Random ramblings

Here I am, sitting in one of the expensive-for-no-reason DB trains, travelling from Berlin to Amsterdam and tapping my fingers on the keypad thinking about what to write. I am normally very bad at coming up with good topics to write about. My thoughts are too scattered and open-ended to come up with a concrete idea. My mind jumps from one topic to the other in a matter of seconds, and all the content that I thought of for the previous topic(s) is immediately lost. So I think it’s better for me to write a running commentary.

Trains journeys are the best metaphor for life. Just like a train ride, life meanders through different terrains and stops in one place for some time. People come and go in your life throughout it’s course, people come and go throughout the course of a train ride too. None of them are permanent, even if you manage to develop a strong bond with them. Everyone leaves at some point or the other. You are only left with your own company.

I often think about what “being content” means. Sometimes I think it’s about chasing your dream to the best of your ability, other times I think it’s about finding that one person who makes you feel like you’re home. But then there are moments of clarity when I realize that maybe it’s about feeling happy when you are with yourself. None of us really love ourselves. We are constantly looking for something, someone to fulfill a void we can’t fill ourselves. It’s not an easy feat. Heck, definitely not for a royally messed up person like me. God knows I have issues that will take several lifetimes for me to fix before I can love myself. I am a loner because that’s my comfort zone; not because I love my own company. If I had to spend an entire evening with my own clone, I would dash for the first exit. True story, I would not date my male counterpart. The two of us would rip eachother’s hair off.

It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is no one who is meant to be by your side forever, especially not in a world that tries to sell us the concept of ‘eternal love’ all the time. Movies like The Notebook make you believe that you will die in your soulmate’s arms in the hospital bed. Who doesn’t want to believe that? It’s the most comforting idea in the world. I want to believe that too. I want to be able to close my eyes and not feel scared. We want another human being for that comfort and security because going through life and all it’s problems all alone is too much to imagine. We just might be capable of it; but the idea still scares the crap out of us.

Does that mean we should all declare celibacy and head to the mountains to meditate? Hell no. I cannot abandon a lot of small comforts for anything. I think maybe what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop trying to find ‘contentment’, because we are just too mortal to find nirvana (unless you’re snort coke) We will always be in a state of unrest. We will always be looking for something, despite not knowing what is truly is. Perhaps learning from the journey is more important than dwelling over the destination, because you don’t know if you will ever get there…or if it will be what you wanted if you do get there.

If you have something that makes you feel happy right now and makes you smile before drifting off to sleep, fight for it. It can be anything – a dream, a person, a job, an idea, a friend, a new recipe or a tv show. Don’t give up before giving it your heart and soul, because you never know when it’s going to slip through your hands. Trading present happiness for an expected future gain is the worst bargain in life. (Not to be confused with ‘not stepping out of your comfort zone’. There is a difference between being comfortable & lazy and truly happy)

Anyone who knows me knows I hustle hard. I never think I’ve done a good enough job. Whether it is doing the dishes or putting up a choreography – I will always be dissatisfied (not satisfied with this post either) But this constant relay makes me happy. It makes me feel like there is one thing I can truly call my own.

And I will fight for it until the day I die.

 

The murky world of online dating

This is the phase where the highly romanticized version of romance sells best. We’re also the generation that wants instant gratification. So what is the one place that offers both? – Online dating. It cuts right to the chase by establishing the intention of the concerned parties very clear – “We’re here to meet someone and date/fall in love”. In the real world, reaching this stage takes one helluva time. You meet someone, you sort of like them, you sort of try to make small talk, and if that small talk is engaging enough you pluck up the courage to ask them out. Even then, the date might or might not work, rendering all your invested time and effort in case of the latter quite useless. However on an online dating site, you can simply choose not to reply or hit that block button if it gets annoying.

In short, online dating saves you a lot of time, trouble and even mild heartbreak. It’s also an avenue for people who are just looking to meet new people. But all said and done, how effective is it really, considering the fact that most of these sites are plagued with trolls and creeps? How much can you trust someone you’ve been talking to only virtually?

If I were to sign up for one of these websites today, I could very easily download a picture of a beautiful girl, make a fake profile with a fake description, and attract a lot of attention. My profile would be hoarded with requests and messages. Why? Because in a shallow world like online dating, the first approach always depends upon physical appearance. Anyone contacting you will first browse through your photos. Because for most online dating is just a pass time to indulge in some flirting, the overall personality doesn’t really matter. They log in, they flirt, have fun and then leave. In the real world, it’s so much tougher to have a plethora of choices offered to you on a platter to choose from. Which makes large scale flirting very difficult. An online dating website however is like a virtual store of prospective matches, offering you the luxury to flick through all of them in one go. So you could be sitting at home in your pyajamas, having pizza, stinking like a pig and still getting an ego boost out of browsing through your matches like they were on sale.

A very small percentage of people exist who actually want to meet someone. That could either be because they don’t get to meet interesting people in their immediate social circles, or because they’re introverts who have trouble mingling with people. These are the people who lie less and try to strike up a real conversation. But assuming that they do manage to find a suitable partner, how much of that is reality? Who we are virtually is very different from who we are in reality. Being online does two things – gives you the power to be whoever you want and reduces the risk of complete vulnerability (Although cases of cyber bullying are becoming a serious issue, but more on that later) Many times we don’t feel confident about who we are – we think we’re too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too lazy..so on and so forth. But online, we don’t have to reveal any of that. We can actually come across much cooler and attractive virtually, simply because it almost never gets to the point of revealing our true selves. But if it does, that’s probably when for most people, the bubble bursts. In short, there are hardly any people who would be willing to reveal their honest, true selves online (This applies to reality too, now. But the magnitude increases virtually)

Coming to what could easily be called the most dangerous aspect of internet dating – cyber bullying. The genesis of cyber bullying lies in one simple categorization. There are two types of people who use Internet Dating – 1) The emotionally vulnerable ones who are looking for a connection to fill a void in their lives and 2) The predators who are looking for cheap thrills. These predators come across as extremely charming at first, they know how to sweep you off your feet, how to make you feel special and loved, and how to make you fall for them within days. They ‘win’ your trust by expressing empathy. The victim, in such a case, doesn’t realize that he/she (Mostly she) is walking into a trap of emotional manipulation. For eg – It may start with the guy forcing the girl to tell him what she’s wearing, then sending him intimate picture and then having intimate conversations. The girl may not be comfortable with this at all, but she, being emotionally vulnerable, doesn’t want to lose the guy who is supposedly in love with her. It begins with threats and intimidation – “Do it or else you will not see me ever again!”, “You were a nobody, I gave you attention and this is what I get in return?” and “You’re not even that pretty, and I still gave you so much time and attention” so on and so forth. By the time the victim realizes the full consequences of what has happened, it is already too late. There have been numerous examples of people whose lives have literally been destroyed because of this. Amanda Todd, a girl who ultimately committed suicide because of all the hatred she was facing, had shared some of her intimate pictures with her boyfriend online. Jessica Logan also committed suicide for the same reasons. Ryan Halligan, Megan Meier, Tyler Clementi – all were victims of cyber bullying.

One might think that they are too strong for something like this to happen to them. They couldn’t be more wrong. This can happen to anyone, anywhere. It can happen to people who are bullies in real life, by people who are victims in real life. The virtual world is a place of masquerade, and no one is ever what they seem. Whilst not completely wrong, online dating requires a person to be sufficiently trained in emotional defense to identify and block the people who send off red flags. In the end though, before we get into any time of dating, we must love ourselves before falling in love with someone else. Another person being the reason for your survival is never healthy.

Trip

I squeezed into my seat along with my friend into the auditorium. We were both out of breath because we came in running. This was a movie we had both been waiting for a long time, and didn’t want to miss even a single second. We leaned back into our chairs and took deep breaths. The movie hadn’t started yet.

“Thank god we made it on time”, I said.

“I know right! I would have been so disappointed otherwise..”

I nodded and looked ahead. Trailers were going on. The theatre lights were still on, I wondered why that was. They should have been off by now. I looked around. No one else seemed to notice. They were all busy munching on popcorn, which reminded me that needed to get popcorn too.

“Hey, I’ll go get some popcorn, okay?”, I told my friend. She simply nodded. I squeezed out of the row and walked out through the gate. The snacks area was huge. It was probably as big as the theatre itself. The snacks counter itself, however, was quite small in proportion. As I walked towards the counter, I thought about why someone would deliberately make such a mistake in internal design.

As I reached the counter, I realized that there was no one there. Popcorn was continually bursting out of the popcorn machine into the popcorn collecting space. Hot dogs were rolling in the warmer. The cold drink vending machine was on. That’s weird, I thought to myself. How could all this equipment be working with no one to look over?

“Hello? Is someone there?”, I called out. There was no response. After waiting for about 10 seconds, I called out again. No one answered. It truly seemed as though the place was deserted. After a while, I decided to go back into the theatre. I’ll come back later.

I opened the door and walked back in. I halted in my footsteps and gasped. The entire theatre was empty. The lights were on, but the movie was still going on. Panic started to rise up within my chest as I frantically looked around for my friend or anyone else. I strode forwards and called out her name. Something, however, told me that I would not get a reply. I combed through all the rows to find someone, but ultimately had to accept that I was alone.

Fear began to bubble in my stomach as I slowly inched towards the exit door. When I was very close to it, I broke into a sprint and dashed out. I immediately closed my eyes and held up my hand as I was engulfed by blinding light. When my eyes had adjusted themselves to the excessive light, I slowly opened them and looked around. I didn’t know where I was. This wasn’t the place I was in before I entered the theatre. I was standing in the middle of a two way road which was bustling with traffic. There were big 5 star hotels on either side of the road. My breath was now coming in gasps and sweat was trickling down my face.

What is happening here? Where am I? This is unreal. I could simply not process the turn of events. My senses could not let in the bizarre situation that I had landed myself in. For a long moment, I stood rooted to my spot in the middle of the road, not knowing what to do or where to go. But then, I saw a man standing at the entrance of one of the 5 star hotels beckoning me with two fingers. At first I looked behind me to check if he was signalling someone else, but then realized that it was indeed me that he was calling.

I started walking towards him without giving it much thought. I was in a complete mess anyway. When I reached, he silently took my hand and led me inside the hotel. At the reception, he simply signalled the receptionist to give me a pair of keys. He swiftly handed me over a pair of keys that had the label ‘667’ tagged to them.

“12th floor”, he said.

I looked at the receptionist and then at the man who had beckoned me. I had no idea what this was all about. So many questions swam in my head. Why had he called me? Why was I supposed to go into this room? How did they know me?

“Look, I don’t know what’s happening here..I was in a theatre with my friend and -”

I was cut off by the man who brought me in as he gave me a slight shove towards the lift, “Go”, he said.

Feeling totally lost, I started walking towards the lift. The doors slid open instantly. I walked in and looked around. The lift was circular in shape, with very little space to stand but very high in proportion. It seemed to have been made with the sole purpose of making someone feel claustrophobic. I pressed the button with ’12’ written on it, and the lift shot upwards with so much force that I fell down on the surface. As I got up, I started experiencing the same swooping sensation in my stomach that one usually does in a lift, only it was amplified by 10 times. It was moving at such speed that my surroundings had become a blur. My eyes could not take in anything and had started watering. I wanted to hold on to something for support but found nothing. After what seemed like an eternity, the lift finally came to abrupt halt, which literally lifted me off my feet.

The doors slid open. To my extreme shock, my room stood in front of me, looking the same as ever. My bed was as messy as ever, my study table was scattered with notes and biscuit wrappers, my laptop was still on and my windows were open. Feeling a mixture of relief, happiness and safety, I stepped inside.

The moment the lift doors shut, my eyes shot open and I sat up in my bed. Hastily looking around, I took in my surroundings and saw that my room looked exactly the same. I stared at the spot that I was supposedly standing a moment ago, and thought of my shadow slowly vanishing into thin air.

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I wrote this story for a college project this year. Pun is intended in the title. Hope you like it. Feedback appreciated.