Writing 101 – Day 20 – My most favourite possession

When they asked me to write about my most prized posession, I faltered. I closed my eyes and thought about what I really possessed that I hold dear. Quite predictably, I was drawing a blank. I mean, I’m not a hoarder of memories. I don’t store little trinkets away as memorabilia, never! The best that I did was to store some of the movie tickets, those that belong to some great movies and those that bring up some good memories. But apart from that, what else do I have? Family heirloom? Please, the closest we have to a family heirloom is a spoon holder that got passed down our family from one generation. That’s it.

Now that I think about it, I wonder why I never really paid materialistic things their due. I mean, they do mean something to some people, and they do have the power to bring back memories. But it’s funny how I never take something away from a memory to stash it for future nostalgia. But that’s just me, I suppose.

But see, I do have ONE thing¬†that has stayed with me for a long time and something that partly bolstered my one true trait. It’s been staring at me for so long in the eyes and yet it took me this long to realize how crucial it had been to me all along. I’m not in the mood for theatrics, so I’ll go ahead and say that I’m talking about my Computer.

Yes, my loyal and obedient friend. Who gave me a lot but also asked a lot in return ūüėČ

I guess I had always been fascinated with computers. And back in those days (I’m talking circa. 1997), computers¬†were relatively new in¬†the Indian market. And we had black-and-white monitors, mind you. Our school had been the first in our town to buy four computers for educational purposes.¬† Though the truth is that all we did was play games on it (Prince of Persia, Dave, Paratrooper). There were thirty of us in our class so everyone used to get about 10 minutes of time to play with the computer. And I used to wait in line, with eager eyes, just to get my hands on the keyboard. I was mad. But of course, after that we moved to a bigger city and our new school actually had Computer Science as one of¬† the courses. And they had color monitors with Windows 98, but best of all,¬† they had one computer for one student which meant it was all yours for the whole 50 minutes. Ecstatic would be an understatement.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, after almost two years of constant pleading from my side, my dad finally gave in agreed to buy a computer!! So it was in May 2003 that a brand-new sparklingly white CPU and a CRT monitor entered our house. And the rest, as they say, is history. Ok I did go for a bit of theatrics there, but that is the truth. I was one of the first kids in our class who owned a computer and I loved talking about it to everyone. “You know, today I found out that you can apply custom themes to Windows 98! I put a Jungle one and it is awesome!!” Maybe I was showing off a little too.

And that basically took off and put me on my life trajectory. I was the Master Tinkerer. It was Windows 98, of course, so naturally there were loads of times when something would go wrong or¬†the OS would stop to boot and I would have to troubleshoot and fix the issue. I loved that exercise, of finding out the precise cause of an issue and the¬†smugness¬†I felt when¬†it starts to work again! I learnt to disassemble and assemble the innards of the CPU all by myself. The undeniable truth is that I saved my parents loads of money by never having to call a computer repair guy. ūüôā

Well I guess I could go on and on about all the wonderful times I spent with my computer. How I discovered new things almost every single day.  How I got certified an official geek by my friends, and how people used to come to me to fix any issues with their computers. We still did not have an internet connection back then, that would come almost seven years later. True.

I did revamp my computer in 2010. The CRT had to be replaced with an LCD monitor. The motherboard and everything on it had to be upgraded too as they just couldn’t keep up with the changing times. It looked new, after all the changes were done, but I still think of it as my old friend. That soul never really left.

Years later, when I sat for my first campus recruit interview and the old guy sitting across the table asked me what my most favourite childhood memory was, you can guess what I answered back without thinking for a second.


 

And that’s a wrap for Writing 101. Even though I’m so late for this last entry, that the official forums have closed down so I can’t post a link there anymore. Yet, I would like to thank each one of you who has taken the time to read my blog. You guys pretty much made my day whenever you showered a like or an appreciating comment my side. For that, I feel truly blessed.

This has been one whirlwind of a ride, and I enjoyed each and every moment of it. Write on, folks!

Writing 101: Day 19 – Everything Changes

Well once again, we’re tasked to write freely for 20 minutes. Gawd. But anyway, this time I did a couple minutes of thinking before I started so I do know what I want to write about. Behold – It’s about “Rapid Advances in Technology!

Well I chose this topic as I know that this is something I can talk about. I guess everyone who’s born around the 1990’s has seen a tremendous shift in the way we lead our lives, more than any other generation if I’m not wrong. We have seen a significant change in the definition of “entertainment”, if I say so myself. I still remember the big boxy television we had in our home when I was a kid, which showed only a max of 8 channels. And how can I forget the antenna on top of our house which used to capture free-to-air channels run by the government. Everyone had one of those back then. And of course, the pain of having to press buttons on TV to change channels. When Dad suddenly one day purchased a “revolutionary” new TV which showed up to 100 channels, had a remote control(!!) and had so many customization controls that it took a whole day to understand it all – we were ecstatic! TV watching became a vanity, and whoever had the remote in hand was the boss. Now we have two televisions in our house. Each connected to a digital set-top box which dishes out crystal clear quality channels. There’s no more fights, no one argues over which program to watch anymore. If mum is watching soaps, bro is watching sports then I will turn to Youtube on my computer. They put all the TV shows online these days anyways, no one has to worry about catching a show at the exact time it is telecast on TV.

If I turn to music, I was one of those people who used to run to the music store to buy the latest audio cassettes (not CD’s, mind you). I don’t think the future kids would even know what a tape-recorder is. Or the once ubiquitous Walkman! What’s strange is that music CD’s are relatively new but they’re already dying. Why would anyone go through the trouble of accumulating physical discs when you can have it all digitally in your pocket. It’s interesting to note how technologies come and go, and how it is driven so much by public convenience and usage.

You can never call something the pinnacle of innovation.

I guess I’ll leave you with one more remark. Anyone remember Floppy Discs? You see them everyday, whenever you click the Save button. And yet, I don’t think the younger generation has ever held one in their hands. I remember the days when we would store documents and photos on a floppy disc to share between friends. And all it had was a max of 1.44 MB. Can you imagine? These days, not even half of a song fits in that space.

Writing 101: Day 16 – Lost and Found

Part 3 of the dreaded “Serially” series is finally here. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know how I conveniently ducked the prompts by taking an entirely different approach to them. Needless to say, they don’t form parts of a series. And this post has no intention of being one, either. In my first post, I spoke about how I’ve lost my faith, and in my second post, I took the cheerful route and spoke about how finding our pet dog Winnie had been the best thing in our lives. So now comes the question. What have I both lost and found? Yes, I have lost my¬†stuff( e.g a lot of books, flash drives, university lab records!) and went into misery. You might¬†think I’m careless, but that is simply not true! Sometimes things happen that are just not in your control ūüôā Some of the things I have lost would have eluded¬†even the likes of Sherlock Holmes! Anyway, why am I digressing so much?!

It suddenly struck me that there is nothing more significant in this world that I have both lost and found than my Writing. So I’m going to dedicate this post to this part¬†of mine. I guess I always had this curiosity towards writing, even dating back to school days. I loved to participate in Essay Writing competitions(in both English & Telugu, which is my mother tongue) and won almost all of them. I think it was my interest towards Language, in general, that has pushed¬†me to invest more in the art of eloquence. Of course, it was also massively helped by my propensity to read. I was one voracious reader, I tell you – starting with newspapers, then magazines, then novels ( it was an era of very less internet penetration, otherwise who knows what would have happened!). So needless to say, I always scored well in languages, quite contrary to others who always got less grades in languages. And then I took French as second language in the final years of school ( It was wonderful, but probably a story for another day ūüôā )

It was also at this time that I ventured into writing fiction. I think I was 16 when I wrote my first short story. It was a very long and sad piece on an ancient Hindu practice and probably wasn’t very good. But it did resonate with a handful of people, who said they liked it. So it acted as quite a good boost, which led me to write one more for a contest the same year. This, too, was well received. And then that was it. I didn’t write anything for the next six¬†years! Yes,¬†six!¬†Strange, isn’t it?

A lot of things contributed to this. I relatively got busier when I started college and didn’t have much¬†time for creative writing. I found new interests like software development. And then I convinced myself that even though my writing was¬†okay,¬†I’m never going to become a famous author or anything¬†so why waste time on this anyway. Yea, I was¬†that¬†stupid. So it slowly faded away into the back of my brain. The neural pathways to it disconnected mometarily. And I existed like that for several years.

But you see¬†there’s something called as¬†epiphany.¬†And when it strikes, you better seize it before it’s gone.

The thing is, all through these years, I’ve never actually stopped reading. And it so happened that I¬†visited the Literature Festival in our city this year. There were a lot of distinguished authors on the panel, including Eleanor Catton (who is the youngest Man Booker prize winner) and also the literary pop stars of India like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi. And when I heard these people talk about why they write and what it means to them, I was completely bowled over. I suddenly realized what was sorely missing in my life. I knew I had to retrieve that lost habit from the cobwebbed portions of my brain, if I need to add meaning and purpose to my life. And thus began this blog! Even though it’s only been a couple of months here, I’m glad with the way things are proceeding. Baby steps, but each one has taught me something new. I’m still finding my voice, and my foothold. There is a lot of inspiration around, I noticed. I had just been blind to it before.

What would I make of my writing, I dunno. As of¬†now, I just want to write and write more. There’s a satisfaction in doing something you like that you don’t get anywhere else.

Hopefully, all will be well.

Writing 101: Day 14 – One One To Rule Them All

Hi there One,

I hope you’re rocking in your Onederworld!

It’s actually¬†awkward¬†to write this letter to you, seeing how you’ve eluded me at every point. Back in those days, all I wanted was to¬†get by your side but I failed miserably most of the times. Why were you so harsh on me? Was it because I was being too friendly with Two, your cousin? Well I hope you know that I couldn’t help it. Is it my fault that I’m the second born in my family? Is it my fault that I always had secondhand stuff to play with? And are you really blaming me that back in school, I had the biggest crush on the girl who sat in the second row?¬†Or that I consistently always stood second in class?

But you were always the jackpot, weren’t you? I mean, come one, no one really wants to be seen with Two. He’s the next best alternative to you, but it’s too embarrassing to have almost reached you but to finally having to settle¬†for Two. Your other cousin, Three, sees even less fanfare. So I wonder, what makes you so popular? What is it about you that makes people want to bend hell down under to get you? What do you do to them?

Well, I can only talk from my own experience. I dunno if you remember, but we did get to shake hands once in a while. All those rare times I stood first in class or all those times I won the Writing competition. But you were there only briefly. I never really got you¬†know¬†you, like many people do. They say you’re ¬†the best, that they want nothing more than being with you. But you somehow failed to enthrall¬†me. So I guess slowly, you became a long-distance acquaintance¬†who would only meet once in a blue moon. I liked it when you were there but I did not miss you when you were not. You see, your other cousins always kept me company. They actually love having me around. Especially Two. That guy never left me.

So yes, I’m sorry to admit that I don’t really yearn for you anymore. Surprised? Well sometimes I feel it’s actually better not to be seen with you. People talk. Your friends are always in limelight. And maybe it feels good to have that attention, but I’d rather be with Two who does get a fair amount of press but¬†not too overwhelming like yours while also giving me my space. He understands me like no other.

Maybe I’ll never post this letter. I don’t think you have the time to care even. And that’s fine. But you’re always welcome, just in case you did wish to stand by my side one day. I hope Two wouldn’t mind. He needs to take a break too.

Yours Truly


Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.

Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

The book I opened was¬†The Book Thief¬†and literally, the first word on the page was ‘One‘ and I thought – I could do something with this!! ūüôā

Writing 101: Day 13 – When Winnie Met Us

Hello, folks! I know this is supposed to be a “serially” post to pick up from where we left off from Day 4. But what I wrote on that day (on losing my faith), left me few options as to how I would continue it in a “found” context. ¬†And anyway, that would be too boring for ya’ll to read. So today I chose to focus on a better thing – of finding love! Don’t worry, this is not a story of my romantic love, it’s something much better – the purest, most unconditional love you’ll find anywhere. It’s our pet dog.

*Drum roll please*

Presenting, the one and only РWINNIE, the diva! 

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To start at the beginning, we literally found¬†her. Very cliched, probably, but we did find her on a rainy night – alone straddled next to a garbage can. She was only a couple of weeks old by then, a tiny puppy with a confused face. You would have definitely missed her if she hadn’t been wailing continuously. She’s got black fur on her back so she blended nicely into that starless night.

It was my brother who actually dared to bring her back home, because out parents up until then weren’t very favorable of having pets inside the house. But it really rained pretty hard that day, so even though mum and dad weren’t very happy with it, they let her stay for that night. Me and my siblings were overjoyed to have such a cutie-pie in our hands. (Really, I wish I had photos of when she was younger to show you, but she was simply a ball of cuteness overload). She isn’t even of a fancy pedigree breed, she’s just a street dog (they’re called Indian Native Dogs). But it didn’t matter to us. So anyway, the night passes, the next morning had been nice and sunny and clear. We were still clutching on to her, playing with her, feeding her milk – but mum had already had a disapproving expression on her face. Dad was ambivalent. He didn’t know whose side to take.

To cut the long story short, we did succeed in getting her to stay with us for a couple more days. She¬†was¬†very frail and starved that we couldn’t just let her go. She was pretty scared of us at first, too, and always hid under the bed unless she was being fed. But slowly, a lot of things changed. She took to us, Mum started to like¬†her, Dad started to take her on walks, and each one of us were pretty overwhelmed with the kind of love that was being showered on us. Two days became a week. A week became a month. I had the honors of naming her Winnie, finally (after a string of failed Indian girlie names). Eight years later, she’s still rocking our world every moment!

Winnie is the ultimate mistress of panache, the brand ambassador of oomph. She’s probably not the brightest dog around (still doesn’t know how to fetch!), but is she amazing! We have finally decided that you cannot have a single bad photograph of her.

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They see me glancing, they deciphering…

It wasn’t very easy of course. It had been our first time experience with a pet and we were surprised by how much care they actually need. Getting her vaccinated was the worst. Like all little babies, she was terrified of syringes. She loved riding in the car though, with her head held out the window, taking in the wind and barking gleefully at stranger folk, but the moment we approached the veterinary hospital, she used to duck under the car seat (Dogs have a way of sensing these things, I suppose). But you gotta do what you gotta do; we were sorry for her, the way she used to wail when we constricted her forcefully on the hospital bed for getting the vaccination done. She’s still the same, the fear of syringes has never really left her.

When I look back, it feels almost impossible to imagine these past years without Winnie. She became the center of attraction and the topic of discussion almost every single day. She loves when people surround her and hates when people fight in front of her. And inevitably, she brought our family a bit closer together.

Here’s a little photo gallery!

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Her favorite vantage point!
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Oooh! Whadcha doin!
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Winnie in winter!
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Just thinking…dog things…
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When she finally became a Mother!!

Writing 101: Day 11 – There Is No Place Like Home

Well, talk about being 12!

Seems like a far far time ago¬†even though in reality I’m only double the age now. But it was an exciting time, you know, teenage hormones and all that. And also discovering…a lot of things!¬†But I’m digressing. ūüėõ We have to talk about the house!

Now, you see, my dad works for the Indian Railways. Why is this detail important to my¬†story? Because it is. You see, all the employees of the Railways are given accommodation in¬†something called as the “Railway Quarters”. These are very quaint neighborhoods, with nondescript apartments and narrow roads that are dotted by towering¬†trees and lush foliage that¬†they really evoke a cozy, old-world charm! They are also often present very close to the Railway Station (one of the biggest perks! You never have to rush to catch a train).

So yes, Railway Quarters are where I’ve practically lived all my life. In three different towns, no less!!

Oh you do get transferred a lot if you’re in the Railways. It’s good in a way, you get to see and live in new places. The downside being that there’s a lot of leaving-behind involved. I changed schools thrice, and it was neither easy to say good-bye to old friends nor easy to get accustomed to new people and surroundings. But I guess it was all worth it in the end, as it opened up my¬†senses to new experiences and sights that I would have missed otherwise.

To talk specifically of where we lived when I was 12, it was a four story building with two houses on each floor. Our house number was 5, so we were on the third floor, the door to the right. It wasn’t a huge apartment, just had all the basic rooms but it did have a very distinctive feature! This apartment building was at the very edge of our colony and right behind us was the school where I used to study in! Only separated by a single¬†compound wall, that’s all!

But that’s great, right? NO! The distinctive feature I mentioned above lies in the bathroom. And its¬†big huge window that opened up to a classroom. Scary? You bet.

Now who puts big windows in bathrooms? This design decision is something that has remained a mystery till today! Did they perhaps think that we would enjoy the vista while taking a shower. Seriously? How about, you open the window and your nakedness is in perfect visible distance of a whole room of excited school-children!  LOL, that was one creepy bathroom. Needless to say, the windows remained tightly shut throughout.

They did eventually wall up the window, but only after three years. By which time we were moving to a different place, so it didn’t really matter.

But yea, funny things aside, it was our first house in the big city so it did have a lot of exciting memories attached to it. I had my first computer, read my very first novel¬†(yes, I was a late bloomer), cooked my first dish, had our first pet – all firsts in that very house. The only sad thing is that it doesn’t exist anymore. Last time I went by the place, I found it half demolished to make way for expanding the main road. Sometime being on the edge does really have its cons.


Because everything is better when you add Michael Giacchino and since I was listening to this while writing this piece, I thought why not share the music too! Do give it a go! ūüôā