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Wake up India!

India needs more protests. It needs you.

Wake up! (Photo by Reiner Knudsen on Unsplash) Pilgrims died in Amarnath because of terrorists, a 16-year old Muslim youth was beaten to death on a train, with the attackers using his religion as an excuse, but West Bengal is witnessing its second communal riot in an year, however after protesting for over 40 days earlier this year, Tamil Nadu farmers will return to Delhi to renew their protests due to the inaction of the state government, and also, soldiers of both India and China are engaged in a face-off over a border dispute, while our Indian women's football team has not played a friendly match since 2013, a show of the AIFF's ignorance, at the same time in Nagaland- Stop. Breathe. Isn't there just too much news in the world? We are not even talking of the world actually; there are situations in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, USA...but the prospect of understanding our nation and its on-going developments is itself a daunting task. Why are we talking all this? Things have changed in our world. Remember when Facebook used to allow you to change your DP color to the flag of a terror-struck nation? These were mostly European nations; so people asked 'what about the Middle East? What about the African countries?' So, FB stopped giving that option. Closer back home, when people protested against an issue, someone or the other would sit in a TV studio and smirk 'Now they are angry, but what about when THAT OTHER issue took place?' At some point, certain people started demanding of Pakistani actors to post on social media, expressing their anguish / anger / solidarity with respect to attacks involving Muslim terrorists in India. Otherwise, you know, they're anti-national and should leave our country. Moving on from the logic of that, we still have our essential question: if there is so much news about so much important happening (for now, in our nation), how do we sort out the 'worthy enough to protest' ones? On what basis? And hey, why is it my duty (a working / studying middle-class girl / guy) to be aware of everything wrong in the country? How many issues should I go out and protest against? I have my work / my studies / my fiance / my dog. Why should I bother? The brief answer is: you should. The long-form answer is: Everyone and everything starts somewhere. And the more you ignore it...today, our media is drawing attention to everything wrong in our nation, because God bless the Fourth Estate (including the consistently-outraged Arnab Goswami), the competition between them for the next big story is massive. But it can only draw attention; we are the ones who have to focus our attention and do something about it (and we have to account for the very real possibility of the media being biased). We have scheming (against each other) ministers and burdened judges, but even they leap into action when the people demand it of them; remember Nirbhaya, and the speed with which the new laws were drafted and the case was held? Who owns our news? Additionally, we do not have other independent bodies for holding governments accountable to the public; we have a sort of Night's Watch (our judiciary), but no great big wall to keep the threats out. There is no Lokpal, and Lokayukta, at least none with any teeth whatsoever. There is just...us. There is truth behind the saying of 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty'; we have to keep watch, to alert others when we see something wrong, and to make others do the same. Maybe this is not our job; maybe an institution will be able to do it best. But till then, we are the ones who have to do this job. And as with any job, we have to look at everything that matters. Because everything, every little place, every small news, matters. And if you choose to ignore it today, you will be the one crying tomorrow.


The Not So Common State Of ‘Sadness’: Depression

What is the first thing that comes to your head when someone talks about mental illness, about how tired their brain is? Well most of us call them crazy, at times pathetic too, but you would be surprised to know that they are feeling way more ‘pathetic’ than you can ever feel. When I say being sad and being depressed are two wholly different balls of game, I truly mean it. Some of us hit the reality while others get beaten up by it so hard that they start questioning their own belief of existence. Depression is not a disorder or a disease and surely not one of the assumed ‘mood swings’. It is rather a phase where you become so vulnerable that its hard to draw lines between different shades of emotions. If you think you know how this one swings, then trust me you don’t. A sad face is not a voice calling for help, a happy face is. Try to find the insight of this feeling and you might solve some of your own riddles. Here are some of the ‘dark’ pages of the depressed reality, which everyone should know about:                       So next time whenever you encounter humans going through an emotional roller coaster, try to understand them. This is nothing to be ashamed of, rather ask again, encourage them to face their inner monster. Lastly It’s okay, just love yourself a little louder because this shall pass too...


The Book Thief: A Review

Looking for new books to add to your reading list? We might just have some suggestions! How about...The Book Thief!

The Book Thief The Book Thief has an unique narrator; Death. Hold on, first listen to what Death has to say for itself. Please be calm, despite that previous threat. I am all bluster. I am not violent. I am not malicious. I am a result. Set in Germany during the turbulent years 1939-1943, the story begins with two siblings Liesel and Werner; they are being taken to the small town of Molching - just outside of Munich, Germany - where they are to live with their foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Before their arrival however, Werner dies on the train of mysterious causes. At her brother's funeral, Liesel finds herself stealing 'The Grave Digger's Handbook' when it falls from a young grave digger's coat. This marks the beginning of her intense desire to read books; Liesel steals randomly at first, and later more methodically, but she's never greedy.  She even becomes best friends with her neighbour Rudy, a boy with 'hair the color of lemons'. But even bigger things are yet to happen. Max Vandenburg is a Jew whose father saved Hans's life in the First World War. While escaping from the horrors in store for his kind, he arrives at the door of the Hubermanns, asking for help, and is subsequently sheltered. After seeing him, Liesel says that "Max's hair looks like feathers", which amuses him and later they become fast friends.  He writes a story for her, called "The Standover Man"; it's the story of Max, of his growing up and coming to Liesel's home, with him painting the whole story over white-painted pages of Mein Kampf. This part damn near broke my heart. Liesel Liesel is very real, a child living a child's life of soccer in the street, stolen pleasures, sudden passions and a full heart while around her bombs drop, maimed veterans hang themselves, bereaved parents move like ghosts,  and the skeletons of Jews are paraded through town. Death Death is rendered vividly; a lonely, haunted being with emotions, drawn to children, and someone who has had a lot of time to contemplate human nature and wonder at it. It is Death who pockets Liesel's notebook after she leaves it, forgotten in her grief, amidst the destruction that was once her street, her home, and carries it with him. And no Death doesn't always wear a black robe either! 'The Book Thief' gives a unique and compassionate voice to a narrator who can comment on man's inhumanity to other humans without being ponderous, 'worthy' or even quite understanding at times. Reading this book, you are bound to cry and then laugh out loud the very next moment. A deeply moving story which describes the strength of human relationships while also pointing out how fragile they can be at times. A must read!


GOT: The Geography of Ice and Fire

Adventurers! Today, we go forth and explore the mysterious, magical, maniac and murderous...World of Ice and Fire!

Miss Anonymous loves GOT, but has never read the books. Of course, that has not stopped her from wanting to know more about the world of Game of Thrones. This 4-part series will help you and Miss Anonymous explore the world where our favorite TV show is set. Cheers! The World of GOT This is the map of the known world; now, there are too many things missing here, so we will have to see the actual map. Click here. Keep it open; we will keep referring to it. Lets begin then. We all do know Westeros well enough; it is the other lands which we know too less about. Zoom to the exact south-east, above Ulthos. So- Who lives in Asshai? Where is it? Ah, Asshai. If there is a place which is the noun to the adjective mysterious, it is this. We do know that Melisandre is from Asshai, and that whenever a character wishes to give a metaphor for the furthest and the most foolish, they mention Asshai. But the description of it from The World of Ice & Fire (TWOIAF) is actually scary. Behind its enormous walls is ground enough for Volantis, Qarth and King's Landing to stand side by side and still have room for Oldtown. Travelers tell us that the city is built entirely of black stone: halls, temples, palaces, streets, walls, all. But there is an apparent lack of people who live in this city, with the numbers being: no greater than that of a good-sized market town.  Even in the day, there are no crowds, no noisy markets, no women gossiping. Those who walk the streets of Asshai are masked and veiled. And most chillingly there are no children in Asshai. That last line is just said; there is no explanation given for it. A city without children? Just as perplexing, there are no beasts in the city either; no dogs or horses or elephants. When brought there, they die. The other descriptions given say that the city is a thriving port, and due to the polluted (by magic?) waters of the river, even freshwater has to be shipped in. The city itself exports gold and gems and as we have found out, sorcery. Warlocks, wizards, red priests, necromancers, torturers, poisoners, shapechangers, shadowbinders, worshippers of the Black Goat and the Pale Child and the Lion of Night, all find welcome in Asshai-by-the-Shadow. Here they are free to practice their spells without restraint or censure, conduct their obscene rites and fornicate with demons Let's leave this place where it is. There was an mention of Ulthos...in fact look at the map. In the south, we have the Summer Isles, something called Sothoryos, and another thing called Ulthos. Trust me, they are interesting. What's on the Summer Isles? Though a score of gods both great and small are honored on the Summer Isles, a special reverence is shown to the god and goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. The union of male and female is sacred to these deities; by joining together in this act of worship, the islanders believe, men and women give honor to the gods who made them. Be they rich or poor, male or female, of high birth or low, all Summer Islanders are expected to dwell for a time in the temples of love that dot the islands, sharing their bodies with any who might desire them. That is one thing about them. But there is more to them than just free sex. Plus, an eagle-eyed reader has noticed that mentions of the Summer Isles keep cropping up in the books. He speculates on the why; do NOT skip the comment section. What's on Sothoryos and Ulthos? The Africa of this world, Sothoryos is. If you went on the above link, you might already have an idea about what is to be found here. It is actually wild out there (at least in the descriptions in TWOIAF), and no one from the places we know has been able to properly live there (and many did try, but in the end, there was fighting, disease or something else). This thread will suffice for an introduction to Sothoryos. There is next to no information about Ulthos, so let's play some guessing games about it. That's to the extremes. Back to the map. Up north is...well there is sea and ice and someone said ice dragons, but who cares. East, once more. The Dothraki Sea is to drown in its blood-filled history. So we keep moving...past the Bone Mountains, we come to the Plains of the Jogos Nhai, which are home to the eponymous people, riding on zorses. They are bordered by the empire of Yi Ti. Which seems to have been completely based on China's rulers. The thread starts off with Yi Ti, but then settles down with the Dothraki. Still, fascinating stuff. Now go clear east, right to the corner. See the Grey Waste, and the Bleeding Sea? Now- The five forts in Essos, what are they? They are certainly head-scratchingly unique; while they have been suggested as the eastern version of the Wall, their real reason, or even a guessed one, is frustratingly out of reach. GRRM has said that Westeros & Essos do not touch. Here, in a reply to a Tumblr thread, there is an answer to that question. And to imagine it, is to appreciate the massive scale of what GRRM has done. We bow to you, sir. Lastly, there is this island called Naath, to the west of the Summer Isles, filled with some really sweet peace-loving people and butterflies. Their account has that wicked twist which GRRM loves. Read: The Ghiscari seized the island thrice in the days of the Old Empire; the Valyrians erected a fort there whose walls of fused dragonstone can still be seen; a company of Volantene adventurers once built a trade town, complete with timber palisades and slave pens; corsairs from the Basilisk Isles have landed on Naath countless times. Yet none of these invaders survived, and the Naathi claim that none lasted more than a year, for some evil humor lurks in the very air of this fair isle, and all those who linger too long on Naath soon succumb. Fever is the first sign of this plague, followed by painful spasms that make it seem as if victims are dancing wildly and uncontrollably. In the last stage, the afflicted sweat blood, and their flesh sloughs from their bones. The Naathi themselves are seemingly untroubled by the illness That's because....the butterflies cause the disease! And yes, immunity. I guess. Or maybe, it is the Lord of the Butterflies. Everyone has a God now.... And that is a wrap! Hope you liked it, cause we loved compiling and putting it together! If you're interested in knowing more about this world, I would recommend you to read The World Of Ice & Fire. You can buy it, or you know....you can find it (wink wink). Also, the official maps of this world. You can't zoom in. But what maps they are, plus they come with some helpful details. On this link. And links to the rest of our articles on the Game of Thrones: Would you like to know about the wildlife of the GOT world? Or some hidden details about your favorite characters... Or maybe you would like to keep that glass of wine in hand and look back at the pleasant, violent-filled history? Take your pick.      




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