Liebster Award 2018….Thank You All!

Thank you to KraftingThoughts for nominating me for this wonderful honour! You can visit KraftingThought’s amazing site here.

Here are some answers to the questions posed. 

1. If given a chance to choose between a solo trip or a family trip, what would you choose and why?

-Oh, I would definitely choose a family trip! It’s a far more exhilarating experience to create memories together instead of just being alone. As far as self-discovery is concerned, I’m severely restrained by my inability to get up in the mornings. Adventures like hiking, boating, kayaking, etc. are all up my dad’s alley. My adventures are limited to reading a book in bed.

2. Do you prefer dusk or dawn? Why?

-Dawn, because I’m never around to see it. The best place to be at dawn is in bed. At dusk, if you’re in bed, people frown. But yes, on a serious note, the diffused sunlight in both cases is beautiful.

3. Which is one characteristic of yours that is completely different from your current personality? Share and explain.

-I’m a talkative introvert. (My favourite oxymoron right there). I mostly blabber only to close family members, but they all smirk when I call myself an introvert.

4. What is that one moment of your life that you wish to live again, but have severe doubts about its comeback?

-I have two such moments…

I want to be a five-month-old baby again; no stress, no high school, no career choices to worry about; my mom cooing over me and brushing my hair lightly with her fingers, my dad playing with me as soon as he gets home from work. Those were the days. Times were simpler back in 2002, no internet or devices stealing our attention or our parents’ attention. However, the problem with turning into a baby is that I have to live through all these years again. Sighhhhhh…

I want to relive the day of my sixth grade graduation ceremony. That was probably the best day of my academic life. I had more certificates than I could hold. I am really scared that I won’t be able to live up to the expectations and have another, more ceremonious day ahead.

5. If you are given a piece of land to construct a building, what kind of building would you get constructed? Why?

-I would probably want to construct a library that boasts of a fusion of technology and paperback books. I would perhaps even want to get an orphanage constructed. But whatever the building is, there would be a lot of greenery surrounding it.

6. Do you prefer foggy-sky-and-snow-filled-mountains or clear-sky-and-green-mountains? Why?

-Foggy-sky-snow-covered-mountains are just ethereally beautiful and picturesque. If they’re tall, rugged peaks, my dad wouldn’t take my mom and me hiking there. We would just admire the landscape. That’s the main reason I prefer them over clear-sky-and-green-mountains, where we’ve done a lot hiking, (this involved a lot of screams, tantrums, getting up early in the morning, more screams and tantrums).

7. When was that one time you fell down, but adamantly got back up? Think & share.

-I fell off a swing once, when I was alone on the swing-set of my elementary school playground. I then got back up quickly before anyone could see that I had fallen face-flat.

I’m kidding….I had once really hoped to win this photography contest that my elementary school had participated in, but I didn’t even make it as a runner-up. I still pursue my interest in photography, with some very patient advice from my dad, (as well as a lot of disagreements and deleting).

8. What is that one social issue which needs to be talked about, but has not been given its due attention yet? (Try to give us a new perspective at the issue).

-This question deserves to be an essay topic for a 10,000-word dissertation. Expectations from students and the resulting academic pressure are quite under-addressed social issues. I think the global competition for standardised test scores and admissions into universities has increased so much that it has become a major cause for teenage depression. Although teenage depression is a well-addressed issue, this cause is often overlooked. Nothing can be done about it either. You cannot control the cut-throat competition, but the only way to deal with it effectively is through educational reform.

9. Lastly, share some random well-known 5 facts about yourself, that create a puzzle in the reader’s mind regarding your personality. (Describe five traits which your family and friends know. Write those 5 traits in an elusive manner, which confuses the reader about your personality).

1. My dream destination is Paris (of course, it’s only a part of a larger Europe tour package); it’s a bit cliché, honestly, but it would be so amusing to see my parents’ awestruck faces at all the French they would encounter. It would be further amusing to see how they would react when I am unable to communicate effectively in French even after years of training in the language. (I can write, but I don’t have the parlance of the natives).

2. I have achromatic vision, yeah, go look up that term. Even I found out the meaning very recently.

3. My favourite cuisine is Thai, though I’m Indian. I love pad-ki-mao, vegetable fried rice, green curry and vegetable massaman curry. (I’m vegetarian).

4. I have no fondness for animals. We co-exist in the world, and that’s enough. I occasionally find some pictures of animals cute, but that’s it.

5. I can only read and speak in my mother tongue, Hindi. My writing ability in Hindi is equivalent to a fourth-grader’s. This is because I grew up mostly in the United States. My parents often sigh at this. And guess what? My mom had Hindi as a minor in senior high school and my dad is well-versed in the language, reading works of poets even in his engineering and business school years.

My nominees- Firstly, I would like to nominate any blogger who writes keeping their readers in mind.

1. da-Al

2. Brian Lageose

3. Ben Aqiba

4. juliehcares

5. soiba

Here are some questions for my nominees.

1. Describe your personality in five words (a single sentence). List any five novels you would recommend to readers of all ages.

2. What is your take on the proliferation of xenophobia and other fears regarding immigrants?

3. Do you believe in aliens or non-carbon-based life?

4. Do you think that Artificial Intelligence can take over the world?

5. If you had to visit the beach or an amusement park, what would be your choice and why?

Hope to hear from you all and thanks to everyone for reading my blog with so much enthusiasm! I would like to request everyone to refer to The Global Aussie for rules of the Liebster Award 2018. 

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The Role of Education in A Democracy

I recently came across this prompt in an ICSE English Language exam, ‘Democracy cannot survive without education. Give your views for or against the statement.

So I tried to answer this question with some painstaking edits from my dad….;)

So, can democracy survive without education? I don’t think so.

I stand completely for the motion that democracy cannot survive without education. Democracy is defined as a form of government which is ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’. Members of a democracy govern themselves through their elected representatives. Democracy is supported by the pillars of liberty, justice, fraternity and most importantly, equality. In a democratic set-up like India, people are endowed with some fundamental rights, which they must put to judicious use to further personal as well as national interests. This can only happen if people are aware of the society they reside in. This awareness is generated through education.

Education here does not refer to the rigid classroom bound structure that we think of when we hear the word ‘education‘. Here, educated people are those who have some degree or qualification which demonstrate that they are capable of understanding the issues which face society today. Education is a fundamental element that allows people to make the right choices regarding the election of their representatives and leaders. By being aware of the policies and promises of their politicians, people can demand results and hold them accountable. A sense of general awareness keeps people from being scammed by the government. The media runs daily criticism and provides insight into the functioning of the government, allowing people to be socially aware.

History is witness to the fact that humans have come a long way in the path of self-governance. From early human nomadic tribes to tribal chiefs to barbaric rulers to monarchs to oligarchs to dictators, humans have seen it all. Democracy is not at all a new phenomenon; it has been prevalent since the time of the ancient Greeks. The vibrant, thriving Greek democracy had many scholars and revolutionary thinkers like Plato, Aristotle and Socrates who raised the standard of public discourse. In contrast, monarchies and dictatorial regimes suppress individual opinion, their discourse consisting only of propaganda and rumours.

In India especially, absence of education and legal awareness would lead to rule by hooligans. Mobs, mafias, fringe groups, violent protestors would emerge, ravaging the streets and attacking schoolchildren in buses, (cough, cough… Karni Sena). India’s biggest asset is its educated youth, who know how to use law and put an end to rule by hooligans. Even in India’s struggle for freedom, it was the youth who was at the forefront to put an end to the foreign government in India.

Even the founding fathers of India were aware of the importance of education in a democracy and debated whether to extend the Universal Adult Franchise to all adults or only to the educated. Their carefully crafted Constitution today successfully governs the largest democracy in the world. For all the reasons enumerated, I firmly believe that democracy cannot sustain itself without the very vital element of education.

A Graduation Memento…

Final exams are yet to start, however, Greenwood High School has given a crystal trophy to each of us, the ICSE tenth grade students, for achieving the academic milestone of a successful tenth grade school year.

I would like to thank Greenwood High for this beautiful honour and for the four wondrous years I spent as a student in this institution.

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The Youth- La Jeunesse

This is another one of my attempts at writing in French. This article is a bit longer than my previous French article, but I hope you enjoy!

La Vie Des Jeunes-

La jeunesse est une chose que tous les adultes ont expérimentée. C’est une phase qui est très dynamique et active. Les jeunes sont toujours pressé. L’avènement de technologie est un autre facteur qui a accéléré le dynamisme de la vie des jeunes. La vie présente des jeunes est remplie d’ambition, d’intrépidité et de compétitivité. Beaucoup de nouvelles entreprises, aujourd’hui, ont été créées par les jeunes.

Les jeunes sont perçus comme impulsifs. Beaucoup de fois, les jeunes font les choses qui sont terribles et imprévues comme l’intimidation, la violation de la loi et le mauvais comportement avec la famille. On trouve que les jeunes d’aujourd’hui veulent, seulement, une voix dans le monde et d’attention. À travers de médias sociaux, ils obtiennent ces choses. Mais, je ne pense pas que les médias sociaux sont mauvais toujours. La manière d’usage de chaque individu est différente. Il y a beaucoup de jeunes qui utilisent les médias sociaux dans la manière propre, donc, je ne pense pas que la perception de jeunes comme impulsifs est juste.

Les jeunes d’aujourd’hui sont capables de reconnaitre un problème ou un besoin. Ces problèmes sont les déclencheurs pour les jeunes; ils travaillent pour les résoudre. Par exemple, le créateur du site, Facebook, a vu un déficit/écart dans la manière que les gens ont communiqué, donc, il a créé ce site. En plus, les jeunes, au début de leurs carrières, rêvent à grande échelle. Ils espèrent d’être médecins, journalistes, chercheurs, ingénieurs, danseurs, chanteurs, physiciens, etc. Ces rêves inspirent les jeunes à faire une différence et ces rêves des jeunes forment l’avenir pour tout le monde.

A Panorama of History- Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is a town in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh, India. The red sandstone city was founded in the year 1569 by perhaps the most famous Mughal Emperor of all time, Akbar the Great. It served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585, when it was abandoned.

History: After his military victories over the Rajput areas of Chittor and Ranthambore, Akbar decided to shift his capital from the city of Agra to a new location 43 km southwest of Agra, to honour the Sufi saint, Salim Chishti. Here, in 1571, he commenced the construction of a planned walled city, which took the next fifteen years, with a series of royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings. He named the city Fatehabad, with Fateh, a word of Arabic origin in Persian, meaning “victory.” It was later called Fatehpur Sikri. It is among the best preserved example of Mughal architecture in India.

The Buland Darwaza (Gate of Magnificence) is the looming entrance to the complex, towering at 54 m in height. It was constructed in 1601 to commemorate Akbar’s victories in Gujarat, a flourishing centre of trade and commerce. It is said to be the highest gateway in the world.

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This white marble structure, in the complex of Fatehpur, is the tomb of Salim Chishti, the Sufi saint who inspired Akbar. In the shrine, there is a latticed marble wall where ritualistic threads can be tied into three knots and a wish made for each knot.

1/7 Wonders of the World

Recently, my parents and I visited Agra, the city home to perhaps the most famous building in the world, the Taj Mahal.. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan of the Mughal Dynasty, it was intended to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Arjumand Banu Begum or Mumtaz Mahal. Commissioned in 1632, it is an ivory white-marble structure.

History aside, the first view of the Taj Mahal is simply breathtaking. The beauty of the building is initially quite startling, momentarily rendering a person unable to think about anything else.

The structure actually grows on you. The design is such that the eyes are first drawn to the dome, then to the slender minarets and then to the octagonal symmetrical sides. Finally, you end up remembering that you were annoyed at the gate security for hassling you. 🙂

Speaking in terms of management, the situation is pathetic; foreign tourists are charged 1000 rupees per person and Indians are charged 40 rupees. No other country in the world (that I know of) scams people like ths. After this disparity in entrance fees, this infuriating scam is only escalated by the fact that foreign tourists are given preferential treatment.

Security checks are not hassle-free and women carrying crying children are only aggravated more; waiting in long lines and having to open their handbags at every turn. Line management is absent, which leads to visitors being utterly frustrated and exhausted. The entire culture of tour guides is misleading, to say the very least. Tour guides, extremely pushy and overbearing, feed half-baked information to people, often based on stories passed down to them. Additionally, tour guides, having their own connections with the local staff, are the reason people get preferential treatment. The guides often overcharge foreign tourists, putting across a terrible image of Indians in general. They take their own sweet time, explaining inconsequential details of the monument, simply in the hopes of being paid more, (some of the guides take hourly charges).

To me, personally, the government’s motive of commercialising this structure is frankly disgusting as it prevents people from appreciating its rich heritage. I really hope that, eventually, this money-making sham comes to an end and some firm management steps are taken, or else, the Taj Mahal will just be added to the long list of beautiful things Indians have ruined for themselves; our environment being one of them. (Agra, as a city, is filthy; smog and pollution hang in the air and roads are covered with garbage).

Without any more ranting, here are some pictures of the still-beautiful monument. This is the view from Mehtaab Baag, or Mehtaab Garden, a garden located at the backside of the Taj Mahal. The garden lies beyond the Yamuna River and offers a serene view of the monument, away from the noises of the howling crowd at the frontside. (Yes, I’m not kidding, people were seriously howling inside the Taj Mahal, just to see if their voices would echo. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal must have been extremely perturbed in their eternal sleep).

Si j’étais riche…

This is my first attempt at writing anything in French (apart from school assignments); I have really grown to love the language and am fearful of the day when it will no longer be an element of study in school, (which is from eleventh grade onwards). I do not want to forget what I have learnt (I mean, I have to use it when I visit France one day) and hence, I am practicing this language as much as possible now…

Request to all native French readers- Please do not judge this too harshly and notify me of any errors.

Topic- If I were rich… (Si j’étais riche…)

Si j’étais riche, je pense que je serais un humain bienveillant. Le premier instinct des gens serait de résoudre la faim dans le monde. Alors, ils dépenseraient leur argent pour leurs intérêts. Je crois que je dépenserais mon argent pour un projet ou une idée spécifique. Je sais qu’on ne peut pas résoudre tous les problèmes dans le monde avec l’argent. On a besoin de la compassion, de l’humanité et de l’intelligence pour gagner les cœurs des gens.

J’utiliserais mon argent dans le domaine de science. Je crois que la science est l’avenir. Je financerais des ingénieurs, des scientifiques, des médecins et des universités pour faire la recherche et pour développer la technologie de l’avenir. J’espère que tout le monde aurait d’accès aux soins qui n’est pas coûteux. La technologie développée pourrait aider les gens qui souffrent des maladies comme cancer, HIV, etc. J’espère de créer une humanité qui est contente et satisfaite.

À mon avis, donner mon argent au gouvernement ou aux organisations de bienfaisance ne semble pas une bonne idée parce que je ne pourrais pas voir l’effet direct de mon argent. Donc, je crois que la meilleure idée est le financement des scientifiques pour établir la technologie médicale et pour aider les gens pauvres. Après cette mission, j’aimerais financer l’éducation des enfants. Selon moi, les domaines de médecine et d’éducation sont d’une importance primordiale. J’espère de voir chaque enfant en bonne santé et bien éduqué.

A Parallel Reality

Let us sample a parallel reality with Donald Trump, the Supreme Leader of North Korea and Kim Jong-un, the President of the United States of America. (Thank you so much, daily late-night talk hosts, for providing me with tons of material). 😉

Scene 1- Washington D.C, Oval Office: Kim Jong-un now occupies the body of President Trump, unbeknownst to anyone, even his closest aides.

Kim Jong-un (occupying the body of Trump)- I’m frustrated with these leaks to the media! Why doesn’t this country have only three state-approved channels?! You know, when even one channel goes against you, you throw them in a chamber full of Zyklon-B cyanide pellets!

Mike Pence (gasps)- Sir, what is wrong with you today? Are you feeling alright? We’re a democracy!

Kim- What could be wrong with me? Am I not always like this?

Pence (assuming Kim to be normal Donald Trump)– Sir, you’re….unpredictable….but never like this.

Kim- We’ll see. Summon the Head of the Defense Department. I need to conduct four missile tests before dinner.

Pence- Sir! If the United States conducts unauthorised military tests, this could have severe implications on our position in the U.N. Security Council.

Kim- Ohhhhh. Ha ha ha. Who cares about the U.N.? They’re just another body of silly diplomats achieving nothing. I only agreed to be part of them to, you know, conduct insurance frauds with the European Union member nations and help our economy.

Pence- Sir! That’s not the reason why we joined the U.N.! Don’t go out in front of the media or tweet today, please!

Kim- What is this ‘tweet’? And I only go out in front of the media on Daddy and Grandpa’s birthday, no?

Pence- ‘Tweet’ is the dangerous method of communication that you use to reveal our most confidential information to the public.

Kim (slaps Pence)- How dare you talk back to me?! I ‘leak’ nothing, ever. Don’t let me hear this again, or you’re going to the gallows.

Pence- Is my wife allowed there, Sir? No other women will be there, right?

Kim- Sheesh….

Kim decides to take a walk outside in the front lawn of the White House while Pence recovers. He encounters several reporters.

Kim (addressing a group of reporters)- We’re the happiest people on Earth. We have free health care, the best education system and everything is government-owned, so everyone gets an equal share!

Reporter- Sir, free health care?! Have you, Congress and Mr. Mitch McConnell developed a new plan? And best education?! Have you fired Ms. Betsy DeVos?

Kim- We had free health care since the days of my father, no? And stop talking back to me or this is the last day that your channel will see.

Reporter- Sir, referring to us as ‘fake news’ was one thing, threatening to close us down is taking this to a whole new level!

Scene 2- Pyongyang, North Korea: Trump now occupies the body of Kim Jong-un, unbeknownst to anyone.

At the birthday parade of North Korea’s deceased leaders, Trump makes an appearance.

Trump- May their souls rest in peace.

Crowd- Hail our Supreme Leader!

Trump (addressing the crowd)- You know, I won the election last year. All the votes were in my favour and there was no electoral college to contradict anything. It was the ‘bigly’ victory that we all wanted. I broke all records. No single leader ever got everyone’s votes.

Associate/Seniormost Advisor/Kim’s sister (in whispers)This gathering is for the leaders. You have to tell the crowd some legends about how they were godly men. Everyone knows you won the election. You were the only choice on the ballot!

Trump (ignores her)- It actually gets quite cold up here, doesn’t it? We should build some nice winter golf courses where they serve delicious chocolate cake. Also, China is pretty close by, right? President Jinping can visit me and we can have more chocolate cake together. I think I’ll invite Putin too.

Crowd is confused at this point.

Kim’s sister- Here we play basketball and the accordion, not golf. And you cannot just invite world leaders to our headquarters. There is a special protocol. Are you feeling well today?

Trump- No golf?! That’s why everyone in the crowd looks so sad. And if you call me Supreme Leader, I have the authority to invite whoever I want!

At this point, Trump stomps away from the balcony where he was giving his speech. Trump, later resettled at his residence, decides to tweet.

Tweet- North Korea threatens the United States with fire and fury like the world has never seen before!

Kim’s sister- What are you doing? Out of 1000 IP addresses in this country, 500 exist only in your office. Do not use them for such silly purposes. We must show our fire and fury with missile tests, not with tweets. Oh, and even our state media, who follow everything you say blindly, were rattled after your rambling at the gathering today.

Trump- The media is ‘fake news’.

Kim’s sister (exasperated)- You’re impossible! I knew Daddy made a mistake when he decided to hand over the control of our family regime to you!

So yes, this parallel reality is a complex (and humorous) concept, but to simplify it, I trust that Christopher Nolan will happen to come upon my blog, explore the concept and create another masterpiece like Inception on this topic. Sir, may I please, please, please play the part of Kim’s sister? 🙂