My World

The Best Things in Life are the People you Love, the Places you've seen, and the Memories you've made along the way.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

To judge... or not to judge.?

Hello! I know I have been gone a long while, what with university assignments, exams, and a completely packed schedule, but I'd like to pen down my thoughts today on something that has been bothering me for quite some time now. However, it may be controversial, but definitely blunt and real. 

We call ourselves a modern society. We say we are above racism, above judgement or stereotype, above discrimination, above the concepts of 'slavery' and 'superiority' that plagued the human population back in the 'old days'. Today, we like to think that we've grown, we've developed, we've moved forward from the 'backward' thoughts the likes of which we now only read in history books. 

I would like to say that we're wrong to think so. 

Yes, there may be no slavery today, and yes we may flaunt the whole 'equality' scenario everywhere, but who are we kidding? The stereotyping, the judging, the racism, is still very much present in my opinion - perhaps not out in the open but definitely in our minds. I'm not saying I'm perfect either, I have had plenty of moments where the thought crosses my mind - 'Oh, he or she is a so-and-so, must be a _____ (*insert racial stereotype here*).' 

Until some time ago, I had accepted the fact that it's human nature to judge, to categorise, to form assumptions - negative or positive - at the expense of others, but I'm having much more difficulty living up to my acceptance as the days pass. It has been almost 3 years since I've lived in Malaysia, and though this might sound controversial, I just want to put it out there - International people in Malaysia, especially those from the middle-east, Africa, or countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. are not treated kindly here. There is no blatant racism saying 'You are a so-and-so', no out in the open abusing or humiliation (and thank God for that) but subtle forms of the same are omnipresent. 

Try finding a place to stay here and you'll be faced with the words 'My tenants are Chinese and prefer Chinese or Indonesian etc. housemates, sorry.', Or even 'Oh you're so-and-so (non chinese usually), I'm not sure I can rent out a room to you.' And this is not one instance, or not a personal grudge, this I speak from experience - both personal and from international friends and acquaintances around me. There's also some other kind of subtleties like the faces, the looks, and at times the snide comments which the internationals experience here courtesy to the locals. I'm not saying everyone does it - there are lots who don't either - but there is certainly a fair amount of people who do engage in it for it to be a big deal.

Malaysia is one of the many countries in the world of course which harbour such people. After all, it is human nature to indulge in 'racism' (which is an extension of judgement or stereotype). Take Indians vs Pakistanis, Sri Lankans vs Tamils, Chinese vs Malays, Americans vs Africans, and the list goes on and on and on. 

Here's a video I found the other day on Upworthy touching the issue of discrimination in America when it comes to getting a place for Africans to live in, which pretty much illustrates my point (especially since the same condition is in Malaysia for non-Malaysian races):

video

Nonetheless, just because it happens everywhere, doesn't change the fact that it's wrong. It is wrong because it is disrespectful, hurtful, and at times even harmful (resulting in wars or terrorism). What needs to change is not the world, because the world won't magically change its ways one fine day, nor will the entirety of human population - and this may sound cliché but it is the truth - the change has to come from within you, with me, within each one of us. Unless we decide to put a stop to it, to try and think of people as individuals and not as a part of a certain race or community, to at least put an effort into neutralising our opinions about a person before even getting to know them properly, nothing will ever change. And that's that. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

When did I grow up...? (poem)

When did I grow out of eating candies and stick ice creams
instead choosing to settle for diet cokes and cups of corn,
when did I stop savoring my favorite sweet tastes
and began worrying about the pounds I put on?

When did I grow out of wearing what I first saw in the closet
instead starting to stop and evaluate my look in the mirror,
when did I stop considering my comfort in attires
and began worrying about my ‘public figure’?

When did I grow out of inane talking for hours on end
instead deciding to pick my words carefully during conversations,
when did I stop speaking for the sheer joy of discourse
and began worrying about words and their implications?

When did I grow out of laughing easily and openly
instead preferring to give chuckles brief and smiles small,
when did I stop living so carefree and blithe
and began worrying about the names they’d call?

When did I grow out of crying for cuts and bruises
instead choosing to hide my scars and blink back the tears,
when did I stop expressing my pain to those I loved
and began worrying about exposing to the world my fears?

When did I grow out of dreaming for princes and knights
instead starting to think of love as a mere fantasy,
when did I stop hoping for fairytale endings
and began worrying about deceit and fallacy?

{Composed by me}

Friday, 17 January 2014

English Writing for the Non-Natives

Recently, I read the famous classic "Lolita" by Russian author Vladimir Nabakov and I was floored by the beauty of it. Not once in my reading did I feel that the author of the book is a non-native of the english language. It got me thinking about the first time I ventured into showing my writings to someone else. I always wrote in the english language but was afraid that I make too many mistakes in the beginning.

Nonetheless, as I gained confidence in my writings, be it poetry or short stories, I decided to provide them with exposure. It still took me a lot of courage to post my first story on HPFF (the fan fiction site) because not only was I wary of the content in general which is a fear most writers face, but I was also dealing with the fear of being ridiculed for my grammar, sentence phrasing etc. which is different from the native english speakers. Thankfully, my work received nothing but appreciation and constructive criticism both of which encouraged me, helped me improve, and become a better writer.

That was just me but there are countless other writers who are not native speakers of the english language yet they like to and wish to write in english. Some are not even brought up in a partly english-speaking environment like I was and yet they do it, and they do it amazingly well. An advice I'd like to give to such writers is to keep reading works in english, constantly brush up on your vocabulary, stay in touch with the rules of the language, and most importantly, continue to write. Write and don't be afraid to show it to the world, to receive constructive criticism and helpful advice, because the more exposure you receive, the more you'll learn and improve.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Façade

I see you in the sands of the shore,
in the grains that drown.
My eyes seek you out, as
my forsake is sadder than my frown.

I see you in the flowers of the field,
in the blooms that wither.
My hands reach out to you, as
my shrug is sadder than my quiver. 

I see you in the leaves of the Autumn,
in the fronds that break off,
My lips call out your name, as
my sigh is sadder than my sob.

I see you in the dew of the morning,
in the drops that dissolve.
My feet run to you, as
my brace is sadder than my fall.

I see you in the winds of the hill,
in the whispers that disappear.
My heart yearns for you, as
my smile is sadder than my tear. 


-Composed by me
(Aditi Verma)



Friday, 11 October 2013

Pride and Accomplishment

Today, I would like to share a little something here that has brought me a sense of pride and accomplishment.  A few days ago, some of my "work" got published in a magazine. It was a couple of reviews that I wrote as a freelance content writer for the MYC Malaysia (a Malaysian youth magazine) and I couldn't have been happier to see them get published and receive my first proper "salary". It is a small step but it means a lot to me since I've never written for a magazine before, or any published entity for that matter, and as a writer, this baby step is a milestone in my journey.

This ordeal has given me a valuable experience of professional writing, a cherished memory of my first published work, a proud moment of earning something from my own hard work, and most importantly, immense happiness that only an aspiring writer can feel.  It has also taught me that opportunity does knock on your door at times, a statement that I never truly believed in. It has also made me strong and confident, and given me the motivation to keep going, to keep working hard towards my goal, to not give up.

Thank you God, Mom, Dad, Dee (my sister), and my lovely friends for believing in me, encouraging me, and supporting me at all times. I couldn't have done it without you.

If you want to have a look at what I've written, grab the MYC! Magazine October 2013 issue and look for "Top 5 Technological Horror Movies", "Music Reviews October", "Top 5 Must Read Sci-Fi books", and "Phones of 2013."

If you're not in Malaysia, you can read the same online at http://issuu.com/salient/docs/myc__octorber_issue2013 - pages 38-39, pg 44, and pg 52. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Starving Hearts - A reflection....


They say that this world harbors many horrors, and we would be incredibly lucky to not come face to face with at least one in our entire lifetime. I am no exception to this. Every year when I visit my relatives in India, my eyes are unwillingly drawn to the horror of hunger in almost every street I pass by. The sight of frail men and women with sunken eyes and gaunt bodies begging for money and food on roadsides and traffic signals makes my heart ache. Looking at malnourished children scavenging for food in dustbins and garbage piles, or running from car to car to sell toys or flowers in hopes of making some money, makes my eyes tear up. This spectacle of poverty-ridden people begging, selling, and walking as if every step costs them a precious breath of life drives me to question the society we live in. The irony of sitting in my car in luxury while watching these people suffer never fails to strike me, and yet there is barely anything I do about it except giving them money and food whenever I can.

However, the question that arises is whether that is enough? Are food and money the only things these people crave? Are they not hungry for love and affection, for education and knowledge, for care and support? We live under the impression that we ‘help’ them when we give them what they ask for – be it by buying their goods, offering them food, or presenting them with cash. We observe their hunger from the state of their pitiable physiques but overlook the silent cry for help burning in their eyes, turning away from their beseeching glances that starve for some ‘real’ help – for some love and warmth.

If confronted with this reality, most of us would respond with a guilty look and an answer along the lines of “What can I do that will make a difference?” and “If only I didn’t have my own problems to deal with.” Indeed, each of us has our own lives and we can’t go around trying to better the life of a stranger or trying to solve a problem that is apparently none of our concern. But, is that really true? Can we truly not spare a few moments from our comfortable life and share them with a needy, albeit a stranger? If we wish to, we most certainly can. In fact, it is not a question of “What can I do that will make a difference?” but a question of “What should I do to make a difference?”

Yes, It may not be possible for all of us to share our wealth with an unknown man, woman, or child and put them in a good school or give them clothes to wear and food to eat on a daily basis. Nonetheless, it is possible for us to spend some time with them, show them our love and care, perhaps have a snack with them, or even share a laugh in an attempt to quench their hunger for some care, to show them that they matter, that their lives are not worthless. Contrary to popular belief, these are not merely a bunch of “inspirational” words but reality. I know it sounds too good to be true, too ‘far-fetched’ some would say, but if we put our mind to it, we can do it.

The other day at the KTM train station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I saw a young boy who couldn’t have been older than seven or eight years of age walk up to a man singing with a guitar near the ticket station. The boy offered him his McDonald’s drink when the man stopped for a rest. He looked momentarily surprised before accepting the drink graciously. However, the boy’s next gesture was what amazed me the most. He took the man’s hand, told him he had a wonderful voice, and gave him a genuinely adorable smile. The gratitude and happiness shining in the man’s eyes was far greater than I had seen when he received money from the people passing by. The emotions flitting across his face were enough to tell me that the man felt good about himself for perhaps the first time in long.

Witnessing this incident only strengthened my belief that sometimes the needy are hungrier for a few encouraging words and an affectionate moment than for food and money. It taught me that if a little child can give them that, then so can I, and so can the rest of us. It made me realize that in the end it is just about us finding and pulling out that humanity from within ourselves to help feed the many starving hearts.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Book review - The Shiva Trilogy

After a small hiatus from my blog, I am back writing, with a recommendation/review of a book, or I should say trilogy, that I recently read.

The book series I am talking about comprises of three books - Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of Nagas, and The Oath of the Vayuputras - written by an Indian author, Mr. Amish Tripathi.

Mr. Tripathi indeed struck a jackpot when his debut novel, Immortals of Meluha, turned out to be a bestseller, with his entire trilogy later becoming the fastest selling book series in the history of Indian publishing. Learning about the success of the books, I instantly wanted to get my hands on them, and was given the opportunity when I found that my cousin brother had borrowed the first two books from a friend. Once I had finished with them, I could not wait to read the third and bought it from a bookshop at the airport! Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed on reading them.

I was hooked to the series from the very first book itself, and I knew this was a book worth reading as not all books have such a captivating effect on me. The plot was very intriguing and the characters well-developed. The genre itself was something unique - a mix of Indian mythology, fiction, and fantasy, with a touch of romance. The books possessed all elements required to ensnare a reader. The pace of the story was well balanced, not too fast to prove confusing and not too slow to appear boring. The writing style was casual and simplistic, yet the descriptions particularly elaborate and surreal.

The entire time I was reading the books, I felt like I was a part of them. I could connect with the protagonist Shiva easily, and every time I put the book down, I was left wondering what he would be facing next. Another aspect of the books that I enjoyed was how Mr. Tripathi had taken so many well-known characters from Indian mythology and given them their own spin and identity. Not only that, all of them were particularly well-rounded and constant in their personalities, each having a distinct relationship with Shiva. Some of my favourites were Ganesh, Parvateshwar, Brahaspati and Sati. Each of them had something essential to give to the plot and without them the story would have been more or less colourless.

The books, however, are not entirely flawless. The intricate details can get a little tiresome at times, especially those of 'long journeys' that Shiva and his troops make. The plot can come across as slightly slow-paced at times, especially that of the third book, The Oath of the Vayuputras. Some characters are not given enough importance when I felt like that they should have, such as Anandmayi and Ayurvati. The climax in the last book, though surprising, is not much focused on, and I felt like Mr. Tripathi could have done better in drawing it out and increasing its intensity.

Nonetheless, it was interesting to see how Shiva evolved as a character himself on his journey from the first to the third book. As he comes to terms with his 'destiny' to eliminate evil, he faces various threats, forges many alliances, realises who his loyal friends are, and who his true enemies, all the while fighting nightmares of his past. He has many sides to his personality and it is exhilarating to unravel his many layers chapter by chapter, book by book, until the very end. It is astounding to read how he attains the status of a living God from a barbarian of another land for the entire India.

The books have many deep set morals in them, like those of friendship and loyalty, of bravery and kindness, and above all, of 'good' and 'evil' and what makes them. They definitely make for a good read, and I would recommend them to anyone looking to read something unique. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

The clock is ticking...

It is exhilarating to think that less than a month is left until I finish my second semester, also my 'first year' (of degree) at University. It sounds like such a big deal. It only seems yesterday when I was being all wide-eyed and thrilled at the fact that I was finishing Foundation and taking a step into degree, and now here I am, once again taking another step towards another milestone.

Needless to say, this semester hasn't been a great one and I look forward to its end. Though I have learnt a lot, I have also been through a large amount of stress and tension, as the previous semesters were nothing compared to this. Weekly assignments, clashing submission dates, regular 'updating' of assignment blogs, intense video shoots and not to forget, mid term and later final exams, and in between online quizzes - it hasn't exactly been a joy ride. In fact, there were times when I felt so frustrated, I really wanted to give up. To quit. Which is highly surprising since I am not the 'quitting' type of person. I am a girl with huge dreams and high ambitions, and always see through to the end of my goal. Yet, the past four months have definitely taken a toll on me and I found myself craving home and relaxation and a break from all this several times.

So, it is with pride and relief that I say I have made it. I have managed to keep going and not give up. I have managed to hold on so far, and I intend to not let go any time soon. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel already, less than a month and I'll be with my family, away from all the stress and tension, and enjoying a much needed break of a month. Then, I intend to come back for the next semester, for my 'second year', fully rejuvenated and with another set of high goals in mind.

I would just like to extend some gratitude to my awesome parents, superb sister, and amazing friends, both here and in Tanzania, for giving me the support and encouragement I needed to not crack under the pressure and quit. Thank you :)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Happy Birthday Eesha! This one's totally dedicated to you :)


There is this amazing girl I know, and I am lucky enough to call her my best friend. She is incredibly inspirational, smart, crazy, understanding, affectionate, pure, and absolutely wonderful. She is brilliant at Math (now that’s something that deserves an applause :P) and is a superb artist as well – multitalented in the most realistic sense. She can get a little scientific at times too, with her insect-fascination and stuff, but I love every bit of her exquisite personality.  In fact, I am already running out of words to describe her remarkable self – truly she’s beautiful inside out. Her heart is of gold, and sometimes I wonder how someone like me can possibly deserve to have someone as amazing as her as my best friend. 

She always cares for me so much and makes me feel so loved. She listens to my rants about relevant and irrelevant stuff patiently, and gives me the best advice in the world. She cheers me right up when I am feeling down in the dumps, and never judges me for all my harshness that I tend to exhibit at times. She is one person whom I can trust fully and easily, with every little thing of mine – tangible or not – and I know she’ll never break my trust. She is the ‘best friend’ in the truest sense, never complaining, never judging, and never forcing me to accept her views.

Our thoughts may differ on many matters, but being the calm, sensible, and patient person she is, she never forces me to accept that she’s right. In fact, in the end when I am indeed proved wrong and she right, she never says “I told you so” but instead stands by side, helps me up from my fall, and offers me words of comfort. She never shows the possessiveness of a best friend (which I tend to show way too often) but is there for me quietly just the same. Her reassuring and understanding manner always tells me that no matter what happens, things will get better. Without her, I don’t know how I’d able to cope with half the things in my life. When I cry, she silently hugs me. 

When I cry while on skype or chat, she calmly handles me (I still don’t know how she does it) in a way that I instantly feel better – the distance between us doesn’t matter. When I am angry, and I vent out all my frustration on her, she never says a word but lets me rant, then helps me to regain my senses slowly (after which I profusely apologize and she goes as far as to say “It’s not your fault, you don’t have to apologize for anything.”). When I am happy, she joins me in my happiness as if her own, and when I am excited, she squeals in delight right with me. She has become a part of my family, and I cannot imagine my life without her anymore. 

And so, without further ado, I wish this beautiful girl a very Happy Birthday. Eesha, my amazing, amazing best friend – no my sister – without whom I’d truly be lost, I love you so much and hope that you have hundreds of glorious years ahead of you, every moment of each year filled with love, happiness, prosperity, and success, and that I am a part of this awesome life of yours, that one day when you’re old and grey and knitting sweaters and talking about your grandchildren, I am right there with you… and that we can still share this same beautiful bond that we share now. You officially become an adult today, and I am so proud of you. I hope you achieve all your dreams and get all the happiness in the world, because if there’s anyone who deserves it, it’s you. Thank you for being such a great friend to me, and here’s wishing you the happiest of birthdays once again. 


Always & Forever <3

Monday, 22 April 2013

Take Me Away (poem)

Take me away to a world
where there is no blood and murder, 
'Cause I don't want to stay
when violence here is dearly nurtured.

Take me away to a world

devoid of discord and terror,
'Cause I don't belong here 
amidst screams of horror.

Take me away to a world

free from cruelty and torment
'Cause I can't reside here
surrounded by songs of lament.

Take me away to a world 

bereft of slaughter and carnage, 
'Cause I can't breathe
in this baleful crimson haze.

Take me away to a world

that doesn't harbour enmity and hate,
'Cause I have no place here
with tragedy looming over my fate.

Take me away to a world 

unaware of rage and malice
'Cause I want to live in a world
that values love, hope, and peace. 

{Composed by Me}