Two months without Facebook!

Hey guys,

Today I wanted to talk about my off-Facebook time. It’s been two months since I stopped using it.

People (read the older generation) tend to think that this generation is all about Facebook. However, after coming to Bangalore, I have seen so many people who are either not on Facebook or rarely ever use it. They are all my age!

When I was using my previous phone (Asus Zenfone 5 – my phone for 2.5 years), there was quite some memory constraint in using too many apps. So, I had started using Facebook from the browser. However, I used to get notified of any updates through the Google-pushed notifications. Often, the notifications were not relevant for me and it was a pain to go to the browser to check them.

Then, a week before I came back from Durga Puja break (which is also when I got my new phone), I decided to stop using it entirely!

I can think of a few reasons for this:

  1. The content on Facebook was no longer interesting for me
  2. I was tired of looking at other people’s photos of having fun, when I was practically not doing that great myself
  3. I did not have any meaningful friendships on Facebook
  4. Even though there wasn’t much interesting stuff going on, I had this annoying habit of refreshing my FB feed over and over again (within span of minutes or lesser), only to see the same stuff populated – I really needed to get off Facebook

My new phone, Moto G5 Plus, has enough memory for a bunch of apps like Facebook, but I didn’t bother. I decided against installing it.

In the beginning, it was difficult. My mind was so trained to find that blue icon on the bottom left corner of my home screen, that it took it time to get used to not seeing that app there. Suddenly, my phone felt empty! Like suddenly, I had nothing to do on my phone! I realized that Facebook was the single most (ab)used app on my phone. I did use WhatsApp and YouTube, but in much limited capacity.

I had put a perfunctory post before I stopped using it, directing people to reach out to me on WhatsApp because I will not be active any longer. A cousin called trying to understand why the hasty decision. There were other triggers to get back on the app – my brother wanted me to post a photo of the Diwali gift he had sent me (which I had put up as a WhatsApp status). I had to convince him to not feel bad about it because I won’t do it. It had only been a couple of weeks since I had gotten off the app, and I could not risk going back.

Naturally, something else had to take over. The two obvious ones are WhatsApp and Youtube. But WhatsApp by itself, does not present to you gossip (I mean it kind of does through the statuses, but only in limited quantity). So, I had to get used to the limited reach that I had to people. This, coupled with a free calling plan, triggered me to start calling people more often. I started doing video calls more. I started reaching out to folks whom I had not spoken to in years. Things began to change.

I also started using YouTube a lot more. I primarily browse videos on travel/cooking/financial stuff/work stuff/relationship advice etc. It has its own sweet way of helping me spend time. I have also started toying with the idea of starting to vlog. Actually, I did start my own channel in January this year, but it never took off. However, for last couple of weeks, I have been considering it again. Nothing is concrete in my mind, but I do want to do something in the visual medium at some point in time. I record myself sometimes these days, pretending as if I am on a vlog. However, it is going to take me a lot longer to put any content out there. I need to understand what gear to use, what the theme of my vlog should be. I am not planning anything right away.

Facebook, in its own way, tried to lure me back. They started sending me messages on the phone, with the notifications. But every time, I said I’ll pass. Now, I longer use Facebook (except for the automated blog-share feature) and I do not feel any urge to go back to it either.

How about you? Have you overcome a social media addiction or do you think you really need to give up on some? Share your experience with me in the Comments!

Until later, enjoy the lovely December days, as the Christmas bells come ringing along! ❤

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Book Review | Mahashweta

Last week, I was going through Kwench library. I happened across a book by Sudha Murty, the name of which I do not remember now. The blurb interested me. However, the book was in circulation at the time and I had to opt for a different book.

I chose Mahashweta by the author, which is the story of Anupama, who contracts vitiligo (a skin condition in which the skin becomes white in color). The book narrates how she is abandoned by her husband because of the condition and how, after a lot of struggle, she finds a place of her own in life.

The book was potent for me. Having had vitiligo for close to ten years now, I know the ordeal. While reading the book, I remembered the horror of the initial days when I contracted it. I would go to sleep every night, scared that when I woke up in the morning, some other portion of my body would be white. As a ninth grader, it was not easy to accept this about myself. I was in my teenage years, when boys and girls start to become conscious of their looks. In just one day, life had changed for me. Concerned elders spoke about how things would get difficult for me during marriage, because who would want to marry a girl with white patches?

Public knowledge about vitiligo is quite vast these days. People (at least the ones I have come across) understand that it is a cosmetic disease. The disease is not contagious, not has it been proved that it is hereditary (no one in my family had it). Many people have more serious diseases and get married off easily because these diseases do not happen to leave external proof.

However, understanding the mechanics of the disease is something and to emotionally accept it is another. In reality, like Anand in the book, we all look for perfection. We want our wives and our husbands to look beautiful. Lot of us want to show off our spouses as symbol of perfection – it just strokes our ego.

Every time a relationship that could have worked out for me but did not, I have wondered if somewhere, the white patches on the skin contributed in any manner to the decision taken. Throughout my teenage years, and even today, I am still conscious of them. I still prefer wearing dresses with high collar.

However, unlike my teenage years, now it is easy to accept this fact about myself. Now, I can go about my day doing multiple other things, without even thinking once that I have vitiligo. But I am at a juncture of life when marriage does not look too distant. I do wonder, from time to time, how my skin condition affects my marital prospects in 21st century. I guess I will find out!

Mahashweta, at mere 150 pages, is a wonderful story. It realistically narrates the sentiments of myriad sections of people: a mother-in-law who is willing to overlook lapses in moral conduct of her own daughter, but treats her daughter-in-law like a piece of shit because she has white patches on her skin. A doctor, who in spite of knowing the medical implications of vitiligo, ignores the social implications of the same for his wife and chooses to abandon her when she needs him the most. But the best part about the book was the epilogue by the author where she describes how her book made a man change his decision to not marry the bride who had just contracted vitiligo. It moved me to tears.

 

 

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Ten facts about me!

Hey guys,

Yesterday, I was watching this vlog which was about “20 random facts about myself.” I thought it was a nice idea and something that I could try on my own blog too. So, today I am going to share a few facts (and some opinions) about myself, so that you get to know me a little better.

I would love for your guys to also share some random facts about yourself in the Comments section, so I get to know you a little better. Let’s use the year-end to reaffirm our blogging friendships! I also challenge you, if you like, to publish a similar post on your blog with the tag #knowme.

Okay, so let’s get this started!

  1. I am from Durgapur, West Bengal, a city which is relevant in the map of India because of its steel plants. I have spent approx. 12 years of my life and completed my schooling there.
  2. Before Durgapur, I used to stay in a small town called Guptipara – that’s where my grandfather had settled after they had migrated from Bangladesh. I have very few, but some clear memories of it. I remember my grandfather gardening. We used to get a lot of monkeys come and ruin our vegetable plants, so we would cover the bright, purple brinjals in paper to save them from the assault.
  3. I moved to Kolkata in 2011, where I was doing engineering from Techno India, Salt Lake in Electronics and Communication. I lived in Salt Lake for four years (2.5 years in BD block and 1.5 years in AG block) and hold the place dearly in my heart. Even today, the roads of Salt Lake feels like home.
  4. I had horrible experience in staying in paying guest accommodations in Salt Lake, but made couple of good friendships. I am still in good touch with some of my ex-PG mates.
  5. I have been published in school magazines from fourth grade and that was what stirred my curiosity in writing and publishing. I have also been keeping a diary since fifth grade (I think it’s fifth grade, but I might have to double check). The idea to write diary came from my cousin brother, with whom, incidentally, I am not in touch anymore.
  6. Mine is a big family. My father had five sisters and two brothers. My mom has two sisters and one brother. On my father’s side, the family is a bit scattered – I have relatives in Kolkata, Mumbai, Gujarat, US. My mother’s side of family is more or less concentrated in one place.
  7. We have a family Durga Puja in my maternal uncle’s place every year for close to 30 years now. My mother inaugurated it with a cousin brother. Most of my life, I have spent Durga Puja there.
  8. I have vitiligo, small white patches, on my neck and arm. I got it in ninth standard. It is localized and has not grown for many years now. My family has no history of it and it came a quite a shock when I got it. Those white patches have shaped a large part of my personality over the years and I am still body-conscious because of them.
  9. As a kid I used to hate my name. I had a huge craze for English and the English/American lifestyle. I though before I wrote my tenth grade exams, I would change my name to Elizabeth or Victoria (yes, you can laugh at that archaic choice)! I thoughts my parents (technically, my grandmother) were uncool because they named me Arpita. Over the years, however, I have learnt to appreciate it.
  10.  I am deeply romantic. I love to watch people speak to each other and fall in love with the comfort of familiarity around them. I like to watch squirrels jumping on the trees. I love to walk on the terrace to see the sunset and ponder on the meaning of life. Yep, I speak to myself when I am alone, too.

I could probably go on, but will stop here. So, now you guys know a little more about me. Would love for your to get back to me with a post of your own along these lines.

Until later, write more, love more and enjoy your life! ❤

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Top Five Posts on Scribbles@Arpita 2017

Hello everyone!

It’s my favorite part of year! It’s that time when the roses and the marigolds are blooming in the gardens. It’s the time of the year when I look at the year in retrospect and think about the good, bad and great things that happened in this year. It is also the time for those resolutions, which will perhaps be followed only till March of the next year. But hey, it’s fun making them, right?

So this month, you will see a lot of posts along those lines. But for today, I wanted to share with you guys some of the most viewed posts in 2017. As always, please do leave your thoughts and comments below. I have not been very active on the Reader myself and have not been able to engage with a lot of your posts, but I do when I get the time. As I appreciate the time that you guys take to read my posts and share feedback. This other day, a fellow reader commented how she had seen me grow as a writer on this blog and that was one of the biggest compliments of all time. As a writer myself, I do understand how my writing has changed over the years. But it is the biggest achievement when your readers can see it too.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the top posts by views in 2017 (note that all the posts however, are not necessarily written in 2017):

  1. Five magazines to submit fiction (and/or non-fiction) in India

    This has been the most viewed post of all times on my blog. As lots of you already know, when I started off this blog, it was intended to be an author’s platform and help newbie authors in India to find their footing. My goals have somehow shifted and this list is no longer updated, but I have received many positive feedback on this post from lots of writers over the past months.

  2. Last Day in College: Gosh! Am I an engineer already?

    This post was written right after I graduated college. The search term that would generally lead you to this blog post is last day of college/what to write on shirt on the last day of college. It was an emotional post to write and has lots of pictures of the college shirt on which my friends scribbled farewell messages. If you are missing college and want to revisit the memories, do check it out!

  3. Thoughts on the short story “So you’re just what, gone?” by Justin Taylor

    There was this time when I was in serious writer-mode. I was regularly reading up stories on New Yorker. I remember not understanding the story at the first go (that’s also the premise of the post). But later, after reading the writer’s point of view, the story became clearer. As I was writing this post, I ended up reading my review of it and the story as well. This time, however, the story was much clearer. This is probably because I have myself sat through planes and had somewhat similar situations in my life and also have been watching more of American high school TV series to know the voice of teenagers (13 Reasons Why was amazing!).

  4. Street Harassment: Fear of the Road (A Guest Post)

    This is the first post in this list which is actually published in 2017. It’s part of a series of guest posts I was doing at the time. It’s by Pradita Kapahi, a blogger I have huge respect for. It’s as relevant a post today as it was in January this year, so please do give it a read.

  5. Letter to my younger self

    This was written in June 2017, as a request piece by Earnest. I love how candid it is. The title is self-explanatory – it is a letter from my 2017 self to my college self. I read it again for writing this post and it sounds as authentic as when I had written it.

Okay, so that’s about it! I had a wonderful time writing this post. I hope you have as much fun while reading it.

I will see you in another post and until then, live your life with full battery mode and just rock it up! ❤

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‘Us’ does not exist

I have seen them in the traffic jam, in the lines of waiting crowd, when she sat back on his bike and caressed the dog peering outside the window of the car next to them.

I have seen them in front of the museum; him holding the kid in his arms, her trying to find something desperately from the cheap green faux leather bag. Perhaps, she was fishing for the blue handkerchief to rub the snot below the baby’s nostrils, or the bubble gum to keep it silent.

I have seen them in shopping malls, sitting together with big cups of coffees on small white table, flanked by matching white chairs. She had a brown leather sling bag and long leather boots. He looked chic in a pair of blue jeans and white shirt.

I have seen them in buses, in the metro, in the pool cab that I take to save money that needs to be paid towards the bills.

I have seen the love, the care that flows between a man and a woman. The care that one finds in little day-to-day things. The way the girl on the bike holds onto her boyfriend in black leather jacket in one hand and in the way she caresses the dog with the other. I have seen the attraction in the eyes which reflects the coffee table. New love is always fire.

The married couple in the front of the museum can be just about anyone, with a kid early in their marriage because he did not believe in planning and she had no choice.

Perhaps, they had fought on the way to the museum. Her bickering about the nagging kid, him tired of her tantrums. Perhaps, the boy on the bike is going to drop the girl off for good and ride his own separate direction. Maybe, the couple on the coffee date will no longer meet for the next one, because she speaks a little too much and he turns out to be a snob.

But, in the moment that I see them, in the moment my heart skips a beat at the sight of people doing ‘couple’ things, I miss you.

I miss you on my way to work, when a random stranger walks by wearing the same perfume that you wear. I miss you when I re-record songs in a broken voice and send to all the people who do not matter, but stop before sending to you, because I no longer can.

I miss you in them. I miss us in them.

Us does not exist.

You and I do.

In separate cities, in separate worlds evolving around us.

(c) 2017 Arpita Pramanick

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Non-NaNaWriMo Update

Hey folks!

Hopefully, you guys are doing well since we last met. Things are looking up at my side also. I am sorting through the priorities of life.

Priorities is a funny thing. It’s amazing how something that we hold important or exciting today is no longer important or exciting after some time. Back in 2015, when I had first started the blog, the one and only thing in my mind was to set up an author’s platform. My aim was to get published, as soon as possible, through traditional means. I focused less on college work and more on the book I was writing at the time. Once published, I would check the KDP Dashboard daily to see how I was doing on the sales front.

Almost 3 years later, my goals have changed again. My blog, to an extent, explains the shift in priorities.

Now, I am earning and almost on the verge of paying off the student loan that had been weighing on my mind ever since I went to college. I have also started investing money in mutual funds – which is another thing that is occupying my mind, because I am trying to understand how the money market works. Financial security is one of the biggest priorities for me right now.

Priorities have also shifted towards health. I would look at myself carefully in the mirror and take a mental note of losing inches from the waistline. I have started spending time on the treadmill and adopted healthier eating habits.

Some of my girl friends are getting married (the boys still have a bunch of years to roam free), so marriage also has come up in the list of priorities. I am still trying to understand what I expect out of relationships and how to find the person who I can spend the rest of my life with.

Besides that, for the first time in my life, I have an option to do the things the way I want to do, thanks to the financial security. I am no longer dependent on my parents for money. So, I want to give travelling a chance. I have been planning in my mind to go to Mumbai. My brother, who is studying in Kolkata, might end up visiting the city late December/early next year. If he comes, I might go visit him and the city for a weekend. I have never been, even though I have family in Mumbai. So I am really looking forward to it. I have also started planning a list of places that I want to visit on the trip. Let’s see!

NaNoWriMo, of course, has taken a backseat. I don’t have enough ideas to finish what I started. I might get back to it for a bit when towards later this month, if I find some catchy idea to work on. Besides that, I do not see any progress on that front. However, the good thing is, I have something beautiful started through the NaNo project this year. Hopefully, through the course of the next few months, I will be able to finish it, and publish it sometime in 2018. I still have a vague goal of publishing a book per year.

That’s about it in this post – I really need to go get ready for office right now.

Until later, enjoy and live your life guilt-free! ❤

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What Nobody Told You About Happiness

Some days, you see/experience something that changes you in a fundamental way. Today happened to be one of those days.

For the last few days, I have been feeling restless. Heck, I have been restless all my life. I have an itch inside me which drives me to solve problems as soon as possible. I pay my bills almost as soon as they arrive in my email. I like to keep no debts. If a call has to be made, I would do it sooner than later. Finishing things make me happy. Accomplishments make me happy.

I am told multiple times that I talk too fast. Yes, I do. Because I trying to hard to keep up with the train of thoughts in my brain that is rushing so fast that I struggle to keep up with them.

I love flights. I love how quickly you can reach from a city that has burned you to a city that smells of love.

I am always in a hurry. Always. In. A. Hurry.

Today, I chanced upon a wonderful TEDx video of Saisha Srivastava from 2015 (when she was 20). Saisha is a dancer who collaborated with blind schools in Kolkata to teach visually impaired kids how to dance.

As I watched the video, the familiar sensation of time flying by held me and shook me up. She spoke fast, almost as fast as I speak when I am trying to catch up with my thoughts. And in those 17 minutes, I felt, once again, there is just so much left to be done in this life and I have probably not even started.

I keep watching these videos about solo travel, where people talk about staying the nights with random strangers and receiving kindness from the most unexpected places. That resonates with the core of my being. As humans, we die to hear good stories. It is ingrained in our genes – we live in our stories, we live through our stories.

We want more intriguing stories. We need more intriguing stories.

Saisha’s is a wonderful story to tell. Is yours?

If you have been part of something this beautiful, share your experience with me, down in the Comments.

See you in another blog.

Until then, either tell a story, or live one! ❤

 

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