Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2015

A Thousand Smiling Faces

This week, I intend to have a stab at one of the most difficult tasks known to mankind: persuading an adult to part with a sum of money. Not a very large sum, but a sum nonetheless. This New Year's Day, I want to get 1000 kids in orphanages around the city burgers, fries and a drink from McDonald's.  And that, unfortunately, costs money.

The first thing you'd wonder is probably, "Why McDonald's burgers?" Well, the thing is, I've worked at an orphanage before, and I remember that the kids at the orphanage really loved the burgers. I, like so many teenagers, have my parents to take me to McDonald's every once in a while and buy me a burger. These guys have no one. To them, a burger is something quite amazing. The look in their faces when they ate those burgers would have given those chaps whom Christ gave manna to a run for their money in terms of happiness.

Another thing that quite a few of my friends have mentioned is the fact that burgers aren't …

In Loving Memory...

I'm terribly sorry that I'm making a second soppy post right after the last one about me leaving school, but hey, I've a really good reason this time. The reason is this: my dog died last night. Of a kidney ailment, of all things.

My dog's name was Pluto. He was a white Labrador of approximately twelve years of age, with white fur. I'd tell you his height and width if I knew his height and width. He was, in my opinion, the greatest of all dogs everywhere, an exemplary example of canine-hood and man's-best-friend-hood. We've had him since he was about a month old and I was three and a bit.

I'd love to say that I had him sleep next to me every night. I'd love to say that I played with him every day and fed him doggy treats at regular intervals. I'd love to say that I groomed him and gave him baths and took him to dog shows and regularly kissed him on the nose. The fact of the matter is, though, I didn't. Oh, sure, I used to play with him nearl…

How Cool Was School, Really?

A lot of you mat not know this, but I'm now in 10th grade. This means, mainly, that relatives, neighbours and random people on the street tell you to study hard. Aside from that, though, it also means that I'm going to leave my current school for a different one. Before we go any further, I'd like to ask those of you who are allergic to soppy sentimentality to please leave. Those of you brave enough, please read on.

I've done my fair share of bashing the education system (case in point: here), but now that I'm actually LEAVING my school, I realize that I'm actually going to miss it. Until very recently, I never really thought about the fact that this is my last year in this school. Sure, I've been intending to leave at the end of 10th grade for a long while now. Sure, I knew that the end of 10th grade would come at some point. The thing is, it never seemed imminent. It always seemed like some event that was to occur at some point in the distant future. What…

Traffic Problems

Have you seen this ad on YouTube featuring a seriously overweight guy who professes to love traffic? If you haven't, you're not missing an awful lot. If you have, well, good on you! Either way, what I mean to say is that in a strange way, pretty much all of us Indians are like the overweight guy, we just love traffic for rather different reasons than the chap in the ad.

If you've spent any length of time in the company of Indian males, you will probably have discussed <insert your locality here>'s traffic problems. Everyone, no doubt, would have spoken of the traffic with contempt. There were probably a few mentions in the conversation of how the traffic is bad because there was no planning to how your city/town/subdivision of Atlantis was constructed. Someone will also probably refer to a few bottlenecks. At some point, everyone would have begun to blame it on the government and the conversation would have turned into a denouncement of all things bureaucratic.

I…

Moody Responses

A few days ago, Moody's, an American rating agency-type thing, did an analysis on India. The essence of the analysis - or at least, the part which everyone is all up in arms about - is that communal violence in India has to be curbed.

As communal violence goes, India is in pretty bad shape. Between the years of 2004 and 2009, approximately 130 people died every year, with thousands of people being injured. While 130 people may not seem like that many, I invite you to think about how exactly you would feel if one of the 130 was a friend  of yours.

What I don't understand is what all this is in aid of. Now, I personally am not exactly a good, God-fearing Hindu, so no doubt my word will carry little weight where the religious-violence-propagators of this world are concerned, but here's my two cents anyway. While I have nothing against religion in itself, I do have something against the killing in the name of one religion or another. Actually, let me amend that statement - I a…

The (Real) Final Frontier

"Space, the fina-" oops, sorry, wrong frontier! The frontier in question here is the internet. As you probably know if you have been following this blog fairly regularly (and if you haven't, why haven't you?), I'm a big fan of free speech and all that good stuff. I'm also a big fan of being able to use the internet freely. Don't get me wrong - I hate DDoSers as much as the next guy - but I think I ought to be able to access all the sites on the web. All of a sudden, though, the geniuses over at the Department of Telecom have gone and implemented censorship!

The DoT has been implementing some serious censorship lately, but I probably don't need to tell you that. Of course, many of the blocked sites host copyrighted material, so I don't particularly mind them censoring that (actually, I do, but let's pretend I'm not so Modi doesn't send his hitmen after me). However, blocking Adf.ly, a URL shortening service, of all things, seems a bit m…

The Trump Card

The American Presidential Elections (yes, you do need to type that with the capitals) are right round the corner, so what better subject to blog about than Obie's (Obama's) successor?

As of right now, the chap getting the most attention in the election is everyone's favourite idiot(-savant), Donald Trump. Donald Trump, for those of you who don't know, is a Republican who makes Alia Bhatt seem a likely candidate for a Nobel prize in History. He has, in short, the mental acuity of a stick insect. IMHO, the only reason Trump joined the elections was to become a meme (choice samples shown below).

Donald Trump does, however, have his good ideas (no, I swear, it's true!). For instance, he feels that the best way to stop oil prices rising is to have someone sitting in Washington saying, you will not raise that <unprintable word> price. Absolute genius, right? Our friends over in Saudi Arabia will be quaking in their madas sharqis (though I think we all ought to be q…

A Walk on the Geek Side

Have you ever wondered about geeky kids? Geeky kids, here, need not be nerdy kids. Geeks, specifically, at least the way I define them, are basically just people who are good with computers. They're the sort of people who get the pun, "If you pile up Coke bottles, are you stacking the pop?" Basically, they're the guys who make computers  do the things that computers do (which is a lot of things, by the way, including letting you read this blog post.) So all you kids out there who think you can join geek club out there because you know a lot of Klingon, shoo.
Personally, I've always been kind of proud to be a geek, perhaps largely because my classmates are OK with my being a geek. It's also a lot of fun. Being able to program (a near-necessity to be considered a geek) is actually pretty cool. You have the ability to solve so many problems, not just for other geeks, but also for other people as well. It isn't even that hard to do (whatever the non-geek bull…

The Language Barrier

For those of you who've been checking back to this blog on a regular basis to see if there's any new content (and if you haven't, why haven't you?), I think I owe an explanation as to why you haven't seen any. You see, two weeks ago, I hurt my right wrist in a car accident. Don't worry, I'm OK and also probably alive (I see a white light!), back at the old stand and churning out blog posts at the fantastically lazy rate of once a week. Luckily for us, no one got hurt, and we're all safely at home.


I didn't write this article to tell you about my near escape, though. I wrote this article to talk about local languages and just why it's important to speak them. In the case of our car crash, for instance. A couple of minutes after the car had landed (on its roof, no less!), a bunch of onlookers had gathered. One of them took a large stone and smashed our window so that we could safely crawl out. All of the people around the car then began to ask, in …

The TTK (Tamil-Tulu-Kannada) Household

Every day, when I sit down to study, I close my door. Not because I don't want anyone to see me studying, but because I wouldn't be able to study if it were open. Mainly, this is because my grandmother is having a shouting match with one or all of the servants. Now, I don't know how it is in other houses, but in our house, we have three people who come in to work - one person who cooks, one person who cleans and a third who deals with the garden and walks the dog and does all the other little odd jobs around the house. It sounds like a perfect solution, right? We don't have any work to do! The problem is, though, every person we find for any of the above posts turns out to be argumentative and noisy.

Until last year, our house functioned quite smoothly. We had a cook, a driver, a gardener and a cleaner, all of whom had been working in the house for at least three years. However, over the course of a few months that year, all of them left or were fired for varying reaso…

Why Use A Big Word Where A Diminutive One Will Suffice?

A few weeks ago, one of my friends who reads my blog (and doesn't comment, just like so many of you) asked my why the vocabulary I use in my blogs isn't all fancy and flowery. Largely, this is because my classmates think of me as a walking, talking dictionary of sorts. You see, a few years ago, I used to be a big spelling bee freak, and I used to keep winning those, and my classmates got wind of them and my nickname became, much to my consternation, "Dictionary". Not that there's anything wrong with dictionaries - I'm sure they're all perfectly wonderful books. My problem is with being called "Dictionary" when I have a perfectly wonderful name like "Ritvik".

The thing is, I generally make it a point not to use big words. Not because I think my audience is dumb - you yourself, for instance, are a prime example of the crème de la crème of intellectual society. No, really, I can see that from here. I write with diminutive vocabulary to av…

The Depressed, Depressers and Depressees

Don't ask me what a Depresser or Depressee is, because I have no idea whatsoever. It just sounded like a good, snappy title. However, today we're going to talk about something that'll probably get me a bunch of hateful comments calling me all sorts of rude things: depression among teenagers.

Definition (I seem to use this a lot these days...): feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
Now, according to all the depressed people the universe - or at least, the ones who make posts about depression - it's far more than that. According to them, when you're depressed, you can't feel anything. It feels like everyone hates you. You don't want to live anymore. Now personally, I've never been depressed (at least, not that I know of - although considering I've never really checked, that may not count for much. OHMYGOD, am I depressed???), so I can't tell you for sure whether or not that's true. What I can tell you, though, is that every time you fee…

Mythical Greatness

Our school's annual day (which, ironically enough, only occurs once every three years) is this evening. It's a play about the Mahabharata, which is a strange choice of play, because the whole idea of the annual day (at least, according to my school) is to get each and every kid to play some part in it, no matter how menial said part may be. The Mahabharata doesn't have a lot of female roles, and that's led my school to come up with several extra roles just so that everyone can have a part in the play. They have, for instance, "human props" who don't really seem to have an awful lot to do. This post, however, is not about the many similar little technical hiccups in my annual day - though no doubt that would fill an entire blog post all on its own. No, this post is about the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and why I prefer one over the other.

I'll be honest with you: I've always preferred the Mahabharata. I never was a big fan of Rama, because I alway…

Bad Publicity

Have you ever noticed how the newspapers these days are just full of bad news? It's like there's no longer anything good going on in the world any more. I remember back when newspapers had good news in them, and - wait, I'm fifteen. I've no recollection of such a time. But seriously, I'm sure there was one. There must have been a time when the newspapers were full of little bits of good news. Now you actually have to search through all the bad news for a shred of good news.

If you saw the world only as it is portrayed by newspapers, you'd probably be afraid to step out of your own front door without a shotgun and a bulletproof vest. You'd think the world was full of thieves, murderers, cheats and corrupt politicians - the dregs of society. You would be, in short, paranoid, depressing and no fun at all to hang out with.

Our public media channels are really of two types. The type that tells you about said murders and robberies and other depressing stuff and t…

Time Flies (I'M SORRY IMPANA PLEASE DON'T KILL ME)

First off, I want to apologize to Impana Halgeri. She's my most reliable commenter/blog-reader and I promised I'd write her a post for her birthday a couple of days ago (unless she follows the Hindu calendar - then I've no clue when it is), something which I quite forgot to do (I wasn't being lazy, I swear!).

Now then, on to the post. On the subject of birthdays, I decided to make a blog post a couple of days ago about the Gregorian calendar (the one that we use as of right now) and how it's evolved since Greg came up with it. Greg, incidentally, was really Pope Gregory XIII (I know, lucky number thirteen, huh?). So anyway, up until Greg the (Possibly) Unlucky came up with his brilliant new calendar, all the Christian folks were using something called the Julian Calendar, which was invented by - you guessed it - Jules! Jules being Julius Caesar, that chap that Asterix and Obelix keep beating up. So anyway, Jules' calendar made the year 0.002% too long, and for …

No Good Place To Do Mutra Visarjan In This Country...

At least, that's what Chatur Ramalingam seems to think. However, many of our fellow Indians seem to disagree with him. According to them, there are nothing BUT places to do mutra visarjan (for all you poor, masochistic folks - ah, I mean, non-movie-going folks - out there, mutra visarjan means urine expulsion). In case you haven't guessed already, we're going to be talking about one of India's most widely criticized and even more widely practiced issues - public urination.

I'm not exactly saying that it's our people's fault - I mean, come on, we have so much urine-related cultural history! Just in the past 50 years, we've had people who've used their urine for everything from watering plants to drinking it (I believe that some people also flush it down their toilets. How wasteful of them). Besides all the historical precedents, however, we also have some more practical reasons for peeing wherever and whenever we feel like.

If you've ever seen a …

Net Effect

We've had a lot of talk lately about something called "Net Neutrality" in India. The basic idea of net neutrality is not that fishing nets don't have a gender - that's already been established, thank you. It's about our ability to visit whatever websites we may choose to without paying extra. You see, all these telecom chaps - the guys who give us our internet connections - hit on a brilliant idea. They could have all the large conglomerates pay them extra money and then allow their users to visit only those sites for cheap, charging extra if they want to use another website.

That may not sound too bad, but the implications are huge. Say, for instance, that you wanted to visit my blog (and if you don't, why not?), you would have to pay some company that's already making way too much money even more. Sites like Google.com, YouTube.com and so on would be available to us at sensible rates, but everything else would be insanely expensive. Call me picky, b…

Blog Revamp!

Hey guys! This is really just a, like, micro-post-type thing (is that what they're called?) to say that this blog is getting UPDATED! WOOHOO! At long last, I'm going to change the name, and make the blog stop looking so... boring.This theme is really only temporary, but temporary means until I get off my lazy behind, and who knows when that might be? Anyway, I really need a new name for my blog, and I really can't seem to think one up myself, so tell me what you think the blog ought to be called in the comments below or on Facebook or Google+ or wherever you're reading this. Thanks guys!

The Learning Curve

I know what you're thinking. "Great, another post about education. Didn't we just do one last week? Jeez, Ritvik, come up with something new!". But I won't, because it's my blog and I get to decide what I write about, so there.

This post isn't so much about education (rejoice!) as about how we - or rather I, because I'm not the entire human race - learn. Recently there's been this whole thing that video and audio are the best ways to learn anything under the sun. Personally, I don't entirely agree. However, I also don't exactly disagree.

A few weeks ago, I was working at an orphanage (for free, because I'm such a good person, aren't I?) and was helping the kids learn to read English. The trouble was, the kids weren't exactly what you'd call fast readers, and the lady who ran the orphanage - a wonderful person by the name of Roopa Mahajan - wanted them to be. Not that there's anything wrong with being a fast reader, of c…

Well, Ma'am, I Just Wanted To Learn...

Oh, the choices the modern teenager is faced with in terms of education. It's quite beyond a joke, I must say. Not too long ago, people went to whatever college was nearby and that they could get into. Now, it's nothing like that. Now that I'm in the 10th grade, it seems like a good idea for me to make a decision about what exactly I want  to do with my life. The problem: I really can't seem to figure out! And this is despite the fact that I know exactly what college I'm aiming for!

For starters, there are all the acronyms. This doesn't really have to do with what I want to become, but I still think it's a problem. Just the numerous exams that different colleges have - CET, SAT, several other ones ending in T - make me want to go AIEEE! I keep reading all these articles on academics and exams and whatnot and find myself doing a Google search on some new obscure acronym roughly every five seconds. That's about as long as it takes me to read a couple of s…

Obscenity According to the VHP

Being a teenager, I very rarely have very strong opinions on anything political. However, one article in this morning's papers caught my eye and it had nothing to do with my immediate position in life (you can find it here if you're interested in reading it). The article, in essence, stated that the VHP wanted to ban white-water rafting in Uttarakhand. According to them, it "leads to many illegal activities" in the holy town of Rishikesh.



According to the article, the VHP thinks that white-water rafting leads young people of both sexes to "mingle, drink and indulge in objectionable activities" on the banks of the holy river. This somehow disturbs the sadhus and sants gathered there to meditate. Now, from a purely economic standpoint, Rishikesh draws more than over 4 lakh adventure tourists. 320 or so firms have jobs to do because of these tourists. The government then levies a tax of ₹5000 on each of these firms, earning it some money in the bargain too. Wha…

The Reader's Tale

A couple of days ago, I did something I haven't done in far too long: I picked up a random book out of the large collections that my parents have assembled over the years and began reading. Of late, I've spent most of my time watching videos and checking social media. I'd almost forgotten what it felt like to hold an actual, physical book in my hands and read (frankly, I was surprised I remembered how to turn a page).

The book, as it happened, was Jeffery Archer's "A Prisoner of Birth". Personally, I haven't read a whole lot of his books, but intend to do so now. But I digress. The point is, reading the book was so much better - several orders of magnitude better - than any video I've ever watched.

Needless to say, I finished the book in two days. Not because it was a great book - although it was - but simply because, after all these days of allowing the grey matter to turn brown with rust, I was finally exercising my intelligence and expanding my mind.…

The Difficulty of Being a Blogger

This is a post I should probably have made right in the beginning and then linked to after each of my longer absences, but it never struck me to then, so I'm doing it now. Some you readers may think that writing a blog is just sitting behind a keyboard and banging away at it until something interesting comes out. Whether that's true or not (it is, but let's pretend it isn't so that I can give this post some substance), here are some of the reasons I find it hard to come out with a weekly blog post.

1. Laziness:
As those of you who have been following my blog fairly closely (and if you haven't, why not?) will probably know, I am possibly the laziest being ever to claim to not be a sloth or other equally lethargic animal (teenagers, for instance, are normally every bit as lazy). Writing a blog only takes me twenty minutes to half an hour, but I'm too lazy to get off my bum for even that length of time. Quite an impediment to blogging, I must say.

2. Topics:
Or a…

The Life and Times of the Intern

First off, I'd like to ask all you lovely folks to excuse my ten-day absence. I've been working on a different project (more on that later this week). Anyway, as you probably guessed from the title (I hope?) this project is about an internship. More specifically, my internship with an NGO called Daksh (http://dakshindia.org, for those of you want to take a look) and what I learned during my three-week-long foray into working in an office.

I started about three weeks ago - the 10th of April, if memory serves. I was working to set up the website for their newest project. For the first time ever, I had to work for eight straight hours a day. Admittedly, it was draining, at least in the beginning. But the good news is, the website is finally ready. The bad news? Being a minor, they had an excuse to NOT pay me for doing it. I spent 8 hours a day for three weeks of my life working at that website and what did I get in return? "Experience". Wow.

No, I'm only joking. It …

The Last Momo (Challenge Accepted!)

In today's blog I wish to chronicle a phenomenon that I have christened the "Last Momo Effect". The Last Momo Effect refers to the fact that whenever kids or teenagers go out for a meal - or even if they're eating at home - the teenager will always get the last momo or the last slice of garlic bread or the last whatever else. I might as well have called it the "teenagers always get food" effect, but my dad challenged me to write a blog post called "The Last Momo" (hence the "Challenge Accepted").

I've always kind of wondered why that might be, because after all, it's only a bit of food. By the time you even GET to the last one, everyone's probably had two or three already, so it's far from likely that the kid is hungry. He/she/I don't need the momo in order to survive. But I still get the momo (I've always thought that this was perhaps a way of paying us for all the chores our parents make us do). 

The lesson I'…

The Explosion of Ola

I've been using taxis and autos quite a bit lately for my commuting and something I've noticed is a sudden proliferation of Ola autos. Every second or third auto on the streets seems to have an Ola-issue mobile phone and stand. Yesterday, I was in an Ola auto - I hadn't booked using the app or anything, the auto I climbed into just happened to work with Ola - and I started chatting with the driver. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to an Ola taxi guy about the company. Here's what I've pieced together/guessed about the Ola business model from these two conversations.

The first thing I learned was that the cabbies and auto drivers have to pay to join the ranks of Ola drivers. This actually came as something of a surprise to me - I always figured Ola just had extremely deep pockets and hired lots of drivers. The driver pays Ola for the mobile phone, phone stand and a couple of additions to his auto/cab. All the Ola-branded cars you see going around must be paid for separ…

Kid's Blogger Networks

A couple of days ago, my mother sent me an email containing numerous kid's blogging websites that she thought I ought to consider joining to "place my blogs before a wider audience". Seeing as how my life-controlling mother sent me the email, I figured I'd better do what she said and take a look at them. Here's what I thought of them.

1. kidbloggernetwork.com:The first thing that I saw when I visited this site were the big circles in bright colours on the top of the page. But hey, I'm the forgiving type. I figured I'd scroll on down and take a look at what exactly this site was about. One of the first posts I saw referred to something called a "Mommy Club". Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against a bunch of moms getting together. My problem is that that would make it seem like the only reason I'm writing this blog is because my parents are pushing me to. I'm not saying that isn't a major factor - on my own, I'm too lazy …

Kannadiga Pride

I've always had a sense of pride in being a Kannadiga (for all you north Indians out there, that means I'm from Karanataka - we're not all called Madrasis, you know!). It's not a sort of senseless pride - I actually have reasons.

First off, from what I know, we're generally pretty nice people. Do note that I said generally - we've no shortage of chaps who pull on their baggy brown shorts and go about beating up people from other religions. In general, though, people from Karanataka are pretty nice. They'll make an effort to talk to you in English if they think you don't speak Kannada. They'll do their best to help you out if you ask for directions. They're polite. I, personally, think that's quite lovely.

I also love how Kannadigas in general are quite talkative folk. It's lovely how you can sit in the back of a cab or auto rickshaw and have a conversation with the driver. For example, a couple of days ago I was going to a Google conferenc…

Teenage Troubles

Do you know what I hate about being a teenager? I don't care if you do, I'm still going to tell you. I feel like a good, old-fashioned rant is in order in response to the "when I was your age, life was so much harder because Larry Page and Sergei Brin weren't around" thing.

For starters, there's this idea that adults seem to have that the day you turn thirteen, you'll start behaving oddly and be seized by sudden desire to do drugs or drink. In my case, at least, that's not true. I quite enjoy being in full possession of my mental faculties, thank you very much (what limited part of them I possess, as it goes ;). I know there are teenagers out there - numerous ones - who are into drugs, but here's the thing: telling us repeatedly that we're highly likely to get into drugs because we're teenagers isn't going to decrease that likelihood.

Another problem I have: unpaid labour. This isn't really a teenage problem, it's something whic…