She Sells Sea Shells on the Sea Shore. Why?!

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more.”

-Anne Frank

From a very early age, as we studied and mastered the English Language, wrestling with the decision of following American English or UK English, we have crossed paths with this tongue twister, either in school or at home, aimed at developing speech and improving pronunciations.

There could be various reasons for using this phrase. There is a calming effect when you imagine a girl handing out sea shells on the sea shore. It is very easy to understand and wrap your mind around the fact that someone would actually do that, like who hasn’t dreamed of having a sea shell collection.

This phrase was a game, bringing happy memories back now and then. It was a time where none of us thought twice about the phrase, or the implications or how did she have time to open a sea shell shop.

It was a time before we knew the demand supply scenario for Sea Shells, the profitability, capital to be invested, storage costs, rent, salaries, projected cash flows, and marketing for such a business to be successful.

If you think logically, it wouldn’t be very lucrative selling something which is freely available around you. We laugh at that phrase nowadays because it seems silly and a waste of time.

As we grow up, our brains begin thinking more logically, more economically, and more rationally, and we wonder if its worth our time. Now this phrase is meaningless, and attracts mockery when said allowed, destroying the tranquillity it once gave us when we were little.

It would be nice to go back to that time, and not over analyse every little thing, and just let them be, for what they are, and the comfort they provide.

ALAS! Things were so much simpler back then.

Independence

There was a time, when we’d hold on to dad’s hand and walk, pointing at the things we wanted him to buy us. Balloons, chocolates, lollipops, toys and what not. And when he said no, you’d think that one day, we’d buy to with our own money. I feel so stupid looking back at those memories. Realities caught hold of us. And we realise what debt does to people and the challenges people face on a daily basis.

First salaries and earnings and cash inflows give us a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s that first big step into the world where our careers begin and we hope for dream packages and fabulous life styles.
Our first incomes are special. We guard it at first. Keep it in our salary account, hoping that one day you won’t have to worry about how small the figure is. We spend wisely, withdraw in triple digits only, believing that we are saving. As a few months pass, the balance grows bigger, and we take to small purchases via the Internet, scolding ourselves not to make it a habit.
And then, realising that inflation exists, we think of investing it. We exercise our judgement and opinions of experienced people and do so. At this point, we believe we are independent.
We fail to add the word financially before independent. Because for some reason, money decides your position.
The independence grows like a cancer in your thoughts and deeds, and you change as an individual, becoming more resilient and stubborn. Why?  Because you don’t have to ask for permission any more. You don’t care what people think because you have worked hard to earn it. And you thus feel fit to spend it as you wish.

We fail to understand, one teeny tiny detail.

The ability to earn, was given to us by education. And you didn’t pay for your education. Someone else did. And we owe them a responsibility. Someone made an investment in you, and when you start earning returns, you’re allowed to keep them and allowed to think that you’re hard work got you there.

Your parents never ask for dividend, do they?

Taha Sheerazi

ThunderClap.

A familiar chill crept through him as he sat, raising the hairs on his arms and causing him to shiver ever so slightly. The smell was intoxicating and musty at the same time, bringing back long lost memories and thoughts, ones that he kept forgetting and remembering year after year, as the first rains, accompanied by flashes of lightening and thunder, took over the sky.

A lighting storm accompanied the rain was welcomed, usually when he was indoors (downright annoying when he was outdoors, unless it was football of course) , because it meant that he could settle down next to the window with his favourite book, a cup of green tea or hot chocolate, and a pointy bookmark with which he unconsciously poked his face. Pure bliss took over as he emersed himself into the author’s writings, cringing from the splash of rain as a strong gust of wind carried the water inwards. The momentary flash of lighting would draw his attention and he’d wait until the thunder, because he felt that it was the best part. A ThunderClap so loud and clear that it seemed to cause an extra heart beat as the sound wave hit him, and then one could appreciate the true force of nature, and something mankind could never recreate. Every ThunderClap gave him goosebumps, as he read on, with no care for the time as the minutes ran into hours.

His mother broke him out of his blissful oblivion, calling him for lunch. He reluctantly placed his bookmark into the book, took the empty cup, and made his way to the kitchen, smiling all they time, like a blithering idiot.

Alas! Those days are gone now, as he sits in a office chair, staring at the rain, and wishing he could here Zeus thundering above through the closed windows. He had his green tea, but it just didn’t taste the same anymore.

Taha Sheerazi

Neutral to First.

6 AM. *BEEP* *BEEP*

He woke up groggy, fighting the impulse to rest his head back onto the pillow and fall back into the  waiting arms of Hypnos. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he made his way to the bathroom, he picked up last night’s t shirt, socks and shorts. A splash of water, a hand through his shortish hair, and he was good to go.

The air had an uncharacteristic chill for summer almost as if the monsoons were announcing their arrival.

The route was always the same. A big circuit of about three kilometres covering different neighborhoods and probably displaying a fraction of India’s diversity.

Hypnos still played around with him as he stumbled upon loose tiles as he made his way out of the gate.

The same old play list blared in his headphones as he began his circuit.
The same stares followed his headphones and he witnessed the same people sleeping on the pavements and spots of choice.

The walk always made him thankful of the things he had, and the things that he didn’t. The peace gained by a simple walk in the morning always amazed him. His thoughts throughout the day didn’t form conclusions but the mornings gave him a clear mind.

He broke into a jog as he reached his old school, the humidity beginning to show it’s first signs. A rhythm soon developed as the sun crept into the sky and the pace of life quickened in Bombay.

He always wondered how laziness could ruin such a wonderful start to the day. Human emotions and feelings were baffling, and just as he thought he had it figured out, he was proved wrong in the most embarrassing way possible. Ah, how life toys with people.

Drenched his sweat, he made his way back, satisfied and ready to dive headfirst into the rat race of life, hoping he could do it again the next day, and the day after that.

People plan their whole lives around ifs and buts, failing to realise that it was always the other way around. But planning a morning walk is one of the few things life rarely disrupts, because it knows we form our own excuses to just go back to sleep.

Taha Sheerazi

The New “Vs.” Genre.

The world is witnessing the dawn of a new era in movies, where they have evolved to the extent that they begin to make us choose which side we’d like to be on. I’m not talking about Bollywood. Bollywood is just a reproduction of the same thing done over the last 50 years again and again and again(though one can argue that there exists some element of evolution where instead of getting naughty in a huge flower garden  full of lilies or sunflowers, they actually do it in the bedroom in skimpier clothes.   Progress! And they have started using special effects Ra One *cough*).

Hollywood has finally realised that they need to make their audience think and choose a side. The old pattern of creating two factions, one good and one bad, and then making your default choice be the good side and they suffer set backs and then something miraculous happens and the lead character comes up with a brilliant plan which culminates into one major fight at the end where the lead actors star in a hand to hand combat scene and the good guy wins with a complicated move and super strength. We all the know the endings there. Otherwise the movies would draw criticism. But then of course some piece of the negative side remains which starts growing again and a sequel is made based on that. Predictability? Yay.

Obviously it may take a while, as DC Comics and Marvel will need to come out with a real strong story to support all the action, but this is the future.

The one superhero who prevails is unknown which makes the movie all the more interesting and emphasises the point of going in the first day shows to avoid spoilers. So now is it Good Vs Good, or Bad vs Bad? Who cares. It’s Superhero vs Superhero!!

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One of the most talked about trailers,. Batman Vs Superman-Dawn of Justice is one of the movies which asks you to choose. It asks you a simple question. Batman, Gotham’s Dark Knight? Or Superman, Man of Steel?
Fans will be greatly divided on this as one fights to justify his existence, while the other fights against the damage caused by superhuman strength and for the innocent lives lost(demonstrated by ridiculous destruction shown in the Man of Steel movie).
I can’t wait for Ben Affleck to kick Superman’s ass.

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And how can we forget the upcoming Marvel release which asks you to basically choose between two Avengers, that is Captain America, the first Avenger, and Iron Man, the richest Avenger. Nobody liked Captain America to begin with, but the Captain America sequel The Winter Soldier, turned quite a few heads with its great directing and action and special effects(Falcon was crazy!). So some would chose the shield and motor arm and wings over…. Everything one of those elements put together and even more,  that is a.k.a Iron Man. But we’ll have to wait till 2016 for that.

As Hollywood enters this new phase, Comic characters will have to be carefully and selected and stories built accordingly. I mean you can make a bad movie, but you end up screwing both the characters(which will be both equally loved), you screw both their images and that is not good for the franchisee. Like what Marvel did with Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s almost as if they got bored and decided to make a movie with different characters. And all the characters were trolled.

Hence, let us choose.

The Deeper Meaning

I read, a lot. And I’ve read almost every fiction book possible. With every possible twist and turn, betrayal, happiness, plan and infiltration. The reason I’m writing this is because I recently read a trilogy, which made me feel different, like something was incomplete, like a sadness hung in the air after I closed the book.

I’ve been reading for more than a decade now, and with every book I read, I did something unconsciously with the characters and read the book, making me more and more involved with every page. After reading the trilogy, it hit me as I turned the last page. An epiphany, you could call it. Here it is…

A Reader doesn’t read a book, he lives it, and hence lives a thousand lives, in a thousand different ways, filled with every emotion the mind can fathom and imagine.

The deeper meaning being that we unconsciously place ourselves there, expose ourselves to the world of the writer, bracing whatever he has in store for us.

The trilogy I said I read was the Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner.
I profound silence took over me as I finished the third book(The Death Cure). I was blank and felt like crap, just sitting there, wondering what the future held. A chill came over me and for only the second time in my life, I felt alone. I felt this way for another series, the well known Hunger games.

I was sad when there was no reason to be, worried like there was no tomorrow, and felt like all the fight had flowed right out of me and into the blackness. Each move was an effort and I knew this was not natural. And that’s when it hit me. I imagined myself in the book, as a character, and the bittersweet end didn’t bode well with me.

But I guess that’s life!
Take it as it comes, make what you can of it, and watch your back, because no one else will.

Taha Sheerazi

Abrakadabra

No, the one used in Harry Potter is Avada Kedavra, used to kill people in an efficient manner(How I wish it worked).

Since childhood, we were made to believe in magic and Santa Claus and then one find day we discovered Science and the truth and how ridikulus it all seemed. But it still gave us hope, a childish one nonetheless. Hope that we could make things just disappear or make things float at our own free will. The downside is that we were lied to and the realisation was miserable. But there is a brighter side. One that forms the basis of our thinking and dreams. What comes to us so easily as we sit in a boring lecture.
IMAGINATION.
If you are a die hard fan of Harry Potter, deep down you’d still believed that there exists a wonderful castle with a little town called Hogsmeade next to it somewhere in Scotland. That arises from the love we have for the series and the lessons it teaches us. We build up our own characters and make ourselves at home in the stories we love because that’s what gives us comfort. If there were a parallel universe, we’d be there, drinking butterbeers  and learning how to use a wand. Fiction indeed, but its what keeps us going.

Taha Sheerazi

Mr. Time Traveller

There I was, in the men’s washroom, minding my own business, thinking about the boring second half of the day where I’d be punching my life into an Excel spreadsheet. And suddenly there’s whirl of wind and noise I can best describe as the noise made when a plunger is being used. I turn around and look at a man casually dressed with a French beard. He looks at me, smiles, and says,”I’m the Time Travel God! And you’re unzipped.”

After preserving what’s left of my dignity, I look at him, and he raises his eyebrows. So I just rant-
“Take me back to the start,
Where the little things mattered the most,
Where newspaper reading meant just the comics,
Where Tom and Jerry gave us pleasure and highs,
Where Lion King taught us values and morals,
And the only thing that burdened us were school bags.
Where we didn’t care about inflation or terrorism or China devaluing its currency or who’d be running for President.
Where when we thought maintenance, we thought about our cycle and filling air in the tyres and oiling the chain.
Where our new wallets filled our little pockets and change jingled with every step for the sweets we’d buy.
Oh how pointless it all seems now, now that I’m grown up. I’m happy now, but I know what truly happy means, so just take me back to the start.”

He looks at me and says
“Why add bookmarks to pages you’ve already read, when you can write a completely new one, and let someone else bookmark it for you?”
And then he was gone, accompanied by the same sucking noise, and I went back to my Excel spreadsheet.

Taha Sheerazi

The Photo That Shocked The World

“The drowned toddler seen lying on a Turkish beach in a photo that sparked shock around the world on Thursday has been identified as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose five-year-old brother Galip and mother Rehan also died when their boat capsized.  
 
Images of Aylan, showing the little boy wearing a bright red T-shirt and shorts and lying face down in the surf on a beach near the resort town of Bodrum, went viral on social media and appeared on the front pages of newspapers in several countries.

I don’t have a lot of time to read the newspapers. Maybe read a couple of lines in the middle, but mostly just the headlines. But today was different. I didn’t go past the first page. I simply couldn’t. I sat there, with a piece of toast in my hand, for a while wondering how many deaths would it really take for the world to take a better look, to realize how easy it is to destroy compared to making, to understand the pain and actually care, rather than sit around and ‘tut’.

Sure, a child did it. Because that’s where we relate. And then we think back at all the people who have lost their lives trying to fight it or run from it. The truth is, whatever they choose, their lives are never the same. Ours may not be the same either, we just don’t know it yet.

And I didn’t have the heart to post the picture along with the post. Apologies.

Taha Sheerazi

Le Winding Stair.

Up Up And Up. That’s all we think of because that’s what we’ve been taught. Don’t look back. Pedal to the metal and drive into greatness. Humble beginnings. Rags to riches. Work hard to reach the top.
What a load of bull shit. Anyone who tried it would know. Its not the straight line we intended to take, not what we originally planned, not as we dreamed it to be as we sat in a boring college lecture doodling on the corner of the sheet borrowed from our neighbour(probably the pen too).
True greatness. What is it? A great man says sentences with complicated words, but deep down even he’s not sure why he’s great or how exactly he got there. Everything fell in place for him and he got lucky? Well he isn’t going to admit to that is he.

I used to believe in all this until I realized a couple of things. The great people designed the system, one that is perfect at not only functioning, but also at eliminating competition. Stifling creativity. It all boils down to the same thing, if you cut out the words like ‘scams, net neutrality, responsible advertisement, etc.’
We look back and realize what we were, and what we are. The results aren’t thrilling. But they’re there. Climbing up in a circle and jumping through hoops makes us dizzy. But you look down and your vision tunnels. Why? Is it those few memories you’re trying to desperately hang on to? Or memories you’re trying to forget?

Taha Sheerazi