decades, she has scored more than 6,000 ODI runs. Also, she is the highest run-scorer for India in all three formats of the game.
With three mixed doubles titles in her kitty, Sania Mirza is one of the finest female tennis players the country has ever produced. At the very height of her powers in 2015-16, she ranked number one in the WTA doubles rankings, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat.
After going through all of the aforementioned examples, I believe, it certainly wouldn’t be wrong to say that women athletes in India are outplaying their male counterparts. For centuries, women are being told that they are, and will always remain, inferior to men. I, however, feel that women are way stronger than men (they have always been). Most of us find it hard to come to terms with this fact.
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.
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.
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.
Rohit Sharma was seen dominating the batting charts in the recently-concluded edition of the World Cup. For Indian fans, it was an absolute delight to watch Rohit going after the bowlers; he made batting look ridiculously easy.
His hundred against South Africa at Southampton kept India afloat even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. The skies overhead were murky. The batting strip wasn’t a belter either. In the simplest of terms, it wasn’t an ideal day for batting.
The likes of Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris were spitting venom. After a few early wobbles, Rohit decided to knuckle down. He, along with KL Rahul, steadied the ship and kept the scoreboard moving.
During the game against Pakistan, the 31-year-old was at his imperious best. A scintillating 140 off just 113 deliveries helped his side post a formidable 336-run total at Old Trafford in Manchester. The bowlers had a hard time as Rohit kept batting tirelessly.
With 648 runs in nine matches, he was the tournament’s leading run-getter. He also became the first batsman to score five centuries in a single edition of the World Cup.
Rohit showcased a lot of promise as a 20-year-old. He played his first-ever T20I innings against a high-flying South African side in the 2007 edition of the ICC World T20. Batting at five, he stitched a crucial partnership with MS Dhoni to get his side to a respectable total.
All of the strokes that Rohit played were conventional. The lad from Maharashtra kept milking the singles to keep the scoreboard ticking. He was calm and composed and didn’t try to overhit the ball.
After his batting heroics, he showcased his fielding prowess too by pulling off a memorable run out to get rid of Justin Kemp.
Rohit’s talent was never in question. Those who saw him bat back then knew that this lad was tailor-made for the game’s biggest stage. But the beginning was tough.
Rohit struggled to perform consistently as a middle-order batsman. Almost every good innings was followed by a string of low scores. Consequently, he was dropped from the side.
Rise as an opener
Rohit was asked to share the opening duties with Shikhar Dhawan during the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy in England. In five matches Rohit scored 177 runs (including a couple of fifties), signalling that he was ready to welcome the promotion with open arms.
Shikhar Dhawan kept going all guns blazing at the other end and Rohit was happy to knock the ball around. These two men gave India solid starts throughout the tournament, and the team eventually ended up getting their hands on the silverware.
The ODI series against the Aussies in October 2013 brought out the best in Rohit. In the second ODI, he and Virat Kohli spearheaded a miraculous run chase.
Chasing 360-odd in 50 overs for an unlikely victory, both these men scored centuries and helped India reach the target in the 44th over. Rohit remained unbeaten on 141, but his best was yet to come.
In the seventh and final ODI of the series, Rohit once again took the Aussie bowlers to the cleaners. He scored a double century in the match (209) and ended the series with an aggregate of 491 runs.
How has he become so consistent?
Of late, Rohit has transformed into an ODI monster. He is arguably the best opening batsman (ODI) in world cricket right now, with seemingly a lot more success to come.
With three double hundreds in his career thus far, Rohit is the undisputed king of ODI double hundreds. But have you ever wondered what makes him such a formidable force in limited-overs cricket?
Rohit’s strength lies in his ability to play the waiting game. He spends a lot of time in the middle in order to get his eye in.
Those who follow Rohit closely would have noticed that he is willing to play a few dot deliveries early on in his innings. He doesn’t go bang-bang right from the word go. But once he gets set, he scores freely by unleashing a wide range of strokes.
Take the 208 he scored against Sri Lanka in Mohali (2017) for example. The first hundred came in 115 balls while the next 108 runs came off just 38 balls. He smashed 13 fours and 12 sixes in the innings.
This has been a striking feature of Rohit’s batting exploits of late. Every single time he goes on to score a hundred, he tries to convert it into a ‘daddy hundred’.
Ironing out the chinks for the future
Some might disagree, but Rohit does look vulnerable early on in his innings. He has a habit of throwing his bat at deliveries outside the off-stump and has been caught in the slip cordon on a number of occasions.
But the good thing is that despite his limitations, he seems to have got better with time. At present, he is getting more and more assured with each passing game. Above all else, he seems to have made peace with the fact that no matter how many he may have scored in the previous innings, each innings is a fresh start.
That bodes well for his short-term as well as long-term future. Rohit already an ODI great, but he is on the cusp of attaining legendary status. If he continues to be as consistent as he has been lately, there’s no reason why he won’t get there.