The Stories a Hug Can tell

A hug is of various types and serves many purposes. It ranges from a quick pat on the back with someone you haven’t seen in sometime, to a long lasting one meant to reassure or provide comfort; or simply because you missed the person. It is a symbol of joy, celebration, sorrow, companionship, love and friendship. As versatile as hugs can be they are also specific to each relationship or pair of individuals. Each pair has a typical style of hugging, which rarely changes in cases of joy or sorrow. For some that’s a sideways hug, for some a bear hug and for others it’s one tucking themselves into the other. Whichever form, it tells you a lot about the relationship between the individuals if you just watch how they hug.

I have been a fan of supernatural and the boys for more than five years now. For five years I have yearned and waited with bated breathes (as have most fans) for the next episode, the next season. I survive on the brotherly love, not just between Sam and Dean but also between Jared and Jensen. I adore both the fictional and real life personas tremendously and ship them as my friendship/brother OTPs. Safe to say, one of the things I crave the most is the brotherly moments, not just between Sam and Dean but also Jared and Jensen.

The brotherly hugs between both sets are like chocolate or coffee for me. They have the potential of making me smile bright and full teethed. They fill me with that warm and fuzzy glow; that in most cases lasts through the day. They also at times make me bawl like a baby (when the hug is about comfort, or when one of the brothers is dying, on the show of course). Whatever be the reason or nature, I crave them, cherish them, hoard them and revisit them over and over again.

In this revisiting process I have realized something; the hugs between Sam and Dean are just another example of how J2 are amazing actors and have embodied the characters. The key in this instance is the differences between the Winchester hugs and J2 hugs. I am sure the members of the fandom, like me, can tell apart which hug is for which set just by a glimpse at the picture, whether that be based on the attire or setting.

Possibly the biggest difference for me between the two sets of hugs is how they reflect the dynamics between the boys. The Winchester hugs are another means of personifying the relationship between the two brothers. They are tight, bear hugs, usually with one brother seeking comfort or reassurance. The hugs reflect and showcase the desperation and need to feel the other person against you, reaffirm that they are there, to once again familiarize yourself with their unique scents. But each hug is also another way the dynamic of Sam and Dean is re-established, the dynamic of elder brother Dean and younger brother Sam. This happens through Sam folding himself onto Dean’s shoulder, while Dean himself stands flat footed. When it’s Sam initiating the hug, he usually bends down to Dean’s level (as he does with practically everyone). Even when it’s Dean initiating the hug, he usually pulls Sam down to his level, and Sam of course goes willingly.

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In contrast, a J2 hug, usually involves whoever is initiating the hug pulling the other into them with a hand on the neck. The difference is that it usually involves Jensen standing on tippy toes to accommodate Jared’s height. In the sideways hugs, Jensen is usually seen as happily standing tucked into Jared’s shoulder.
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In the Winchester hugs, I have always seen the personification of the brother’s relationship with Dean as the protector and leader and Sam as the one with faith and trust in his elder brother. In contrast; the J2 hug is a hug between equals, standing side by side with each other. There are moments when the roles are of course reflected of Sam and Dean, but that is usually when one is seeking comfort and reassurance as well.

However, regardless of whether it’s a Sam and Dean hug or a J2 hug, I hope we keep getting more and more of each and may these on and off screen brothers keep fighting the good fight.

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Fifty cups of coffee by Khushnuma Daruwala: A book review

Its been ages since I posted anything but since I refuse to be regular about this, I will just simply stop apologizing. In my defense the last three months have absolutely left me with no space for cognitive functioning. My work has taken over my entire day and sadly nights as well. Oh well, hoping the projects I am presently working on turn out amazing, cause literally blood sweat and tears have gone into them. 

Anyways, it’s also rare that I post a review for a book that’s been released the same year, but yes that’s what I am about to do now. Why now, cause I am on a three hour flight and my laptop has died so there is literally nothing else I can do. The book fifty cups of coffee, is my chicken soup for the soul, it’s the book that if I can, I will probably carry around with me wherever I go, at least for sometime (as soon as I get it back from a friend). It’s a book about a thirty plus single woman in India, who is finally ready to get married so starts looking for prospective grooms. Since she is not in a relationship, she is left with the option of online dating and match making websites. The book charts the hilarious journey of this woman as she meets guys and goes on dates to assess their suitability as life partners. According to the forward the book is based on the real life experiences of the writer’s friend.

I honestly don’t care if all the instances quoted are make believe, I absolutely loved it (if that wasn’t already obvious). I loved it I loved it I loved it. Ok I am done fangirling, the book is written simply, to the point and with an amazing wit, sarcasm and humor. Another plus is that it wasn’t lengthy and thus made its points in a very crisp manner. The book puts all the fears and experiences of single women out there in the open, reminding the girls out there that we are definitely not alone when we undertake this journey. This book is basically a mirror held up to our faces and reminds us that we are not idiots for feeling the way we do. The book reminds us to not settle for someone who we know in our gut isn’t meant for us. The book reminds us that just because the whole world thinks we need to settle because ” biological clock is ticking” doesn’t mean we do just that. The book also reminds us that some people will find their happily ever afters with their dream men after years of struggle (or not), but others will find their happily ever afters with themselves, probably chasing sunsets. 

I could go on and on but to put it very simply, everyone girl out there, single or committed, who is yet to get married and is being reminded by society of why she is something lesser because she is not settling down, do give this a read. Give this a read and remind yourself that it’s perfectly alright to wait it out, if you are not ready then you are not ready, it’s that simple and the world be damned. To all the girls out there already married (happily or not) do read this book, and have a laugh probably going down memory lane, or thanking your lucky stars that you didn’t go through that. For the men and boys out there, do read this, of only to get an understanding of our perspective, and maybe someone can write a counter piece from your angle as well. 

Basically, no matter what age, gender or marital status, do read this book. 

Something has got to give

Its been months since I have written anything, honestly its been some time since I felt like doing anything at all. I am always sleepy. I am spending more time on social media than I probably ever did. I am barely keeping in touch with my friends, heck my own brother. I am scarcely exercising. I am barely reading. I haven’t touched my paints in I think 3 months now. I haven’t written a blog in god knows how long. The only thing I am doing is eating, correction, hogging and of course sleeping. It’s like someone has taken the wind out of my sails.

Last year was great, professionally, personally, in every sense. This year, nothing seems to be clicking. It feels like no matter what I do I am not getting anywhere, not getting anything done. It feels like I have nothing to show for this year. You know the hamster that runs of that silly wheel without a purpose; yes that’s me right now. It seems like I have lost my purpose. Like I no longer have my eyes set on the goal. Heck, I don’t think I know what the goal is anymore!

Has it been a bad year, I don’t think so. Yes sure I broke up with the guy I was dating, I didn’t get the promotion I knew I wasn’t ready for but would have loved anyways, I have done decent work, nothing great but haven’t made mistakes either. But I don’t know what it is; I just can’t seem to shake the funk. Maybe it’s time for a change, maybe a job change, or another guy, or even some weight loss (which I am putting back on). I don’t know, I just hope I figure it out soon. Actually I am going on vacation next week (a whole 8 days!!!!), so hopefully it will be just what I need. I better, because I don’t know whats wrong, just that something has got to give.

Memories

It’s been too long, but things have been hectic. So many times I thought of writing something but nothing felt like worth it. Today finally its desperation that is making me write this. Have you ever been just going about your merry way and then Wham! Out of the blue something hits you so strongly. Your emotions go haywire, brain stops responding. Your body freezes, senses stop working. Ya… and the worst part, this happened to me because of the most ridiculous reason.

I was walking home from work today, and out of nowhere, over my headphones I heard a bark. Call me crazy but it was as if the dog was calling out to me. I stopped turned around. I didn’t even make a sound, but that dog ran out to me. He was so happy… he was so happy…. He kept licking me, biting gently as if unable to contain his joy. And what did I do… I froze. All I could remember was Buddy. I don’t know why, but it was as if every fibre of my body accepted that this was my Buddy.

Why, I mean why, he didn’t look anything like my Buddy. And most importantly my Buddy is dead, I know that, heck I buried him myself. I know it wasn’t him! So why did could I not shake of the feeling.

I forced myself to walk away. I walked away!!!!! Literally dragging my feet away. Why you ask, because my mother wouldn’t allow us to keep another dog. That’s it, that’s the reason I fucking walked away.

He followed of course, happy to be trotting next to me, running ahead a little bit, sniffing in random places. He stayed within a few feet of me. All the while walking those few feet home, I couldn’t think straight, heck I can’t think straight now. I just kept hoping he would try to follow me inside our society compound. I prayed he would. I don’t know why, in some twisted logic, if he tried following me home he was my Buddy. I mean I know it’s ridiculous, he is not my Baby, but I don’t know why even after five years, the instinct came so naturally. I don’t know whether to be relieved or upset that he didn’t even pause. He just trotted back to his place.

He trotted back happily but I…… I don’t even know what I am feeling. I thought I was over this, I thought I had made peace with Buddy’s death a couple of years ago. But all those memories came rushing back today and I am barely keeping my head over the water.

The Thrill of watching an airplane fly

I don’t even remember the last time I posted anything, apologies up front for that. My personal life has been a little to entertaining of late, some good some bad. One of my good friends got married, and one is about to, I made some new friends, got my heart broken, assisted my brother in figuring out his next career move, closed two super big projects (I am personally proud of my performance on those), struggled with my parent’s health etc. etc. that’s life for you, and honestly, I love it. However, all this excitement also made me a little reflective, as it usually does.

As probably everyone knows by now, I travel, a lot. If you ask me, one of the things I absolutely love about travel is the taking off and landing of an air plane. Whenever I leave Delhi, on my way to the destination, the initial thrust of the take-off serves as a snooze for me- somehow it always manages to put me to sleep. Except today, I am writing this mid-flight (I just haven’t felt like writing at any other time), though I have a feeling the triple shot cappuccino has a role to play in that. But yes, back to the point, the take-off serves as a snooze alarm, the landing serves as the gun shot in a race- ready set go. That’s when Akshita the Consultant comes out to play, and Tanu, the over grown child gets put away. When taking off from Delhi I was always love looking at the city and trying to find my home- I usually can see it pretty clearly and for some reason it reassures me.

While coming back, it’s a slightly different experience. While taking off from the city, I like looking at the city- a fond good bye (well 90% of the times it is fond) and a thank you for the memories. The thrust at this time serves as the finish line- Akshita the Consultant usually goes for a break at this time. However, the best feeling in the world- touching down in Delhi. Somehow it always fills me with a sense of peace, of homecoming – and I instantly feel tired. People say you get this kind of feeling when you return home to your mother and allow her to take care of you. For all of its fault- Delhi has always been my home and always fills me with the same sense of comfort that my home does. Of course, that’s only till I hit the roads and the inevitable traffic jams.

However, the other day, I passed the airport on my way to work, and noticed something I learned to tune out as a kid- numerous people standing by the main road, waiting to watch an air plane take off. That got me thinking, they were all adults and had undoubtedly seen numerous planes in their life time,, so why stop. Why wait- sometimes as long as 30 minutes, just to see a flight take off. What is it that makes us want to show this spectacle to our kids. That is one of my fondest memories- sitting on the roof of my car, or my dad’s shoulders watching the magic of physics play out.

Is it just that – the thrill of physics? Or is it imagining yourself in one of them? Imagining what it feels like to experience it from the inside? Or maybe they are remembering their childhood memories- reliving the good ones, just like me. Or is it more philosophical? The reaffirming of the faith that we Humans; are the masters of innovation. That there is next to little that we can’t achieve if we really put our minds to it? Is it the manifestation of the whole idiom of try and try till you succeed? Though I doubt people are really thinking of the Wright brothers and other’s struggle to come up with the flying machine. Or is it the feeling of freedom, of an escape from reality and the mundane problems, while fighting everything stopping us and moving against us?

I suppose each of those people stopping there have their own reasons and it could be any or neither of the ones I thought off. I just know one thing, even after more than 100 flights in my own lifetime; I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the spectacle. When the front wheels left the ground, I had an unexplainable feeling of satisfaction. 

So here is to freedom, to having enough thrust and power within us, to defeat the odds. To overcome the hurdles life sets in front us. Leaving behind every naysayers- everyone who said (or says) you can’t do it, of conquering each and everys fear and leaving behind obstacles in a blaze of fire (Ok fine, air planes don’t have fire coming out of them in normal circumstances, but you get the meaning). Here is to each and every one of us being our own air planes.

Hunger Games: the Modern Day Gladiator Games

Disclaimer: Once again, this is something I have been sitting on for some time now, but just couldn’t find time to complete the draft. However, unfortunately in this long wait, I have managed to lose all the references I had used. Thus please keep in mind that most of what is presented here is not unique or original.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is definitely a series that has captured the imagination of many around the world. I finally got around to reading it last year, and absolutely refused to watch the movies (I didn’t hear glowing reviews and did not want to spoil the mental imagery I had). Since then I have thought a lot about the universe Suzanne Collins set up and realised the very obvious connection the hunger games had with Rome and the Gladiator Games.

The gladiator games were formulated basically as a means of sacrificing prisoners of war through a “burial of a warrior”. The first recorded gladiator fight in Rome is reported to have been held in 264 BC in the honour of the deceased Junius Brutus. As part of that fight, three pairs of slaves had fought each other. These slaves were called “Bustuarii” which is derived from the latin expression “Bustum” which means ‘tomb’ or ‘funeral pyre’. It is reported that these Bustuarii were armed with a rectangular shield, a short sword, a helmet and greaves. The popularity of these games eventually led them to becoming a secular sport.

Some connections between the hunger games and roman gladiator games are pretty obvious, such as the use of names from Ancient Rome including Cato, Portia, Octavia, Flavia and of course, Cinna. Cinna is the name of two guys who are reported to have had connections to Julius Caesar. One was a politician involved in the assassination plot against Caesar and the other was a poet who was murdered following the assassination, after having been mistaken for the other one. Suzanne Collins is also reported to have said that Panem was supposed to be like ancient Rome, and those who have seen the movies can’t miss the similarity of the arena with the Colosseum.

Apart from this, the hunger games also resembled the gladiator games in the sense that they were games involving ‘slaves’. While yes, the hunger games did not include actual acknowledged ‘slaves’, they were picked from the 12 districts, for the purpose of entertain of the residents of the Capitol. The ones whose names were picked as part of the reaping had no right to decline, they had no rights. The games also ended only when one contestant was left standing, thus it required the ‘sacrifice’ of the other contestants, while the viewers bayed and rejoiced at their deaths. The contestants were also dressed in exotic costumes. The difference here was that while in the gladiator games, the slaves were usually dressed as barbarians, in the hunger games, it was about the absurd fashion of that universe.

The gladiator games initially originated as a means of sacrificing prisoners of war at the burial of a warrior, and to make the sacrifice less cruel, the prisoners were given a ‘chance’ of surviving by fighting. The hunger games were invented as a means of reminding the districts of their servitude and the districts ‘sacrificing’ one of their young ones. To make it seem less cruel than plain murder, it was turned into a ‘sport’ which was telecast and viewed by all. The ones who survived became celebrities, but remained enslaved to the capitol for their entire lives.

Thus it is safe to say, that while Suzanne Collins, surely painted an impressive and captivating picture, it was mostly a re-invention of the historical gladiator games!

Nepal: One Year Down the Line

Approximately one year ago a small country (approx. the size of Arkansas) witnessed one of its worst natural disasters, possibly the worlds worst natural disaster in recent history. This was followed by numerous after shocks (more than 5600 and 4312 recorded landslides till date) and finally another major earthquake a month later. For weeks the whole world rallied to help, every eye was on this small country and its people, with ‘help’ pouring in from all corners, in the shape of food, shelter, medicine, clothes and donations.

 

That was a year ago. As is usually the case, the world soon found more interesting stuff to focus on, NGOs found new target areas and objectives and slowly everyone exited the place. While last year there were more than 200-300 NGOs in a district in Nepal, now only 20-30 remain, of which not even half are actually doing work.

 

I had the privilege or fortune of being in Nepal last year in January and February and had been pained to hear that the place I had spent almost a month in was almost completely annihilated. This year I got a chance to go back again, and see first hand how everything is even after a year.

 

When we reached Kathmandu, I was apprehensive and then as the day passed on, impressed and shamefuly a little let down. Looking at Kathmandu you couldn’t say it had suffered so much. All that was visible were a few broken walls. But otherwise life seemed to have gone back on track. How I regret my thoughts now. Despite the fact that one of the primary aims of my visit was to understand how the earthquake had impacted a specific district (as usual no names or locations can be disclosed), it almost felt like nothing major had happened. As if the earthquake was no more than a bad memory.

 

How I wish I could take those thoughts back, for it is the interiors of the country that you truly see the devastation of the quakes. A year on, people are still living in shelters, their families dead, houses destroyed, livestock and livelihoods lost. while some camps are located on government land, most of the camps are established on private land, which has been procured by the local community themselves on rent. Everyone recounts with saddening clarity those first few days, where due to the nature of the terrain in the country and time taken to mobilise enough relief, they spend days on top of the mountains, injured, hungry and scared for their lives. While most injured were eventually evacuated by choppers, the healthy had to find their own way down the mountains, where no one was sure of when the next aftershock or landslide would hit. Those who passed away in this were crudely buried only to get a proper funeral weeks later when their family dared come back.

 

A year on, people are still residing in the relief shelters made, dependent on charity for food and basic supplies. While earlier most had a sustenance livelihood of agriculture and livestock, now most are dependent on a few days of wage labour for running their houses.
The people are ready to move on with their life’s, but also express apprehension over what that means. They don’t own any land in the camp areas, the land they do own may not be safe and is full of horrific memories. The government wasn’t able to help most set up their camps and now doesn’t have a clear stand on where the people should go, how they will be resettled. The INGOs working with them are ending their projects and withdrawing, the NGOs are running out of money and sponsorship.

 

Furthermore, the agreements for the land for the camps were only for a year. Thus it is possible that come June, these camps may have to be dismantled and the people forced to move to another location or worse, back to their villages. Even if that doesn’t happen, they will have to pay a higher rent, along with continued costs of electricity, food and medical bills. Add on top of this, the fact that disease, rising cost of living, human trafficking (especially of children), threats to women safety and overall vulnerability are rising, the picture isn’t pretty. And the world seems to have forgotten.