You know you’ve hit a new low in life when you read a super long random WhatsApp forward and it makes complete sense!
As India reels from the dastardly second wave of COVID 19, I wish I could say the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty are all too familiar.
Unfortunately, it’s not. This wave seems to be hitting closer home and with each passing day, the fright, sadness, and loss of control over normal life seem to be heightened.
In times like these, five-page forwards on life and death and doors and windows, all seem to touch an emotional cord.
The virus that began in 2019 has changed its avatar so many times that its diversity, adaptability, and inclusivity are nothing short of remarkable. Sometimes I feel maybe our lowlife leaders could learn a thing or two about these VIRTUES from a virus.
Come to think of it, the second wave of COVID is much like the seasons of Game of Thrones.
Remember, how Season One blew your mind and you taught nothing could get close to this, but then by Season 2 & 3 it wrenched your heart, left you perplexed, and you just couldn’t believe what had happened.
Everyone you loved was either in prison (lockdown) or dead.
As I write this piece, I am all too aware that maybe drawing parallels to a show where there’s a bunch of deaths, might make me come across as cold and insensitive.
At this point though, I honestly don’t know what the right tone of voice should be? Should it be delusionary and optimistic? extremely concerned? OR shamelessly fact-based?
When I began writing this article few weeks ago, it was based on an entirely different context. I was intending to put forth an experience from COVID last year which was meant to be refreshing and positive.
I have STRUGGLED to complete it….
For the past 10 days, I have been compulsively checking the COVID count every morning, desperately hoping the rate of infection has magically come down. It’s but the opposite.
The steadily climbing rate of infection, the deaths, and the endless burning pyres are all too real and there’s no fairy dust left to sprinkle on that.
If merely getting the Virus was not scary enough, the inept administration around the country has left us with nothing but HOPE…High Hopes.
HOPE if you fall sick…it’s not severe
If it is…HOPE you get a hospital and medicines in time.
If you do get admitted…HOPE you don’t die in a hospital fire or your oxygen cut out in the middle of the night.
And the least of it all HOPE you bid a proper goodbye to the ones you lost…one last time.
The point I am trying to make is that no point hasn’t been made already. This article may well be classified as a digital rant. But today I merely write to express what’s on my mind (isn’t that the whole point of a personal blog?) I write not for today, but I write this for tomorrow because there will surely be one.
I write, so I don’t forget how I felt in this moment and I write so that anyone else reading and feeling the same doesn’t forget either.
Let’s safely bottle this fright, resentment, anger, and uncertainty to unleash it on a day that matters.
They can delete your hashtags and tweets, don’t let them delete how you feel.
On another day I’d say ‘Keep the faith’. But since there’s not much of that left.
‘Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you, than answers you cannot question.’ This line from the book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century written by Yuval Noah Harari pretty much sums up my generation.
Mckinsey suggests that people born between 1980-94 make it to this esteemed league of questioners.
If you haven’t already guessed the generation I am eluding to, then let me spell it out. I am talking about the Millennials or Gen Y.
We are the children of Baby Boomers who were the most educated, well-travelled, health-conscious, and self-oriented generation of the lot.
We were famously known as a generation of Start-up’s (I had one too), wanted to be smart-mouthed and stylish like Harvey Specter (Suits), and took pride in knowing the correct pronunciation for the complicated Indo French dish at the restaurant.
We were not born into smart tech homes enabled with Wi-Fi and voice commands.
But we slowly and surely paved our way through landlines, dial-up connections, and began to master technology that changed the face of the world we live in today.
In matters of society, we added more women to the workplace and the party scenes, didn’t marry if we were not in love (We love, love with much love), and began to challenge the traditions and Status Quo.
Most importantly, we began to ask some serious questions, something the previous generations had not done as much.
Now, If this article was a play, an important character is about to enter the stage. One that makes me take a hard look at the world around and truly question the purpose of my existence or the future I am trying to create.
Aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed one morning, I notice a picture of TIME Magazine.
On its cover is a young girl in her track pants & sweatshirt looking purposefully but rather dismissively over the horizon.
She is the 2019 person of the year, Greta Thunberg. I google her immediately, read the work she is doing, sit back in my chair and go ”Holy Crap, she is only sixteen!” I try to recall what I was doing when I was her age & the answer is –Making embarrassing Hotmail IDs.
At sixteen, Ms. Thunberg was already putting to action what I felt we all needed to do but only hoped some quasi leaders would do it. We all know how it’s going with the Paris agreement.
This dauntless girl is a shining example of the capabilities I believe a post-millennial or Gen Z possess. They are early starters, real influencers, authentic, & self-expressive.
After much thought, many long conversations with friends, some back and forth, and a little hesitation later, I publicly declare I am jealous of Gen Z.
There is so much character to the younger lot, that I wish I am one of them. Other than the fact that they are younger and are killing the Vlogging and Blogging game.
Here are the Top 5 Reasons I am jealous of Gen Z:
THEY ARE YOUNGER AND SMARTER
Gen Z’s are native to the world of technology, with so much information at their fingertips, the world is their oyster. They are effortlessly learning the knack of sifting through all this information from the web, making them smarter at a young age.
They know what they want and how to get it, a lot better than millennials did around the same age.
THEIR ABILITY TO EXPRESS
This generation is authentic & they uphold that value to the highest standard. Gen Z’s were born living their lives on social media and are fully aware of the pressure it creates on young adults.
Apart from praising the perfect, they have learned to appreciate and celebrate all the imperfections too. Everyone is unique and can express themselves the way they are.
Many Gen Z influencers have struck this balance. Between being famous and being famous for the right reasons. For Eg: Zendaya OR Amandla Stenberg.
THEY DONT JUDGE AS MUCH
Diversity is not even a topic of discussion for this lot. It is the norm. They don’t know of the world in any other way.
Gen Z has broken down all barriers of gender & sexual orientation.
They don’t judge an individual based on these social conventions & everyone has a place under the Gen Z Sun.
For Gen Zs, there are no taboos associated with who you are or who you want to be. That itself is very beautiful.
THEY ARE MORE REALISTIC & SELF AWARE
The oldest Gen Z was about 13 when we went into a global recession. They have seen job losses and at least one act of terrorism in this lifetime.
They noted early on, that something was amiss in the way the world was functioning.
Combine this with the current COVID situation & you have millions of young cynics looking for some real answers.
As John Lennon would rightly put it, ‘They are cynical about society, politics, newspapers, and government, NOT Life, Love, Goodness or Death.’ That’s appropriate cynicism that makes one more self-aware.
THEY ARE INDEPENDENT
Google has given Generation Z access to years of collective wisdom at the click of a button. This gives them the ability to read & form opinions about a product, place, or political party within hours without relying on a parent or an older sibling.
This limitless access to information makes them independent. With this breadth of knowledge at their fingers tips, they are watching or reading about new things all the time.
If you want to change the mind of a Gen Z, you will need some hard facts. There is no easy way of reasoning with this lot.
Their understanding of a topic may not be as profound as a 40-year-old. But neither are many 40-year-olds profound.
Now, there are pundits my age and older than me who have called them the generation of TikTok, Kids that will be more clinically depressed than previous generations.
But hey! We were all called a ‘generation of something,’ and the world was ending in 2000.
Yet here we are, 20 years later, fighting a pandemic and trying to make the world a better place one day at a time.
No one gets it better than this group of youngsters as the future of their education, jobs, and life hangs in the balance.
This future we always place so much importance on doesn’t just belong to the logical minded it also belongs to the kind-hearted. Gen Z seems to be figuring out the right balance.
If this was an episode of The Crown, I imagine a millennial gladly handing over the throne to the next generation and saying, “Welcome, the world is now yours & I can’t wait to see where the future heads when you are fully in charge.”
As I am doing the first draft of this article, I see a picture of the 15-year-old Geetanjali Rao in TIME magazine. She is the kid of the year 2020.
Since I have already accepted my jealousy, I can revel in the future that youngsters like her and Greta are creating without being a millennial cynic or a spoilt sport.
Onwards and Upwards Dear Gen Z’s. May you take what you got and make it even better!
PS : Some analysts may quote an age range for millennials that may include people born in the years 1995 & 1996 as well & the reason for this, as per my limited knowledge, seems to be pretty simple; generational cut-off dates are not an exact science as yet. (If anyone has more information do share it in the comments).
When In Full Bloom Magazine introduced the Winter theme to me, I didn’t know where to begin. Having lived in a tropical city (Mumbai, India) for 15+ years, I have not experienced cold weather in a very long time. It gets a bit nippy here for a few days, but nothing to brag about at all.
Now the struggle to describe a season I’ve not fully experienced in a long time was pretty real & I could do with some inspiration.
That evening after I got home from work, I poured myself a glass of red wine and began to play some music. In the middle of many other things that I was doing, I also messaged ten friends asking, “What does winter mean to you?
The weather was hot, the food was cold and halfway through my second glass of wine, a favorite carol began to play & like magic, memories of a Christmas long-forgotten began to reveal themselves to me. At the bottom of my burgundy glass was the story I had been looking for all day.
I could visualize it, feel it, repeat it. Like it all happened yesterday. (The things two glasses of wine can do).
Sitting in my apartment in Mumbai , I begin to click the keys on my laptop.
The year is 1999, a cold night in my dusty old town (Bhusawal, India). A 13-year-old version of me is standing in the living room of a big white house, beaming and swaying as I sang along ‘Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.’ Among the many Carols I knew, there was something quite special about this one. I don’t know what it was, Maybe the melody of the song? The lyrics? or the fact that everyone smiled when they sang it together? Even today, the resounding vibe of this carol makes my heart warm and mushy like a giant marshmallow melting over the hot campfire.
I used to go caroling with the older boys and girls from church. We rode on our bicycles from house to house, spreading the Christmas cheer. Our cycle bells were our constant companions as we signaled people and stray dogs out of the way in the dark by lanes of my little town.
There was no other kid my age in the caroling crew. Many parents wouldn’t allow their early teens to cycle late into the evenings. With much convincing, cajoling & an impeccable display of responsible behavior on my part, my parents permitted me to join the gang.
On the winter nights, I often saw the older boys and girls hold hands, smile at each other, and even sneak in a kiss whenever possible. There was something magical in those nights. Everyone always seemed to be falling in love.
As I am typing these memories, I am reminded of the countless things we all did over the Christmas Holidays. They were 20 days of celebrations systematically planned & each day was different from the other.
We played sports till we were exasperated, competed in a fancy-dress competition where the wackiest ideas came to life. I remember being painted with talcum powder to resemble a statue and standing with a massive pot on my head for nearly 30 mins without moving an inch. Thank God I won!
We acted in plays, went for picnics, danced together, and even participated in a winter pageant. One beautiful girl from the parish would be titled ‘The Winter Queen’ and all the boys wanted to know who she would be.
For a place of its size, Bhusawal certainly had a lot going on during Christmas.
There was excitement, nervousness, some chaos, and lots of laughter. With the new dresses and decorations and the smell of the yummiest homemade Christmas cakes, we would all prepare for the shindig of the year with great enthusiasm.
My grandmother believed in making Christmas an immersive family experience, and so no matter what, on a designated day before the Christmas festivities commenced, she invited all her children over (10 of them) with their kids (about 20 of us) to gather under the same roof and prepare Christmas sweets together.
Eating yummy treats on Christmas was a highlight for me but eating homemade ones and making memories with my family inevitably made them even more special.
When I come to think of it, I may have grown up in a town where civilization hasn’t properly reached even today. Although, the celebrations and merry times found their way to us long ago.
I feel that’s the beauty and rarity of small towns. Traditions, festivals, and the little joys that elude the bigger cities always find a place of importance here. Everybody knows everybody & the whole community is like your extended family much like Gilmore Girls!
Over the years, so much has changed. Families moved out to bigger cities and never came back. Some people grew old & some people stopped caring. I got lost in the hustle and bustle of modern-day life and just like that time flew by.
Sometimes it feels like I am still living there & at other times it’s like a beautiful distant memory.
Today, as I sit back and read the messages I got from my friends in the COVID era, it’s incredible how most of them have said that winter to them means making ”Memories”. It makes me hopeful that the world will heal, and we will all be making new memories someday soon.
The ability to never lose hope and always believe in a better tomorrow is a quality of mankind that enthuses me the most. I believe, there’s no occasion other than Christmas that truly embodies this spirit.
Cold days with colder nights and warm homes decorated in red & white.
We are all going through a tough fight , but snuggles from my boo make it feel alright.
So, here’s hoping all my readers have a Holly Jolly Christmas and a safe 2021.
This story was written for In Full Bloom Magazine. The magazine features many talented writers from around the world .The lovely girls from Edinburgh were kind enough to allow a novice writer to be featured. Do check out their page for more amazing articles.
It’s almost the end of 2020, A life-changing year for many of us. Our economies, bank balances, health, and mental well-being all seem to have taken a 360-degree turn. Quarantine and isolation for months on end gave us the time to introspect, mortality stared right through us (still is). We all turned to social media to offer us the little respite it could. We scrolled more, posted more, and engaged more.
While many people kept it at just that, many enthusiasts went right ahead and made blogs of their own (Kudos to the beginners). It’s no surprise then if it seems like a bunch of new blogs and posts have popped up everywhere (I mean! I made one too).
Hosting tribunal tells us that in the US alone, these numbers would reach 31.7 million in 2020 (Over 10% of the country’s population). And while I don’t have the numbers for India currently, I am sure the situation is not very different. Like some friends dismissively quoted over breakfast last weekend, ‘Everyone’s a blogger nowadays, Such a Joke!’
If you made it this far in the article, Congratulations! You are a fellow blogger (In your heart at least). However, In-case you haven’t started your blog yet, consider this an affirmation and take your first step towards Self – Expression.
As a beginner in the blogging world, there are many things you can do to kick start your journey. Although I am not an expert on that yet as a novice writer, there are at least 10 Rules I know that all of us can follow when starting out.
1)Don’t give into your fears & doubts.
There are people out there who are better than you, younger than you, and more tech-savvy than you. But Hey! Everyone starts somewhere? So be kind to yourself, trust the creative process, and go with the flow.
2)Dont write for others , do it for yourself first
Your blog should be about self-expression, what you believe in, how you think. Authenticity is the key, and if you stick to what you stand for, the 31.7 Million blogs (mentioned above) got nothing on you, baby! There’s only one YOU. And its only a matter of time before everyone notices that.
3)Don’t get over-excited
In the beginning, even a single like on your posts provides your brain with 10X dopamine. You daydream about being the next Sarah Jessica Parker, your face printed on the next bus shelter (that would be weird in India), and the next thing you know, you have spent money on posts to get more likes and are buying more media plugins than you understand. I am all for paid tools that make life easier and accessible. I would eventually buy them myself too. However, as a beginner who’s still dabbling, I would stay away from them.
4) Dont be rigid,write all types of content & try Different Formats.
If you know your niche, that’s fantastic! I wish such clarity for all of us. However, as a beginner, I would highly recommend writing and posting all sorts of content. There is stuff I wrote in my 20’s, which doesn’t even resonate with me now, but I took a chance and posted it anyway. I also did a rather clumsy-looking Insta reel (check it out @nameewrites on Instagram) and got five new followers. Sometimes you never know what clicks, so write everything and try all formats.
5)Don’t over-do your research
I was obsessed with the idea of having the perfect blog, So I researched and re-researched so many times in the past. And as a result, I never started any blog. All information I tried to collect confused me, exhausted me, I put it off for another day. That day never came. Don’t overdo the googling. Start writing and take it from there. You would end up making a few mistakes (many people may have written about) that’s okay. Blogging is like life, you can read what is available, but you gotta have your own experience and make your own mistakes to learn.
Refer to point two on this one again and keep it simple. DON’T COPY. Your reader is not stupid & you will end up losing your credibility. Also, it’s unfair to the person who originally wrote the piece. Don’t be a low-life.
7) Dont forget and Always give credit
So honestly, I don’t know the step by step method of doing this the right way, still learning. However, if I use a picture or quote from someone, I always try and remember to give credit. Its just good content manners.
8)Dont be lazy. Share, Comment, Subscribe, Follow.
All your fav YouTubers will say this to you all the time in every video. All content creators know the value of community support. So, whatever it is that you blog about, offer the support you expect. That’s how you build a quality audience.
9)Dont Dismiss feedback
I wrote my first article with great effort (The Real Artist) didn’t think anyone I know could do it better. I tried to fit a beautiful memory into 500 words to make it crisp and readable and ended up cutting out the real emotions. I got this feedback from a chronic non-reader, have tried to bribe this girl to finish a book (she never did). My younger sister.
Lesson learned never undermine the feedback of the ones close to you. They may not be ardent readers. But they know the authentic you and will tell you when its missing from your work. Thanks, Cookie! I will rewrite that article soon.
10) Just Breathe.
Lastly, Just breathe and write and smile and stretch. We are all going through a lot right now. Relax, drink some tea, and let your blogging bring you the happiness you deserve.