The Dominion of the Mobile Phones

Smartphone addiction cartoonWatch out, folks. Mobile phones are taking over our world. Our life. Everything that used to be pure and sweet.

I see people sending messages on WhatsApp in the movie theatre—a place they are supposed to immerse themselves in what’s transpiring on the big screen in front. They are incognizant not only of how they are wasting their ticket money but also of how their illuminated screens are spoiling the experience for others. “Are you watching this film for the first time?” That was what someone asked me when I requested them to turn off their screen. Are you guys habitual repeat watchers of movies in theatres? Have I been living under a rock?

Mobile phones are on the table as couples go out on dinner dates and sit by the candlelight. The screens continue to flicker on and off even after the selfies have been taken and the mandatory checks-in on Facebook and Instagram are complete. Whatever happened to looking into each other’s eyes and holding hands?

Little children, it seems, cannot live without mobile phones. They need screens while they eat their meals. Parents turn on those cutesy videos whenever they want the kids to keep quiet and let them completes chores around the house. You take away the screen from the infant, and the withdrawal symptoms are terrifying: bawling, screaming, and wailing until the tears run dry.

People in mobile marketing are doing everything they can to cement the dominion of the mobile phone. There are addictive quizzes you can win to earn a few bucks, to say nothing of streaming videos and playing your favourite music. Advertisements reach you through your phone, and some of them are so spot-on that you are overwhelmed by how well these guys know you. You can turn on sleep music on your phone at bed-time. You can use apps to help you concentrate. Even attempting to wean from this frightfully useful device seems like a foolish venture.

I don’t claim to be an outcast who lives away from the realm where mobile phones dominate every aspect of life. I carry my phone wherever I go and look into it more often than I care to admit. But I find it upsets more than just my eyes. I dislike how phones vie for our attention over everything that used to be beautiful and untouched, like a favourite film, the stars reflected in the eyes of a loved one, or time spent comforting an infant with teddy bears and rattles.

Like the mythical land of Atlantis, that time when phones were used only for calling people is buried under the ocean. If I try to unearth it, I will also dig up entire bucketfuls of debris, obsolete technology, strange stares from strangers, and allegations of being “too old school for your own good”. The Dominion, it seems for now, is here to stay.

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What To Do When You’re Simply ‘Not Good Enough’

Feeling not good enough

You’re not ‘good enough’. They all have better choices, those people on the other side of the table. Better, more able candidates to fit into the job role you were aspiring for, the project you were hoping to land, the man you were crushing on.

Some of the refusals are kind. We want different things, they say. You will get other opportunities that will fit you better. I don’t think of you like that even though you’re an incredibly special person. Others are brutal. They say things to your face, going off hand-in-hand with new friends, ghosting your e-mails, expressing without an ounce of doubt that you are not worth your salt.

What can you do when you’re just not good enough? Continue reading

I’m Going Back to Malory Towers

I recently discovered this captivating blog by Meenakshi, on an afternoon when some train of thought led me to a Google search for Darrell Rivers. The Head Girl of Malory Towers, my favourite boarding school of all time lovingly built by Enid Blyton. Meenakshi wrote beautifully from Gwendoline’s perspective, one of the (un)popular girls in the school, and her writing had me completely hooked.

Where have those innocent, carefree days gone when acing it in a subject, becoming School Captain, and catching your crush’s eye was the most joyful prospect of life? In our rush to grow up – or maybe we didn’t have enough choice – so many early pleasures of life have been strewn along the way, never to be reclaimed. Continue reading

Ministry Shares Tips To Cope With Depression, and I’m Fuming

In my professional capacity as Editor, I have worked with a fair number of writers: in-house, freelancers, agencies. I have fought over word counts, especially with the last two on that list. Some writers send in desperately forced 500-word-pieces to meet their targets; at least 200 words are mere fluff. In the health and wellness space, there are two “fluff” pointers that I’ve seen many writers champion.

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits

Ah, the miracles of rest and fresh produce. There isn’t much that they cannot cure, it seems, from stomach problems and skin conditions to quarrels with your husband and coming to terms with the loss of your pet.

Thanks to recent communication from the Indian Ministry of Health, I’ve discovered yet another superpower these two goodies have: curing depression.

Yes!

Here’s how it works: If you are depressed or going through a “period of low mood”, don’t fret. Don’t listen to all those know-it-alls who recommend you talk to a loved one or a therapist. Don’t give it any more importance than you would to a sad evening when you’re upset because you ran out of cookies.

All you need to do is sleep for eight hours and eat fruits.

Check out, if you haven’t already, this insightful poster the Ministry recently shared on its Twitter handle.

Continue reading

Rain & Me: Old Friends Who Have Fallen Apart

Rain

There was a time, many moons ago, when I used to love the monsoon. My heart skipped a beat when it rained and my MP3 player hummed monsoonal tunes. I’d sit by the window as the rain washed the dust off my garden plants and watch everything enliven. I’d ask Granny to make onion pakoras, dip them in ketchup, and munch them with great delight.

Years have now passed since that time. Continue reading

Trust Me, This Little Habit is Truly Life-Changing

It’s unlike me to propagate life-changing advice. I usually turn up my nose at anyone who does, for come on, everyone has a life that is diametrically different from yours, unique in a manner unknowable by a generic life-coach.

But then, I am not a life-coach. I am only someone who has recently picked up a habit and is all aglow with its miraculous power.

Here it is: Continue reading

My Saturday Discovery: A Jar of Joy

It was Saturday evening – the kind of beautiful when Sunday evening’s pit-of-doom feeling is far, far away. Why, there was glorious Saturday night to live, followed by the Sunday morning quiet and drinking coffee while listening to the wind. (For me, the pit-of-doom usually sets in after 6 p.m. on Sundays.)

“Let’s have an ice-cream,” I said to R.

“Can we also have cheesecake?”

R is fixated upon cheesecakes lately, ever since we got back from Vienna. He has fallen so head over heels in love with cheesecake that even chicken has started feeling envious.

“Okay, let’s go out and explore our options.”

What is marriage if not a little bit of me, a little bit of you, I reasoned. On Saturday evenings, I am all zen-like. Nothing can touch me. I am as pleased as a hummingbird who has discovered a tree-full of fruits and is chirping away like a deranged creature.

We saw ice-cream parlours. We saw bakeries with cheesecake. We saw hipster ice-cream parlours that sold cheese-flavoured softies.

And then we found this.

Frozen Bottle

This delightful, decadent jar of ice-cream, cake and fresh mango all whipped up together. This slice of bliss hiding in Lane No. 6 of Koregaon Park though I hear they have more branches across Pune. It’s deliciousness come alive in a jar.

I have always loved experimenting with food and eateries. While some experiments succeed, others fail majestically. The latter tempt R to stick to a safety net when we eat out and give me curious glances as I make my order. But Saturday evenings like these? They reinforce R’s faith in me and my choices. Good for you, you cute-little-mango-icecream-cake thingamajig!

My Sleep(y) Resolution

Tomorrow, I will wake up before the sun.

I will make myself a cup of steaming, fragrant coffee and drink it sitting on the balcony, listening to the early risers among the birds. I will let my mind fill with beautiful thoughts about the dawn clouds, a little blue, a little white, just like human existence. I will have a whole hour or two to myself before I need to delve into the sweaty, rushed world of making breakfast, getting ready for work, and hoping I could instead lounge in my armchair, reading the eager book sitting on my bedside table. Continue reading