Hustling With Ear Hustle

I’ve talked about podcasts before, and their future as well. So it should probably come as no surprise that I’m currently listening to Ear Hustle, a new podcast from Radiotopia. Ear Hustle explores the life of inmates at the San Quentin prison and what it’s like living there. And it’s not just a documentary taking you through the whole life-in-a-prison-system. The co-host is actually an imate at the prison.

The show is recorded inside the prison and delves into the lives of the people within, real humans like you and me. Most of them are serving sentences of at least two decades, and Ear Hustle provides in-depth details of their time within. There’s only one episode right now, with more to come in the following weeks, but the first episode is just chock full of details without any sugar coating.

The first episode deals with cellmates, or cellies, and how getting the wrong one could land you in trouble. Big trouble. Now, you might think having a brother for a cellie might be a great deal. But it turns out there were brothers in the same prison, who thought it might be a good idea to be in the same 9×4 cell. Turns out, they didn’t really know each other very well and took some time to adjust to each other and be compatible. Now just imagine what it would be to share a cell with a stranger.

While Ear Hustle goes into the lives of prison inmates, one thing I (and lots of others) loved about the podcast is how one of the hosts is an actual inmate at the prison. Most people are tired of the clichéd “NPR-ish white narrator” style that most podcasts have. Not only is Ear Hustle giving a voice to incarcerated people, but also to those of colour.

I guess that’s about it with my thoughts on Ear Hustle. Check the podcast out at their website, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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I Can’t Let Go

I Can’t Let Go

Ppppsssshhhh. Starting a post is always hard. Diamonds and steel carbide blades aren’t as hard as staring at an empty page with a judgemental cursor, blinking at you in a condescending manner. But enough of the jokes, at least the bad ones.

What happens when a government chosen by the people, for the people, loses sight of its aims and prioritises the lives of cattle? Well, that just happened in my country. Cattle slaughter of kind and even sales of cattle is now banned and/or heavily controlled. Going full retard on political topics isn’t really my style, so we’ll go into something else. 

Since I’m pretty much useless at everything, I decided to rebel in my own way. By ordering beef, that pinnacle of human-made cuisine, and taking pics of it and posting it, which is a first for me. Because I’m usually too lazy or self-conscious to do so. 

I don’t usually do this, but the situation really called for it, I guess. Anyway, here’s what I had, all regional dishes.

When beef is banned in your country but you still have feelings for beef.

The way I see this government’s relation with the people, I imagine it might be like me with a girl. You know those girls that are labelled “high maintenance”? Yeah, I’m like the male version of that. I’m prone to frequent and random mood swings, baseless tantrums and outright denial. Every. Damn. Time. Any time this government is done screwing up, the divert the attention to something else; laws related to cattle in this case. Anyway, enough with the boring stuff. Here’s another pic of food. 😋

Beef is love. Beef is life. (Beef and chilly curry, beef fry with diced onions and lemon as garnish, and a sort-of cake made with powdered rice and grated coconut that is then steamed after being covered with a banana leaf.)

But despite everything that might (or might not) happen if I ever get into a relationship with the opposite sex, I’ll still admit that I have feelings for beef. This ‘forbidden love’ angle just makes it more exciting. I truly can’t let go. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice I tend to align my images at the centre. It’s a vestige of my constant report creation that being an engineering student entails. My whole life, and those of other students in India, revolves in an endless loop around Times New Roman, 12 and Times New Roman, 16, Bold for headings and Times New Roman, 10 for headers and footers.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll also notice that I never stay on a topic. I keep rambling and jumping from topic to topic. Staying just long enough so that it seems I have written enough about it, but not staying long enough to reveal that I know next to nothing about it. I learned that from the best in the trade: my lecturers at college.

This is me jumping from topic to topic while avoiding my responsibilities.

If you’ve somehow managed to reach this point and not fall asleep, consider liking my Facebook page. You won’t find any memes or funny videos, but you will find occasional updates and links to all my posts. And bad jokes.

Image of jumping bunny on Pinterest.

I Suck At Being Productive

What’s the best way to be productive and get work done? Probably not the way I get things done. The way I get work done is a trademarked method involving tons of procrastination, lots of general incompetence and an obsessive attention to detail that actually gets in the way of completion of said task.

Everyone seems to like pictures of desks with laptops and journals in productivity essays.

I’ve grappled with motivation issues for as long as I can remember; completing assignments on time was never my strong suit, unless my parents were behind me ready to whoop my ass. My phone is littered with dead drafts that never got to see the light of day only because I either lose interest and/or motivation halfway or my internal editor kicks in right when I’m writing.
It’s like another personality inside me that pops up occasionally, but I can’t seem to tune it out. Talk about demonic possessions! Maybe I should see someone about it. Which usually means I won’t.

Now that we’re talking about demonic possessions, I’m proud (and ashamed) to announce that I’m addicted to The Black Tapes Podcast. I’ll admit I’m incredibly late to this party, two seasons too late, and to literally every party I get invited to, which is not much. The Black Tapes is a fictional docu-drama about a reporter who investigates paranormal cases. I won’t spoil the whole thing for you, but binge-listening to podcasts is another reason I haven’t been diligent with regards to my work.

This has always been one on my weaknesses, if you discount the crippling social anxiety, depression, addiction to dank memes and my pathetic athletic abilities ,that is. Any time I’m flooded with work, I indulge myself completely in something totally unrelated, like getting drunk and paying a visit to the coastline. In this case, it was podcasts. Lots and lots of it. Enough to justify me purchasing Pocket Casts.

Anyway, while I was powering through entire seasons of different shows, my work load increased and languished in obscurity. Come to think of it, this whole post is another way for me to avoid thinking of all the work that’s pending. All this is not to say that I a complete mess, I’m not one yet. I do manage to get things done at the last moment, like a true procrastinator. The quality of work that I set upon myself at the outset is miles above the quality of the final product, but I beat myself up so much by the end, that any work done seems good enough.

This is how I look like when I’m trying to get my work done a week after it was due.

I’ll let you in on a little bit of a secret now. This post has been in my drafts for a long long time. But it took me just 30 minutes to get past 50 words and publish this, quality be dammed. 😅
Image: Bram Naus on Unsplash

If you’ve somehow managed to reach this point and not fall asleep, consider liking my Facebook page. You won’t find any memes or funny videos, but you will find occasional updates and links to all my posts.

Counting Stars While Drunk

Times flies fast when you’re having fun. Or when you’re in shitty situations. Here’s what I’ve been upto of late.

Times aren’t exactly the best right now. Some days depression just ends up getting the best of you, and there isn’t much you can do except wish you were dead. Or in a coma.

What could make it better would be a friend to talk to, someone who can understand you without judging you. Someone who’s there to listen to you, even if they can’t do anything to help you out. I actually prefer people who don’t help me out, but listen to me. The problems I face are entirely my own, and I don’t want anyone else to have to share any part of it. What I do like is someone who puts in the effort to actually listen to me. Is that too much to ask for?

I sometimes hate the fact that I try to look detached from everything around me, but I am in fact very affected by what happens. Maybe I am a pussy after all, and I don’t have what it takes to actually follow the tenets of Buddhism; detachment from everything.

I know I’m incredibly late to the party, but I’ve finally completed listening to S-Town, the new spinoff podcast from Serial and This American Life. Following the void and existential crisis that follows the ending of a show/podcast, I’ve travelled further into the abyss, by adding even more podcasts to my list. Of particular interest, are The Message and, two fiction podcasts from GE Podcast Theatre and Panoply. The story-telling and narration, along with the sound editing are just off the charts and truly shows the possibilities that podcasts afford in journalism and storytelling. The quality of the sound and the importance they’ve given it remind me of Twenty Thousand Hertz – a podcast inspired by 99% Invisible – which is completely about the different sounds around us and the unseen (and unheard) world behind them.

Some days are just the worst and it’s in those days that you realise the true enemy of us humans is stress. You keep worrying about how things can go south and you start making contingency plans for when shit hits the fan. But then, shit does hit the fan in a completely different way and you have no idea what to do, except maybe take the punches as they come in. The stress and the worrying is like being in a slow pressure cooker, you literally feel your life being wasted away, as you’re crushed by the weight of everything that’s on your mind, you feel your mind turn to mush like an over-boiled potato.

Nothing kills a mind faster than stress, but the true perfection in stress is that nothing shows on the outside, and the actual effects see the light of day long after they’ve manifested in the mind. But enough of this negativity, I guess.

A visit to the beach sure is an escape from the bland reality of the mundane existence we’ve eked out for ourselves on this little planet. It really takes your mind off the fact that every second of your life is slipping past you, never to be recovered or experienced again; that you’re slowly inching towards death, that final sleep that all of us try to avoid and not think about, but which comes for us all. So there I was, on a Sunday evening, long after the sun had set, with six friends of mine. It must have been a glorious sight to behold: seven slightly-drunk 20-somethings, semi nude and playing around in the waves at night.

After a while, I got tired and just sat there at the shore, waves nearly covering me whole, while I counted the stars up in the sky. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve seen some real, literal stars, and it felt great. The whole experience was humbling and relaxing in an eerie way. I was instantly reminded of how small and puny I was in this Universe, but I was also overjoyed by the fact that I had the opportunity to gaze up at this canvas of infinite beauty that no human mind could have conjured up; at least not the minds that I know of.

This wasn’t exactly how it looked like.

At this point I realised that my problems weren’t that big of a deal anyway. They were puny little inconveniences in the greater scheme of things. None of my problems and worries would exist after I die, and none of them would ever matter to the vast infinite void of the Universe, even when I’m alive. So to hell with my problems, I’ve got to life to live. Of course, this feeling only lasted till I reached back home and then the feeling of dread and anxiety and worry all came running back to me, like pet dogs greeting their master after a long day. Conversely, it was at this point that I realised these things are my siblings, with Depression being my conjoined twin.
Anyway, though I haven’t really done anything all month, I’ve been incredibly busy with random things that have popped up on the way. That’s one of the things about being busy – you’re not being productive. But enough of this productivity bullshit, let’s get down to movies. I found Dust, a channel that features great sci-fi short films with amazing visuals, from emerging story writers and directors. There’s loads of short films on the channel, making Dust a binge-watcheable delight. One of the movies I saw was The Decelators

I don’t want to go into much detail and spoil it for you, but the film involves a group of people who feel life is moving too fast, that they’re losing their time. So they try different methods to slow down time and finally create a machine that captures them in one moment. A single moment that they thought was perfect, running in a loop over and over again. That got me thinking, if you were in a moment that made you happy, would you know it? What if there would be a happier moment in your future? You wouldn’t know it and you’d be forever stuck in the single moment. Personally, I’d rather prefer living out my whole life, in hopes that there’d be a more perfect moment in the future, than have a machine that lets me slow or pause time.
Well that’s about it really. It’s been a hectic month and these are all the stupid thoughts I’ve had in the course of that month. If you’ve somehow managed to reach this point and not fall asleep, consider liking my Facebook page. You won’t find any memes or funny videos, but you will find occasional updates and links to all my posts.

Image courtesy: SnapwireSnaps on Pixabay

On Butterflies And Binge Watching

Sometimes I just don’t know what to write about. At those times I try to find just a little bit of humour in even the most shittiest of situations, just to find some semblance of sanity in my life. Sometimes, I try to think of all the people I might have killed without my knowledge, simply because of my action or inaction, one event leading to other, forming a chain, and affecting a person thousands of miles away, maybe a couple of years later. The reach of the Butterfly effect is too vast to even try to comprehend, at least when you’re not high.

Would the world have been the same if I hadn’t done that thing I did last week? Would the Universe even exist today if I had completed my assignment on time yesterday instead of sitting on my lazy ass all day long? Who knows? Thing is, the only constant that would be capable of escaping the long slimy hands of the Butterfly effect would be time. Time would go on regardless of whether the Universe still exists or gets destroyed in a freak chain reaction initiated by my assignment.

But is that really true? Would time really be free from the effects of a Universe-shattering butterfly effect chain of events? What if time itself is destroyed by the events? In that case, there truly is nothing that is constant in the face of the ever-changing status quo created by even the most minor decisions or actions taken by each and every being or object or atom in the Universe. That’s when I zone out and quit seeing things for what they are. Things could have been, things might have been, things wouldn’t have been; it all depends on one small thing and that’s all it takes for the butterfly effect to be initiated.

So why this rant about the butterfly effect? A couple of days ago, I noticed first hand the impact of the butterfly effect: how one friend’s decision to dine at KFC led to another friend going broke two days later. I should probably add that Friend 2 was in no way involved in- or even aware of- the whole KFC Dining Grand Plan. The plot could have been thickened a bit if he was involved, but we’ll just let it go for now.

Being that March is usually a busy month for most of us, and unusually for me, here’s what I’ve been upto recently. Aside from the tons of workload and assignments I’ve been flooded with at college, I’ve been binge-watching Grace Helbig’s videos. Like, a lot. On repeat sometimes. Also, I’m back into the podcasting bandwagon; the listening part, that is. RadioPublic is a great Android app I’ve found that helps me subscribe, manage and find new podcasts. So yeah, 99% Invisible, Reply All, RadioLab are all back in my life now, along with a couple of new entries. You might say all this is in preparation for the release of S-Town, a new podcast from This American Life and Serial, which drops on March 28!

Accurate depiction of me binge watching Grace Helbig’s channel.

So will I be listening to S-Town on March 28? You bet I will! Unless my decision to have lunch at Restaurant A instead of B leads to a complicated chain of events that causes the world to implode on March 27th,that is.

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Being Abnormally Shy

As I read Nicole Sundays’ (Is that even her real last name? 😜) experience of running to catch a premiere of ‘Moonlight’, I found myself admitting a truth I knew all too well, out loud. I’m not into running. Or any sort of physical activity. Or social interactions. I’ll tell you what I am into. Being abnormally shy.

Involve me in any conversation and you’ll see first-hand my uncanny ability to transform even the most mundane of interactions into an awkward mess. It’s something I can’t help, I just have no conscious knowledge that I’m wrecking the conversation. Combine that with the rookie mistake my parents made by enrolling me in a boys only school during my early years and you can begin to understand the trainwreck that is me talking to the other sex.

Not that I’m complaining though. Sometimes I do say something funny, a random quip here and there, that gives me a +5 Interesting-ness buff for a short time. So yeah, sometimes I’m funny, and most of the times I’m plain boring. Just like every other human out there.

And though the odds are stacked against me, what with the shyness bordering on crazy and my lack of athletic skills, the greatest pleasures in life lie in facing these challenges. And afternoon siestas after a hearty meal. And writing that tries to be funny, but really isn’t.

Despite being a 22 year old man-child with nada on his resumé, I tend to blush at the slightest provocation. Hard. Lots of people tell me it somehow makes me more endearing. And cute. I try to brush it off as a sympathetic compliment from them, but I know for a fact that it is true. Innocent no more, eh? 😂

Edit History: A Haiku

All the things I’ve done

That embarass me, I wish

I could undo them.

Like almost every other human on this planet, there are several traits of ‘past me‘ that I wish I could edit. Moments where I’ve embarrassed myself, moments of cringe and situations where I couldn’t reply with an awesome comeback.

It is moments like this that make me wish that my life is just the dream of a toddler. The moment I die, I wake up and realise that my whole life just flashed before me in a dream. So I can avoid all the stupid mistakes I’ve done. And all the embarrassing situations. All the shit I’ve done that made me wish life had an ‘Edit’ feature.

And thus, I can lead a perfect life. Or so I think. Anyway, being aware of my whole life before it even begins, or having an option to edit events would be a great addition. I can undo the stupid things I’ve done.

I can avoid embarrassing situations that will haunt me at 3 AM seven years after they happened if I already know how my life will turn out to be.

I’ve always been like this. Stuff happens. And I say something dumb or say nothing at all and look like a total dweeb loser to people. 3 hours later, I’m thinking up interesting, sarcastic, funny, badass replies to the situation. And screaming at myself, “You should have said this. You should have said that!”

Fast forward seven years, and my fucking brain decides it’s time to go through memories, at 3 AM.
And it shows me the embarrassing moments. I lie there, cringing so hard I can barely breathe. Almost wishing I could kill past me, because seriously, what a loser he was!!

The thing is, everyone has made mistakes in their life. Almost everyone has flashbacks of embarrassing moments at the most inappropriate of times. The thing is to not let your mistakes dictate the rest of your life. To take risks and fail hard, but to make sure that you don’t end up making silly mistakes that you can never reverse. And I think that’s exactly what Abby is talking about.

What are some stupid mistakes you’ve made that you wish you could reverse? Let me know in the comments!