The One Real Moment

I got mugged last night.

It had been three months since I’d started working the late-night shifts at a supermarket. The pay was shitty and the hours long, but at least I was never alone in my apartment. But it also meant I could never complete my assignments on time.

It rained most nights, but I never got caught up because of it. You see, I’d work till closing time and by then the rains would have subsided. It was then that I would walk back home. Every single part of the city was quiet by then. Occasionally I could hear a faraway patrol car, its sirens wailing, but nothing could break the city’s deep slumber.

Once I reached home, I would quickly microwave a bowl of instant noodles. This I downed with Royal Emblem. It was shitty whisky, but it was cheap. I lived paycheck to paycheck, so a nice bottle of whisky was out of the picture. Also, I was developing a drinking habit and getting accustomed to the good stuff would leave me broke. Once this was done, it was pretty easy to fall asleep. I’d be tired enough to sleep right as my head hit the pillow. But some nights were different. Some nights, the tidal wave of repressed memories would flow in and sleep would simply be a vestigial concept in my mind. Then, it was back to the daily grind.

This was my cycle. Every single day. Rinse, dry, repeat.

I’d just crossed the intersection at 45th and Mayde, when it started to drizzle. Fuck! I was about six blocks from my apartment. I had bags in both hands, which meant I couldn’t make a run for it. It looked like I had to brave the downpour and get home. The rain was never the problem, it was the cold wind blowing about that cut deep into your skin like so many little razors. In only a couple of minutes, the drizzle had grown stronger and I was still nowhere close to getting home.

That was when it happened. The mugging. An arm wrapped around my neck like a snake. Hard knuckles dug into me, right below the ribs. It knocked the wind out of me.

When the world resumed its pace in the mornings, I’d be busy catching up with it. Given how tired I was every day, I always woke up late, trying my best not to trip and fall as I got ready for college. After a 30 minute commute that felt like an eternity, I would reach my college, always a hair’s width away from being late. Hour after hour, lecturers would pour in and impart knowledge unto us or pound it into us, while I tried my best to keep my mind focused. This was it, every single day. The entirety of my life amounted to nothing more than being in class for eight hours a day, slaving around the supermarket and having a late dinner before bed.

Before I could get the air back in, a strong leg struck my calf sideways. I felt the sidewalk kiss my face and pleasure was not what I felt. A knee burst into my back and I was cemented between the wet concrete sidewalk and the burly knee. I had just managed to turn my neck and peek a glance at my assailant when a blow landed square on my face.

The weekends for most people is merely a means of escape from the mundane routines of everyday life. For me, the weekends were nearly indistinguishable from the weekdays. I’d be off working double shifts for the extra cash, or I’d sit alone in my room, crying myself to sleep over how I had fucked my life up, or both. Weekends came and went in waves and every one of them seemed to slip away faster than ever before. Maybe I had finally settled into a rut, or maybe this was how life was after the initial high of being alive had worn out?

The pain was now cruising through my face and I couldn’t bear the suspense any longer. I tried to get up, but the weight of my mystery attacker held me pinned to the ground. “Get your wallet out! I don’t need no trouble man, give me your fucking wallet,” he demanded. I tried to reply, but all I could do was mumble. My breath hung low on the cold, wet concrete sidewalk and I couldn’t help but laugh at how mediocre my end would be.

I was livid. I was angry at myself for having landed in this situation. I was scared. But more than anything, I was joyful. I was enjoying every moment of this. This was the most excitement I had had in three months. I felt truly alive. I wanted him to finish me off then, I did not wish to exist a second longer than I had to. This was it.

He tugged on my shirt and pulled me up to my feet, his powerful arms still locking me in place. “I said give me your wallet, scumbag! I ain’t gonna ask twice,” he bellowed. I fumbled around and managed to get my wallet out. I threw it in the air and took my chance to run.

That’s when my face hit the ground again.

I wasn’t the type of person to go out and have ‘fun’. This was because I never had any friends to begin with. I guess I’m the kind of person people are repulsed by. The only friend I had was my bottle of Royal Emblem. I’ve known it for quite a long time and it’s always hanging around by my house. It is reliable — guaranteed to knock me out every single time. And it’s always there for me when I need it. Humans aren’t reliable, so I don’t have any “human friends”.

I tripped on my bag and fell with a thud that reverberated across every bone in my being. He caught up to me and pulled me up by the collar. Another punch to my face and stomach sent me reeling backwards. A direct kick to my shin, then a punch that impacted my chin. I felt hot blood trickle down my neck as it mixed with the cold drops of the midnight rain.

I was already on the ground, getting punched left and right on my temple and forehead. They teach you a lot of things in self-defense classes, but what they don’t teach you is how to recollect all the things you learnt. So maybe it was out of pure instinct that I held up my hands in front of my face. But that didn’t stop him dishing out blow after blow.

It was quite some time later that the barrage of kicks and punches slowed down. I stood there like the hapless victim I was. The rush of adrenaline replaced terror with a rush of euphoria. This was good. This was my ticket out of my miserable routine of an existence.

On the nights that I had trouble sleeping, I’d greet the rising sun with bags under my eyes. I would watch the city slowly crawl back out of its sleep and be abuzz with activity.

I watched the night fade away as I lay there on the sidewalk in the pouring rain. The cold wind blew and I was acquainted with all the bruises on my body. It would be daybreak in a couple of hours and the first signs of life in the city would appear. Soon after daybreak, I got up and made my way home. Sure, I had no self-respect but even I didn’t want the early-bird breakfast crowd to see me. I took a quick shower and watched the blood swirl with the water and flow down the drain.

Almost every single day, my showers were a rushed affair. Trying to make it to classes on time left no time for introspection during showers. Today, I took my sweet time rinsing off the remains of the previous night. The hot water hurt as much as it soothed the sore muscles on my body.

I spent the rest of the day wrapped up in bed, trying to make sense of what had happened. I was mugged and I lost my money. I was attacked and I lost my dignity. But in that loss, I discovered something truly unique.

I stepped out of my apartment that night and made my way across the busy street intersections. I even crossed 45th and Mayde; my bags and the items within were still lying on the sidewalk, silent witnesses to the brutality that had ensued only a few hours prior. But that wasn’t my destination.

I got into a bar and sat up on the high stool. “What’ll it be?” demanded the bartender. “The most expensive whiskey you’ve got, straight up.” A moment later, I added, “Actually, I’ll have two of those.”

I don’t know if it is the rush from what happened, or the influx of alcohol, but last night, I discovered something truly unique. I discovered the one real moment when I was alive.

The Mere Futility Of It All

The Mere Futility Of It All

More often than not, I tend to give up on tasks to be done, or on public resolutions I make when I’m not in my right mind. It is now almost a year to the day when I said to myself, “Hey, I should participate in this Postaweek challenge! It sounds easy enough – publish one post, every week, for 52 weeks in 2018.” Never mind how easy it is to be tempted into not doing that, or how busy I was at certain points throughout the year. Never mind the occasional 5-month gap between posts.

Creating a writing habit/ritual is something I’ve ‘advised’ people to do, both in real life and on this blog, more times than I can keep track of. What does it say about me when I myself do not have the habit set up? I started 2018 with high hopes. I was sold on the concept of Postaweek. I had a Trello board filled with ideas and possible topics for writing on. I even had a widget declaring I was a ‘Postaweek blogger’. And I failed. No surprise there. It’s too hard to write and it’s too easy to give up and do something else.

A lot of things happened in 2018. Some good, some bad. You know, the usual mixed bag. But the worst thing about 2018 was just how out of it I was. Most days, I did not have the strength to do anything. I never had the strength to do anything. I could not read, I could not write, I was barely functioning most of the time. There were days when I could not get myself out of the bed in the morning because I was angry at my lungs for not having given up in the middle of the night. Every single day was bleak and there was not a day when I wasn’t reminded of how useless everything I am doing is. Time never passed, but I also felt like whatever time I had left was quickly slipping away between my fingers, and I had so much left to do. It wasn’t a reluctance to do any of this or suicidal tendencies, but a kind of indifference to everything. The mere futility of my actions was a weight that was too much to bear at times. Why should I care enough to read or write or do any of the dozens of things I have to do when none of this matters?

I could say I was depressed, or going through a real existential crisis, or having a mental breakdown, but I am not qualified so I won’t diagnose myself. I think the real ‘culprit’ is a lack of meaning in my life. There is no grand path set that I have to follow, no grand plan that I have to live by. My life is as random as the Universe will allow it to be, and I crave a semblance of order and meaning in it. My mind is simultaneously paralysed by the smallness of my life in relation to the Universe, how my own life has no future and how I won’t have a planet to live in, in 20 years.

All this is quite depressing, even for me, so let’s move on to something else that grinds my gears equally well: resolutions. Specifically, my failed attempts at resolutions. Like most of the general population, I cannot stick to resolutions for more than two weeks. Knowing this, I tend to temper my often lofty goals. In 2018, though, I had just one goal: write more than I did in 2017, get more views on my posts than I did in 2017. But I’m so used to failing at resolutions that I’m laughing at myself right now for having zero self-awareness.

We live in a wild world in that we are often faced with conflicting advice online. There are people who tell you not to share your goals with others. There are people who advocate sharing your goals and progress as a way to keep you accountable. I’ve tried both methods and failed. Spectacularly. Neither method seems to be working for me, so here’s what I’ll be doing for 2019. I’ll do “stuff”. If it sticks, you’ll get to hear about it, if it doesn’t you won’t. I know I’ll do the things that really matter, so I feel this isn’t an escape of any sorts.

Reading the draft for this post, I realized I’d been rambling on from topic to topic, without making any sense. I also noticed what seemed to be an irregularly high number of italicised words. My first thought was to include a footnote apologizing for them, but I won’t. This post isn’t me apologizing for being absent and not posting. This post isn’t me explaining what happened. This post just is. The world is in a grim, dark place right now and there are more pressing matters to attend to than a few overused italics. Here’s to a “better” 2019.


Purple streaks of sunlight fill the evening sky. You step out of your cozy house for a quick stroll after which you will have a silent dinner under the stars that you barely notice. The air is fragrant and light. So light that your breaths carry them away, beyond the horizon, never to return again. Your worries and anxieties still run about in your mind, though you cover them up under a fake smile. Lumps still form in your throat and your heart aches everytime they decide to run amok in your mind. But you wish them away, not wanting to ruin what is otherwise a beautiful evening.
You walk along the streets and can’t help but notice the orange hue on the river, glistening under the last rays of the sun. The river had always been a special place for you. It brought back memories of good times and left you feeling stronger. It was one of those places you wished you could bottle up and enjoy later.

You glide down the streets and notice me sitting on a perk bench. You think I’m happy though you know I’ve always felt tour guides were the happiest people around. Street lights flicker and turn on.

You walk without a clear destination, the promise of a magical place luring you in deeper. For the first time in months you look up at the sky and see the millions of stars that have been waiting for your attention, light years away, yet twinkling as if they were within your grasp. You let your mind wander, free from the heavy thoughts that have been weighing you down for so long.

You hear crickets chirping as the last rays of the sun penetrate the canopy of the forest on a hill outside town, that you’ve always wanted to visit. You see squirrels running around having their final drink of the day, before they drift into the vastness of sleep. Who knows what they might dream about. The air is laden with the smell of flowers far-away. The frangrance is a bit tangy but sweet, you can almost taste it. Stones crunch like potato chips under your feet as you near a hill. It seems the promise of a magical place has been fulfilled, but you probe deeper. Everything in this dark place radiates a certain joy and feels magical, yet natural. You can’t help but wonder if this is a dream, and everything in front of you is but a figment of your dormant imagination.

Old dreams are rediscovered as you watch birds drift smoothly into their nests and settling down for the night. Today’s worries and failures are all forgotten. What still remains is the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

The hill is steeper now. The physical exertions bring you back to reality. You turn around and your eyes widen in amazement. The city is bathed in a million points of light, illuminating the place you call home. You realize you’re pretty far away; the city is below you in a valley. Its very dark now and you are amazed you made it this far, yet you carry on.

Deep in the forest is a clearing, which tonight is filled with moonlight. You walk into the clearing and see the nectar, pouring from heaven to this world of us mortals. The crickets chirp in chorus and there is nothing you can do, but enjoy this spectacular scene, devour it with your eyes and engrave it on your mind. Everything is perfect.

You open your eyes but they are immediately blinded. Your face feels warm. And wet. As your eyes adjust to the light, you feel a wave crash into you. You wake up beside the ocean, still in a daze. You never left.


This Post Is A Little Stitious

Taking time off to discover yourself is a given in the late-stage capitalist society we live in today. How else are the wheels of economy supposed to churn and move ahead if I don’t take off on a wonderful trip to a scenic location where the prices of basic amenities have been marked-up by 50%? So when I took a break from shitposting rants on here, I knew I’d end up discovering a facet of me that had previously been hidden, waiting to pounce into the limelight when the time was just right. And boy did I screw it up.

Long things short, Google isn’t the only thing I am similar to. A lot has changed in the last couple of months. The only change worth mentioning in my life is the fact that I’m almost done binging on The Office. This isn’t news in and of itself, but seriously guys, if you haven’t watched it yet, please do. You’ll thank me later. Watching a couple of episodes every day initiated the chain reaction which led me towards the epiphany that I was, in a sense, Michael Scott! If I ever have a spirit animal, it’d be Michael Scott. If fictional sitcom characters made up the zodiac chart, I’d definitely be a Michael Scott. Aaah, you get the point. You do get it, right?

After the roller-coaster ride that was my college life, and an unsuccessful (read self-sabotaged) job hunt, I decided to loosen up and get some higher education done while I still had the time and inclination. Of note here is the fact that the majority of my classmates are, on average, 2-2.5 years younger than me. This would have been a cause for concern in any other context, of which there are many. But I personally count it as a blessing, because it helped me with the epiphany.

Even though three years makes very little difference in the grand scheme of things, it does represent tectonic shifts on a human scale. Or that’s what I’ve felt at the very least. My fresh-ass jokes go way over the heads of my classmates. All I’m left with are blank stares when I should be getting a standing ovation with thunderous laughter. But that doesn’t faze me. No one at Dunder Mifflin was smart enough to get any of Michael’s jokes and that didn’t stop him.

Sure, my jokes fall flat most of the time even when I am with peers of my own age-group. But to see my jokes that are actually funny bomb in front of “young kids” is just heart-breaking. I now relate to how Michael felt every time Jim did this-

classmates be like…

Maybe it’s because youngsters today have a very different sense of what constitutes funny. I believe we now live in a post-dank-memes world. “Kids these days” are less tuned into sitcoms and/or fresh-ass dank memes, and more into watching videos on the latest Vine-ripoff that’s trending. And Game of Thrones. Every. Single. Kid. Watches. Game. Of. Fucking. Thrones.

Not that I’m hating on the show – I’ve never watched it, so I probably don’t get why everyone loves it so much – but nobody ever shuts up about GoT. It gets very old very fast. Oh, so the Lannisters and Starks are enemies? Good for them. So wait, there are dragons AND zombies on this show? Good for you! Wait, is this how my friends feel when I keep telling them to watch BoJack Horseman or The Office? 🤔

To be honest, I don’t get why I am so worked up about all this. Using the word “kids” or “kids these days” sure makes me feel old inside, but am I ranting because I feel old? Or am I old? Is 24 the new 60? Cue the existential crisis that’s two days overdue. I haven’t even started writing my bucket list, for fucks sake. It’s quite possible that I am over-thinking something as trivial as a joke bombing. Even the fact that I spent all this time pondering over this is laughable at best and downright sad at worst.

Sure, people have different tastes and that’s just how life is. There’s nothing else you can do but accept it and move on. And make even more bomb-ass jokes. And they might have their Arya Starks and their Tyrions, but do they have someone who could even compare to Prison Mike?

The one true God.

Didn’t think so!

An Update On The Cringe Repository

After what seems like an eternity, I thought a bit of re-branding was in order. The URL could definitely use a bit of personalisation, especially since the old one wasn’t doing any wonders. I am worried about link-rot, but I’ll leave that mess to Google to figure out. Or maybe not. If the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal has taught me one thing, it’s that maybe putting all your thoughts online isn’t such a great idea.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to publish a new post soon, at least next week. So here’s to that, and the new blog address.

Why Don’t You… Or How To Ignore The Voices In Your Head

It’s amazing what the voices in your head can tell you. Just this week, they have been nagging me like that not-so-favourite aunt who pesters you to get married and sets you up on blind dates. Sure, I’ve been ignoring them – the voices – like everything else in my life, but I thought the whole experience was interesting in its own right.

Much like the ‘bite me in the ass’ tag and my salon experiences, the posts I write about not being able to write, seem poised to be a regular feature, in as much as it shows how repetitive and mundane my life is. Continue reading “Why Don’t You… Or How To Ignore The Voices In Your Head”

Damned If You, Damned If You Don’t

What is the vilest thing you could possibly do to belittle someone’s achievement? One way of doing it might be to claim the achievement – or part of it – as your own. Or if you want to get technical about it and I do, you could snatch the achievement and make it the collective achievement of a billion people – many of whom you’ve never even met. And that’s precisely something that Indians do.

Before certain communityal activists label me a Pakistani anti-national, hear me out. Anytime an Indian gains international attention or achieves something momentous, every other Indian makes a mad dash to remind everyone else about the nationality of the person. Within minutes, you’ll find memes floating around with titles like “Proud to be an Indian! Every Indian must share” or “Share if you are Indian!” or “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet! Share!”. You get the gist.

Sundar Pichai was made CEO of Google in 2015 and to this day, I find “motivational” images of him with text about how an Indian is now the boss of Google, and how we as Indians must be proud of this spectacular achievement. I would like to quickly point out that Pichai still does have a boss above him – if Pichai runs the largest company in the world, Larry Page runs the company that owns the largest company in the world.

Indians making off with the achievements of others like….

To be frank, I am not making light of Sundar Pichai’s achievements in any way. But at the same time, I do not feel that I have to be proud of his achievements simply because we were born in the same country. I do not feel the need to trumpet it or act like I played a part – however small – in him accomplishing it. Where he is now is solely his achievement and claiming a part of it in the name of ‘national honour’ and ‘pride’ is a cheap move against him.

Sunita Williams – who has found a place for herself among the stars with her accomplishments – is also frequently lauded by Indians. Somehow an American citizen born to Indian and Slovenian parents setting a record for most spacewalk time is cause for huge celebration here! I can understand feeling happy for someone who has done something great with their life. I can understand sending out congratulatory messages for them. What I cannot understand is why Indians feel the need to bring in the nationality of the person. It’s as if the person being Indian is proof that India is regaining its long-lost glory.

I can understand if you’re one of these people I’ve mentioned. And I’m okay with it – people are free to express their thoughts any way they see fit. I’d be really interested to know what your take on this is. But what I think this phenomenon does is highlight the hypocrisy inherent in our society.

We feel proud when an Indian does something that is globally recognised. We rob the feeling of success from the person and claim that achievement from them. We claim it as the collective achievement of a nation with a billion people. But why do we not do the same when a person fucks their life up? Why do we not go in and help that person and treat his troubles as the collective troubles of a nation with a billion people? If you argue that making bad decisions and ending up in the dumps is a matter of personal responsibility, I would call that a double standard.

Why does this ‘personal responsibility’ not apply when someone succeeds? Why are society and the media so ready to pounce in on success stories but relegate people screwing up to just another statistic in the charts? I believe that every action of a person is their own responsibility, regardless of whether they end up being successful or a failure. If you will not participate when a screw-up occurs, you damn well do not have the right to claim an achievement or revel in its warmth.

There might be some among you that argue that it is the feeling of fraternity that matters and that no one is actually taking away the accomplishment from Sundar Pichai or Sunita Williams. There might be some that argue that Sunita being of Indian origin is reason enough to celebrate her spacewalks. If that is so, why do I never see any pics of her father, Deepak Pandya, an actual Indian and a very accomplished neuroanatomist? Surely that is reason enough for you to celebrate?

Now that I’ve managed to make me look like a smug ‘intellectual’ asshole, let me wind this up. What someone achieves is entirely theirs. This can be taken as true since a lot of Indians also believe that failure is incredibly personal and not because of external factors. This goes on to highlight the hypocrisy of Indians or the fact that Indians are really good at managing cognitive dissonance. You choose.

Image via Pixabay

On Not Writing

There is a fascinating story of creation behind every product. Dozens of unrelated technological innovations coming together to create this new product that will be utilized elsewhere. It is sad, however, that we do not ascribe the same importance to the written word. Every word written, every essay penned is the result of words that came before it and of other words that did not quite make the cut.

Behind this boring post about how there is a wonderful story behind even the most mundane things, is a wonderful story. Things are almost always not how they seem. Now that I’ve got your brain going in loops, let’s move on to the fact of the matter. There is a story behind the existence of this post you’re reading right now. I’ve always been wary of responsibilities and deadlines. This is especially true this year since I’ve joined the Post A Week challenge. Mondays roll in and I’m filled with dread because I don’t even have a first draft ready.

So far, I’ve managed to whip up something in time, thus ensuring that my streak isn’t broken. This last week, I decided to sit down early and get something ready for the weekend. Now you would be forgiven for assuming that someone who shares his tips for beating writer’s block would have no trouble finding something to write about. But history has a cruel way of repeating itself, and I came up short of any ideas.

Over at Aeon, I read this essay on how the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer can help navigate a midlife crisis. This essay, combined with a well-written reddit comment on how to avoid regrets in your 40s, formed the basis for a post I had in mind.

I ended up trashing this idea because I’ve had quite enough of philosophy. I frankly don’t want to be stuck in a place where I am forever quoting philosophers and thinkers and arguing why this school of thought is better than that school of thought. Sure, philosophy is enjoyable and can lead to healthy debates, but when you eat and breathe philosophy, you lose track of your own life and thoughts. Secondly, a 20-something with no life lessons of value mouthing off about a mid-life crisis isn’t the best of things.

Fresh out of ideas, I concluded that a movie might get my creative juices flowing. I have these rare moments in my life where my near-perpetual existential crisis seems to contract. It is precisely in these moments when the masochist in me takes over. Over the weekend, I made myself watch the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Yes, you read that right, I watched all three of the prequel movies and none of the originals. Fans of Star Wars might know the pain I endured over those 7 hours, as robotic dialogues were delivered by characters I had no interest in a sterile CG scene.

The wide variety of emotions that one feels when watching the prequels is enough material to write about. I personally felt the five stages of grief flow through me, like the lava on Mustafar. Why anyone would knowingly put themselves through this traumatic experience is beyond me. Okay, I am exaggerating – the prequels aren’t that bad. I could write about just how disappointing these movies were, and how much of a masochist I am for spending an entire weekend watching these movies. But at the end of the day, I didn’t find the whole premise funny or interesting enough. Not that half-baked ideas have always been abandoned.

The last hope I had for getting some writing done was The Daily Post. They put up a prompt yesterday, which I took on as a challenge. I thought I’d write a short story, probably a mystery-thriller. What I ended up with was half a story, in the vein of Jeff VanderMeer’s ‘Annihilation’. The fact that my story seemed similar to Annihilation did not bother me; the movie comes out this month, so I figured my story would be a respectful nod to the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I gave up on the short story because I was doubtful of my ability to stick the landing – to craft an ending that was satisfactory, with the kind of weak plot that I’d developed. I think that’s just how it is – sometimes what you write isn’t up to the mark. And that’s okay.

To be honest, I consider this post to be quite an achievement of mine. Not only did I make it meta, by talking about other posts that could have taken its place, I also included a bit of irony into this post. Here I am writing about how I don’t have any ideas to write about. In this single post, I’ve written about all three of my previous ideas, something that wouldn’t be possible if I had chosen to work on one of the three.

The #postaweek task has been quite demanding of me, simply because I don’t have a routine for blogging. Churning out content every week, while also maintaining the same level of quality as before is a fine line to walk on. I can only expect the last few posts have been good enough. But that is sort of the point of this task, I guess. Getting to a place where writing is an essential part of my weekly routine, not just something I do an hour before the deadline. So here’s to hoping I have my post ready well in advance next time.

The Deep Edgelord In Me

They say hindsight is 20-20. I realized it is true when I went back and read a couple of my posts from the past couple of years. More specifically, my long-ass roundup post about nihilism and my (now defunct) multi-part series about the philosophy of death.

Reading those posts now is like reading the words of a complete stranger. Not one bit of what was written resonates strongly with me now, and I can see now just how out of touch I was, just how hard I was trying to seem ‘enlightened’ and ‘wise’ and into philosophy. This makes it yet another instance where my own actions have come back to bite me in the ass.

It is often said that nihilism and Nietzsche are spouted by wannabe, edgy, and angsty teens and who really do not grasp what nihilism is. Rightfully so, since what I wrote seems to scream “I am so wise and deep and think about the world and life and the human condition a lot” like nothing else. Frankly it’s a miracle I didn’t end up on r/IAmVerySmart.

My reaction when I read my own posts from a couple of months ago.

The lack of meaning in life and existence, which is obvious to anyone who has had one too many drinks and sat down to seriously think about life, was the only point of nihilism that I really knew. And it misses the point of that whole school of thought. I still have no clue what ‘nihilism’ is, but I do know that it isn’t what I thought it was.

There was a time in mid-2017 when I was so enamored by this concept of ‘philosophy’ and how it affects our lives that I devoted an unhealthy amount of time to it. I burned through Crash Course’s Philosophy playlist in a single sitting, watched dozens of TED-Ed videos, had WiseCrack on repeat, and binged on Philosophize This! like it was my job.

The unhealthy obsession would have been enough in and of itself, but I went a step further and started writing about it. This is where things went haywire. I created a multi-part series where I would explore the different perspectives on death by different schools of philosophy. I published two pieces and had two more set for publishing before I decided it was better not to.

At this moment, I know for a fact that even if you read every work by every philosopher and read up on every school of philosophy, you will still not know how to live life. My anxiety about my eventual death and decay hasn’t vanished since I wrote about what Socrates and Epicurus had to say about it. Binging on half a dozen YouTube playlists hasn’t resulted in anything tangible from me. And it probably never will, which I’m okay with.

At its heart, I think, it all boils down to being seen as ‘informed’ about this topic that is reserved for ‘intellectuals’. A wish to be seen as ‘different’ from everyone else, because while everyone was chasing money and material gains, I was thinking hard about the really tough questions and the answers that have eluded us. A wish to be seen as a deep, wise man.

What I mean to say is, if you spend your whole life trying to learn how to live, you’ll never live your life. You’ll just have spent it listening to what dead philosophers thought about it. And let’s get honest for a second, most of what these philosophers thought and taught doesn’t work in real life or in today’s world.

So while it is not possible to live without at least some sort of personal philosophy, it is possible to live without binging on philosophy videos. And that’s a change I’m happy to have made.

On Books And Book Books

It’s funny, the world we live in today. When I talk about books, I have to specify the ‘type’ of the book to prevent misunderstandings. For the greater part of human history, when someone mentioned books, everyone knew what it was. That is not the case today. Hence the usage physical book or book book to differentiate them from e-books.

In September 2017, I purchased Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I’d been eyeing that book for the better part of six months and the Kindle version was way cheaper than I’d imagined. So I immediately snagged a copy, in as much you can snag a digital copy of a book.

And there it has been, lying untouched until earlier this week. In the intervening time-period, I’ve read about half a dozen books. Thinking about the book and why I had ignored it for so long reinforced the point that I do not particularly like e-books. I prefer book books. What’s more interesting is that I had known this since April of 2016, when I read my first e-book and concluded that I preferred tangible copies.

So did I read Sapiens after I bought it? Yes, I made it about 15% of the way, and I even felt confident enough about it to mention it in a post last year. In an effort to read more books, faster, I had started reading them simultaneously. Reading became another aspect of my life that had to be optimized to increase efficiency. Soon, it dawned on me that reading 4 books at the same time wasn’t exactly my forte, especially when all 4 are e-books. So I gave up on Sapiens and there it has been, in limbo, since then. I reverted to buying physical books, despite the obvious downfalls.

This is SO not the book that I was reading.

So even though physical copies cost more, took time to be delivered, and made me feel guilty about the environment, I keep buying more of them. Call me what you will, but I am of the opinion that nothing matches the feel of a book in your hand. In fact, 6 of 9 books that I read last year were physical books. Sure, they are dead trees and now is not the time to be going around felling trees. But I’ve found that cognition is often better when I’m reading a physical book than with a e-book.

Not only does having a book in hand get me in the right mood to read, but because they are tangible, I am often more engrossed and remember details in a more vivid fashion. The reading experience on the Kindle is top-notch, for sure, but reading a book in Kindle feels like reading articles or news on your mobile device. You feel like scrolling through absent-mindedly. There is the pull of the plot, but the effect it has on you is watered down.

When I pick up a good book, I find it hard to put it down. But with *e-books*, I find it very easy to turn it off and do something else.

I realize that I could be alone in this and nobody else feels this way about books, physical or otherwise. But when you’re reading to absorb in new thoughts – be they real or fictional – it makes sense to do so in a way that leaves a permanent mark in your mind. E-books don’t do that for me. That being said, the ability to carry hundreds of books in the palm of my hand is a privilege I will be eternally grateful for.

So, I started this post with Sapiens and you might be wondering what’s happened to it. Being the person that I am – the one to run away from problems – I’ve actively ignored my Kindle collection and focussed solely on physical books. I was nearly 30 pages into Stephen King’s It when I made the decision. I would start reading Sapiens – from the beginning. I told myself I’d keep all other books on hold, till I had cleared my Kindle collection. Though I haven’t been reading e-books since September, my collection has been growing, to say the least. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be playing catchup with my e-books before I get back to my physical ones.

Given that I am reading on my Kindle, progress on Sapiens is slow because my precious eyes get tired soon. But this time around, I’m paying extra attention to really get all the details into my head. Also, I can’t wait to get back to the warm and crispy pages of King’s book, scary as it might be. But I guess I can’t complain since I brought this upon myself. 😉

So that’s the rundown of my love-hate relation with Kindles and e-books. What do you prefer – book books or e-books? Why? I’m sure most of you will have similar thoughts to share, so why not share them in the comments below?

Image via Pixabay