The ruthless alarm woke me up with a start as the birds chanted their morning mantras, just like every other day. I sat meditatively, refusing to open my eyes, at the blissful liminal state between sleep and wakefulness. Just like every other day.
Another day awaits, its gloriousness or dreadfulness determined by whom I bump into at school, the first thing in the morning. If my crush Justin does the bare minimum of acknowledging my presence, it’s a day like no other in this year. Or if he takes it a step ahead and graces me with his beguiling smile, it’s a day like no other in my life. As I filled my head with dreamy fantasies, my frenemy Ashley Slater made her way into my mesmerised mind and there, the spell ended. Just like every other day.
Expect Ashley Slater to ruin a perfectly idyllic moment! I hastily got ready, unable to remove the sulk from my face and stormed out of my room. With the sulk intact, I raced to the dining table to grab breakfast, just like every other day. To my surprise, the table was empty. My mom was recently experimenting with French cuisine and I had been the benefactor of her experiments as I would go to school everyday with a happy tummy. Yet somehow, she was not to be seen! I looked everywhere around the house, in the garden and even as far as in the attic, she was nowhere. Something anomalous had happened.
I stepped out of my house to find the roads empty! No vehicles, no morning joggers, no sight of people going to work, literally NO OTHER HUMAN BEING! A strange, eerie silence engulfed the streets, apart from the dog that barked and the bird that chirped away like nothing had happened. What was happening? Was this a dream? In an instant, a day like any other transmuted into a day like no other!
Suddenly, I heard a voice from somewhere, couldn’t tell from where. Was it from the sky? I really didn’t know. A rather frightening, booming voice spoke “Dear girl, you have manifested a desire of yours that was as deep and expansive as the cosmos. A day alone in this world, a day just for yourself, all alone in this mighty expanse. Make of it what you will because with your good deeds and strong desire, you have manifested it.” The voice faded into infinity, just like that.
I spent a good many moments processing what had just happened. Admit it, you’d be flabbergasted too. This is too surreal and supernatural to be real. Feels like something pulled out of a fiction. After I came to terms with what had just happened, I screamed my lungs out- something I would have never done in a world with the most judgmental species in existence. A day without people! Damned people. A DAY WITHOUT ASHLEY SLATER- Can it get any better? I have NEVER known jubilation of this intensity in 13 years of my existence!
Make of it what you will– So I shall! With an enthusiasm uncharacteristic of my nerdy self, I set about to spend the day the best way I could.
In a world that is mine,
Love would be all-pervasive,
Love forlife forms big and small.
In perfect harmony we shall breaththe air,
The air that does not discriminate,
between life forms wild and tame.
The sky that ties the big world together,
Making it a nest big and beautiful for you and I.
I set out on an adventure. To the oceans, the forests, the hills, the ravines. No one to stop me, no commitments to meet, no deadlines to worry about, just me…. And nature… In our collective solitude. I walked upon every field my legs could carry me to, thanking the heavens for a day free from destructive human activities, animal slaughter, noise, pollution and chaos. For a day free from hatred, ego, lust, cruelty and jealousy.
Before I knew it, the Moon rose with her celestial charm, in the artist’s palette, tinted by tasteful purples and reds. I dwelled deep in nature’s tight clasp, basking in the unparalleled ecstasy it had to offer, knowing I am the only one, living this moment….
2021 was an extremely unhappening and monotonous year, second only to 2020. What should have been the most important year of my life turned out to be the most stagnant and uninteresting one. If COVID weren’t playing its games, this year would have been the most memorable. This is the story of roughly 3 million students in India. I can’t speak for the rest of the world as COVID was a bit more compassionate outside our borders.
*Beware of rants* (mostly in chronological order)
1. The year began with a deeply painful personal loss (to put it lightly)
My great-aunt, my grandmother’s youngest sibling, departed on her heaven-ward journey, at just 60 years of age. It would be a Herculean task to articulate just what she meant (and means) to me. She was always more than a mere spectator in my life. A queen of many hearts, in mine I keep her in a velvety-soft golden throne, lined with her favourite pillows which she affectionately calls “Katti Chellam”– roughly translated to “huggable darling.” She would bestow this title only upon pillows that fulfilled a certain set of criteria for volume and bulk. Her contribution in my life has been so significant and I still can’t fathom that she is gone. She is the person I would turn to before making any important decision, after my mother and my grandmother. My eyes are giving me a difficult time to write this, indicating that I should stop.
When your very last year of schooling is lost and there are no peer interactions, teacher-student interactions, happy memories, sad memories, social life, a last day of school, a day to bid farewell to your friends and teachers, a final examination and even a final goodbye, WHAT REASON do I have to believe that I’m done with school? For the first time in history, most Indian education boards called off the examinations as gathering students in exam centres could lead to a disaster. We were evaluated based on our past performances by our schools, rather than being evaluated externally, like the convention goes. This decision was not made overnight. The exams continued to get postponed, which resulted in speculations, Twitter debates and panic. One fine day, the TV news channels made the big announcement and that very day, our school lives ended.
3. Diary of a Dreamer was born
It’s wonderful to keep dreaming, more so with beautiful dreamers like YOU making it a delightful journey. Thank you so much, fellow dreamer, for your support. Just like an infant depends on its mother for nourishment, a blog relies on its readers for support. This has become a family of its own, one I’m ecstatic to be part of.
4. College life began- Apparently…
Well, technically, college has started, but college life hasn’t. You know what I mean. Still relying on those computer screens to get “educated.”
5. Iofficiallycame “of age” in most countries
Yup! We’re 18, baby! Ironically, on the day I became an “adult”, I was quarantined with chicken pox, usually a childhood virus.
6. Socially 2 years younger
Haven’t we all missed 2 years of social development? I’ve become painfully awkward and shy before people, more so than ever. I’m becoming increasingly homosapiophobic. I may be 18 now, but I have no reason to feel older than 16.
How was your 2021? Bring some action to the comments’ section or write about it in your own blog.
Eons ago (quite literally) Eleanor nominated me for the Sunshine blogger award. Though it’s been quite a while, I feel very tempted to answer her fantastic questions, especially since these are topics I’ve been pondering over a lot lately. Thank you for nominating me, Eleanor. She’s a remarkable poetess and a wonderful soul and you should definitely visit her and show her some love.
Some of my answers could be contentious and I welcome you all to throw in your perspectives in the comments’ section. Let this be an open discussion.
1. Do you think free will exists? If yes, please explain why and the role it plays in the world.
Free will absolutely exists! If everything was predestined, from our mannerisms to our thought processes to our actions, then the concept of being rewarded or punished for our actions doesn’t make any sense. (I make this point with the assumption that the concepts of rewards and punishments exist.) If God has written your destiny and every one of your actions according to which you function, why would he want to punish YOU for your actions if all you’re doing, is acting as he has dictated? Why would he punish you for the way he has designed you?
Hence, everything is not predestined. Some things, most definitely are, such as the conditions surrounding your birth, your genetics (which by far plays the BIGGEST role in who you are and what you become in your life) and so on. We all have the power to exercise our free will. I believe in the concept of Karma. The way you exercise your free will can be good or bad and would add up likewise to your baggage of Karma.
Free will plays a very important role in the world. The ability to choose your actions mandates the discrimination between good and bad, right and wrong, which are always subjective. There is often a conflict between the intellect and the conscience, the morally accepted and the socially accepted and so on. Exercising your free will is a complex process and involves making the right choices, in such a way that you fulfill your Dharma (Your Obligation to the world, akin to the Japanese concept of Ikigai). If the conscience plays a bigger role than the intellect when choosing your actions, the world would be a more peaceful place.
An example would be a snake in your garden. Your mind suggests that you should kill it while your heart suggests against it. Your intellect analyses whether it’s a poisonous snake or a harmless one. Your conscience amalgamates the results of the heart, mind and the intellect and suggests the best course of action, i.e, whether to let it go into the wild or to kill it. It is subjective, but the conscience knows best.
These are my beliefs only and they may or may not be right.
2. In your opinion, does weed, overall, have more of a positive or negative impact? In other words, does it do more harm than good or the other way around?
Any temporary pleasure that compromises on your long term well being is more harm than good. But that is not subject to judgement. One must exercise their free will rightly when making such choices. 🤷♀️ Weed, like any drug, is more harmful to some than others.
3. If you could live in any era which would it be and why?
The past is reminiscent of wars, tragedies and bloodshed, while culture and discipline would likely be non existent in the future. Nothing like the present, so here I shall be!
Nevertheless, I want to add that I’m open to exploring the future, just to catch a glimpse of futuristic technology and innovation. No one can pass judgements about something they have not seen. It may end up being not-so-decadent after all, although many religious scriptures and Prophets (peace be upon them) suggest otherwise. So I’ll stay in the present or even better, go back to my childhood. (Someone please tell me I’m still a child) *sobs*
4. What is your favorite quote of all time and why that one?
Be the change you wish to see in the world- Mahatma Gandhi.
It’s perfectly worded and I’m in perfect agreement with the thought. Change begins at home. We all do more talking and complaining than acting for the cause we stand for.
There’s another one: The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter– Winston Churchill
🤭 It’s sooo accurate, it hurts!
5. Pick one of the worst events in history. If it were possible to change or prevent it, would you? Why?
I want to say, the Nazi Holocaust. I would absolutely prevent it, if I could. I would have assassinated Hitler. One psychopath dying is much better than the world having to lose 6 million Jews, 3 million Poles, 25,000 Gypsies, countless handicapped individuals, homosexuals and so on. Imagine how many Einsteins and Stan Lees they have buried! They killed millions of dreams and dreamers (RIP Anne Frank and the million other teens and kids with vivid dreams).
6. Should euthanasia be a legal option for all if the law was written with great care and consideration?
Yes, but on one condition: The decision for the same should only be taken by the patients themselves or the practitioners, with the patient’s knowledge. In such a case that the patient is unconscious or in coma, the doctor should make the decision if mercy killing is the ONLY way to go. If there are other procedures that can be explored, then the E word should not even be uttered as it would be immoral! The decision should NEVER be made by a family member on behalf of the patient. The intentions could be far from noble and might even have something to do with the will and inheritance! So yes, Euthanasia can be a legal option provided the laws are written very carefully.
7. Why does evil exist in the world?
The laws of physics, from the law of conservation of charges, to the law of conservation of mass, have all taught me one thing- For the universe to remain in balance, the negative and positive will need to be in balance. A world with all good and no evil is only plausible in utopian dreams. If humans were all good, then nature’s evil force would take charge in the guise of natural disasters. Someone or something is always evil. That is the way of the cosmos. It’s a matter of stability.
8. What is your superpower (AKA Your Greatest Strength)?
Being confidently different. I’m almost always a misfit among my peers. Old soul, young bones, a bundle of contradictions. Yet no amount of peer pressure can compress me. That is to say, I’m not easily influenced, as I practice caution when exercising my free will 😉
9. Who do you think is currently one of the most influential individuals in showbiz? Why?
Personally, I don’t find anyone in showbiz ‘’influential’’ because I don’t look up to them. My ideals are different. But if we’re talking about the world in general, then I would say Emma Watson. Many youngsters look up to her and her activism and even I’m a fan of what she campaigns for.
10. How do you like your eggs? Do you think your preference reflects your personality?
I don’t eat eggs very frequently, but I’m an eggetarian, so eggs are not totally out of bounds to me. When I do eat them, I like Omelettes (Sunny side up included) and would die for egg BIRYANI. 🤩
11. Are Myers-Briggs Personality Types all they’re cracked up to be?
We humans are interesting creatures. We are so diverse and our chromosomes come in varying permutations and combinations that no two individuals can ever be exactly the same. I belong to the rare breed of INTP (one of the rarest personality types in the world) and I can’t relate to other INTPs. We’re just categorising humans and putting them into boxes, which is a very human thing to do! There is definitely some truth to them, but I won’t take the word of personality tests as gospel.
If anyone finds these questions interesting, I invite you to answer them, either in your own blog or in the comments 😃 Once again, thanks to my dear friend Eleanor for these brilliant questions. Let’s get talking! 🎊
“Once the residence of the Great Empress Rukmini Devi
As the light of Dawn engulfed every pillar and wall,
She came into the world,
To rule and conquer,
Hatred, ignorance and disease.
A fearless ruler, teacher and healer,
Lost her battle,
To the diseases of hatred and ignorance,
The very ailments she was born to cure.
A beloved Queen who knew of no fear or fright,
Now rests here in eternal peace and power.”
Read the board on the wall that a bunch of tourists had gathered around. Like every historical residence, the former home of Rani Rukmini Devi attracted millions of tourists, national and international, all year round.
“Interesting!” Said Raj, looking up at the notice. “Let’s play a game, Gagan. Let’s look around and see which girl is alluring enough to be queen of this place.” Said Raj with a wink and a mischievous smirk, his mind overflowing with various images of queenly beauties. “Eyes like emerald…” Before he could complete his sentence, his mouth opened wide in awe and admiration. He had just spoken of the devil!
There, right before their eyes in solid vision, stood the social media influencer, who, by virtue of her ethereal attractiveness garnered a million followers in a matter of hours. Their pupils dilated. Raj was at loss of words. Gagan could only speak in poetry.
“She is poetry that became a person,
A fantasy that became reality,
A note that became music,
With eyes that speak the language of the soul
A Gucci bag,
10,000 rupees of pure class,
Hair dyed golden,
Gold as the Sunflower’s smile….”
“Yes, that’s it, Raj! THIS woman right here is the queen of this palace and every palace that has ever existed.” Said Gagan, beguiled by the charms of the elegant damsel. Eyes of emerald green, hands of a velvety dream, lips as juicy as a strawberry, what more do you need in a queen?
Meanwhile, a young woman, skinny as a centipede and homely as one starved for years, just received her salary for the cleaning work she does around this royal residence-turned-tourist spot, her eyes lighting like a million Suns at the sight of her hard- earned money, a humble earning of ₹10,000. Being the lone earner of her family, the ₹10,000 in her hands are going to pay off some of her dead father’s debts, her brother’s education and work as a small saving for her sister’s marriage, along with paying off her mother’s hospitalisation fee.
For starters, Duolingo is a free and fun language learning app that promises to teach you all the fundamentals in a language, sufficient to give you a working knowledge of the target language and making you (atleast) conversational. All with just 5 minutes a day.
Today, I finished my daily dose of Duolingo and this flashed before my screen
Admit it, even you had this phase of being unhealthily obsessed with a certain culture/ lingua Franca that you immediately jumped on the Duolingo train to master the language…. And then the phase died out, and so did your streak.
I have many Duolingo friends who once began enthusiastically but currently have a 0 day streak. The most common excuses are:
1. I couldn’t keep up with it due to difficulties forming the habit.
2. It will not make me fluent anyway, then why bother?
3. I don’t think it’s an effective app.
4. I don’t have the time for it.
Number 1 is the most common excuse. Number 2 is very characteristic of a quitter- yes, you can’t become fluent if you’re not willing to. Number 3- how did you come to that conclusion without much effort from your part? For number 4, EVERYONE has 5 minutes a day to spare if their passion for the cause is strong enough. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Here are some plain facts to consider first:
Duolingo alone cannot make you fluent in a language, but there are some features that often go undiscovered, taking you farther away from your goal. Duolingo, if used correctly can be a significant step in your journey and can also take you many steps closer to fluency.
Duolingo has streaks, leaderboards and challenges for a reason- It is linguistic education in the guise of a game. It’s this game aspect of the app that makes you consistent and hence, successful in your odyssey.
The Duolingo algorithm is smart. People learn in different paces, but the algorithm ensures that there is negligible gap in knowledge between a quick learner and a slow one, which is even more advantageous than the school system, just as advertised.
Some courses are better than others. Even amongst the 3 languages I learn, the older courses are considerably more fun and well- updated than the newer ones, which lack some features and depth.
I’ve been using Duolingo for over a year now and yes, I’m comfortably conversational in my target language, German. I also revise French and Hindi (both of which I learned at school). Can’t recommend this app enough. No, this won’t be just me. This will be the result for anyone who is consistent and the app ensures that we are all at the same level by the end of a section. You can spend anywhere between as little as 3 minutes to as much as a whole day on this app. (Although I won’t recommend the latter). On an average, I spend around 5 minutes a day.
Within days of diligently using this app, I found myself capable of saying basic sentences in German and would try to talk to myself in this new language with all that beginner’s excitement. In some tests, I’ve been able to outscore my counterparts who’ve studied the language at school- the only difference between us being, studying for a game vs studying for an exam. Ofcourse we all prefer games over exams!
Owing to my positive experience with the app, I’d like to share some insights and point out where people often unknowingly miss out. I believe there IS a right way to use this app to make it more effective.
1. Duolingo Stories
Some people don’t realise that this feature exists. Unfortunately, it is not available in all languages. But the stories use the language as they’re used in day to day life and are also very witty/cute. These stories also normalise certain topics we usually consider a taboo by casually validating and representing everyone.
2. Free Duolingo Events
MOST people seem to be unaware of this feature. It is a virtual gathering to practice your conversation skills. (Organised via Zoom). Fluency cannot be achieved without practice and this is the best platform to make mistakes, stammer and converse with other learners in a non-judgemental space with shared woes. While I’ve only been able to attend about 2-3 events, I liked my time in each of them and have met some wonderful people thereabouts. Our practice sessions panned out very well. A new feature in this respect is paid events where you are taught by native speakers in your own pace, more like a personalised tutor.
3.Build your streak
Once you build at least a 7 day streak, you will no longer want to break it. Yes, play it like a game and let it not become a chore.
4. Make friends with people you actually know (that includes virtual friends)
*Winks at Lizi and Anjola.* You motivate each other, inspire and get inspired. I get ecstatic whenever I read that they topped the leaderboard or did 10 lessons a day! How inspiring! My tired soul perks up and opens to more learning too.
5. Make friends with people who have long streaks
These people will serve as your inspiration. I get childishly delighted whenever they congratulate me on my milestones and idolise their dedication. So when you find someone with an inspiringly long streak in the leaderboard, BEFRIEND THEM!
Currently available only in French, Spanish and English (as far as I know). Sensitises our ears to the Native accent.
On a concluding note, the right way to use Duolingo is to use it everyday. If you need motivation to do so (which we ALL need, being humans), look up to your friends and ofcourse, your own streak too.
What an empowering title! Has a sophisticated ring to it, doesn’t it?
A million thanks to Siya Gite for nominating me for this wonderful tag. Thank you very much, Siya. Siya’s answers were brilliant and I have very big shoes to fill. She runs the blog The Dramatic Drama and is a very smart and creative blogger with ever-so fresh content. This tag was created by Annie.
Choose a female (real or fictional) for every prompt.
She is an American chemical engineer and a Nobel laureate. She used the technique of directed evolution to engineer new enzymes, a landmark innovation, as it has fantastic implications in pharmaceutical industries, creation of renewable fuels and medicine, all of which are of timeless importance. Since I’ve taken up this field of study for my higher education, she is my biggest role model.
2. Name a woman known for her physical strength
Rani Abakka Chowta, Queen of Ullal
She is an unsung Rani Lakshmibai from an earlier timeline, 16th century, when Portuguese invaders were in the peak of their power and getting the better of us. After having defeated many rulers and capturing many territories, they targeted the profitable port of Mangalore next. Little did they know that a powerful Queen was waiting to destroy their mission. Just 14 km South of Mangalore was the Kingdom of Ullal, ruled by Rani Abbakka Chowta.
They wanted to get her out of the way. They sent many boats with soldiers to capture her, but none ever returned. Boat after boat, they lost their soldiers to a mysterious force which definitely couldn’t have been a 30 year old woman! Enraged, they sent a huge fleet of ships under the command of a celebrated admiral. Again, the ships did not return and the badly injured admiral made his way back. The Portuguese then decided to subjugate Ullal and capture Rani Abbakka. When they came to Ullal, they found it deserted. Just when they were about to declare their victory, Rani Abbakka and her men launched an attack, many Portuguese men lost their lives without even a fight, 70 were captured and the rest ran away.
Immediately, she went to Mangalore, broke into the fortress and assassinated admiral Mascarenhas, the Chief of Portuguese power there. She fearlessly captured many Portuguese settlements and defeated the Portuguese men each time. She is the first woman Freedom fighter of India. (atleast the first known)
3. Name a woman who powered through difficult times
From extreme poverty and malnourishment in her childhood, she’s come to where she is now, which is a very good position. Her life was filled with too many challenges for all I remember from my earlier years. She is a self-made woman and has come to success and prosperity from extreme poverty. All gifts of education! She currently works in one of India’s biggest, oldest and well-known companies. I initially typed a looong paragraph about this but took it all off, realising I’d revealed too many personal details. Perhaps a post for some other day as an inspirational story is worth being shared, even if somewhat personal.
4. Name a woman you want to be friends/roommates with
So I can wake up inspired every day. An innovative mind and an active cerebrum would be what I would choose to live with, if it were a choice. She was 14 when she designed a solar ironing cart as a pollution free alternative to the charcoal powered ironing machines used by local vendors in India for centuries. She is a finalist for the Earthshot Prize 2021. She also has many more patents to her name.
(On a different note, I have some blogging friends I wish I could be friends with in real life. Dear girl Penjiri for instance. Beloved pen pal Selma. Just a few examples.)
5. Name a female who you think is a great role model
KK sir wrote about this icon recently and it was from his post that I came to know about her. She was one of the first practising doctors of India, “rebelliously” pursued higher education (as women’s education was highly discouraged back then), beat all odds and went on to follow her dreams. She legally fought for the dissolution of her forced child marriage and was the first woman in India to get a divorce, marking an important milestone in the evolution of feminism.
6. Name a female who deserves the spotlight
Dr V Shanta
Dr Shanta comes from a family of 2 Nobel laureates in physics and education was an important part of her family. Yet, as a woman of yester years, her choices were limited to “womanly” practices like gynaecology and paediatrics. But she resolutely chose oncology.
The reputed Cancer Institute in Adyar, Chennai, is a non-profit treatment and research centre, established by another inspiring woman, Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy. Dr Shanta had been working in Cancer mission since 1955. Her mission was to make quality cancer treatment affordable and accessible to everyone, and to change the public perception of cancer, which was that of fear and hopelessness, a mission in which she definitely succeeded. The cancer institute is a campus of “hope” with a high success rate. She was a recipient of the esteemed Padma Vibhushan award. Yet, she remained unknown to the common people who were busy worshipping the Kardashians (sorry, HAD to add that here!)
At 93, she was a practising doctor, performing important research work even on her dying day, in March 2021. She is a role model for all women- Passion, if strong enough, can surpass all social and biological barriers.
If you found this tag nice, do jump right in! Let me know in the comments and I’ll add your name. If you’re nominated but don’t feel very gaga over it, suit yourself.
Well, as you may know, I turned 18 recently and have a lot of “new adult” responsibilities (Mind you, I’m the only one who can use that A word!)- passport renewal, driver’s licence, voter ID 🤩, etc.. My college classes have started online too and I have some online courses to finish. In case you’re curious, I decided to be a typical Indian and pursue a degree in engineering!
So I’m taking a break from WordPress, atleast until the work with my legal documentations are done. I’m temporarily deleting the WordPress app from all my devices. So, you’re going to be relieved of my annoyance for a few weeks and I’m sure there’ll be lots of reading to catch up on once I return.
If you suddenly find a comment from me on one of your newer posts, don’t be surprised. It’s because the website doesn’t go anywhere. But that’s not very likely.
This month, Ekta is taking a different form. If you’re new here and have no clue as to what I’m going on about, do keep reading as we have something super promising coming ahead! Hesitate not to check out some of the older episodes in this series Ep-1, Ep-2 and Ep-3.
Ekta’s motto is talk your way to unity and is presented through hypothetical conversations between actual people holding diverse notions on certain issues.
Getting to the surprise part: We have a SPECIAL GUEST! No, not a hypothetical one, AN ACTUAL SPECIAL GUEST! This person is super-involved in sustainability and is an amazing blogger with ever-so-fresh content. She is an exemplary citizen of the natural world and strives to promote environmental welfare. Ofcourse you know who I’m talking about unless you’ve been living under a rock: let’s welcome Moksha from Happy Panda! *Drumroll*
Thank you so very much for being here today, Moksha! It’s wonderful to have someone I look up to right here with me, on my site.
Diwali is the largest festival in India andindisputably,one with the largest impact on the environment due to bursting of large amounts of firecrackers.Firecrackers are the very hallmark ofthe festival- from the spinning Chakras to the simple sparklers to the colourful flower pots to the thrilling 1000 walas to the stunning display of sky shots- It’s quite thetime of marvel!
Yet, these celebrations do not come without a cost. If we ban firecrackers altogether, it is likely to have large repercussions too. Today, we’re going to talk about the two sides of bursting firecrackers- the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty. Moksha is going to present her points against firecrackers and I’m going to present my views in favour of firecrackers and what the extinction of this tradition could mean. Let’s begin!!
Sam: Firecrackers are the symbol, the essence, the life and the very soul of Diwali. Just imagine what the celebration hailed as the Festival of Lights would be like without firecrackers! Will it really be the Festival of Lights? It is, after all, the largest festival of India and one that brings people together- people of different religions, castes, backgrounds and economic statuses, all bursting crackers together, side by side. In a way, it is a harbinger of peace and social unity. A period of prolonged energy and happiness that cuts across all differences. I can’t think of a single Diwali I’ve celebrated without my Christian and Muslim friends, who also enjoy the festivities very much.
Moksha: Diwali is celebrated for the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya. There were no crackers burst to welcome him back. The people of Ayodhya simply lit Diyas. Crackers is a modern addition to this age old celebration. I also think tray sharing sweets, making rangoli or lighting Diyas together could become a new thing for people to do together.
What are some of your reasons for supporting/ opposing a ban on firecrackers?
Moksha: Every single action of ours adds up and hurts our planet especially in a country like ours with a population of 1.4 bn. If 1 billion people decided to waste 1 litre of clean drinking water on 1 day, would you be okay with letting 1 billion litres of cleaning water go to waste while some countries are in terrible need of it? Similarly, why would you want to let 1 billion people burst even 1 cracker each? (RIP ozone layer). We also hardly spare a thought to the animals that are impacted by the noise and smoke but strays and pets alike have the worst night of their lives. Additionally, firecrackers use plastic packaging, which leads to waste that takes years to decompose.
Sam: Banning fire-crackers comes with a political connotation that’s not to be ignored: It will be seen as a Hinduphobic statement and begin an upsurge among Hindu conservatives. This will then lead to a battle between religions, the conservatives and the liberals, and overall, serve as a recipe to kill our unity, the exact opposite of what firecrackers are known to promote. And of course, we need to support our labours of all sectors involved in this. In addition, these days, family time has become scarce. Bursting crackers together, sharing some fun moments and making memories in the light are things to cherish for life, strengthening relationships and promoting family-bonding moments.
Will a ban on firecrackers have an impact on the economy?
Sam: You see, the firecracker industry is worth 5000 Crores INR! That’s 50000000000 Rupees! Count all those zeroes and imagine what a loss it would be to our economy to impose a ban on such a huge business! 1000+ factories will have to be shut down, 1 million people directly employed in fire-cracker making as their primary profession and 5 million people indirectly employed will all be thrown to the streets to starve and the whole Town of Sivakasi that depends on Firecracker making to sustain itself (accounting for 3000 crore rupees of the net worth) will have to close. These employees are unskilled labours with no alternative professions to consider and no employment opportunities left available to them. Recently, the government has imposed strict bans on child labour in these factories and the crackers come with a stamp that validates the same.
Moksha: Lot of people claim that the livelihood of lot of poor depend on the industry. Firstly, they make minimal wages at these factories since it is mostly women and kids that they hire. The factory conditions are really unsafe. All of the profit is made by the evil company selling the crackers and other middlemen. While cracker companies may put a sticker saying the crackers are made without involvement of child labour, it is like other non-green companies that put eco-friendly stickers on their products- no one is verifying them. Also billion dollar companies go under from time to time with close to zero impact on the economy (Kingfisher and Jet Airways).
What are your concluding words?
Moksha: I know people are tired of being told that crackers cause pollution. It’s only1 day and how much impact does it have? The answer lies in what you see the morning after Diwali. The smog that engulfs Delhi in the days after Diwali is scary. There is grey film of pollution all over Delhi. The aftermath carries on for days after Diwali is over. For people with asthma and other lung problems, it is a literal nightmare the day of Diwali and even after.
While we’re on this topic, can I also add that leaving lights on all night is extremely wasteful and polluting since the amount of fossil fuels used to generate electricity to run those lights is a LOT. Please be mindful of that too. Leave lights on for 2-3 hours max. If you believe that God is everywhere, God is happy with just about a few minutes of light being switched off too.
Sam: The aftermath of Diwali, the mess that surrounds the roads can be used as an opportunity by the government for either of two things: Employment opportunities, or inculcating civil responsibility in citizens. The former can be achieved by giving temporary paid jobs to unskilled labours and the latter, by introducing fines and penalties for those who leave the remnants uncleaned.
Statistically speaking, firecrackers contribute only 0.03% to Global pollution. Is it the best idea to compromise on all the joy and the good many communal benefits it provides (IT BURNS THOSE DARNED MOSQUITOES TOO!) for what is, in reality, only a negligible contribution?
Now, the next speaker is going to be YOU! Let’s chat in the comments about what you think.