Paatal Lok: A story of love

After reading the initial reviews, I had put off the urge to watch Paatal Lok on account of it being too violent. Today, after having binge-watched it a few days later than I should have, all I can say is that the show is all about love. Or maybe love and violence are just incomplete without each other.

There are too many ironies in the show, making it raw, real and gritty. They make it palatable for deep down, we all know there are realities we don’t wish to know about but should know anyway. There is no hero in the show, everyone has their own flaws. They make you rethink what it means to be a hero.

Every storyline in the show seems handpicked to put together a tale, us, binge-watching privileged fools should be familiar with. The show is a lesson in disguise, teaching us about life, forcing us to reflect on missteps we take on a daily basis or witness someone else at it, often silently.

It’s about our identities and how they are shaped by our realities to an extent that sometimes it becomes difficult to know that there is a much larger world out there, waiting to be explored. We find solace in the familiar, becoming a little more afraid everyday. Then, we pass it on to those who depend on us and the cycle continues until someone somewhere has the audacity to stop and question — Why?

This show is not a love story, no. Rather, it gives us a glimpse into different kinds of love. The love you feel for yourself keeps you safe, the love you feel for strangers keeps you company and the love you feel for those you truly care about keeps you sane. It is our need to be safe, sane and acceptable that keeps us going, against insurmountable odds, making us do unimaginable things. I love how each character in the show illustrates this in some way or the other.

Paatal Lok is a strange place to find love and yet it’s where you find it the most, overwhelmingly so.

Twelve Questions

Photo by Mali Maeder on Pexels

No context, just some 12 random questions:

What do you want to do?

Would you do it if you weren’t this scared?

What if you didn’t feel as broken as you do?

Where do you want to go?

Who do you want to be?

Who do you want to be with?

Is the risk too big?

Do you want to take it anyway?

Do you want to be brave?

Does anything make sense?

Would it make sense in the future?

Do you want to take the leap?

All that tech, humans still the worst

A day ago I binge-watched Upload on Amazon Prime. It seemed like a romcom ten minutes in. A man struggling to tell his girlfriend what he truly feels about her, she having too much power over him. The mix of sex, power and money seems the villain, fuelled by technology. Then, came a rather metal-breaking twist.

I saw the story unfold with horror and awe. A recent presentation by the team at Facebook came to mind. It was about the use of Virtual Reality for people to feel closer to each other despite being geographically apart by a degree of several countries. Being under lockdown and at the mercy of technology to be in contact with people I care about, it sure seems a very tempting offer. Can you imagine what it could do to (not so) long distance relationships and employment opportunities!

However, the above was the awe. The rest, was horror. Spoiler alert: I am not a fan of the idea of living forever. It’s tiring. As Dumbledore put it best: To a well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.

The horror was not so much about the scope of technology but the need and greed of mortal humans on the screen using it. They would go to many lengths to ensure they could live forever, happily so. It’s scary. While the co-relation of power and responsibility is much discussed, it is important to understand that tools cannot be blamed for the deeds of the users.

A knife is not responsible for a murder nor a software for the execution of surveillance or theft. Just because a tool is at your disposal, it doesn’t mean you have to use in the worst way possible! Humans are responsible for the decisions they take and the consequences that follow.

Of course, each person affected by the deed may not be responsible for it. All we can do is hope that the ones in power find it in themselves to be kind and rational. And that there are enough hurdles and rules and reality-checks in place to make sure they don’t go stray.

In regards to the show: I loved the depth of graphics and the way actors kept the humane alive in a world where everything is unreal, literally. The narrative is peppered with humour and is easily palatable. It keeps you from going insane thinking of the darkness and ill-effects of capitalism, as rightfully depicted in the show.

The only thing that really frustrated me was the protagonist’s inability to counter her overbearing girlfriend. Come on, man!

I love coming across multi-dimensional characters in stories, something the show didn’t have much space for. It happened but not as much as I would have liked, especially with the female characters. To me, backstories seemed riddled with clichés.

Wish there was as much depth to the characters as was to technology, which the show definitely does justice to. Now we await Season 2!

The still used in the feature image belongs to Amazon Prime.

Working from home — Eh!

It’s been two months since the morning I got the call from my boss, informing that we wouldn’t be working for the day. It was supposed to be a temporary thing as COVID-19 cases had cropped up in the area where our office is situated. Over the next few days, first companies were advised to enforce work from home and later, it was made mandatory. The lockdown has been extended twice since and it expected to go on for a while more.

Working from home is a weird experience at best. Now that I am not spending about four to five hours in travelling as I usually do, there is time to learn how to cook, watch more shows, read a bit and even sleep more. However, it is not all that great to be honest. There is a lot of fatigue.

A few days ago, my laptop started behaving weirdly. Speakers and microphone stopped working and the overall working went wonky. After numerous updates and reboots, it has finally started to work fine but the fear which had gripped my heart for days is one I can’t quite explain. Without my laptop, I can’t quite function at my job. It is an essential commodity for me. I shudder to think how I would have sustained if it hadn’t started working (for the most part) properly back again.

The lockdown has also helped me recognise and understand the various privileges I have been blessed with. May it be the air-conditioning at home or ample supplies of essential items and fresh food. I have a lot to be thankful for. A whole lot!

There are quite a few things I miss on account of being stuck at home for so long. I have only stepped out once in the last two months. The thrill of taking the public transport, the mundane things one gets to observe, the short interactions with people along the way seem so distant and priceless now. I crave the normalcy of my life before this pandemic took over.

I haven’t taken the effort to dress up in the last several weeks and as much as I love rolling over in bed and starting my laptop to get to work, I would love to get back to a decent routine that forces me to get out of the house on a daily basis. And I really want to stop wondering what life would look like after all of this is over.

Until then, the scroll through dismay after dismay shall continue, till dystopia takes over in unimaginable ways.

Consuming information online

Every few days, a new wave of information hits us. Mostly negative. It comes with a flurry of emotions. Mostly negative. We feel numb and unable to respond for a few seconds. For the most part, there is always someone out there speaking about the issue. We read, find something that matches most with what we wish to say, and share.

It is so much easier than to attempt reading in-depth and find a way to express what we truly feel. It is convenient. And, dangerous.

With so many people out there, speaking, and so much content to consume, how do you measure the authenticity of information? How do you know what you are consuming is actually something that is factual and not merely based on emotions — and likely created for views/clicks?

By looking at it carefully and analysing it against parameters of your own choosing. Here’s a glimpse into how I look at and analyse information.

Understanding information

Information usually answers six important questions: What, Why, Who, Where, When and How. It is set within a context and doesn’t force emotions. It may trigger emotions based on a lot of external factors but the language in which it is is written must not forcefully trigger emotions.

Context form a major chunk of information. It helps the reader/viewer understand why the topic is important and why it is being talked about at all. It can be done using citations, data and reports. Credibility is key to context. Emotions are not credible, no matter who they belong to.

Looking for loopholes

It is important to understand where that information is coming from. Who is speaking the words you are listening to? Do they have credibility in the subject they are talking about? It is important to take the information and look at it from all angles and look for loopholes in the narrative.

Always look at a piece of information like an editor/sub-editor. You trust it but it is important to verify it. There needs to a slight level of suspicion. It helps you better at consuming any information, especially online.

When you are feeling a lot of emotions because of an event, try to pen down your thoughts. It will help you rationalise and understand why you are truly feeling what you are feeling about the issue. It is likely that you will find triggers in your past than in that very moment. It helps me, may help you too.

Related: How to better consume information on Twitter?

#NaPoWriMo | Day 29 | One day at a time

from traveling hours for office
to rolling in bed to open lappy
from remembering train schedules
to forgetting the days of the week
from putting on earrings
to living in t-shirt and pyjamas
from flipping through new pieces
to dreading trending topics
from feeling sort of sorted
to floating in an abyss

so this is what it means to live
one day at a time?

#NaPoWriMo | Day 28 | Fear

it’s crazy how ingrained is the fear
which governs our lives
that mistakes cannot happen
not even slight
every day, every minute
requires constant vigilance,
no delete button in stride
it’s crazy how every move
physical, emotional, virtual
is mired with dilemmas
of in between, of death and life
everything is over-thought
over-contemplated, over-felt
for abusers and oppressors
are almost always disguised
as lovers and lovely fellows
deepening flaws that
aren’t worth even shallow

#NaPoWriMo | Day 26 | Familiar

i wasn’t a reader until i met you
i had never been in love
i didn’t know there could be
magic in words
you held me then
as you hold me now
the familiarity of the hallways
the shelter of the hat
the bravery of the sword
that could pierce through
the darkest of veils
you are the calming draught
i keep close in vials
the charm, the swish
the keeper, the wish
the feather in my quill
i love you boy,
thanks for living
and not just surviving
i will try to do the same