How to Use Duolingo Right

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.

Personal experience:

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!

JUST LOOK AT THIS PERSON’S STATS!

6. Duolingo Podcasts

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.

A small piece of motivation 🔥

PS: I’m back!

Powerful Females Tag + Announcement

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.

RULES – 

  • Choose a female (real or fictional) for every prompt.
  • Tag at least one female blogger.
  • Pingback to Annie’s Powerful females’ tag.
  • Enjoy~

QUESTIONS –

1. Name a female known for her intelligence

Frances H Arnold

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

Goosebumps, just looking at this painting! I HAVE to be elaborate here because her story is sadly buried deep in the pages of history.

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

My mother

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

Vinisha Umashankar

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

Doctor Rukhmabai

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.

My Nominees

Sabrina

Evin

Riddhi

Pooja

YOU!

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.

Announcement

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.

So until then, bye… 👋

Ekta- The Talk Show- Special Episode

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.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

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! *Drum roll*

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 and indisputably, one with the largest impact on the environment due to bursting of large amounts of firecrackers. Firecrackers are the very hallmark of the 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 the time of marvel!

Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

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.

Wishing you all a very very happy, safe Diwali!

5 Unique Things about Grandparenting…

Parenting and “grandparenting” differ greatly as the generation gap between the guardian and the child differs in each of the cases. Parenting may involve (relatively) more contemporary ideas with increasing awareness of child psychology and exposure to updated information, while grandparenting is parenting that is dated, but NOT outdated!

The credits (or discredits) of my upbringing go to my grandparents, in greatest part, my grandmother. With my mother being largely away and travelling extensively due to work, she was responsible for many aspects of my upbringing including (but not limited to) my beliefs, general demeanour and aptitude in non-academic aspects.

That’s my grandmother and I- not a very recent picture, but one I can afford to share 😜

(My grandfather departed in early 2010 when I was 6 years old, taking part of me with him. Yet, allow me to use the present tense when I say “grandparents”) A letter to heaven was one of my first posts on WordPress, a tribute to my grandfather.

As a product of affectionate “grandparenting”, I am going to share with you the many privileges I had, that many of my counterparts under parenting did not enjoy.

Geoff Stamper often writes about his little adventures with his grandchildren and they often become his inspiration for reflective, good-humoured posts. That has made me wonder if I would have provided good content for my grandparents, if they had been bloggers…(🤔)

1. Growing up close to culture

It is no secret that children who grow up under their grandparents’ wings tend to be more culturally rooted. It held true in my case. In my formative years, they instilled in me faith in god, traditional and cultural values, spiritual knowledge, all of which became a part of me. They put me through classes that made me appreciate our culture- Shloka classes, Bhagavad Githa classes, Carnatic Music (South Indian classical music) classes, etc.. When I was 5, I won a state level Bhagavad Gita Chanting competition and over the years, have won a lot of prizes in music. It’s not about the accolades, but the learnings. They’ve helped me learn a lot and shall continue to enhance my life.

My Carnatic Music book from kindergarten. It was written exclusively in Tamil as I had not started learning English yet.

2. High EQ and maturity

I shall not claim to have any of the above stated. But I have no doubt that effective grandparenting instills maturity in abundance. Children raised by their grandparents, in most cases, grow up to be matured, empathetic and understanding. They are almost always precocious and are much ahead of their peers in terms of wisdom.

3. Empathy for the old and older

It’s much easier for me to find kindred spirits in the 70+ or 7- age group than among people my own age! Ofcourse, age is just a number, but being an old soul makes it easier for me to connect with older people, take from them what they have to offer and share with them my childish joys. I am a misfit among teens! I spend a lot of time thinking about the ageing, the ailing and the senile, which is because I saw my grandfather in his last days, knowing what was coming. He’d often tell me “his time was coming” and that prepared me for it when it came- yet, it was (and still is) painful. Experiences lead to empathy.

4. Closeness to family

Grandparenting involves a great deal of love and affection, a big part of which is having a good relationship with relatives- great-uncles, great-aunts, aunts, uncles (Different permutations of which cannot be translated to English). I spent a good deal of my childhood with my grandmothers’ siblings. Even now, they’ll be the first to know of any updates in my life and we visit them whenever we can. I miss living close to them, as we used to in my childhood. As a child, I always secretly wished (and prayed) that we lived in a joint family!

5. A balance of perspectives

In this global era, modernisation is inevitable. Grandparents provide children a break from the changing world and give them glimpses from the past and the best of the world that used to be. Hence, healthy grandparenting provides children with a healthy balance of perspectives from the bygone days and the days to come, for some values remain unchanged and timeless.

They taught me so much, yet they forgot to teach me how to live without their affection…

To all grandparents (or to-be grandparents) reading this, you’re the reason the Earth still belongs to the Milky Way! ❤️ (Who knows, decades from now, they may begin protests and get it to relocate!).

Milestone Celebration

I’ve been meaning to do,

Something that’s long overdue.

Not the milestone I mean,

But finding an opportunity to thank YOU!

THANK YOU FOREVER AND A DAY FOR BELIEVING IN THE ABILITIES OF THIS AMATEUR!

For the longest time, I’ve been meaning to extend my thanks to all of you for all the love, support and encouragement you shower upon me. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to pour out my immense gratitude and the time has finally come! What better opportunity than a milestone to do so?

You know what excites me when I click that publish button? The thought of the many comments that’ll appear subsequently- appreciative, corrective, informative, enlightening, interesting, etc.. YOU are the reason I no longer stick to my personal notebook. Yes, YOU! THANK YOU!

I appreciate all the support I receive from all of you. Some, however, deserve special thanks, for they’ve been here since I began 4 months ago (with the cringiest site name possible), have patiently read all my posts and have given me feedbacks one would feel blessed to receive.

Special Thanks to

Carter Ford

Offshore Writer

Radhikasreflection

Haoyan Do

Penjiri

Manoj Mehra

Thank you tonnes for trusting this newbie! I hope I haven’t disappointed you and never will. You were among my first 10 or 20 followers and have been supporting me every step of the way for which I’m highly obliged and extremely grateful. Thank you all so much! 🙏

Shout-out to

Happy Panda– Who under the sky doesn’t love you? If soul sister were a real thing, you are mine!

Shammi Paranjape– You are an amazing writer and always make my day.

Thanks to everyone, all 200 (odd) of you! You are the reason I want to continue blogging. It’s a blessing to have you all in my life.

In view of this memorable milestone, I want to make some revelations about myself. Being uninteresting isn’t my biggest weakness, so I’m going to ask myself questions and answer them myself like I didn’t know any of it before. The girl on the other side of the screen shouldn’t be a complete stranger to you.

Questions

1. What is your actual name?

My official name is Samrakshni M (where M is the initial letter of my mother’s first name).

In my family, it is a tradition to give 3 names to a child. My other 2 names are Sahana and Ranjini. Sahana is most commonly used. To my school friends and teachers, I’m Sam. (Not Samrakshni, as that’s quite long and also, due to personal reasons, my mother and I don’t like that name very much). To all others in the world, I’m Sahana (or Ranjini).

2. Is it confusing to have multiple names?

Very! I usually introduce myself as Sahana. I have reservations about sharing my official name because people can make HELL out of pronouncing that complicated Sanskrit word. Sometimes I forget where I introduced myself with which name. Can get especially awkward during phone calls.

“Hello this is Sahana.”

“Sahana who? I know of no such person.”

“Sorry, I meant to say Ranjini.”

“Which Ranjini?”

“Samrakshni.”

“Oh, Hi Sam!”

This has happened more often than I like to admit.

3. What are you like in real life?

Quite different from how I come across online. “A bundle of contradictions” is a phrase tailor-made for me. Too much to write here, so maybe I’ll dedicate a brief post to that sometime.

(Raises more questions than it answers, I know).

On a concluding note, thanks once more to all amazing fellow writers. You are all amazing and I love you all dearly, eventhough I haven’t met any of you before. I dream of meeting you all sometime by means of providence, in an island far away. Thank you all very very much!

🙏🤍🙏🤍🙏🤍🙏🤍🙏🤍🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏

Blogger Session with Sam Sahana

It’s another beautiful day and another interview with a wonderful blogger. You really should go read some of her write ups herehttps://…

Blogger Session with Sam Sahana

Dearest Friends,

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my dear friend Jola. It was an amazing experience and I’m delighted it has panned out the way it has.

Do check out Jola’s blog Jay’s Chronicles . Her reflections, thoughts and imagination are extremely vivid. She’s a teen blogger with strong opinions, an open mind and a good sense of humour. You never know what she’s going to write about next! Her blog’s contents range from everything under the Sun and more!

3 Things The World Needs To Learn and Unlearn from The United States

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Disclaimer: I chose to write about The US particularly in this post because: The influential prowess of the eagle is undeniable. They are masters of social media and hence, trendsetters to the world. We must learn and adopt from them whatever is right and be indifferent to the rest. (Or crib about it).

Now, now, I come from a (rapidly) developing middle-income country, so would it be hypocrisy if I commented on the Global superpower? It may be but I’m going to do it anyways as I have formed my own sweet opinion about this country I haven’t even visited, from my kin and kith living there, my virtual friends and from this great nation’s citizens that I’ve met in my country and elsewhere. Even in decades, my country may not be able to reach the pedestal that they are in at the moment, but there are things I want the world, particularly my country to learn from the majestic eagle.

To learn: Enabling Innovation through capitalism

The federal government has no control over privately owned businesses and properties and does not own corporations. Freedom, choice and free enterprise are constitutionally protected, which means that the government takes privacy seriously in privately owned entities. In many other countries, the government has the right and power to inspect, intervene in or take down private buildings and businesses for various reasons. Capitalism can lead to encouragement of innovation, a way forward in terms of wealth-generating and economic growth. No wonder most MNCs, social media sites, streaming sites and other innovative services trace their origins to the land of the free.

To unlearn: Intervening unnecessarily in Foreign affairs

And it never ends well for them. The Vietnam war, Afghan war (not a single one but a series of wars in which the Global superpower has intervened since times immemorial, which in my opinion “invited” the terrorist attacks), World War-II attacks in Japan (although this did end well for them, The Hiroshima Nagasaki attacks were a terrible display of violence that affected innocent common men), etc.. Undeniably, they have quite a notorious penchant for brutal wars.

To learn: Respect, Recognition and Validation for all occupations

In Asia, you’re either an engineering graduate or a doctor or a disappointment. There ARE people in other occupations ofcourse, but they are regarded with much less respect unless they occupy a very senior, pivotal role in their job. It is almost always a norm to study science or commerce. Arts are seen as a disgrace. This is singlehandedly responsible for most of the mass-migration to the US, where a teacher is as respected as an IT expert, and an IT expert as much as a scientist. Oh, don’t get me started about scientists! Most people who want to work in a field relevant to their field of study head to the US because it is almost impractical to do so in Asian countries. Neither government nor private institutions fund or encourage research. You will remain underpaid and unrecognised for sending a Satellite to Mars but you will be supported (and worshiped) for grasping a high-paying IT job. Atleast so in India.

To unlearn: Healthcare “business”

Health and education are fundamental requirements to all living beings. It is unlawful (not from political laws, but from moral laws) to turn service into business as seems to be the case in the US. For a country where most people go from rags to riches, that is quite… inconsiderate. Forget healthcare, everything is overpriced in the US. But this tops the cake. Insurance does not cover enough in serious cases. I recently saw a YouTube video of British people (who receive free public health care by the way) reacting to the price of healthcare facilities in the US. They were flabbergasted, needless to say. So was I, a viewer. Based on actual math, for the price it takes to get a simple X-ray scan in the US, you can buy a ticket to India, take an X-ray and even buy a return ticket! People actually do this by the way. My school is right next to a famous hospital and I see a lot of exotic faces- white, black, Arab, etc.. Ofcourse, your medical tourism is great, but only affordable to billionaires.

To learn: Acceptance of diversity

This has to be my favourite. Tolerance is different from acceptance. Many nations are tolerant, but not necessarily accepting. I’m always amazed at how the US is an amalgamation of people from different parts of the world and varied cultures, who migrated in hopes of better future and together, created a strong economy and an accepting, accommodative society. Nobody has to be silent and you are accepted with open arms for what you are. It’s heartwarming to see people of different races, sexualities, religions, political views and education levels support and love each other all the same. That is the whole essence of being human. The face of secularism. Now, before you correct me on this by emphasising on how many racist, colourist, homophobic folks there are, I should like to ask you: Where are they not?

To unlearn: Too much racial consciousness and sugar coating

“This is wonderful, but you really shouldn’t have…” is American for the German, Chinese or Indian “This is awful!”. I’ve never heard of or come across Americans who call a spade a spade. They are always very conscious of offending the listener, specifically the whites when in conversation with “people of colour”. They put so much effort into trying not to appear racist and it’s always very visible that they’re TRYING HARD. I understand that it’s mostly because we have this certain judgement regarding the whites, that they may still possess their ancestors’ white superiority complex, which in many cases is true. Trying hard and being all conscious prove exactly that.

There is another point I wish to add about this: Is the land of the free REALLY the land of the free? In quite a few cases, I think not.

Now, here’s a fun question: Who even thought of the term “people of colour”? It’s a ludicrous term with a bizarre definition! (Now, it’s NOT offensive, I just find it illogical) Given that we “people of colour” (Non-Europeans like us Asians, Africans, native Americans, etc..) form the largest population of the world and occupy the largest continents in the planet, shouldn’t whites be called “people of no colour”?

(No offence intended, just curious. 😉)

My Mental Turmoil

Here’s a fair warning: this may get long and may not be worth your time. I’m writing this to vent and certainly not for viewership. After all, my site is a “diary”. I’m not doing well. If you look at me, robust and young, you wouldn’t say that. But I am really dying inside and wish it were happening outside too. Tuesday night, I was so depressed to the point that I wanted to call the suicide helpline but realised I’m too much of a coward to ever think of hurting myself physically. If there’s a painless way I know of, I’d choose that as it would make life better for me and everyone around.

Bit of a background story, that night I had a terrible fight with my mother about something I said. She was frustrated to the point that she’d be happy to disown me. This is not to sound self-sympathising. I know my faults and know hers too. But she cannot be blamed because she is extremely stressed about work and more stressed about my college. The uncertainty is making her mad. She can’t have a breather and is in a pathetic state. Knowing that, I should have held my tongue. But this girl here continued to make snide comments and passive aggressive statements in her usual fashion, adding fuel to the fire!

Sometimes (Almost always when I’m angry) I say things I don’t mean to. It’s not me saying it, but some dangerous villain that resides within. My tongue works before my brain and by the time my brain realises what my tongue has said, it’s too late because the damage has already been made! I understand why this is and know I’m not alone, as I’ve noticed this with my peers at school too, when they quarrel with teachers.

It all boils down to the science behind a teenage brain. Till about 25, the prefrontal cortex which controls one’s decision making ability and emotional control isn’t developed. Teens think with their amygdala, unlike adults. The amygdala is a more emotional part, gets impulsive very quickly and reacts to emotion with more emotion. Hence, the underdeveloped analytical part processes the damage late. I can feel the turbulence within me when someone raises their voice. I then end up shouting like a psychopath. Literally. I’ve wondered whether this is due to some underlying mental disorder or just my age.

As a result of the incident, I was left with guilt, feelings of worthlessness, existential crisis, shame and if you haven’t guessed by now, extreme depression.

I hate how people don’t understand depression well. Everyone thinks it’s sadness. It’s not. It’s in fact, nothing. It’s a numb feeling that makes you avoid any kind of pleasure and seems to have no end. You don’t want to be around people and don’t want to talk or even exist. I wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep and never wake up. To say that even a not-so-depressed me loves chocolate more than life is an understatement. But when my little brother ate Dairy milk silk in front of me, it did nothing to my senses! Not the smell of it, look of it or him relishing on it, which on a regular day would make me race and gulp it down. I’m appalled by this illness!

I spent the whole day yesterday with no expression in my face. I would have slept anywhere I could. I wanted to cry and scream my lungs out. But I’d cried enough the earlier night that my eyes were swollen and I had a terrible headache to deal with. Didn’t want more of that.

Teen depression differs from adult depression in that it is awfully downplayed. People ask me ”Why are you depressed?” or ”What’s the worry in your life?” and more annoying questions like ”You have everything at your disposal. How is it possible to be depressed?” See what I meant by people not being able to draw the line between sad and depressed? Depression needs no reason, bloody! It’s a state and not an emotion, unlike sadness. You do not know when it will end or if it will.

On top of all this, there’s so much uncertainty in my college admission as I stated before. I cleared the entrance exam to a wonderful private college and got in meritoriously. During the counselling, an AI selects what course you get for your rank. I got mechanical engineering but I wanted biotechnology. They said I could have it if we paid a substantially higher fee, to which my mother agreed because it’s been her life-long dream for me to receive the best higher education possible that she did not herself have. She is now a highly successful professional but behind her accomplishments lie a great deal of struggle, poverty and hardships. When we agreed to pay the extra amount, they agreed to give us the course. We were awaiting a call from them to know when we could proceed with the fee payment. But instead, we got a call saying I could not take that course because the seats were full, but that I could take any other course in the other campus of their institution, located in a different city. The other branch does not have the course I want. While we were still believing that I would be going to this institution, we declined counselling to another great institution in which I cleared the entrance exam!

Talk about failing one after the other! If I have to make it to any government institution, I have to get past a rigid caste-based reservation system which would totally work against me. I come from a ”higher caste” so a person of a ”lower caste” with the same or even a bit lower score than me would be chosen instead of me. When will they stop punishing us for our ancestors’ deeds?

If you’ve made it till here, I’m sorry I took so much of your time over nothing enriching. Thank you for getting here! Does any success story start like this? I hope… I want to stop feeling like a failure. I’m not proof-reading this draft and I’ll click the publish button right away because I just can’t care about quality now! Life looks all grey for no reason. No reason. I suddenly hate living. I’ll just be there in a corner believing ”This too shall pass.”