Escaping reality and being empathic

 

It is about 2-3 weeks my mid semester exams are over, now everything is going on calmly, with no extraneous pressures. But the week of mid semester exams was quite an enervating week, we had exam every other day, but it had moments which shone some light on some really important facts.

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Every person in this world wants a better reality than the one that they possess!

It was the day before my penultimate exam. I had just awoken from a nap, and just began studying the notes. But somehow nothing was getting inside my head. I was scared, so I called my friend and asked him if it would be OK if I come over his room and we could study together. He agreed, and I was happy by it. In about 15 minutes, I was at his room in his hostel. We started studying the notes together and it began quite fruitfully. Our conversation as we revised took a different turn. They turned from me asking my friend doubts to us talking and comparing room sizes and roommates. I was surprised to know that we faced similar problems. As hours went by, I got acquitted with his room, surroundings and hostel in general. My mind unconsciously compared my room to his, it started finding shortcomings and problems with my room. I grew familiar with his surrounding, and after spending about 7 hours in his room, my mind started accepting his room as my own. Suddenly, my mind fronded at the fact that I HAD to return to my room again. My mind started finding comfort in someone else’s surrounding, somehow it found comfort in the idea of escaping the reality I faced. I was happy to tell him that I could exchange his room for mine, if it was fine for him. Moreover, I knew that he too liked my room, and would be more than happy to exchange. But now my mind shrieked, “BEING EMPATHETIC IS FINE, BUT ESCAPING REALITY ISN’T”.

After about 1 week after my exam got over, I went home. This time I went home after about 2.5 months. I was excited at the same time really happy to taste home food after a long time. After coming back, I cycled, played my piano, and watched a couple of movies. The night before my flight back to Delhi, I couldn’t sleep, I was restless. I couldn’t believe my senses that I had to go back, and the whole week had gone in a blink. My mind comforted in the idea of staying at home, it found happiness in escaping reality than facing it.

Coming back to the university was difficult, I was feeling homesick and tired. As the week started, I again began the routine of cycling to classes, and back. My university cycle was not as awesome as my home cycle. There was a periodic sound coming from around the pedals of the cycle. The air pressure in my tyres was low. Out of the blue, I thought my home cycle. It never had any problems, it rode smoothly. But this cycle well it was officious. I had an epiphany, I faced a similar situation during exams. I was NOT accepting reality, I was trying to escape it. I was balancing pros and cons, and making comparisons.

Somehow the world that I know of lacks empathy. The people of this world are increasingly narcissistic, and are completely imperturbable to another person’s lifestyle. But there is an irony here. We are ready to trade and exchange for a better life, we are ready to escape a harsh reality for a reality which is much more comfortable and better. We are ready to wear somebody else’s shoes if they are grander, shinier and comfortable than our own. The concept of empathy and escaping reality are facets of the same coin. We are not emphatic, but we are ready to accept a better reality than our own. This particular aspect makes our life difficult, we are not comfortable in our own skin. Due to this, we don’t experience and feel things the way we should. Only when we accept the things that we face, only then can we really enjoy the life that we have.

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The Fall

A few days ago, I had gone out for a vacation, that’s why there was no post for a couple of days. But this short vacation that I went on, was quite inspirational and insightful.

The place that I visited in my vacation was a hill station in Gujarat, India. It is about 1000 meters from the sea level. Like any other hill station, it has lush greenery and a mountainous landscape. There were many tourist points, and the one that instigated me to think, was the Table land. It is plateau on top of hill, where you can do a number of things- that are quite missing in an urban life, like riding a horse, etc. This plateau is surrounded by declines and ascends of land, which appear like folds on a crumpled bed sheet. The day I visited this amazing landscape, I was quite ebullient and excited. With that rabid enthusiasm running through my veils, I tried to climb a dangerous high point on this ironically flat land. My mom and dad watched me from a distance; they were keenly observing me with a particular shrewdness a parent watches. And at that point, I SLIPPED; luckily I was able to hold on to the safety railings. By seeing me almost fall down from a steep point, my parents were furious, but there is where the insightful moment lies.

saputara Chaitanya's photos 174Zenith Point on the table land

As I tightly held onto the guard rails, almost coming too close dangerous to the point that I almost went tumbling down from the zenith point, my dad looked at me, and gave me an uneasy smile, and he said,” A man in his life has to answer 2 principal questions- one is what is his role in this world? And what is his fate rather he should have the ability to recognize and acknowledge his fate. And you young man, are not properly answering these 2 questions and delving into completely unknown territories!” Well my dad was quite implicit in what he said, his underlining message was quite clear- Be careful, but he unknowingly triggered in my mind a series of thoughts about this mysterious concept- fate and its recognition in your life. These 2 questions are the main basis on which the heavy metal legends Iron Maiden compose their melodies rather a more appropriate word would be anthems. These songs are enigmatic, and get me thinking each time I listen to them. Similarly, what my dad said was a general truth. These 2 questions have to be answered by each and every person born on this planet. But the thing that really got me thinking was predetermination of fate and rigidity of the future. The general truths posit that fate and future is rigid, stubborn, and unchangeable. These 2 things cannot be altered or changed.

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A memorable quote from Terminator 2

At this point, I beg to differ. I don’t think this is the case after all. Our actions have consequences, and as we progress in this ’brave new world’, our choices determine the path of our fate. This reminds me of my personal favorite and world-renowned Sci-Fi movie series- Terminator. The theme of this series deals with the inevitability of the future, and how the characters- Sarah Connor, John Connor, Terminator try to alter this inevitability. It also deals with the dilemma one faces when one has to take responsibility of his/her fate. In this world, we too go about in a similar way, we struggle with fate, with our future not consciously but our choices underline this aspect. This reminds me of another saying-

“What goes around, comes around”

This truth is also based on the fact that the future and our fate are changeable, and that our actions we take in this world are consequential.

I guess in our life, we struggle with these 2 choices- one is where we have to accept what fate has to offer to us, and the other is where we have to make our own fate.

I was surprised that this unfortunate fall would turn out to be so philosophical and insightful.

Words Self Reflection

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Self-Realization is an important aspect about finding yourself

My summer vacation (so-called) began in the month of May, precisely on 11th May, 2016. The reason I call this vacation ‘so-called’ is that on weekdays, I’m attending GRE classes, and also pursuing a summer internship. This year, I would be giving my GRE and TOEFL exams, so hence the classes. Classes are not tiresome, rather they are interesting, I get to read various different passages, and critically analyse them. When you have to critically analyze and carefully read an English passage, you concentrate on each sentence of the passage; moreover as everybody knows I need to know “arcane- medieval words”, so that I can appropriately answer Fill-in-the-blanks questions. Here is where I have a story to tell.

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You have to elevate yourself, only that gives you enough space for achieving great things!

It is my first ever GRE English class. I’m nervous, and completely unaware of how people would be. Would they be friendly? Would the teacher be strict? Or maybe they maybe cool? I completely unaware of this. As the class begins, my English teacher announces that this particular lecture would deal with question- sentence equivalence, where i have to fill blanks with arcane and medieval English words. At about half an hour into class, my teacher is going on a neck break speed, he is bombarding us with 10-15 rare English words per question, with their respective synonyms, antonyms. I struggle to grasp each and every word. At the same time, I’m awestruck by my teacher’s vocabulary, and confidence. He literally knows the meaning of each and every word that is discussed in the questions. The confidence he exudes while teaching us is amenable and laudable. As much as I’m confused, and fascinated by my new teacher, my mind is on another level. My mind is pondering over the words my sir is telling us. Moreover, unusually a mental switch goes off, I start thinking about my personality. My mind is drifts off from the class, and the words, at the same time my mind is concurrently concentrating on the unusual words my teacher is telling us. A small voice inside my head murmurs, “Can I describe my personality with the weird words I have being taught? Is that really possible? Let’s try!!” My mind goes over the possibilities; some words emerge- cerebral, skittish, solemn, assiduous, and capricious. I’m completely ‘flabbergasted’ by my mind. It is simultaneously concentrating on what my sir is teaching and going over the words that define Me, Myself. As I properly ‘define’ myself, the class ends, and I have a childish smile on my face. I’m unusually sagacious, this is the first time a class taught me wisdom rather than knowledge

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Let’s do this small fun activity, state the words you first spot! Those words equivocally define you!?

Well I realized that you cannot define yourself vaguely, you CAN’T be equivocal about your life’s goals. You SHOULD be very precise of what you want in life, and SHOULD work for it. Life has no rewind button, a moment lost is an opportunity gone forever, it cannot be brought back. At the same time, this definition of ‘YOU’ is quite unique. The words that define one person cannot define another person; he/she has his or her own set of words. Remembering this fact is important, and you will realize that once you define ourselves , you somehow elevate yourself from the rat race. A rat race where people compete over a limited range of words that can define many people. This is the main reason why people don’t feel satisfied even when they are successful, as they acquire words that mean NOTHING to them. Moreover, you have to seek out your words, because they are seeking you too, frantically searching and scourging for you. And when you find out these words, ‘your’ words, you will realize that they don’t define you anymore. This is what precisely brings you back to square one. You begin your journey again for the search of new words, and this is where self-discovery, complacency and self-awareness emerges.

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To move FORWARD in life, you have to elevate yourself

In the Air

Flight, a place where all your inner fears about manners come to life. Moreover, it is at this place where you become self-conscious about your body language, the way you speak to the flight attendants and not to forget the fear whether you are eating properly or you are eating like a boor . I have traveled by flight,  a number of times. One thing I can say with assurance is that each experience is different. Moreover it depends on who you are sitting besides. But, there is one thing in all this, each experience teaches you a different lesson in life. Even if it is for a limited period, you peek into somebody else’s life for a while, you get to know what kind of life they are living. Whether they are sad or happy or tensed or just tired, you observe that in no time. This experience taught me empathy, it highlighted the fact that, we live more or less similar life, the only difference is the phase we are in. The similarity between all of us is that even though we lead different lives, we face a similar set of problems interchangeably.

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Sunset from one of my flight rides!

In one trip, I was sitting besides teenage boy. We bonded on a game I was playing and eventually started talking. Innocently he asked me,”In which grade are you in?“. In my mind, I had a small laugh, and told him I was in Masters Program. He was thrilled and surprised. And like any other gamers, we asked each other for game recommendation for android, realizing this he instinctively asked me which PC games do I play.

I said, “Well I’m quite old and I don’t play any computer games.

To which he said, “Well my mom warned me that I could play computer games for only 1 more year after that my access to computer would be delimited for 3 years or so“.

After hearing this I  was intrigued, so I asked him in which standard he was in, he told me he was in 9th grade. As he replied, his expression frowned, I understood what he felt, I too felt the same way when I was in 9th standard, my games were also shut down for 3 subsequent years. This just vindicated a notion I held dearly, everybody faces the same set of problems at one point of time or the other, and that everyone lives in more or less the same way. Thinking about all this, my flight time was up, an announcement from the flight deck said that the flight would land in 15 minutes. My thoughts rather my thought process which was relaxed for the entire time changed, now I felt a little tense, the reason for this being my routine would restart again. It is weird as much we want to run away from a routine, we too want order in our life. The flight landed, I went to the belt where my checked in luggage would be arriving, I again saw that boy, I smiled and told him to study well and wished him luck for his coming years. Hearing this, his face was a mixture of anxiety and fear, but he smiled, I immediately recognized that he must be hearing this from a lot of people. I too felt the same way when I was his age, I realized I was old now. I was not in the same phase,I was in a different phase of life. Yet I had experienced that phase too, after all everyone is relatively different but on a larger scale we are all the same.IMG_20160318_172043 Continue reading In the Air

Chrysalis

It was a Friday night, I was pretty confused about how to spend the time after dinner. Whether to study or to watch a movie. I chose to do the latter, and this time I  watched a French movie- Monsieur Lazhar. This is the first movie, I saw without seeing any reviews or having any expectations from IMDb. To my surprise, the movie turned out to be a brilliant and beautiful. The movie went beyond just being a film, it touches upon the concept of exposure of adult world and its issues to the naïve child’s world.

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The premise of the movie is a school teacher commits suicide in a classroom, and subsequent spread of the shocking news among children, and the effect of the news on the perception of a children. Moreover, a new teacher who has fled his native country Algeria fills up the empty spot created in school. The new teacher Bashir Lazhar concerts different ways to defuse the tension created by the horrendous events, is how the film plays out itself. The pacing of the film is quite good, no scene is extended unnecessarily to showcase the tension, but the director chooses indirect ways to show the tension in school. Moreover as the movie ended, it left a lasting impact on me, and it made me tear-eyed. Bashir Tazhar is a beautiful yet tragic character facing his own demons and a troubling past. His wife and daughter are supposedly killed in an accident/murder when their apartment burns down, and so as to ensure safe passage, Lazhar flees Algeria for France. The overall theme of the film is interesting, and deals with how a child perceives the problems of the adult world, and also of whether it is healthy to expose the child to a different adult world.

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This film indeed has beautiful quotes!

Suicide and Death are in turn a complex issues, and it is extremely difficult concepts for a child to understand. Children are usually raised in a peaceful and friendly environments, where violence is completely absent, good always wins over evil, there are closures to each tale they listen to and there is an absolute scale of right and wrong. This is rarely the case, adult world is filled with violence, no absolute scale of right and wrong, but rather a grayish notion of what things are right and wrong, and most importantly with NO PROPER CLOSURES and meaning to events that happen in real time. Lazhar tries to discuss the suicide openly with children, so that answers could be given to child’s innocent questions about the complexity of the problem, but he is heckled and brushed off by the school administration. He too faces racial discrimination as he is from a different place. A scene where a little girl Alice reads out an essay, which she has written about her deceased teacher is chilling and it rather highlights an important point. Children have the ability to correctly judge the adult world, but the question of whether they could handle pressure of the complex adult world is also important. That’s exactly what the film deals with. Moreover, answering difficult questions asked by children about the intricacy of the adult world is also necessary, and well there are no easy answers, yet there are right and wrong answers. The feelings of grief and guilt are also foreign for the naïve children, and these concepts are dealt with in specific scenes. The poetic metaphor of the last scene is heart wrenching and beautiful. Monsieur Lazhar narrates a fable he has written. A Chrysalis is hanging from a trees’ branch, and the tree takes necessary precautions so that no harm would come to it. But a fire ravages the forest and burns the tree, the tree survives the fire, but it couldn’t save the chrysalis from death. The tree questions its own actions and feels guilty of overprotecting and pampering the chrysalis, and thinks that it would have being better if he had freed it and let the butterfly explore her way through all the dangers the jungle posed.

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It completely depends upon us how we want a child growing up!

It is completely up to us, whether we want to continuously protect the young and naïve chrysalis to a point of handicap, or to let it go, and make it competent enough by answering the difficult questions it poses.

Path and Wisdom

Cycling is one of my many hobbies, which I pursue passionately. In a week, my cycling workout is around 70 kilometers. It has being 5 years since I took cycling as a serious activity than just a means of exercise. At home, I have several that complete my workout, while back at my university, I have another set of routes, which satisfies my hunger for a ride. One thing that I admit in all this is that it is quite a repetitive activity, and it can bore you, but there is another aspect to it.

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This is my current ride- R Bike from Schnell! 🙂

15 days ago, I was home. Back home, I used to complete my cycling workout in morning when the traffic is low and roads are empty. I had completed 3/4th of the path, and 1/4th remained. As you might have heard, cycling is an activity best carried out in a group. But even if you’re in a group you are by and large alone. It is an individual activity regardless of the fact you do it alone or in a group. That morning as I waited for the traffic light to turn green, I suddenly realized how alone I was, even though vehicles and bikes surrounded me. I was my own responsibility on the road, nobody was instructing me, following me. A chill ran down my spine, and I took more time to complete the remaining 1/4th path than I did to complete the 3/4th path. As I was down to only 2 kilometers from my home, my conscience suddenly made me realize that you can’t be too careful, you HAVE to be strong and you NEED TO concentrate on the road than on your mind. Reaching home, I had this moment of epiphany, that persistence and perseverance are 2 important aspects of cycling. You can’t get lost in your thoughts, and you can’t get discouraged by the miles you have to cover to reach your destination.Screenshot_20160228-154141-2

Cycling taught me persistence and perseverance

Another morning as I was cycling on a different route, I see other cyclists going from the opposite side of the road, some acknowledge me as a fellow cyclist, others are lost in their mind, OR ARE THEY? Are they lost in their world or are they like me too busy on the path? I suddenly realize cycling is not just pedaling up and down, but rather it is more enigmatic than that. It is about staying put on the path, you have chosen and completing it with determination and focus. Once you start doubting your path, the path will slow you down, it will make you less adventurous and more cautious, it will affect you on a psychological level. You will start considering the path a burden and become less curious and interested.

Back in the university, when I went on a short cycling trip with a group essentially I was all alone. Every guy of the group was alone, but on the path, we were all together. The path meant different things for us, but we were unified on the idea of conquering the path. The destination didn’t mean much, but the journey taught me many things.

My Handwriting and Me

Such an amazing article, you can’t really run away from your true self in your life!! Even if you make an sincere effort to fake!!

The Truth about Serge Benhayon

I decided to change how my handwriting looked when I was around fifteen years old. I remember the moment vividly. One of my friends at school knew a guy who was into handwriting analysis and so she’d had her handwriting done for a laugh. I listened to the interpretation of her idiosyncratic scrawl during a morning break with great interest: a squiggle here meant this and a flourish of a certain length meant that.

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Uninspired Patriots

Exactly one year ago, I was in Pune writing a different theme article on the occasion of Republic day, here in 2016, I’m sitting in my hostel room thinking of a completely different perspective of the same theme. This year’s 26th January began at midnight in a library’s reading room, where I was watching funny stuff on YouTube. I began watching at 9.30pm and saying just one more video, it was 12.15. I hurried my way back to my room and slept around 12.30.

 

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I couldn’t resist myself from taking this from “Man of Steel”, but it is a stellar line with relevance to one’s nationalism!

The actual Republic day began at 7.30 in the morning. As I put my toothbrush, towel, soiled clothes into my bucket, I realized that at this time last year, I was sleeping in my cozy bed back home, and  here I’m this year readying myself up before anybody else for a clean hostel bathroom. I didn’t pay much attention to the activities at hand-  washing clothes, brushing teeth, bathing, but I was lost thinking about my country India, and what I was doing for her on this patriotic day. I was being a youth, educating myself and sustaining myself on my own scholarship which I earned by my own merit, and not deviating from the path of hard work. A story of an ideal Indian youth, I was doing my bit for my country indirectly, I was keeping my hostel premise (including my room) clean, and being civil in foreign place. My thought process was briefly interrupted by an empty Lays packet which lay in front of room’s door. It must have being thrown from above or maybe someone from the same floor threw it. I calmly pick up the packet and throw in the dustbin which is present on a right turn away from my room.  Thoughts regarding lack of civic sense of head explode in my head. Out of nowhere a Trojan thought emerges – What does my country do for me? Should my country do something for me or it is just a one way street- me doing something for the country?!

This suddenly reminded me of the story my dad narrated to me, when I was home during vacation. We were on our way back from vacation in a car at night and were distressed by the way people drove their cars on the road and general lack of empathy they exhibited. The story is recent one, the Japanese government was surveying train station across the country, as they wanted to find the usability of each station by people. They found out that there was one particular station, which was the least commuted by people, and they marked this station for dismantling. In all this scheming, the government officials heard news about a little girl who frequently used the station to go to her school, which was in a nearby town. Moreover, train was the only way by which the girl was going to her school every day. Dismantling the station would disrupt the girl’s education, so the government officials decide that they would leave the station as it is, until the girl completed her education. This was an exceptional example of a country caring for her citizens, it was country doing something for its people. I rarely see such an example in India. Patriotism is a two way street, just like any other relationship- friendship between two people, family relations, it requires efforts from both ends. It is just not enough to be good citizens of a nation, the nation should also treat its citizens with dignity and respect. Lack of civic sense in public space of people, highlight only one thing- bad citizens. How can such people be patriotic for its nation?? Playing patriotic songs on loudspeakers on occasion of Republic and Independence day is just not enough, doing this illuminates how superficial our love is for our country. Being good citizens is NOT enough for the progress on our nation, the nation should also display examples of inspiration, nationalism, otherwise it generates a new class of citizens- Uninspired Patriots.

 

Happy 67th Republic day to everyone.

The Grey Photograph

We take photographs to capture memories. It helps us capture past times, times that will never return. We all feel that sense of accomplishment and excitement when we take a good photograph. But I want to ask you this one question, what is a good photograph? A photograph that truly captures the moment? Once in a while, we take such a photograph, and when we look back at it, we fell accomplished and happy. There are some photos, which not only capture the moment, but they capture the sharpness and brutality of reality. I took one such photo, when I was cycling back home. As I was cycling back home, I saw this scene, and thought to myself, “This would be an awesome scene to click”, so I stopped, parked my cycle, took out my cell phone and clicked away. What I didn’t realize at that instance was that this would be one photo that I would remember for a long time.

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As you can see, there is a small house in a depression of ground, this ground is not dry, but it is partly covered by water. This made me think of the life we live. How our surroundings are a manifestation of our thoughts and perspective that we hold dear. That depression on the ground is the spectrum (range of our mind), and that lone house signifies us. If you imagine the house to be a living being, like a tree which cannot move, it doesn’t really know what is beyond the border edge. It doesn’t really realize how beautiful and wonderful this life is, it only sees what the mind reflects. The moral this photograph taught me was to never narrow down our sight rather our vision, always keep an open point of view. You can’t be like that house, you have to more than that, you have be like the trees that surround the house, ever growing, and having a broad perspective of the overall world. Ironical to what I captured, we are unfortunately like that house in depression, which is happy to see things that are directly in front of it, but completely ignorance of how vast the world is beyond the boundaries. We should always remember one thing in our life, we SHOULD not be closed minded individuals, with a rigid set of ideals, but rather we should be open for inspiration, we should have the capability to see beyond the walls that surround us. Remember, there are thousands of things to envision beyond the ordinary things right in front of you.

 

Displacement

One year back on the occasion of Diwali, I was relaxing  in my countryside home, listening to old Hindi songs on vinyl records, and now I’m freezing up in Delhi winter, feeling all the more nostalgic for my culture. To give a background check on things, I’m from Maharashtra, and currently I’m in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi about 1500 km away from home. I have to say this, this is the first Diwali I’m spending away from home and it is completely different feeling altogether. So it is obligatory for me to write a nostalgic post about celebrating Diwali away from home. I would not say celebrating but living through Diwali in a hostel.

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All our adventures and journeys in the end lead to one destination- HOME!

Diwali for all Indians is like Christmas time, everybody is home, relatives and close friends visit you and you visit them, everybody enjoys sweet delicacies at each other’s houses. But for me, all I remember about spending Diwali last year, was writing an environmental-pro post on why we shouldn’t burst fire crackers and damage our own health as well as other’s sanity. Looking back at that post this year away from home, I feel different, I feel sad that I’m not with my family, and moreover I will let my anti-cracker stance slide for the moment, just for the sake of my argument. For the people of state, this festival is celebrated differently and its importance is more than any other festival, it is celebrated with much zeal and gusto.
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I cherish this particular quote by William Trevor!

Looking at the culture of Delhi, rather looking at how Diwali is celebrated at Delhi, I feel like I’m not even in India, I feel like I’m displaced away from home, these celebrations in the university campus make me feel more displaced and long harder for my state and its people. Celebration in the campus should make Diwali feel homely for all outstation students, rather it alienates me more, and makes me miss my family my mom and dad back home. Today on the first day of Diwali, I suddenly realize that I’m indeed away from home , and at the same time it makes this university campus more foreign and different than usual. On regular days, I don’t feel like I’m away from home, I do know that my home is away from me, but just that I have friends here, and it reduces my longing for home to some extent. I understand today what it feels to be displaced from home and how detachment feels like.

I truly understand what it means by,

” You don’t know what you got, until its gone”

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Precisely! 😉

Wish you all a happy, safe and prosperous Diwali! 🙂

P.S I’m sorry that I broke my promise for posting more articles than usual, but these days I have being caught up with more study and less free time, please forgive me for that. 🙂 😛

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