Rants

Logging off online games… for now

I used to look in awe at the world of gaming where people crashed cars and shot enemy soldiers with elan. I couldn’t get around to doing so. I certainly tried Road Rash and a few of those games. Even Harry Potter video game where we are supposed to learn a few spells left me cold. I certainly was not prepared to handle Voldemort in the last stage, when I could close the game app instead.

But the world of gaming understood. It realised that not everyone is willing to step into mazes and slay dragons. It offered games for tamer people. I have a 3 hour commute (including to and fro) and these games keep me company and in a very seemingly benign way. Soon I had secret goals that I wanted to achieve and saw the common pattern in these various outings. Logging in every single day without missing your streak gives you such big rewards and you for a time don’t see nothing wrong with filing it under everyday must dos. Just go in and come out and a good 150 gold coins/boosters are credited and you see no harm in it.  You see more gold than you do in real life and they fall into your storage with a clinking sound. Delightful.

The one thing that I object in all these games is the way the game tries to trick you into clicking the “Buy gems/coins/t.cash” button. Not once have I consented or even been tempted to buy extra help but it grates on me when they try incesstantly.

I have seen both medical and casual articles put this addiction down to serotonin overdose. Be that as it may as the Big Boss mania overtook Tamil Nadu, I realised for the first time why I was captivated with this world. It was devoid of jealousy, backbiting, two timing and other stuff that exhaust me. That isn’t how I want to wind up my days. I prefer to sink into a pillow and feed my fake cows or serve hamburgers to fake hungry customers for I know where I am with these predictable creatures. But the time has come to swear off online games. At least until the end of 2017, I will not be logging into any of these games. I found twitter just as exhausting with all the hustle and bustle. I deleted that app too.

So what am I going to fill my time with instead? I don’t know, but it is not going to be another online game.

Quick Look:

-> In Candy Crush, you swap colored candies. So much more challenging than it sounds. I stopped crushing candies at 1550 or so.

-> In Clash of Clan is all about raiding neighbours to build your own strong defenses. It does not feel so bad as all that once you do start doing it. I took Clash of Clan as a sort of challenge. An ardent clash of clanner may not see his game as a benigngame what with all the cannons and mortars. But CoC is suffiently cartoonish to look past that and it to me felt not very different to the other games I obssess over. I just build one wall after another with the same ardent fascination that a child builds a lego wall.

-> In Township, you get to plant wheat and corn and use them to make bread and cornflakes. Or you feed them to cows and milk them and make milk based recipes. Soon your fields are extremely productive and so are your mines and foundry and farms and factories. And your zoo. Feels and looks delightful. Best way to finish your tiring day. Easily the one game which made me lose control of time.

-> In Cooking fever, you get to serve hamburgers and cool drinks but cook much more complicated stuff including exotic desserts. And all this without the mess and the heat of a real kitchen. I did not reach dizzying heights there.  I am not built for this sort of thing. It is exhausting. I watched videos and saw that the game gets more maddening as levels progress. So I quit.

Book Extracts, Books, Uncategorized

The American Native and the Moon Spirits

An extract from Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I found it delightful. 🙂

In the months leading up to their moon voyage expedition, the Apollo 11 astronauts trained in a remote moon-like desert in the western United States. The area is home to several Native American communities, and there is a story – or legend – describing an encounter between the astronauts and one of the locals. One day as they were training, the astronauts came across an old Native American. The man asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they were part of a research expedition that would shortly travel to explore the moon. When the old man heard that, he fell silent for a few moments, and then asked the astronauts if they could do him a favour.

‘What do you want?’ they asked.

‘Well,’ said the old man, ‘the people of my tribe believe that holy spirits live on the moon. I was wondering if you could pass an important message to them from my people.’

‘What’s the message?’ asked the astronauts.

The man uttered something in his tribal language, and then asked the astronauts to repeat it again and again until they had memorised it correctly.

‘What does it mean?’ asked the astronauts.

‘Oh, I cannot tell you. It’s a secret that only our tribe and the moon spirits are allowed to know.’

When they returned to their base, the astronauts searched and searched until they found someone who could speak the tribal language, and asked him to translate the secret message. When they repeated what they had memorised, the translator started to laugh uproariously. When he calmed down, the astronauts asked him what it meant. The man explained that the sentence they had memorised so carefully said, ‘Don’t believe a single word these people are telling you. They have come to steal your lands.’

Books, Harry Potter, On Writing

Where do I begin?

I am not sure why don’t write regularly on the blog anymore. It isn’t as if I don’t have time. I do. It isn’t as if I don’t have topics anymore. I have plenty of those. And it isn’t as if I have moved on to any other platform to express myself. I do not know anything better than a blog to express your thoughts.

I want to write about Hermione and what she means to me. I want to write about voyeurism. I want to talk about the story tellers who told me more than just stories. And that is just the beginning.

It is just that I am now getting very aware of how difficult writing can be. None of the topics I want to pick next is going to take an hour or two. Each is worth a month of obsession. But how long can a woman wear a swimsuit and stare at the deep end of the pool? Some day you have to take a plunge.

The next post will be about the Potterverse. So what intrigued you most about the Harry Potter Universe? Tell me so I know where to begin.

Opinions

The dog-lovers and the rest of us

I was listening to a conversation between a mother of a 3 year old daughter and the owner of a 3 year old dog. The conversation was held most amicably but I could see how different their stances were. I was not a part of that conversation but could identify strongly with one of them. If you think your dog is like your child, here are a few things that I would like to tell you.

Firstly, I teach my daughter to behave herself and teaching her manners was not easy. She learnt to say hello, please and thank you when appropriate when she was very young. If your dog non-verbally displays similar manners, I will pat its head and be nice. If not, admit that you are a bad parent/owner. I have seen very well-mannered dogs that will understand the guests and come to cuddle only if invited. Teach your dog that. Child-rearing is not about buying toys and cutting birthday cakes and running on the beach sand. It is about helping the child make sense of the world she is brought into and if you are a dog-owner, the same is expected out of you too.

Don’t say “Dora is not a dog”. Of course she is. She is a canine. She barks and howls and has four legs and a tail. You love the dog like a daughter and that is your right. That does not mean that the barking is a cute sound or that the growling dog has to seem less than intimidating in my eyes. The dog does not become an honorary child in the view of the world and it doesn’t have to. Dora probably likes being a dog.

Don’t feed the dog with your hands; it freaks the rest of us out. Tell the dog that begging for food at the dining table is not a decent habit. Think how you’d feel if I did the same with a komodo dragon and expected you to be cool with it. That is the extent to which dogs freak us out.

I can’t talk on behalf of the rest of the non-dog-loving population, but I personally do know and understand that dogs are intelligent and sweet and loving. Anecdotes about how Dora loves nail polish and begs for it will not make me an instant dog-lover. It is possible to expect a decent distance even after appreciating the complexity of canine (or feline) behavior.

Think twice before you say “Children are more annoying and I hate them.” I understand that you love your pet like a child and most people are not going to give heartfelt condolences when you lose your pet to old age or illness. They will not understand if you take the day off when the dog is sick. But just don’t say “I hate babies” to a parent of a human baby. It is incredibly rude.

Maybe it is different in other countries, but I think here in India we have neither got the hang of managing our own pets nor respecting the pets of others.

* The whole “I hate babies” brigade should probably be a separate topic. So many people like to say that they don’t like babies, that it is almost a trend now.

Favourite

My first atheist post

Consider the 3 conversations

Conversation #1

Person 1:             Hey, I just came back from my Thirupathi pilgrimage. Please do take prasadam. I guess you are a Christian and are not allowed to have prasadam?

Person2:              Yes, the Bible expressly forbids. Sorry.

Person1:              No problem at all.

Person2:              I hope you had a great time.

Person1:              I did. Thanks.

Conversation #2

Person 1:             Hey, I just came back from my Thirupathi pilgrimage. Please do take prasadam. I guess you are a Christian and are not allowed to have prasadam?

Person2:              Well, the Bible does expressly forbid us Christians. But I do make an exception for ladoos.

Person1:              Rules are meant to be broken or at least bent. <Wink Wink>

Person2:              Ha, ha. True.

Person1:              You are very broadminded and accommodating.

Person 2:             Thank you. I hope you had a great time.

Person1:              I did. Thanks.

 

Conversation #3

Person 1:             Hey, I just came back from my Thirupathi pilgrimage. Please do take prasadam. I guess you are a Christian and are not allowed to have prasadam?

Person2:              Well, the Bible expressly forbids Christians. But I turned became an atheist a few years back so that doesn’t apply to me.

Person1:              Oh…..hmmm…..interesting

Person 2:             Nice Ladoo.

Person1:              hmmmm.

Person 2:             I hope you had a great time.

Person1:              hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Bye.

The above have, of course, been merely paraphrased from the general attitude I generally encounter when I identify with atheism. But the tone is very true. I never attempt to discuss this over prasadam or after the death of a loved one or do anything insensitive. I only mention this when I am asked specific questions about my faith. I am asked about thali sentiments and rituals and sometimes I have to mention that my beliefs is NOT what is held by an average Christian and so I do mention it.

But why do people think so badly about atheists? We aren’t the ones blowing buildings up. We don’t bother you.

Yes, if you sit and question us, we will use terms like delusion and cognitive dissonance to describe beliefs close to your heart. But then again EVERY PERSON who is not in the same religion or denomination or caste as you are does think you are deluded. That is a given. So why isolate atheists for this silent treatment? Why is it mandatory that we believe in some God even if it is not your God? What difference will it make?

Religion will never die away, but atheism is not a stance for quirky rebels anymore. It is growing fast in recent times. We can’t always pretend to believe what we don’t believe just because you’d be offended. Maybe it is time that religious folks re-think about their attitude towards the irreligious.

Opinions

The acid question

I recently noticed this. Whenever I have the mildest disagreement with a man and then go ahead and discuss it with a woman her response is always, “Please be careful, he might turn spiteful and throw acid on you”. I don’t mean a specific woman but women in general.

I am almost always amused at this reaction. It can make sense if I had a huge public row with the man in question and insulted him in such a way to hurt his pride or if he has shown any evidence of having obsession towards me. But often this is about very mild disagreements the way a human person disagrees with another human person.

Have we really gone too far in teaching women that men should be kept at a safe distance? Do we vilify men too much? Where do we get the “Aiyayo ethavathu pannira poraan” from?

Opinions, Uncategorized

Judgments and other things

I have met a certain type of women who seem to go all out for male attention. It may be because of the conservative circles that I typically move in, but it is almost always never done by revealing skin or the physical touch. It is done by implying to the men that they are the boss, that they are actually the gentler sex and that they are much more reliable than women can ever be. And it is also done by actively avoiding female company, judging them “bitchy”. It is done by turning a little bit mean in the presence of women and changing oneself into an angel when the first man walks in. It is kind of like how Sridevi’s daughter in English Vinglish was a sweeter person when the dad was around. But these women apply this to more than just one man.

Then I heard the term “Daddy Issues” and though I was initially loathe to let that term become a part of my vocablary, I invountarily applied the criteria to these women to check if it threw light on the people these women have turned out to be. Initially it was a near perfect fit. The women in question had absent father figures. It was almost as if that judgemental term was the answer I was looking for to explain what was initially completely incomprehensible to me. And sometimes it was the opposite. It was more regarding the father having been too present in the girl’s life to the extent that the girl started to see the father in a much better light than her own mother. I also saw that the male equivalents (Mommy Issues) existed in droves too. And sometimes the family seemed quite alright from where I was standing. In short, on good scrutiny, the theory did not hold as much water as I was initially crediting to it. Slowly I started to learn to keep myself from wildly making judgements on families that I hardly knew. A hundred judgements made, a lesson learnt.

This entire episode happened within my head. I did not discuss this theory saying mean things about people’s parents though the opportunities were a million. Also, the judgement would have been simplified by the minds of those who were listening to me gaining color that did not initially exist in my own theory. My problem was not against those who have more friends of the opposite sex. This was a different, more specific sort of attitude. But what if someone did not fully understand what I had to say? Would that not make me sound like a particularly mean-spirited person?

Something to this effect is what happened to the terms Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Cool Girl and yes, the judgements are almost always on female behaviour. In fact, the archetype I am describing above may be a sort of “Desi Cool Girl.”

But my question is this. Is it possible to become a unjudgemental person without ever taking a shot at a few quiet judgements initially? Is it wrong to navigate our world by making a few presumptions about people based on our own prior knowledge?

Are we using the words “Judgemental” and “Disapproving” interchangeably? If so, why?

Note: Check out how the “Cool Girl” described by Rosie Waterland and Gillian Flynn aren’t too similar. I may be judged a Cool Girl by Rosie but not by Gillian.