Speaking Up On Social Media


For the past few weeks I have been reading a lot about depression and mental health on social media. People seem to be very concerned about mental health these days.

It’s good that people are talking about mental health. Is it really getting the attention it deserves or is it just another social media trend that will pass once another trend arrives.

What bothered me the most is the lack of awareness among the people talking about it. I felt most of the people were posting because they didn’t want to miss out on the bandwagon.

I narrowed down the social media posts I read into two sections.

Summarizing What Section One Posted
This is for everyone. My Facebook/ Twitter/ Whatsapp is always on. Please talk to me if you need to. If you don’t feel alright, I am there to listen.

Summarizing What Section Two Posted
It’s really strange to see people posting things like they care and they are there to listen. Whereas they are also the ones who do no reply to texts and answer the calls on time. So please stop posting these things if you don’t mean it and are not going to be able to keep your word.

Some of these posts resulted into debates in the comment section.

And what happens when we run out of logical comebacks for replies?
The debates get dirty and personal.

The debate turns into a fight and what remains of the debate is just name calling. People get so involved in proving themselves right that they forget that they have hurt the other person in the process of proving themselves right. The biggest irony in all this is they end up hurting each other while debating on ‘mental health’.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we might be the reason behind someone losing his or her peace of mind. Only because we hate to be proved wrong.

Debating and sharing different ideas is good. But not at the cost of pushing someone into self-doubt and depression.

This happens because most of us listen to reply and do not listen to understand. Advising or correcting might not be the need of the hour always.

I believe our world will be a lot better place if we start to listen.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Air Travel During Covid-19


Two weeks back I traveled to Kolkata from Bangalore.

I started at around three o’clock in the morning. The airport approved cabs were perfectly sanitized. The driver sanitized my luggage before putting them into the car. Also, the cab was compartmentalized with a transparent plastic curtain between the front and the back seats.

I reached the airport two hours prior to the scheduled time of flight. Multiple checks had to be done before being allowed inside the airport.

Boarding pass and identity cards were checked. Body temperature and Arogya Setu app status was checked the next. The status of the Arogya Setu app confirms whether we have traveled from any containment zone or not.

The smell of sanitizers and phenyl welcomed me inside the airport. The smell was very similar to what one gets inside a hospital. Kiosks were all set up for generating baggage tags and dropping our luggage. Almost everything at the airport was automated. The airport was totally ready for a no-contact experience.

I generated baggage tags from a kiosk and dropped my luggage at the respective airline counter and moved on to the security check. The CRPF guys scanned the hand baggage as they usually do. Electronics devices, belts, and wallets had to be kept on a separate tray. The body scans involved no contact.

Once the security check was cleared, everybody was provided with masks, sanitizer sachets, and face shields in the boarding area. The middle seat ticket holders were also provided with PPE tops.

Boarding usually starts 45 mins before the scheduled departure. But it started 75 mins before the schedule as social distancing was being followed and the boarding process was slower than usual.

Before boarding everybody was handed with self-declaration forms stating the below points –

  1. I have not tested Covid-19 positive in the last two months.
  2. I am not suffering from any cough/ lever/ respiratory distress.
  3. If I develop any of the symptoms mentioned in point 2, I will contact the local health authorities without any delay.
  4. I will make my mobile number/ contact details available to the local authorities for contact tracing if required by them.
  5. I undertake to strictly adhere to the protocol as prescribed by the health authority for Home Quarantine without any deviation.
  6. I understand that furnishing any incorrect information would make me liable to penal action.

I filled up the self-declaration form and boarded the plane.

What followed was business as usual.

The flight landed in Kolkata after 135 minutes.

Wearing a face shield over a tight mask in an enclosed environment was very suffocating. I tried to sleep through the entire journey, but all my efforts were in vain. Overall it was a very uncomfortable journey.

After landing we were transported to the terminal by bus. On reaching the airport, we were asked to throw away our PPEs and face shields into a dustbin specifically kept for this purpose.

Lastly, body temperatures were checked and a mandatory home quarantine of 14 days was advised before letting anyone out of the airport.

P.S. Special thanks and salute to the people wearing PPE suits on duty daily in this hot and humid weather.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Birthday Blog


I turned 27 on 20.05.2020.

Birthdays are meant to be a celebration of life. How ironic is a birthday in the middle of a pandemic? Celebrating life while the world deals with the fear of catching a virus!

What happened on my Birthday?

  1. Birthdays can be lonely for people during a lockdown. But I am blessed to have friends who dropped by in the middle of the night to wish me. One of them also put in a lot of time and effort to bake a birthday cake. If you are reading this, then I must confess that it felt really special.

    Birthday Cake 2020

  2. I spent most of the day playing chess. FIDE has organised tournaments across online chess platforms from 18th May to 16th June under the Checkmate Coronavirus initiative. I played a 15 | 10 Rapid Tournament. I didn’t do well but was happy to be a part of it.

  3. My friends and family helped me in raising an amount of 10,331 INR for The Akshaya Patra Foundation in Bangalore which in turn will provide meals to daily wagers during these difficult times. I hope it helps the people who need it the most.

  4. Super cyclone Amphan hit Bengal and Orissa in the afternoon and continued havoc till late evening. It damaged many areas of Orissa and Bengal. Due to many cyclones over the years in Orissa, they were better prepared for this and I thank them for learning from their past experiences.

    Bengal was not ready. They couldn’t predict the level of massacre and destruction the cyclone could cause in just a few hours. Many lives were lost. Many houses were damaged.   

    I am working outside Bengal for almost 5 years now and I would like to believe that I have made a few friends (neighbors, colleagues, ex-colleagues) here. Strangely, nobody apart from one asked me about my family or how they were handling the cyclone situation back in Bengal. There can be multiple reasons for this.

    1. They don’t read/watch news. 
    2. They don’t care about my family. They just need me for the work I do. 
    3. Nothing was shown on the news.


    Cyclone Amphan not only destroyed lives and property but also raised many questions in my mind. 

    1. How a natural disaster can be politicized? 
    2. How a cyclone can create a divide among a society of people?
    3. How people wish for the downfall of a state just because they don’t approve of the head of that state?
    4. How can one insult/ disrespect others’ emotions?
    5. How people who were the least affected from the disaster become keyboard champions by posting long essays on social media whereas the most affected ones still struggle to find a roof over their heads?

Lastly, this is neither to debate something nor to educate someone. Also, I would urge everyone reading this to donate to various Amphan Relief Funds generously. I just wish we build everything back and turn around as we always do!

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Bangalore Rains


Every city has something special about it. If we consider food then Kolkata has mishti doi and roshogolla, Hyderabad has biriyani, and Bangalore has filter coffee. But what about anything other than food? Culture? History? Diversity?

BangaloreRains
Madiwala, Bangalore

There is one thing that separates Bangalore from most other cities of the country. That is its weather. The weather in Bangalore is pleasant throughout the year. The most interesting aspect of this weather is it rains almost eight months of the year and most particularly in the evenings. No matter how much the temperature rises in the day, it rains and calms everything down in the evening. This makes Bangalore a popular attraction to many foreign investors and likely so many companies have set up their offices in the city. This has resulted in the migration of a lot of graduates from different parts of the country to Bangalore in quest of better career opportunities. But was Bangalore ready for this sudden boom? Was it ready for this unprecedented hike in the population?

Undoubtedly the city looks and smells amazing when it rains. But this beauty is accompanied by a beast. With frequent rainfall comes regular power cuts and internet outages.

Bangalore rains and power cuts go hand in hand since time immemorial. It’s shocking to see that a city that produces lakhs of engineers every year is not able to fix technical problems like these. Is this mere inefficiency? Or is it an intentional move to promote the power backup industry? Just a thought which popped into my head on one such blackout night.

BESCOM
BESCOM is the board responsible for electricity supply in Bangalore 

I wish people could enjoy the beauty of Bangalore’s weather to the fullest instead of worrying about the beast.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Chaos in the Time of Corona – II


Continued from Chaos in the Time of Corona – I.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced two events a few days back – #5pm5minutes and #9pm9minutes. He had asked the citizens of India to come out to their balconies on 22nd March at 5pm to clap for 5 minutes. Similarly on 5th April at 9pm to light candles and diyas for 9 minutes. We were asked to do this as a gesture of gratitude towards the medical workers who are working 24×7.

In a country of about 135 crores people it is always expected that there will be some acts of stupidity led by unawareness. Few people took Prime Minister’s request so seriously that they came out on the streets in numbers. Call it misunderstanding? Lack of awareness and common sense? Doesn’t matter.

This resulted in many debates over news channels and social media trolling. But I feel we missed out on appreciating the fact that most people did come out to their balconies in support of the healthcare workers.

My entire locality came out to their balconies and clapped. They also lighted candles and diyas. I don’t think our country has ever come together to support anything other than cricketting milestones. When was the last time our nation united for a reason other than cricket? Atleast I have not seen anything like this in my lifetime.

Screenshot_20200428_175930

I felt a positive vibe. I felt strong when I heard the people of my locality clap together or when I saw them switch on their mobile flashlights in unity. People usually pay to watch such stadium-like experiences. I may sound foolish but it felt like we were backing the healthcare workers similar to how we back our team in the stadium. It felt like we were all in this together.

Disclaimer – I do not support the actions of  people who came out on the streets. But we shouldn’t make these events only about criticising the negatives. We should also take out some time to appreciate the positives.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Chaos in the Time of Corona – I


I work as a Java developer for a leading European Bank in Bengaluru. At present almost all IT professionals around the globe are working from home as a precaution against COVID-19.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has brought life to a standstill in almost every part of the world. Honestly, it’s a very difficult time to be away from home. My parents have grown old and it’s obvious for them to panic in times like these. It’s a catch-22 situation for me as staying here in Bengaluru means staying away from my parents and traveling to Kolkata means putting many lives in danger.

Currently, India is under a 21-day nationwide lockdown. I consider myself lucky and privileged to have a job and a roof over my head. If the nationwide lockdown can create a panic in my mind, I probably can’t imagine what most others in our country are going through.

I don’t follow politics much, but I try to read the news regularly. I have admired Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his party got elected as the ruling party in 2014. I feel Narendra Modi has a strong personality and will be remembered for a long time in Indian politics. His government has taken many bold decisions like Demonetisation, Revocation of Article 370 and CAA-NRC in the last six years. I doubt any other previous governments have done so many things in such a short time. Correct me if I am wrong.

I feel the below movie dialogues are very appropriate for someone like Narendra Modi. 

  1. You may not like him, Minister, but you can’t deny Dumbledore’s got style.
  2. Like him or hate him, you can’t ignore him.

But I have my doubts about the way our Government is handling the coronavirus situation. The Prime Minister goes live and gives a 40 minutes speech announcing a 21-day lockdown. You know something is seriously wrong when the nation is in a state of confusion and panic at the end of those 40 minutes. People are not exactly sure what a lockdown means. People are worried about being deprived of essentials. Was this an administrative error or they just need to find a better speechwriter?

Police brutality cannot be the solution to everything when there is a big void in education and awareness at the ground level.

We could have prepared better as the outbreak happened much late in India. So we had ample time for preparing ourselves. We had examples of Italy and Iran in front of us. When will we have a proactive government instead of a reactive one? Why do we always follow a coping mechanism? Why is there no social security plan for such situations? How can we move on from the infrastructural challenges? I don’t want to blame or pinpoint anyone. All I hope is that we learn and improve so that we are better prepared for situations like these in the future.

One of the few good things which the lockdown has done is it has slowed us down. It has given us some time to think. It has got us to ponder on what is necessary and what is not. What are the things we can give up and what are the things we cannot live without?

Also once all this is over, I think people will be more respectful towards many things in life and stop taking things for granted.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Dreams & Desires


Disclaimer: This post is inspired by the chapter Desire from Think And Grow Rich.

What is desire? It’s the starting point of all achievements.

How can one achieve anything? Is hoping or wishing enough? One must have a burning desire to achieve any goal.

What is the difference between a hope and a wish?
Hope is when we think everything will finally work out and fall in place. The Law of Averages states that future events are likely to turn out so that they balance any past deviation from a presumed average. Hoping is when we want the law of averages to catch up. Whereas wishing is something definite. It’s a belief that one would achieve their goals by hook or by crook.

What is desire then?
Desire is when you don’t want anything else. Desire is an obsession about something in particular. It’s when you burn all the bridges behind you and strive to achieve the goal with persistence. It’s when we don’t look for any alternate opportunities. How can you focus on a single goal if you are aware of an alternative?

A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation that made it necessary for him to make a decision on a battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded the soldiers and the equipment, then gave orders to burn the boats that carried them. Then addressing his men before the first battle, he said, “You see the boats going up in smoke? That means we cannot leave this shore alive unless we win! We now have no choice! We win or we perish!”

They won.

Every person must find a way to maintain this burning desire to win or to achieve anything.

Any achievement cannot be left to chance, good fortune or luck. We must realize that ones who have achieved great things, first went through a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring and planning before reaching their goals. Every great leader from the dawn of civilization to the present was a DREAMER.

And DREAMERS DO NOT QUIT.

Henry Ford, poor and uneducated, dreamt of a horseless carriage. He went to work with whatever tools he possessed, without waiting for opportunity to favor him. This turned his dreams into facts. Only because he was not afraid to back his dreams. He made a plan and implemented it.

Every greatest achievement was, at first, a dream. So never stop dreaming and never let go of the burning desire.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Parasite – Review


I had heard about Parasite from a friend, but was not getting enough time to watch it. To be totally honest, I tend to procrastinate watching movies in foreign languages as it takes me more time to follow.

Parasite

Parasite is a South Korean dark comedy thriller film, directed by Bong Joon Ho.

It is a story of an underprivileged family. Everyone in the family is smart but unemployed when the movie starts. As the movie progresses, they manage to con a wealthy family and end up working for them.

Then something unexpected happens and it changes the lives of both the families.

The social satire is shown through a very simple story of two families. The writing is to the point and smartly funny. The movie connects with the viewers from the word go.

The cinematography and screenplay is a visual treat, be it the wide outdoors or the shots inside the house. Also, the background music enhances the mood of every scene.

Last but not the least, the actors have done a splendid job. Their work seemed very fresh and effortless. As far as I am concerned, it felt very refreshing to me. Others might differ on this as I haven’t seen much content in the similar space.

The story very intelligently differentiates the rich and the poor by using rain metaphorically. A night’s rain floods the entire neighborhood of the poor, whereas it’s a very calming and beautiful event for the rich. This shows how a beautiful message can be conveyed through a scene, instead of focusing on specific character development.

The amalgamation of light comedy and suspense makes Parasite a modern day masterpiece.

Parasite at the Oscars

Parasite was nominated for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Direction, Film Editing, Production Design and International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Parasite is the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Also, Bong Joon Ho is the first South Korean director to win the Best Director Award.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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The Diary of a Young Girl – Review


Author: Annelies Marie (Anne) Frank
Edited By: Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler
Translated By: Susan Massotty
Publisher: Amazing Reads
Pages: 315

Anne Frank was a Jewish teenage girl from Frankfurt, Germany. She was a happy, cheerful and chatty soul. The Frank family (father Otto Frank, mother Edith Frank and elder sister Margot Frank) moved to Amsterdam when Anne was four. Everything was normal and they were leading a happy life in Holland.

On her thirteenth birthday, Anne received a red and white checked diary along with many other gifts. She named this diary ‘Kitty‘ and started penning down her day to day thoughts in it.

Problems started after May 1940, with the arrival of the Germans and with them came in numerous restrictions on Jews.

During the war, Germans started to send call-ups for deporting Jews to Nazi forced-labor camps in Germany. This forced many Jews to conceal. The Frank family found a hiding place (Secret Annex) in Otto Frank’s office building. Their entire time in hiding was spent in fear. Not in fear of dying. But in fear of getting caught by the Nazis.

In her diary, Anne wrote about how they lived, what they ate and what they talked about as Jews in hiding.

“Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. They’re allowed to take only a knapsack and a little cash with them, and even then, they’re robbed of these possessions on the way. Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find that their parents have disappeared. Women return from shopping to find their houses sealed, their families gone. The Christians in Holland are also living in fear because their sons are being sent to Germany. Everyone is scared. Every night hundred of planes pass over Holland on their way to German cities, to sow their bombs on German soil.”

The above passage clearly explains the fear and tension in Amsterdam during the second world war.

Anne also expressed her interests and views on politics, religion, mythology, foreign languages, genealogical trees and what not. She was certainly not like any other teenager. She was well read and knowledgeable. She had opinions about things which other teenagers were completely unaware of.

“Paper has more patience than people.”

“Memories mean more to me than dresses.”

“Laugh at everything and forget everybody else.”

“Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.”

Lines like these speak largely about her mood, character and personality.

The diary accounts for Anne’s experiences from 12th June 1942 to 1st August 1944. On 4th August 1944, the residents of the Secret Annex were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Later the diary of Anne Frank was published as a book and is still considered as one of the most relevant historical documents of the second world war.

The book has personal experiences of many historical events like persecution of the Jews from Germany and suffering of the Dutch under German occupation. The story of Anne Frank is equally disturbing and inspirational, disturbing because of their struggles as Jews in hiding and inspirational because of their will to fight against all odds. This makes The Diary of a Young Girl one of those books that everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Hogenakkal Falls – The Niagara of South India


It was second of October and we had a national holiday in India on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. So, we set out to visit the Hogenakkal Falls.

Hogenakkal Falls is located in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. The falls can be viewed from both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as it lies on the border. Also, this is the point where river Kaveri enters the state of Tamil Nadu.

Hogenakkal greeted us with ample sunlight. This was not much of a surprise as the sun rarely feels diffident at most places in Tamil Nadu.

Once you reach Hogenakkal, you have to walk down a few stairs to get tickets for the coracle ride. Coracles are small and round boats made out of bamboo. Coracle or as the locals call it ‘parisal‘ is one of the main attractions there. Hogenakkal Falls is not accessible by land and one can only reach the falls by water.

The place was crowded as it was a public holiday. We, who don’t speak the native tongue, generally face problems in long queues. We waited for our turn and received our tickets.

A maximum of five including the helmsman were allowed in a boat. We had to take two coracles as we were eight in number.

P_20181002_124915
On the way to Hogenakkal Falls

The coracle ride over river Kaveri was fascinating. Coracles, being small and round shaped boats, turn both clockwise and anti-clockwise depending on the way one rows it.

The helmsman gave us a nice swirl. First clockwise and then anti-clockwise. This swirling and whirling was certainly high on adrenaline, but it assailed me a faint rotatory vertigo.

P_20181002_124855_PN
Coracles at Hogenakkal

After half an hour of riding through the waters, we reached the falls and were welcomed by the most beautiful views of Hogenakkal.

P_20181002_114753
Hogenakkal Falls

The river is surrounded by hills and dense forests. The gushing river water drops into a semi-round cavity and forms the Hogenakkal Falls.

Situated at a distance of 127 kms from the IT capital of India, Hogenakkal Falls, popularly known as the Niagara of South India, is a good one day trip destination from Bangalore.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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