Quarantime

Quarantime

Quarantine has been a tough time for all of us.

Governments are working hard to figure out the best course of action for their countries. We’re looking at economic fallbacks like never before, job losses and other such rigmarole. The Health sector is rushing to create a vaccine as soon as possible and hospital staff are working overtime. Education facilities pulling their hair out, wondering how to conduct exams, grade tests and teach at the same time in this chaotic environment. In short, 2020 gets the Oscar for the worst year ever.
Countries are still under lockdown and the pressure is finally getting to most of us.
It’s been more than a month under lockdown. A month without any social interaction. I used to walk up a hill to reach my school and now I just endlessly circle the fridge. My school has figured out how to assign homework online. (Unfortunately) Now on top of essentially teaching myself, I have also assignments to complete, and the deadlines are piling up like a stack of cards. Nevertheless, I’ve begun painting a lot more. My family and I have tried out a dozen dishes and binge-watched more than one TV show. Our table is covered with useless DIY crafts and it resembles the remnants of a hurricane attack. We’re just a few minutes away from adding another disfigured origami to the pile or baking banana bread again.
Most of us can relate.
Under lockdown, we’ve finally got the free time we’ve been begging for. Albeit it’s definitely not the way we asked for. And all this free time comes with a dilemma. I keep saying to myself that I know I will never get this time back again. I should be productive as much as I possibly can. Figure out the secret of the universe or something. But at the same time, I will never get this much time to myself again. I should relax and enjoy!
Procrastination and productivity have reached a stalemate position.
I don’t think the Tangled song ‘When will my life begin’ has ever touched so many hearts. Like Rapunzel, we’re stuck in our castles, trying every bizarre little craft or activity out there. And each day becomes a struggle to trudge through and makes us wonder when our lives will begin. At least she had a chameleon for company.
Honestly speaking, life beginning again as normal sound horrifying. I’ve been inside a quiet home for a month. I can’t even walk loudly because that would generate alarm for an earthquake in my neighbour’s heart. I cannot even fathom going to school with a bunch of raucous teens. Going to the mall again, with hundreds of people talking at the same time and bustling around, conjures up dread like no other. I have to sympathise with my fellow introverts. HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?
I cannot imagine having to go to back to back classes or writing tests. At this point, I’ve lost my ability to function like a normal human being. Don’t even get started on grades. I’m normally a straight-A student, but even I’ve lost complete track of what we are studying.
Now a couple of weeks now into my sheltering place (my bed now has a permanent body shaped dent), I have begun to grow just a bit weary of all the content this pandemic has produced.
Meditations on mortality have never been so abundant. Disputes about what policies are best for our society are new every morning. A news article is relevant for approximately only a minute at its best. Journalists, clearly aren’t facing the job loss like the rest.
Endless reflections appear about how life will have been changed when the pandemic finally passes. The sheer number of motivational quotes are annoying. No, I will not work out or write in a ‘quarantine diary’. I prefer to wallow in self-pity and make a few more jokes about quarantine. The new generation has an uncanny ability to make pathetic humour out of circumstances and I revel in that.
Writing this article has made me hungry. And if I think about it, the bananas I bought yesterday are definitely rotting. Looks like it’s banana bread time again!

 

-Adyesha Singhdeo

Accent Discrimination

Accent Discrimination

It has featured in every comedian’s one-liners, and punchlines, and produces a lot of laughter. But there is a thin line between comedy and mockery.

Accents are like little verbal flags that we wave in honour of our home towns. Thousands of accents grace the world, and they’re all kinds of amazing.

Accents are like little flavors that every culture embellishes a language with. They’re beautiful and unique.

But what happens when something as innocent as a particular way of pronunciation becomes a social issue. Today, accents are often stigmatized and treated with ridicule and stereotypes.

Accents play a particularly big deal in India. While speaking English, you balance the tightropes of societal norms. Too desi sounding? Must be gawar or uneducated. Too American or British sounding?  Arre the colonisers might have left, but they sure left their slaves behind!

Its this drumbeat of hypocrisy that we walk to. And as a fifteen-year-old who’s lived equal parts of her life abroad and in India, I am eternally confused.

I have the hard ‘T’ sound that punctuates my every ‘waTer’ as well as the rolling ‘R’ which graces my words. But the ‘d’ glides right of my tongue like an American and my ‘o’s’ resemble the British pronunciation. So what do I do?

When I moved to the UK, I worked my hardest to lose the ‘Indianness’ in my words and embrace the British pronunciation. I remember the frustration that I felt when the words would twist and turn in my tongue, unable to form. The fact that my peers raised their eyes and could never understand me did not seem to help either.

Ever since I’ve become quite good at the whole accent game. I can speak with an American accent as easily as I can slip into a Desi accent punctuated with Bangalorean slangs. And while my accent mix-ups are quite innocent, I’m well aware of the prejudice it brings with them.

I believe in walking with the crowd. Outside I speak with an American accent.  At home, or with my friends back in India, I switch back to the Indian accent. The ‘switch’ is not unique to me, every immigrant is familiar with it.

And why do I do it?
I’m aware of the stereotype the accent draws with it. If you speak with a foreign twang at home or with your family you’re perceived as a showoff or a brat. If you speak at school with an Indian accent, jokes about your nerdiness, Apu from the Simpsons, accompanied with the ridiculous head waggling begins.

And it’s not just an Indian thing, it’s a problem worldwide.

There have been several cases of racism experienced in the US, as an increasing number of people admit they have been discriminated against because they don’t speak the English language very well. Hispanic people in particular, often face the brunt of accent discrimination.

A double standard also exists with accents. A European accent is acceptable, attractive even. How many times have you seen Netflix shows churn out the ‘ cute swedish/french/german/ british guy cliche?

With the number of British guys suddenly appearing out of nowhere in American high school movies, you’d think we had a problem!

Most people claim that they’re not being racist, its just the way they feel. This could be symptomatic of hidden biases, and the way we internalize external messages from all around us.

Research has shown that we tend to unconsciously group people into a specific social class and prejudice against them based on their accents. By thinking that someone with a particular accent is not very smart or clever, we are showing our unconscious bias.

Since they face such ridicule, condescension, and hostility, many immigrants go to great lengths to reduce their accents and speak like natives, often seeking speech therapists and tutors for help.

And it’s not right. No one should have to feel like they need to hide a part of themselves.

Some think that the reason for this discrimination lies behind the fact that accents often make comprehensibility difficult. Let me tell you this, I have lived in a variety of places, heard hundreds of diverse accents and I’m yet to find one that is absolutely incomprehensible. Sure, there always is a few sounds that people stumble over, but never such that the meaning is completely lost.

So I’ve decided to stop trying so hard to fit the accent around me. It’s okay if my consonants are hard and roll of my tongue when I’m with my friends, it’s also okay if I sound ‘foreign’ when I speak to my family.

Because while accents might just be a small turn of the tongue that we gain from a region, they also play a central role in moulding our identity.

And I’m okay with who I am.

 

-Adyesha Singhdeo

 

The Sea calls

You run across the ocean’s edge
The wind is in your hair and you taste the salt in the air.

The waters are calm today, smooth as a silken cloth
The vast ocean stretches ahead of you, an exquisite quilt of blue.
Between the white foam, azure waves and scarlet skies,
The mind finds solace
Waves crash at your feet and ripples into the golden sand,
You reflect, and weave a bond to the unknown.
The spray is in the air as sky embraces the sun kissed waters
And each high strand and crashing cadence washes over the melancholy
Caressing waves upon the shore
Embolden, placate, and remedy the soul.
The ocean is your healer.

He casts his net upon the raging waters
His livelihood, his money, his food
All are carried upon the blue
The frayed strings come back- desolate and empty
Up in the air he hurls
Into the endless abyss
Silvery, shiny and smooth he catches
With scales that glitter in the sun
There will be food on the table tonight, he smiles.
The oceans are his livelihood.

She glides into the waters and dips her brown arms in,
Marked with the ‘malu’ tattoos that symbolize her ancestry
A patterned skirt drapes around her legs
Intricate patterns that tell untold stories
For her the ocean isn’t a resource,
Nor recreational
It is not just for food, or work
It is divine
It is everything
It is home.

These aren’t just waters
They are more than that
Not just to me, or you, For
In this supposing solitary moment
Millions join you in solidarity.
Despite disparities and differences
The blue ties us together
It is ours
In the ripples I splash in glee
Someone surfs upon in another land
The foam that tickles my feet
Someone casts their nets upon.
Where one dives
Another scavenges for shells.

If we share in all the beauty
If we share in all its blessings
The its misery is also
Ours.
For if we share its glory-
We must also join to share in its pain.
We must stop,
Heading towards a world where these waters are no longer what they are
To expect someone else to mend after us
To let our tomorrow worry to save the waves.
The infinite waves are our responsibility.
For this blue,
Is ours.

 

-Adyesha Singhdeo

Brexit and Immigration                                                                                                                                       -To be or not to be-

Brexit and Immigration -To be or not to be-

New year, new beginnings. The UK is set to break up with the EU on January 31st, 2020 and by doing so, they might be one of the only people who actually stuck to their New Year resolutions.

After a long period of  four years, three prime ministers, endless political rallies, referendums and debates, Brexit is finally underway. Basically the UK is every Indian Aunty saying goodbye. 

As the UK jabs at its former family, ‘ See EU later…’ economists ponder upon the effects of this step. The broad consensus is that the exit from the EU will affect the economy and per capita income of the United Kingdom. Another important sector that is set to face ramifications, is the immigration sector.

As a European Union Citizen you are allowed to live and work in any other EU country. But as UK moves out of the EU, how will this affect the country?
After all, there are limited resources to go around. The UK provides a vast business hub for the EU, however if it does becomes too populous, its jobs and resources will find themselves scarce and residents will face the wind. Most people think that more stringent immigration policies is the best solution. Admittedly, it sounds like a useful method if your kids work or study in different parts of Europe, and you don’t want them home.
However that’s not the most fool proof of strategies.
The UK is currently home to around 3.6 million EU nationals, who account for between 4% and 30% of the workforce in every major sector. That’s a huge chunk of population to miss out on and the effects of simply not allowing them in could prove to be detrimental for businesses.
And the UK is smart enough to see this. They’re pushing for a system that restricts free movement of EU workers but also retain access to the single market.
The UK aims to control the type and number of people entering and settling in the country. This means a bigger push for skilled workers and a collective block on unskilled immigrants.
As for Visa requirements, a lot is set to change.
Basically, this means that people looking to work in the UK would need to apply for a visa to come into the country. Once the initial one year period is complete, one would require to leave the country and wait for another year before re-applying for a new visa. And looking at the fact that most people move to the UK for a better job stability along with more opportunities, this new law might be under some flak.
Additional restrictions that are set to be introduced plan to control the situation too. You cannot bring your family with you to when you move to work in the UK. And provisions that allowed access to public funds will also be discontinued.
My family and I moved to the UK in 2014. We all went with my father who worked in the UK. We went to public schools and had access to the NHS. We lived there for two and a half years before we moved back to India.
Under the new laws, families like us will live very different lives. As per the new laws, we probably wouldn’t be able to accompany our father and his duration of living in the UK would be drastically reduced.
A lot of new things are to come under the blanket of Brexit. Laws are under constant flux and a lot can change. Whether a no deal is announced, amendments are framed, or politicians simply have a change of heart, nothing can be considered to be a fact until laws actually come into place.
Brexit signifies a new time for the UK, and only time can tell how it will change the face of the country.

-Adyesha Singhdeo

 

Sources

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit https://www.freemovement.org.uk/new-immigration-rules-for-visitors-to-the-united-kingdom                                                                    /https://www.immigrationdirect.co.uk/blog/citizenship/how-will-brexit-affect-uk-immigration/                                                                                                                         https://www.statista.com/statistics/692957/brexit-influence-on-immigration-gb/

 

Strikes in India

Sept 12, 2018

My phone beeped. A notification popped up on my phone. Scrolling my finger though the message, I groaned. It was an official message from my school conveying the fact that we were going to have school on Saturday.

So this Saturday as the rest of the world enjoys a much needed weekend, my classmates and I will spend six hours away at school. And you might ask why?

This Monday, a strike was held protesting about the hike in petrol prices in India. Everything was shut down- schools, colleges, work places, shops everything- a Bharat bandh true to its name. It was a tremendous blow to all, and resulted in the waste of an entire day. There were enormous losses all over. And our school, to compensate was going to take a piece out of our weekend, and hold school on Saturday.

Tragedy, tragedy, nothing but tragedy. How are young but still socially and sleepily productive students such as myself supposed to live peaceful lives if the government keeps on interfering our sleeping schedules with strikes?

As a typical student, an extra day of school plus the loss of my weekend (read extra sleep) enraged me. No Saturday, more school, more homework!

Who decided to hold a strike and why? What had fuelled the protests? I needed a report that looked like the entire Amazon jungle was used to print, to justify the loss of my weekend. So after a fuelled speech to no one in particular, I turned to Google.

The strike it seems was called for by the opposition party against rising fuel prices. NGO’s and other organizations were also persuaded to join the protests. The protest was meant to be peaceful and was intended to not disrupt normal life.

But is that what happened? Yeah right, NO WAY! In hours, the real motive was forgotten and discarded like books after an exam. In a few hours, the whole ‘peace’ thing was completely done with. Buses were getting burnt, violence broke on the streets, and roads were blocked. In short, the agenda of ‘not disrupting normal life’ was nothing short of irony.

What even are strikes?
A strike is the refusal by workers to work, in order to pressurize the management to accept their demands. Strikes are a basic right which allows an individual to refuse to perform their obligations in protest. Typically it’s a last resort when all democratic methods prove to be futile.

And for ordinary people, the right to strike is a comfort. It shows us that whenever we feel like justice is amiss, we can ensure our voices are heard.

But what happens when strikes are used as a politic tactic- a sly move to cause mere disruption?

When strikes like these are held, does anyone really gain by them? Except a little political drama, content for tomorrows breaking news, a little ‘relevance’ time, is there anything really achieved?

For example, on Monday’s events, the government’s response to a whole lot of power play, destruction and a waste of a whole day was… Nothing. In fact, petrol prices rose across country with Mumbai paying the highest at around 88 rupees. How is that for a response?!
Strikes have always been found to cause more damage than good in a country like ours. It harms the nation, the community, the workers, individuals as well as organizations. During the period of strike, production comes to a standstill. Sales are stagnant or an entire day. Transport sector slumps. The workers remain idle during the period. Their jobs are threatened. It’s worse for daily laborers. Petrol prices don’t matter to them when they haven’t got anything on their plate for dinner.

And that’s not all. Millions of man-hours go waste. Man-power, money, material resources, and machines everything remains idle and this constitutes a loss. And India is known for this kind of strikes. The strikes where cars have their windshields broken, buses are set to fire, people are beaten on the streets and shops broken into. In what universe is justice given by wreaking havoc and violence? And shouldn’t something be done to curb this?

However, here comes another conflict. Our country is a democratic one. The right to strike is one of the basic rights given to us the constitution. If this right to strike is taken away from the workers, will they be left at the mercy of the management with no recourse to justice?

But what happens when strikes endanger the very functioning of our democracy. So what is done then?

In Monday’s incident, a young girl succumbed to her injuries and died as the ambulance couldn’t reach the hospital in time due to the strike. Innocent bystanders were attacked by enraged protesters. People with plans and places to be were stranded at bus stations, and airports. What was their fault? Why were they getting harassed? This young girl did not control petrol prices or govern national decisions. You cannot protest because of a grievance and simultaneously cause one.

Strikes can be done peacefully. The entire country does not need to be bought to a standstill. In places like Japan, protests are done calmly. For example, when an issue with bus fares was on the rise, bus drivers protested by making fares free for that day. The company suffered a loss and immediately set right the issue. This is just one example. Peaceful struggles don’t disrupt life and at the same time are effective.

Strikes today have acquired a bad name because politicians and unscrupulous leaders have virtually hijacked the trade union and they use worker’s grievances to further their own career and sometimes, even to blackmail industrialists. Petty grievances, passive aggressiveness, political drama and the sole reason to make the headlines again have become reasons for strikes. Strikes should be a resort when negations fail, not a method to keep the entire country at ransom. Breaking government property and causing harm to another person’s life isn’t a right.

And its high time that people who cause damage, while hiding behind the curtain of ‘civic right’, be penalized

So I’ll go to school this Saturday. But I hope its for the last time.

 

-Adyesha Singhdeo

 

 

 

 

The Great Indian Media Circus

The Great Indian Media Circus

Not my circus, not my monkeys..?

Media in its very basic nature is propagating something someone has to say. And since the very dawn of time, and that’s a long time ago, man has always had something to say to anyone who would listen. From ‘How not to be a tigers dinner’ to ‘three easy steps to build a fire’ to ‘Bit coin investments’.

Media has come a long way from its humble starting as a mere voice. Through the centuries of time, media has played an important role in shaping our lives. From bringing out problems to the public’s eye, bringing about change, fundamentally remolding society, to analyzing and predicting the future socio-political climate.

The media is at the heart of cultural, social, political and economic events throughout the world. No dimension of human life has been unaffected by the developments in communication: business, religion, education, recreation, international relations.

But that has all changed.

Gone are the days when watching news channels were a staple daily activity. And if media is developing so fast shouldn’t more people be watching and actively participating? That’s not the case anymore. And why? The blame isn’t upon today’s generation’s lackadaisical behavior towards what’s going around the world (as thought by the adults around us). In fact it’s due to the steadily depleting quality of news broadcasting.

We aren’t in the Doordarshan days anymore. We’re always surrounded by fake news, sensationalism, gossip tabloids etc and in the midst of all of this real news just doesn’t reach out. The main responsibility and duty of news agencies is to inform the public, educate and give an unbiased report of things. News we see today is determined by how popular it’s going to be with the audience. More sensationalism, more views, more MONEY!

Unfortunately that’s the way our news agencies have become. Each day brings forth some sort of breaking news. If there’s nothing major to broadcast and to stir up things, news channels have become well known for creating some exaggerated piece for views. For example, recently when I was watching the news, the news reporter announced the ‘BREAKING NEWS’ of the day. Accompanied with dramatic intro music she narrated the devastating news of the day that the opposition minister, Rahul Gandhi, had consumed chicken on his pilgrimage trip! With suspenseful music and dramatic echoes, bold letters flashed across the screen convicting him of his grave crime. Seriously? What sort of breaking news is this? Which sort of reputed news company stoops as low as to show this kind of pathetic news?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All we Indians need is Arnab Goswami spitting at our faces, telling us news Republic TV’s sponsors approve. We need facts not drama. If we needed drama we’d change the channel to one of the saas bahu shows on Zee Tv. That’s not what news channels are for.

And it’s not like we don’t have news to offer the public. From government laws, protests, poverty, pollution, lynching, riots, frauds, economic status, athletic achievements, and so much more. It is impossible that in a country of 1.3 billion people, we will ever reach a point where Rahul Gandhi’s chicken is the most important thing. Infact if the news had to focus on Congress, there is quite a lot to report about.

Even when we do manage to focus on real issues, we deviate from the point. We get stuck on the unnecessary. If protesters were killed, let’s focus on what religion they followed. If it’s a murder lets focus on the fact that the murderer was of a good reputation, and if it involves fraudulent practices turn the camera away. We have screaming politicians and dramatic music. We don’t have facts.

News companies ensure that they get the most controversial lines for their headlines.

Kya Narendra Modi ne yeh kaha?

Dekhya, dekyha yeh Congress representative na kya kaha ha!

And amidst all the matter, the real issue has completely been forgotten.

This is the irony of our time. Comedians have become our politicians. Comedians have ensured news reaches to the public and our news industries along with the politicians have become a joke.

It is time for this to change. Media exists as a separate entity to ensure pitfalls are never hidden. We need real journalism. And we need it before the entire institution that this country is built upon falls down.

 

 

-Adyesha Singhdeo

Are Advertisements ridiculous?

 

DO YOU HAVE KNEE PAIN? Is your life punctuated by the pain in your knees? Are you sitting sadly at your window because of your knee pain?? If so, take this drug here right now! Your life will change completely! You will be able to walk without wincing, jog, run, chase your dog, walk to your grocery shop every day, win every bingo game and get a promotion!

Potential side effects are- sneezing, inflammation, swelling, more knee pain, stomach ache and all of the above. Please do not take if you are allergic to knee pain.

Sounds crazy? I agree.

But have you heard this kind of commercials before? Our world today is surrounded by advertisements. You probably saw an advertisement two minutes before. There is probably a pop up advertisement on this page. There are flyers in your mailbox, posters on buses and trains and large advertisement boards on every street.

As advertisement becomes a more competitive field we all see clichéd examples that are nothing short of hilarious. We all know that buying Fogg perfume (it’s an Indian thing) will make you instantly self aware. Any perfume or fragrance advert will convince you that all you need to do is spray their perfume on yourself to be surrounded by gorgeous girls. (Personality? Psshh nobody needs that! Grab any random person and drown them in perfume. The secret has been discovered! Perfume. DUH!)

If your car ever breaks down in the middle of the road, you probably spent a great amount of cash and a long time wondering why the same car in the advert drove extremely fast and up and over steep hills and rocky paths with easing grace while your car cannot manage a small pothole. Advertisements on cars will show you a gorgeous sleek car, that drives over rocks and hills and dust tracks with the ease and grace of a dancer. Try that in real life. I can guarantee your experiments will be mostly disappointing.

And let’s just talk about food advertisements. If it’s not telling you a completely unrelated story about a sad girl whose life changed after eating chocolate or a pathetic love story that started because of chocolate or chocolate as bribes yada yada yada. When advertisements try to add a story to their adverts, its pretty rare that it comes out as a meaningful, and entertaining plot. And lets be honest, NO ONE EATS THE WAY PEOPLE IN FOOD ADVERTS DO! People in commercials seem to be the messiest eaters ever! They drip food everywhere, spill their drinks across their faces and get chocolate all over their faces.

In all honesty, all people in commercials have bizarre motor skills. They throw water at their faces in skin adverts with force adequate to make them fall down, do weird dancing jigs and sloppily eat.

But the most annoying thing about advertisements is probably their jingles. The jingles get stuck in your head and you find yourself struggling to get it out of your head. Sure it’s a win for companies but when the words that are stuck in your head are advertising dish soap, well, its not your ideal situation.

While advertisements might seem hilarious or sometimes downright ridiculous to us they sure do bring in lots of money and shape our world.

 

Advertising has been defined as the most powerful, and manipulative tool that firms have to control consumers all over the world.   It’s a form of persuasion that is incredibly powerful. How many times have you brought a particularly t shirt or apparel just because a celebrity endorsed it or because the advert persuaded you to do so. Think about it. Watching a single video persuaded you to get up and spend your money on an item you haven’t even seen in reality yet.

Advertisement has impacted society throughout the years influencing habits, persuading and shaping the world as we know it today.

So if watching an actor dousing themselves in perfume and reciting a few lines convinces you enough to make a purchase and place your order. You also know that you’re part of a cycle that’s way larger than you that has each step designed.

 

-Adyesha