From the Inside: my LP story.

My home is resonating with Linkin Park’s sound for most of today. When it isn’t my brother or cousins playing the songs, it’s me. I started playing the Meteora album this morning. Hybrid Theory followed, and then Minutes to Midnight. This ritual isn’t new, but today is different. Today, I was listening to Linkin Park after so long with unimaginable concentration. Today, I shuddered at every song that spoke of pain. Today, more than anything else, my home was resonating with Chester’s voice.

People might wonder why I care so much about a celebrity’s death. Here’s the answer. I care, partly because he was a human being. Partly because he was a genuine and amazing human being. Partly because he is so loved, by his family and millions of people across the world. And also partly, because, when you grow up with Linkin Park, you care about this group of people who literally helped you get through your teenage years.

At the time when cassette tapes were yet to be totally uncommon, around 11 years ago, I discovered Linkin Park, thanks to a cousin and my brothers. The neatly folded paper displaying Meteora cover art had me fascinatingly looking at it and wondering what those songs must be about. It was probably the last cassette I ever listened to. But it was also the beginning of a musically rich era for me, an era which, thankfully, lasted long.

Linkin Park was my first step to Western music. My first favourite band. The first artiste/band I ever had the desire to watch live. At a time when there were just songs talking of sex, sappy romance or breakup doing the rounds, Linkin Park gave me the music I wanted to listen. The emotion, the intensity, the pain that LP was full of, and evoked in the listeners, was unparalleled. I waited with excitement to watch the music videos. They were full of meaning. I was proud of Linkin Park.

I kept a diary full of handwritten Linkin Park lyrics. I didn’t want to share it with friends from school in the beginning, thinking I might be the only LP fanatic in my school. But whenever I got a hint that a person is fond of at least one or two songs, I sure as hell ensured that I gave them sermons talking about LP and the band trivia that I knew. This zeal did help; I ended up solidifying friendship with a classmate of mine, a girl who I am very good friends with till date. We spoke about LP every day. That was a phase when I didn’t want school to get over, not because I was overly fond of classes, but because I couldn’t stop talking and getting excited about Linkin Park. I once spent time talking to a famous senior, for the first time, in high school, solely about, of course LP (thereby him saying to a friend of mine later on, ‘wow I didn’t know she talks!’). I once made a birthday card for another close friend of mine, a huge LP fan, with the birthday wishes having appropriately placed titles of some famous LP songs. Soon I started writing out LP lyrics for those who wanted them. I was proud of Linkin Park.

Even as lot of old LP fans started liking their music less and less, I started getting even more fond of them. I guess, to each his own. To me, LP’s music has always transcended instruments and beats. It always has had soul. It always has had meaning. Chester and his mates didn’t just create music for the masses; they believed in making music for themselves. They spoke of things they wanted to speak about.

Chester’s unparalleled vocals had this anguish and pain that probably only he could have brought out into the songs. As much as I love the band, it still hurts me to know that the very lyrics and the very vocals I love were subtle indicators of the pain he had been going through. He created a space which I am afraid no one will be able to fill.

Years have passed. I may not be as fanatic as before, I may not be keeping updates about their albums and trivia anymore, but am I still proud of Linkin Park? Hell yes, I am.

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This blog isn’t dead, yet.

Hello. I am alive, breathing and in a good enough condition to write. I think this disclaimer is quite necessary, as it seems like the last post on this blog was written an eternity ago.

I started this blog in the summer of 2012. I have not been quite regular, very evidently, but I am still happy to see that this has ‘survived’. When I started, while I did not really have a vision regarding how long this is intended to last, I just did what I had always wanted to do: write and keep writing. Usually, the concern of many people who love writing and want to start blogging is ‘What do I write about?’. Most of the times, I am trying to figure out the answer to this question myself.

Just to clarify, I am in no way claiming to be a popular ‘blogger’ (because, hey, I am not!). My writing skills are nowhere close to stellar, and the average post frequency of this blog is once in three months: not at all acceptable if I want to even call myself a regular blogger. In the days that followed my last post, until the December of 2016, I noticed an interesting phenomenon: I only wanted to write out of sadness. Ironically, sometimes I used to be too sad to want to write!

Speaking of stellar writing skills and popular bloggers: I come across them A LOT. The internet is such a powerful medium and I think sometimes we really should stop, reflect and thank the people who have striven and are striving to make our lives so comfortable. My primary source of good reading is Medium and it never stops inspiring me. So many insanely talented people, using this widely accessible platform to share their stories. One of the things I have been telling myself recently is this: everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes we just need to know how to tell it.

When I started this blog, I did not want to make it a written record of my life events (‘Why would anyone be interested in knowing what I am doing in life?’). Also, sometimes the feeling of strangers getting to know what is going on in your life gets overwhelming. But again, aren’t our insights and perceptions shaped by what happens with and around us? That’s the reason this blog takes a ‘diary form’ at times.

On this note, as I wake this blog from its slumber, let me start by talking a little about the things I spoke about in the very first post of this blog: Books. Unfortunately, I do not have a sweet ‘I started reading novels when I was six’ story; my affair with books started much later, in my teenage years. My to-read list keeps growing with time, but don’t I love this adventure?! Reading tends to take a back seat for me at times, thanks to academic pursuits, but now I am trying to add more titles to the ‘done reading’ part of my brain. This year I have managed to finish three books by now (a commendable feat, considering how pathetic my frequency used to be!). I might add a few posts in the future, pertaining to book reviews. In the order of the latest read to the older ones, they are:

a. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (Finished this today! The reason I have been pondering about books the whole day). It’s a masterpiece, for those who agree with its philosophy. I do.

b. Arrkaya: Origins by Yashas Mahajan. (Finished it on 12th March. Review on this blog, soon. I won’t say much about it right now, but if you’re interested in fiction and fantasy, please buy it and read it!)

c. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. (Finished it in February this year, although I actually started it a long time ago, last year. Wanted to gift this to a friend in late 2016, so I tried to read it quickly (I was so sure of it being good till the end, before I even started reading it!). Unfortunately, I did not meet the friend, nor could I gift him the book, so I ended up later reading it at my own slow pace!). I don’think I am going to review this book, but I do need to mention: It is a piece of beauty. One of the books I definitely want to reread.

I have many more interesting titles lined up to read, that include books by Paulo Coelho, Charles Dickens, Carl Sagan, Kafka and Nietzsche. Excitement = uncontrolled.

So this was all about the rejuvenation of this blog and my recent reading adventures. Having said this, I obviously cannot promise the enormity of content generation for this blog. But I do have stories on my mind to tell. Let’s hope I know how to tell them.

Cheers!

Guest Post for a writer friend!

Contributing to Yashas Mahajan‘s blog series ‘Book of the Week’ for the first time. A *very brief* post about Pride and Prejudice – a book very close to my heart. (And well, I doubt if I’ll be able to speak enough about the book even if I am more wordy…)

Also watch out for his first book which will be released soon. Arrkaya: Origins 🙂

[feat. Shruti]: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

via Book of the Week #13 [Guest Post] — The Writer Guy

England Diaries #2: Things I’ve learned in UK so far..

As I write this down, several things are happening. Some of my friends trying to chose one among the several United States grad schools they have got admission in. A childhood buddy working on his second book as the first one is about to be published in around two months. Busy friends in the US trying hard to find just enough time to rest as their respective schools grill them as they do their MS/PhDs. Many in love-hate relationship with their corporate jobs. A few (and very few) enjoying marital bliss.

Meanwhile, I am mulling over ‘is-my-life-on-track’ on this self-imposed self-introspection weekend. Clicking on one article after another on Medium. Also reminding myself to start working on the presentation I am supposed to give in less than 2 weeks. Exclaiming ‘why the hell the milk had to expire now!’, ‘how do I make chicken?’ , green ticking the points that make me a good girl so far and sending constant reminders to my brain (and oh, heart. :/) to ensure that I tick more. As I write this down, I also wonder if I should write this at all. Phew.

One of the major things that I’ve noticed so far is how easy it is to take things for granted and to lose track of what you are supposed to be doing. Sometimes all you need is a day or two to stop, think and get back in action. As the weekend draws to a close, I’m glad to say that life is not that uninteresting after all.

Such musings are going to go on forever. In response to the question I posed to myself ‘what have I learned in UK so far (apart from astrophysics)?’, here is another blog post. And here goes the list!

  1. ‘You’re alright?’ does not mean it seems something is wrong with you. It’s just a way of saying ‘Hello. I acknowledge your presence.’ (Incidentally, the first time I heard someone say this to me was when I was not alright. And bam! I spent the rest of the evening wondering if the concerned person had already figured out that I was not alright.)
  2. The Brits are helpful. And polite. Very polite. The strangers, at least. Some friends might call random people ‘bastard(s)’. Don’t take it to heart. xD
  3. Systems are well organised.
  4.  Brinjal != Aubergine. :/ Ladies fingers? You might be talking about ‘okra’.
  5. Wine tastes terrible.
  6. Bar is not a shady place where men go to get wasted. (I’ve had meals in places called ‘bars’ quite a few times. Says a lot!)
  7. Politicians aren’t really celebrities . And celebrities are given space (conclusions made from the limited things I’ve heard).
  8. You can publicly burn an effigy of the Prime Minister during a festival and people won’t file a case against you..
  9. There are ghosts in Brighton. (Wondering whether to laugh or cry).
  10. Professors can be called by their first names. And students are comfortable popping in ‘situational’ jokes during lectures.
  11. Don’t keep converting GBP to INR (if you’re an Indian). You’ll stop stepping out of your house one day if you keep doing it.
  12. The weather sucks. To the core.
  13. And if you are from India, some veggies suck too.
  14.  Many people ARE quite interested if you tell them you’re from India. ‘What part of the country’ is the usual next question. (I should probably start studying UK geography more seriously).
  15. And many say they want to/they loved visit(ing) India.
  16. Come, learn the definition of ‘commercial’. (20 pounds for that tiny photograph you clicked and gave after that Brighton wheel ride. F*** you.)
  17. Even a 9/9 on IELTS Listening test might not guarantee you full understanding of the British accent. In a group conversation, brace yourself for undecipherable words spoken at ultra-fast speed. (I’m pretty sure I’m either considered deaf or someone uninterested in conversations by my Brit classmates. ‘Sorry’/’can you repeat’ is my pet word/phrase these days.)
  18.  Americans think European PhDs are weird. Vice versa.
  19. There are people who don’t know Tendulkar. Don’t spark a controversy. Duh.
  20.  It’s super fun to live with people from different countries. More nationalities? Bring on!

 

There are more. And lot more.  I’ll probably save it for another blog post or edit this post itself. Six more months to learn!

For now, let me brace myself for another busy week. Hope you had fun reading this. Have a great week ahead!

 

 

 

 

 

 

’15!

It doesn’t seem like I wrote the farewell to 2014 post too long ago. Time really flies! While ’14 was one of the most eventful years of my life, ’15 was, I’d say ‘interesting’ and ‘important’.

2015.

The year I told myself that I should write more.

The year I did not write more.

The year when I had no clue in the first 2 months where I’d be after the next 5.

The year when in month 3, a ‘never-thought-of-before’ place became my next study destination.

The year when Mumbai started feeling like home.

And when I realised that Chennai was and will always be a home.

The year when I have the most pictures with insti friends.

The year when I realised that goodbyes aren’t all that easy.

The year I got my B.Tech degree.

The year I could finally say that IIT was a roller coaster ride.

The year I met quite a few famous people.

The year I have photo proofs of the same.

The year when my passport was finally put to a good use. The first visa vignette.

The year when I describe India to non-Indians (and watch their astonished faces when I say I have never seen snowfall in my life.)

The year I started studying Astronomy formally.

And started explaining to people that star gazing isn’t the only thing astronomers do.

The year I learnt and started cooking.

And came to the conclusion that cooking is an infinitely better option than eating mess food.

The year I had my first traditional Christmas meal.

And the year when Thames, Big Ben, London Eye and the likes don’t seem unfamiliar anymore.

 

The year that comes to an end, with me being as uncertain about the coming year as I was exactly 365 days ago. Let’s work and hope for the best!

Happy New Year!

 

 

The world is not kind to us

The world is not kind to us.

 

One moment of a way, another moment of another.

When the mind fights itself,

Why is it so hard to find a common ground?

 

When thoughts get overboard,

And you draw flak

The thoughts need that.

Or not?

Why is it so hard to pacify your mind?

 

When ambition soars high

But mediocrity seems to seep in

Why is it so hard outdo yourself?

 

The world is not kind to us?

Maybe,

We are not kind to ourselves.

 

England Diaries #1 !

Green spaces, broad roads.

That’s one of the first things I noticed as the car took me outside the Heathrow Airport. London had finally beckoned me after I spent my summer and rainy months in India planning and getting excited about my first ever trip to England.

England! The name itself has kindled my imagination for years. The breathtaking beauty, the land of Jane Austen, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and many more. Thankfully, my graduate program in Astronomy is giving me a year-long opportunity to live in and hopefully, explore this land.

The lesser number of days you have to stay, the more you explore. My brief stay of 2 days at London saw me listing some famous tourist places and ticking off their names as I kept visiting one place after another. I can’t pick up a favourite; each place has its own charm and history. But yes, 221-B Baker Street is always going to be special!

Baker Street!
‘The name is Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221B, Baker Street.’

Thanks to the Sherlock museum and shop next to it, I now own two Sherlock merchandise items. 😀

There are a lot more London places yet unexplored, but hopefully their names will be ticked off too. Fast forward. Brighton it is. Around an hour by train from London, this place is a beauty. Also known as ‘London by the Sea’, it is often described as one of the best places to live in England. Having lived in  Mumbai and Chennai and visited the sandy seaside there, a pebbly beach was definitely a first for me!

One of the major landmarks of the city is the famous Brighton Pier. It’s a fun place offering amazing activities for leisure. Play games, eat, go for rides facing (and above) the sea, or just look calmly at the English Channel. Unfortunately I haven’t done any of the stuff I just mentioned on the Pier (except looking calmly perhaps). Oops. Will hopefully do someday! The nightlife, the music scene here and (my favourite!) fish and chips are just few of the many attractions of this amazing city.

Beach <3
Beach ❤

BP

Away from the hustle bustle of the seafront and at the edge of the city of Brighton is the University of Sussex, flanked by the South Downs National Park. As Wikipedia declares, ‘Sussex laid claim to being the “only English university located entirely within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”’. Enough said!  I haven’t taken many pictures of the campus, but just putting whatever I have here!

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One of the entrances
One of the entrances
My department building. School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
My department building. School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Apart from the obvious beauty of the campus, the University also boasts of three Nobel Prize winners (5 past and present Nobel Prize winners in Science faculty), 14 Fellows of the Royal Society, six Fellows of the British Academy and a winner of the Crafoord Prize among its faculty.

And well, needless to say, I’m in love with my department. The staff is incredible, friendly and approachable and the facilities for students are amazing too. I’m here for a year so I’ll keep an air of mystery for some more time and give more details about the university and the city in probably the next blog post!

Brighton has been a good experience so far. In spite of being a willing explorer, I haven’t really seen many places here yet. I hope that as days go by and even as my workload increases, I manage to witness Brighton and Hove in the form it is best described to be. Bright in Brighton!