Photo Challenge: Relax

via Photo Challenge: Relax

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The Rapid Death of Sports as a Hobby!

It’s alarming – the little amount kids nowadays spend playing outdoor sports.

I have never been an ace athlete, but have always been heavily involved in outdoor sports – cricket, football, rowing, volleyball, tennis – name it and I’ve played it. I have few tangible achievements to show for it in the form of a few certificates and medals. But what I’ve gained from hours spent playing on grounds, roads, terraces, garages and the most unlikeliest of places transcends any tangible honour I could have received without taking up a sport as my profession.

Sports is a way of life! It teaches you things that your parents cannot, the society cannot and certainly things that the education system cannot dream of inculcating into young minds. It builds character, instills values in one and is a microcosm of life in general – where you face hurdles, fail, succeed, laugh, cry and share. Things you can pay a ‘self-help’ coach – shrinks are diversifying their market outreach – to try and teach you but fail miserably (‘self-help’ is a myth; if its ‘self-help’, you basically didn’t need help. Thanks, George Carlin).

But with the urban social setting rapidly changing – nuclear families, DINK, home delivery, apps for everything, and vitual marketplaces – growing up is very different from what it was in the late 90s and early 2000s. The concept of ‘locality’ is disappearing with the changing real estate landscape. Parents don’t have time to take their kids to parks or grounds anymore. Kids don’t have time to go to park or grounds anymore. Are there any parks or grounds anymore?? Overly ambitious parents are instilling focus and ambition in kids from a very young age. A Chinese-like focus towards a preconceived future career trajectory has almost annihilated the existence of sports as a hobby.

Parents do understand the importance sports, and interaction with people in a setting of sports, holds in the lives of young people. But what can they do about it? Where’s the app for that? Enter my favourite character, capitalism personified, Mr. Marketer. Sports as a medium of learning and therapy is a growing industry and being included in school curriculum’s heavily. Scientific and methodical and structured learning mechanisms are being developed and implemented – I cringe!! It’s not a hobby if it’s in the curriculum, simple as that. But while it might not be the ideal, organic learning that sports is meant to provide, it is learning all right! An industry is born out of a necessity. And it is providing a services that is indispensable towards maintaining normalcy in the virtual bubble of a world we are moving towards. An effort towards upholding the values of simpler times when even fat kids who sucked at sports played with their friends and learnt so much!

The Cupcake Revolution

via Daily Prompt: Value

I hail from a city which is the scourge of pretentious food. A city that restores my faith in humanity. A city where people prefer a cheap, big, greasy, meaty mutton roll over a more sophisticated multi-grain sandwich. Kolkata and it’s food represent the old, simplistic perceptions of value like no other; the best quality (or quantity) at the lowest price. But it is time to put that notion to bed as the disease is rapidly spreading and even my Kolkata is susceptible to it.

The concept of value is changing. Experience matters to the consumers more now than ever. In these times when every event, every moment, every meal is pasted across social media feeds, “postability” often decides the value of a product or service. In many cases the brand, popularity, ‘coolness quotient’ have taken priority over more tangible parameters like price & quantity in deciding the value of a product. And no other marketable object symbolizes this paradigm shift in value like THE CUPCAKE!

Do not get me wrong. I have nothing against these pretty, little, fluffy, bite-sized, overpriced baked mounds of sweetness. I quite love to hypocritically pop one in while complaining about the minuscule size, the exorbitant price and the posh image it resonates. But I just cannot fathom the fact that it is competing with, if not managing to beat, the humble wholesome street food of the City of Joy. It is so hard to believe (rather, accept) that what I had prematurely dismissed as a fad is not only there to stay, but it is destroying the culture and food I have grown up loving. Everyone seems to be at Mrs. Magpie’s all the time. Seems like the world has totally lost it!

But when I take a deep breath and think about it I wonder… are my concerns a bit exaggerated? Are my opinions a bit skewed and overtly based on my Facebook feed? Because there’s still a cue outside Arsalan. Mitra Cafe’s stock is still selling out within an hour of setting shop. The busy New Market street is still littered with countless, white paper wrappers of Nizam’s kathi rolls.

Yes, social media has transformed the marketing landscape. Yes, social media has changed our lives and it may have catapulted the cupcake to stardom. But it is required to tread cautiously before jumping to conclusions based on social media observations. The People are not completely represented by their virtual identities….yet!

 

Scotch on the Rocks… in a plastic cup!

IMG_20160805_233055Sometimes inspiration is literally right under your nose! You breathe in the aroma, take a tiny sip, roll the golden nectar around your tongue and savour the aftertaste once you gulp it down. But rarely does the goblet (plastic cup here) reflect your personality and help you find meaning in life (unless you’ve had a few too many, of course!!).

Having moved to a new city and into a new apartment, I am yet to convert it into a home. Being devoid of the luxury of a Rocks glass, or in fact any glass, I am having to consume my weekend quota of alcohol in a plastic cup. Incidentally, alcohol and plastic cups seem to tell me a lot about myself!

I have been consuming my alcohol out of just about anything for quite some time now – (old monk punched into) pet bottles , plastic glasses/cups which are flimsy enough to leak if you do not hold them gently enough, tin cans, steel utensils and what not. The essential point to be kept in mind here is that the alcohol has always been cheap!…unless it was Daddy Dearest’s or his friends’. Times have changed – I have been deemed useful and started earning; migrated from pocket-friendly, budget liquor to more refined brands (it’s only for the 1st week of the month). Drinking is not just to get smashed anymore, but to enjoy the experience (HAHAHAHA!). But the ubiquitous plastic cup still withstands the test of time!!

I am in a transitional period in life; between two different times, two different selves, two different lifestyle choices! As I strive, rather struggle, to find an identity for myself, I ask myself – am I the guy who drinks in the dark alleyway out of a plastic cup..just to get buzzed?.. or am I the guy who drinks good liquor occasionally because he likes the taste and experience? After thinking long and hard I figure that I am neither! Or am I both?!

We tend to simplify things for our own convenience – which is why we categorize people into, or try to belong to, a certain (two!) set of behavioural traits. But the factor that we overlook in all this is ‘the moment’. Different times, different environments tend to bring out different personas in us. So, am I the crude, “Don’t care as long as it gets me high” guy? Or more refined, “Enjoy quality liquor” guy? I am both. I am neither! I am perpetually oscillating between the two….

 

P.S. – The piece revolves around liquor because at ‘the moment’ I am consuming some. 😛