Friday, December 23, 2016

A Year In Television (Top 9 TV Shows of 2016)

As I've said quite often, we're in the golden age of Television. And this year did nothing to question that claim. With new shows and extended seasons all the same, this was the year of online streaming. Even if that means a different service for every channel with a dime to offer. But until there's a clear winner, competition is good. Although that's not the point of this post. It is to give a concise list of the shows I enjoyed this year and you might want to watch too.

This list is in no perceivable order, even though I enjoyed some shows more than others. The ones that I'd recommend to absolutely EVERYONE have a star next to them. Happy reading!

If there's any show that defines poignant dark humor, it's this one. Surreal in places, absurdly hilarious in others. Darius will become your new favorite character, and Earn the most relatable. I suggest firing this show up and going along the journey with Donald Glover's brainchild.

Netflix's highest budget(£100 million)rendition of Queen Elizabeth the second's rise to Queenhood is a fascinating and gripping show that has great dialogues rivaled only by the fictionalised events of truth. I expect the show to amass a greater following once season 2 airs. This is the kind of feminism I can wholeheartedly get behind. It's one of the better Netflix Originals and I'd recommend it to everyone who loves good dramas.

HUMANS (season 2)
A show about artificial intelligence and sentience, it's not the only one on the list. But its hard hitting questions will provide for the lack of high production value action. I urge you to watch this one just to see how humans would logically react to synth consciousness.
One side note, its intro track is one of the best I've seen in years and you should totally check it out.

For a spin-off that was both highly anticipated as well as doubtful in its capability to carry on the legacy of a masterpiece, Better Call Saul delivers right on the punch. It's a mellow comedy drama that might not be ha ha funny for the most part, but continues to be hilarious nonetheless. Certainly not for everyone, but if you like the first episode, then it only gets better.

With a talented cast as well as skilled showrunners, this new show from HBO is rumored to be their attempt at filling the potential void once Game of Thrones end next year. And you know what, it totally succeeds. The acting, from the supremely talented Anthony Hopkins to relatively unknown Louis Herthum is perfect. HBO couldn't have chosen a more precise cast.

A show about a futuristic theme park where rich megalomaniacs go to satisfy their power fantasy, there are engrossing critiques of what it means to be human. And why humanity isn't the benchmark we should judge all lifeforms by.

If Sci-fi, suspense, or world building highly immersive shows are your cup of tea, then this will fit right in. And even if they aren't, I think this is a show everyone will enjoy in one way or the other.

BLACK MIRROR  (season 3)
In another satisfying season of the black humor satire show that's both hard to describe as well as recommend casually, this is one of the shows that will make you question your core beliefs. Named after the reflection after the episode is finished and you're left staring at the black screen in front of you wondering where to go from there, this is one of the brilliant masterpieces.
Dense to get into, beginners might find the episode "15 Million Merits" easier to digest before going on the depressive journey that is Black Mirror.

Aah Bojack Horseman. Great for a night of introspection and depression. This show is as dark as it is funny. Looking at a few stills, you might be mistaken to believe that it's another run-of-the-mill Family Guy-esque lol so random humor cartoon. And oh boy, you'd be so so wrong.
This show symbolizes what I think is a show that leaves you thinking about the world and yourself days after you've finished watching it. And with such a thoughtful artstyle, every time you rewatch it, a new detail pops out making the experience just that much better.

This certainly isn't the show for people who want a casual something to watch while they eat their dinner. Existential dread and nihilism are thrown around like sprinkels on an icecream. If that sounds like something you'd like, then it's already something you'll love

A comic that had been notoriously hard to interpret well into the television form comes this adaptation. And after the first 5 episodes of nothing making sense you might believe it too, but stick with the absolute chaos that is Preacher and you'll be rewarded with one of the best comic adaptations ever. With its shocking ending that is guaranteed to leave you wide-faced, it marks the perfect opening season for a show as complex as Preacher,
Preacher might just have the most fun and interesting cast in any of the TV shows of 2016.

The new season of a show about the rise of the Shelby Brothers. Although it falters in places, it's still a very strong show that will enamor you with its charm and Tommy Shelby's wits. The first season is nothing short of brilliant, and the intensity is only heightened by the arrival of Tom Hardy.
Its gorgeous cinematography is another reason why the masterfully crafted events of Thomans Shelby's mind shine even brighter
If you love British dramas packed with suspense and mind traps then you'll be very satisfied. Satisfied indeed.

Monday, November 28, 2016


So often in our lives we meet people who lead vastly different lives than our own. Sometimes we cannot even begin to fathom how they could make choices so opposite from ours.

How can someone like that hip-hop shit, it's all gangster and crass unintelligible curses. They must be violent brainless thugs 

How can someone enjoy reading thick books with tiny fonts? They must be loners with no life.

It's so easy to discard someone's way of life if you define them by views you don't agree with. Most of the times it's not malicious intent intended to dehumanize them. It's just how you look at the world. And there's no other way, so how could you be wrong, and they be right.

If someone eats meat, they must be cruel stone-cold beings who don't cherish animal life. Without thinking that nature isn't kind or forgiving. We don't protest tigers eating deers, But humans depending on other animals at the lower factions of the food chain is somehow unusually brutal and unforgiving.

And then there are people who are vegetarian. It feels like just their choice of not partaking in killing of animals for food makes them condescending. Like they're standing on an obnoxious morally superior high ground judging you silently. But why should someone's personal choice of nutrition affect you. Humans grew sentience after thousands of yers of evolution, why not utilize that freedom of decision making.

But we forget that life is very rigid and dull this way, a linear construct of our own values and morals imposed on ourselves as well as strangers. All 7 billion of them. You don't have to agree or condone someone's life choice to be with them.
Their varying political beliefs don't make them bad humans with whom the very idea of maintaining a friendship is unimaginable. Judging others is human nature, and it comes so easily to us. But making others act on your judgment is not only ignorant, it also intolerent.

We live in a time where interacting with anyone from anywhere is instantaneous. And yet we try to live in our own little bubbles of safety. Someone expressed a view on Facebook you disagree with? Unfriend. A Youtuber says something you find controversial? Unsubscribe. It's very easy to close our eyes, put fingers on our ears and yell LALALALA till everything contrarian goes silent.
And by the end of it, we're left with a closed room full of people circle-jerking each other.

It's very important to expose ourselves to conflicting views. Beliefs that challenge us, ones that make us think about the things about ourselves we've never wondered about. If we think about why do we judge the people we see the way we do. Often times we'll find the answer says more about us than those selected few.

This is why in these times of a rapidly progressing world, we need to experience all the differing beliefs and broaden our minds to move out of the rooms that keep us sheltered.

Clinging On to Life

It's funny how people think there's anything in life that they can cling on to. That there are certain things that will never go away. Maybe they are right, maybe those things will indeed stay the same. But the idea that anything in life can be clasped and never allowed to let go is an absurd one.

Be it a person, a thing, or a situation. Things flow away. Some wither and die, some turn into another entirely, some stay the same. Even something staying the same all the while you're growing and developing in life is a different form of change. You're still clinging to an idea, a thing, or a person that you might have held by your side in the past. But you changed, or are in the process of changing.

Nothing is perpetually constant. Not us, not others, not even science. But that doesn't mean any human can be in a state of complete detachment. Just as no human can be totally devoid of emotions or be in total sync with them, attachment is another inherent symptom of being human. To be human, you've got to feel. You've got to grow intimate with people and things.

Just like a doctor smoking after a gruelling surgery, or a man revelling in sheer laziness after a week of work, a few mild bad habits don't make you a bad person. They make you human.

Being human means forming connections in life. It is the acceptance of the fact that those connections can be broken that can alleviate anxiety. You cannot control how you feel in all situations, and that's a part of being human. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Anxiety and Distractions

A state of chronic anxiety and despair is one of the scariest things to manifest itself on anyone. It's your mind getting in your own way. You get anxious and lose your appetite and sleep. Next you get even more anxious because you're can't stop being anxious. You get mad at your own silliness. Thus begins a vicious feedback loop.

You try to distract yourself. With work, going out, maybe partying a little. And it's successful, but then you have to go back to being with yourself. Trying to find distractions to get away from your own mind never works because you cannot ever travel without it, and sooner or later you're back to where you started.

You devote your time to feeling busy, and feel extremely uncomfortable with silence. Being alone with yourself. A compulsive habit of thinking and overthinking things. So you go back to trying to find more distractions, without focusing on the problem of thinking too much.

Why do we start going back to all our cringiest and awkwardest experiences just before we sleep. Overthinking things that happened, and making plans about what needs doing and how you'll totally do it when morning arrives. It's because all day we're doing something or the other. Finding distractions, running away from thinking about problems. And as soon as the mind gets some time to be truly alone, it starts working, almost like clockwork.

And when you give your mind some time to be alone, when you don't try to find distractions to run away, then the mind will quiet itself. Just like you cannot turn a tumultuous river calm by splashning it, instead of forcing your mind to stop thinking, you have to let it meander into different directions first. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

An Open Letter To You

You call it being blunt. Painfully honest. A no-care attitude. In fact, you care so little that you don't miss a chance to tell others how little you care. Because caring is inherently weak, and your cold, detached self wouldn't like to be seen being intimate with people.
You're just teaching people what life will teach them inevitably anyway. And you promise to be much fairer than life, although not any less harsh. In reality, it's a facade to hide your fragile, rigid composure. After all, if you think you're superior to them you don't have to face them or their moronic lies that keep them happy.

Control is an illusion. They're deluding themselves and you're their savior. Wielding a blade of honesty and a shield of practical logic, you attack the insufferable monster that is tact and sensitive diplomacy. Fight too long the monster, and you become one yourself. Honesty without compassion is little more than a bunch of cruel words strung together as a poor substitute for credibility, masquerading as the truth.

You make fun of others you deem stupid. A word with a multitude of crude, arbitrary definitions that can be easily molded and remolded endlessly to fit your needs because you want them to. Whoever can't take it is a coward, a buzzkill. But when they get offended, things should slide easily, because it's you and they should expect it by now. But no one expects you to be an asshole. They don't expect you to be a jerk, even if they know it's who you are. Acceptance of that fact doesn't bring forward forgiveness unless you change. Forgiving and forgetting doesn't make you weak any more than hopelessly clinging on to a false image of you does.

You think that the only truth that matters is the truth that can be measured. Good intentions don't count. What's in your heart doesn't count. But a man's life can be measured by how many tears are shed when he dies. Just because you can't measure them, just because you don't want to measure them, doesn't mean it's not real.

You demand leeway with how society judges you, but you allow it to judge you nonetheless. A living specimen of contradicting hypocrisy. You pretend to rage against the system, pretend to play a different game entirely. But all you do is replace the system's rules with yours and claim they're the axiom of undeniable truth. You fight the mainstream by pretending to be obscure, until that obscurity becomes too mainstream only for you to fight all over again. You break the law, but you follow the rules. You're not a rebel. You're not unplugged, you just replaced the power chord.

You try to corrupt people with your cynicism and skepticism, all the while being intrigued and secretly happy for those who stay unwavering to their humble modesty and niceties. People are not nice or polite because they're dense idiots who don't know any better. They do it because it keeps them happy. Sane. They're polite because that's what decent people do. And because they know they aren't infallible. You can mock their lifestyle from a distance with a cold sneer, but the tinge of envy that lingers is felt by you just as hard. Control is an illusion. But sometimes you need an illusion to get back control.

Yours Affectionately,

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Life of Stress

A lobster is born with a shell but its shell doesn't grow with it. Pretty soon the shell is too tight and the lobster feels uncomfortable with it, so the lobster goes under a rock naked and vulnerable and grows itself another shell.

In some time, even that shell becomes too small and the lobster feels uncomfortable. Again it does under a rock, creates a new shell and comes back.

This happens again and again, and keeps happening until the day the lobster dies.

Now if the lobster could go to a doctor and get some pills to not feel uncomfortable and in duress, it would never grow into what it could if it had tried using that strain to its benefit. You need to be under stress and feel uncomfortable to actually make changes.

Most of the daily stress we face isn't related to survival anymore, and yet that's how we respond to them. By going into overdrive, overthinking the situation and obsessing over it. This is the threat response to stress. It makes you choke up inside, a sense of impending doom shrouds your body and you feel unable to relax in any scenario.

But there's another response to stress. One that makes you more focused, streamlines your thought processes. Your heart pounds ever so loudly, but instead of increasing paranoia and dread, it embiggens your blood vessels so there's a more even blood flow. This is the challenge response to stress and it basically makes you smarter under duress.

Unless it's a crazy specific situation where survival is of the umpteenth importance, a threat response doesn't help us any more than hyperventilating helps during a panic attack. But to transform our response from threat to challenge, we need to understand which one our body instinctually goes to. Instead of sweeping everything under the rug and trying to distract ourselves as much as possible, a brief moment of confrontation and planning against the stress does more good.

If you feel your heart starting to pound faster, and your breath getting shallower by each passing drag, instead of focusing on trying to calm down and pretending to be okay, accepting that you are stressed out turns the threat response to a challenge one. And sometimes, the best way to deal with it is to not think about it. Not the fact that you're stressed, but the more probable scenario that the cause isn't all that powerful.

Stress isn't good or bad for you, the response to it is. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What You Learn After Being In A Car Accident

Recently, I was in a car accident while going on a trip to ease off from the exams season. We never got to that place and were instead accosted by a straight journey to the hospital, which, I wouldn't lie, looks and feels like a good hotel with crappy service(It has Haldirams and CCD inside it for crying out loud!). Anyway, I'm getting distracted. Here are a few things I learnt from the accident. Since this is going to be a long post, I've added how the accident happened at the end.

Instinct takes over

Being in the passenger seat, I could see the accident happening 2-3 seconds before the aftermath. And those 2-3 seconds felt longer than any other 2-3 seconds in my life, or maybe it's the way mind remembers it. You revisit the memory so often and so frequently later on that you pick apart every tiny detail about how it could have been avoided or minimised. But in those couple of seconds, it matters naught. 

However, once you crash-land, your adrenaline pumped body looks up to assess the damage and what needs to be done. In my case it was finding a way out of the car since gravity had the pleasure of parking it sideways. My door didn't open because of that, and that's when a bit of panic sunk in. I saw mum, who had fallen from the back of the seat to the windshield, we shared a look. I called out to dad who wasn't conscious and not replying to the cries asking him if he was okay. All this while looking for a way out. All of these things seemed to happen simultaneously, and at the same time took forever to pass. But ask a coke junkie what adrenaline can't do. I kicked the driver side window open (which was already cracked) to let mum out, then out came the driver. I then tried to wake dad up by tugging at his cheeks but that did nothing more than grow the dread.

By then a few good samaritans had climbed down to see what had happened. I didn't mind their morbid curiosity as long as they were helping. We forced the car upright, lowered the driver seat and pulled out dad. All of this happened within half an hour, but I can only remember glimpses of it all. Pulling dad, making sure mum was okay, calling the police, calling the ambulance. I know I did these things, but in which order?

The Chaos is Smooth

Everything after that was chaos. Dad lying down on the ground, barely conscious and crying out in pain. Mum unable to walk. Driver mumbling and walking around like a zombie. Losing my glasses in the rubble meant that I had no way of distinguishing faces from afar. I secured the car papers, took the important stuff out, got the numbers of a few kind samaritans and the police officer, went inside the ambulance, came out, went inside the government hospital with parents one by one, came out, another ambulance to Delhi.

It was utter chaos, I had no idea what papers to sign or what things to check. At that time if the devil had handed me the papers to sell my soul, I would've promptly signed it as well. The title wouldn't be valid since it doesn't belong to me, but that's another thing. 

The chaos felt fluid, everything was getting done partly for me, partly by me. There wasn't a hitch to derail this chain of events.

Balancing the good and the bad 

Once the dust had settled, so to speak, and we were in the ambulance bound to Delhi. It was time to finally assess the damage. Mum couldn't walk. Dad couldn't move his legs. I was unharmed. Looking at the pics I had taken for insurance purposes, I was relieved and a bit surprised that we'd made it alive. Just as hope was ushering out, dad called back in pain. It was unmanageable, he wanted to end it then. Get it over with. Finding words of hope in that time when you're so devoid of it yourself isn't very easy, to put it lightly. 

We were alive.
Dad didn't want to be.
They were conscious.
They were in extreme pain. 
I was okay. 
They were not. 

At that time it seemed like the longest journey, but looking back at it I have no idea where time went. 

Friends are invaluable

By the time we reached the hospital, I had told a few friends about it. They knew what to say, when to say it. And what not to say. Held me together when nothing seemed to be going my way. Even now, they have been wonderful. Good friends are hard to come by and too far apart, but when something like this happens, you know why they're your friends. It is not an easy task to help someone out without being there, and yet they did. And not just friends, quite a lot of people in the time of duress make the right call and choose to be good men and women when they can so easily choose to walk away. 

Future is uncertain, hope is alive

Everything brings us to now. I won't claim to know what will happen hereafter. But everything till now has been managed. Things might not be looking up, but they aren't going down either. 
Shit happens. And then you deal with it. 

The Accident: We left for Dehradun at 5AM and nearing 7:30, the driver lost control of the car on the highway and crashing into the trees to the left. Inertia from the sharp left turned the car sideways and it landed on the driver side almost perpendicular to the ground. I can say with some confidence that it was the seat belt that saved the driver's and my life. If anything is to be learnt, on long journeys even the back passengers really should buckle up. 

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Monday, May 23, 2016

God is Dead, We Killed Him

People think I'm a perennial skeptic and a cynic. They're right, I am. But that doesn't stop someone from clinging to optimism and hope from time to time. And that's what hurts the most, seeing the last shred of hope you didn't even know you had, get crushed.

When Nietzsche proclaimed 'God is dead, we killed him', he didn't mean that god is dead in the literal sense or that we were the cause of his demise. What he meant was that the values and morals put forward by God' are not a credible source anymore. Humans are no longer able to believe in any such cosmic order since they themselves no longer recognize it. That's what life is, a cosmic order that remains unknown to us.

The world isn't fair. It's not unfair either. It's indifferent to your opinions and wishes. It allows you to exist when your self interests align with its gears. But as soon as that changes, it comes down on you harder than being curb stomped by Hagrid.  As Andy Dufresne put it, you get busy living, or you get busy dying.

People who think life is unfair miss out on the most basic fact of living, you don't get things for free. And if you do, you pay the price later. It's a morbid perspective certainly, thinking that no happy thing comes free, or that no good deed goes unpunished. But time and time again, it has proven to be true. Do people get lucky? Yes. Do they usually? Almost never. It's like hearing about someone winning a lottery and making the buying of lottery tickets your job.

Almost everyone lives in a bubble. A bubble of similar opinions, a bubble of disillusion, a bubble of friends who keep you safe. Not all bubbles are bad, but they restrict your exposure to new things. To new people. Then again, what lies beyond their bubble is not for the faint of heart.

It's easy to think that life takes some innate pleasure in ruining your happiness, punishing you for it. Then again, we seldom notice that it was the same life that made us happy. Life is a collection of memories and experiences, and nothing can take away from that. Not even life itself.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Telling Victims To Grow Up - Is Stephen Fry Correct?

Recently, Stephen Fry said something extremely offensive and detrimental to the countless people who've been victims of abuse. It shocks me that something like that can be allowed on national television. And now the media is in uproar over his remarks for sex abuse victims to "grow up and get over it"

Let's read what this grotesque monster said in The Rubin Report

You get some of my sympathy but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.

 How dare he say something so offensive and invalidat-wait, that doesn't sound very offensive to me. Then what is all the SJW uproar about? He goes on to say

Get rid of it because no one's going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we'll feel sorry for you if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Grow up

I can't help but feel that media has lied to me. His words, pretty tame in themselves, are words of truth and wisdom. It's hard to say you don't agree with the victim in today's politically correct culture, but take a long moment and think if this is the culture we should be propagating.
Self pity is a disastrous thing. It is a blackhole that consumes everything around it, except itself. It destroys relationships, lives, but more than anything, it destroys the  respect in yourself. And that is an enormous disservice to yourself. Don't throw a big man tantrum hoping to get what you want, even if it works sometimes.

Telling someone to grow up isn't invalidating their experiences, it is telling them to move past things that are not important enough to keep looming over. Like stopping yourself from  picking a scab isn't disbelieving the existence of the wound. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You pick yourself up, and you keep going

You cannot allow yourself to fall into a feedback loop where you feel sorry for yourself, get down, and feel sorry for yourself for being down. I believe that while everyone is busy missing the point of Fry's words, smarter people can listen to his real advice and in return, improve their lives.

Grow up. Confront your past. Defeat your demons.

You can watch the entire interview here: