Guest Post

This is a guest post by my sister, who wanted this out there to keep herself in check, and to send a message to all other girls struggling with a healthy body image.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve had issues with my body.

I still recall vividly the summer of the 3rd grade when I first felt bad about not being thin. And that’s how early it starts. That’s how much the society tries to push the thin-is-pretty ideology on everyone. Thanks to sports, i managed to remain healthy most of my life. Except for class 8, where an obsession with losing weight, becoming paper thin overcame me. A skewed self perception went a long way to make me drown myself in exercise and a measly amount of food. The initial months were good, I was eating healthy and running so much. But then I lost track of it all. I looked at myself in the mirror and all I saw was fat, ugly omnipresent adipose tissue. I started looking like I’d been sick. The 13 year old me couldn’t possibly comprehend that , thin was bad, fat was bad, what to do and be then? There was no self love, no identity. There was just a messed up want for acceptance. And I’d been deluded into believing that acceptance would come as fat disappeared. Boy was I wrong.

And here I am 4 years older (and hopefully wiser), in the same place again. But this time, I know what went wrong, and what I did wrong. And I know now, that it’s not about your face or body. I’ve beaten myself over body image issues and hated my body for so long. I’m going to give loving myself a go.

Not being thin, hot, pretty is by no means the end of the world and you can be a very happy individual if you focus on the better things in life – friends, family, love, education, ambition and being happy. Acceptance is faceted because people are faceted and as long as you know that feeling comfortable in your skin is of prime importance, it’s going to be fine. And I’m not, and I’m going to try to do something to change that. Let’s see if I get it right this time.


Fuller House!

It’s finally here! I’ve been so excited since the “29-years later” spin-off of Full House was announced. And now that it’s here, I’m going into my I’m-so-nostalgic-please-take-me-back-in-time mood, as I’m sure everyone does at one point or another.


I used to loyally follow Full House when it aired on TV. The love among everyone in the family, the fights between DJ and Stephanie, and Comet of course, made the show so hilarious and comfortable. And John Stamos with his music!

“I asked the sky just what we had
It shone forever”

I was an ardent follower. The show meant so much to me.

Now that Fuller House is out, I’m all set to binge-watch this 13-episode season this weekend. I know the show isn’t remarkable, given today’s sitcoms. But I don’t think Fuller House was meant to do anything other than taking us for a trip down the memory lane and reminding us of the good old days. And I would say it has succeeded in doing that, at least for me. Because after this I’m ready to binge-watch Full House. This isn’t a splendid show in itself, with a brilliant story line. It is a spin-off of an old favorite show of mine, and I love it for that.

Before I leave, I would like to leave you all with the theme song of Full House, which has stayed with me after all these years. I still find myself humming  “Whatever Happened to Predictability?” and start reminiscing about the show. Do watch the video.

All right. I’m off for a month now, watching Full House. So long!

There’s a New Puppy in Town!

If you know me at all, you know that I absolutely adore dogs. If you don’t know me, well, now you’re a step closer.

My college campus is filled with dogs. I have named a few of whom I meet regularly. Some of my friends aren’t very happy with my dog-naming skills and I have been advised to never a publish a book on dog names.

Last year, there were 2 puppies in front of my hostel block – Jerry and Lily. During our vacation, Lily was spayed, but Jerry probably ran away, because when we came back, she was heavily pregnant. She’s only a year old!

She had one puppy around a month ago. I only found out a week back after I noticed that Jerry no longer looked pregnant and followed her to where the puppy was. As soon as I saw him, I wanted to name him Milo. I don’t know why, he just felt like a Milo. I was so excited! A new puppy in town. I could smell the puppy every day now. Ah! I just love the way puppies smell. So heavenly! I played with him so much that day. I fell in love.

Oh hello, human.
Oh hello, human.

I spammed my Instagram with his pictures. And I told everyone I could. I didn’t want to leave him. If I could, I would have stayed there with him, cuddling and kissing.

*Wink Wink*
*Wink Wink*

2 days ago, I came back after my classes, all excited to meet Milo. And when he rolled over, I realized Milo was a girl (Oops!). But she was so tiny! It was really hard to tell! So obviously, she needed a new name. And so I finally gave in to my friend and named her Oreo. (She really should have been Milo, if you ask me. Does it matter if it’s a boy’s name?)

Jerry has been a very doting mother. She never lets Oreo out of her sight. Every time someone comes to play with Oreo, she smells them over, making sure they’re all right for her little baby.

"Who goes there?"
“Stay behind me. I’ll keep you safe.”

Oreo has started teething now, and she keeps chewing everything in sight. She loves my shoe laces a lot. Thankfully she hasn’t done much damage yet, but I think I’m going to have to buy new laces soon. For some reason, she also loves chewing my hair. My dog had never done that. But my dog doesn’t even know how to lick people. He just rubs his teeth everywhere. Since I consider my dog abnormal, I’m assuming puppies chew hair all the time. Of course I don’t let her do it a lot because I’m too lazy to wash my hair every day.

"Mmmm. Yummy slippers. Thanks!"
“Mmmm. Yummy slippers. Thanks!”

And she’s a tiny, hyperactive baby. She scares people all the time by coming out of nowhere and jumping on their feet, because that’s just as far as she can reach right now. She just wants to eat things. Shoes, jeans, slippers, feet – anything. I think even Jerry’s getting tired of her now. Just yesterday Oreo was jumping all around Jerry.

"Stop it right now! STOP!"
“Stop it right now! STOP!”

Just look at this adorable little monster!

"Aar! Le me go! Aar Aar!"
“Aar! Le me go! Aar Aar!”

I don’t know where she gets so much energy from. She’s jumping all the time. And she loves all the attention she gets from us. She just laps it all up, basking in the glory.

But well, a puppy has got to sleep.


Brown Beauty

We make up a nation of people obsessed with fairness. In 2012, reportedly 233 tonnes of skin-lightening products were bought in India. And the number seems to be on the rise. Being fair is equated to being beautiful. We all do it, even if we do it unknowingly.
We do it as parents, when we comment on how dark someone is in front of our kids. We do it when we tell little kids they’re becoming darker, and laugh at the horrified face they make. They learn from us. We do it as friends when we tell each other how much we’ve tanned, and start spilling out a list of easy home remedies for skin-lightening. We do it when we compliment people on how fair they look. We do it when we make faces at dark skinned people wearing a shade that doesn’t complement their skin tone. We do it when we ask our sons to find a fair-skinned wife. We do it when we don’t shame advertisements that tell us we can only get a good job, or get married if we’re fair. We do it every day.

This is 2015. We have made progress in a lot of fields, this not being one of them. Not long ago, only girls used to bear the brunt of this uncanny obsession. But now, we have gender equality at its best, with the earlier ‘tall dark and handsome’ image being overshadowed by lightening creams for men. And we have ‘progressed’ towards a time when being called dusky, is seen as an insult.


I’m going to modify one of my favorite quotes by J.K. Rowling, because it is just as apt here.

“Is ‘dark’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘dark’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”

If you’re reading this post, stop telling your kids how fair someone is. Stop putting up matrimonial advertisements looking for a ‘fair’ bride. Stop responding to such advertisements.

If you’re reading this post, stop discussing how dark-skinned someone is. Stop saying how you dream of getting married to a ‘fair, good-looking guy’. Stop telling your friends what they can use to get a fairer skin. Tell them they don’t need to.

If you’re out there, reading this post, just know that you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, brown, black, or even blue (how can I leave out Smurfette?); You are PERFECT, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Your skin color is not indicative of how smart, kind, generous and pretty you are. Don’t be blinded by silly advertisements. Don’t ever feel you’re not beautiful enough, because you are. You are more than enough. You don’t need a product to look pretty. Wear your confidence. Wear a smile. Be comfortable in your own skin.

Another festival to celebrate patriarchy?

As a child, I was always fascinated by Rakshabandhan, mostly because of the way it was depicted in advertisements and movies; and gifts! Who doesn’t love gifts? Growing up, my views began to change, as I understood the full implication of the festival.

For those of you who don’t know what Rakhabandhan is, I’ll save Google the trouble. It is a Hindu festival which celebrates the brother-sister relationship. This, is a good thing. A relationship as beautiful as this deserves to be celebrated. But, there’s more to it. The sister, by tying a thread, the Rakhi, around her brother’s wrist, expresses her love for him and wishes his well-being, and the brother, in return, vows to protect his sister under all circumstances. Now this is the part I find a little sexist. Before you start feeling aghast and expressing your hatred towards me, think about it.
For the sake of argument, let’s say I have a 3-year-old brother. How is he supposed to protect me? Shouldn’t I be the one vowing to take care of him? Now if I do have an elder brother, am I not capable of taking care of myself? Isn’t this, subconsciously, acceptance of the fact that I need a male figure in my life to take care me? And does the brother really need her sister to tie Rakhi on his wrist to know that she loves him? Isn’t that evident in all little things she does for him? When he hurt himself, and his sister rushed outside, wasn’t she expressing her love? When his sister stood up for him, in front of his parents or friends, wasn’t SHE the one protecting him?
I don’t have a brother, so my younger sister and I tie Rakhi to each other. I really respect this tradition in my family. It acknowledges the fact that as a sister, I can take care of my sister, and my sister is capable of taking care of me. Why isn’t this the norm in all families? Why don’t siblings tie Rakhi to each other to signify that they will BOTH take care of the other under all circumstances?

For a long time, I feared I was the only person who felt this way. But am I really?

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley – just for geeks?

There are people who live to code, and then there are those allergic to it. If you fall in the second category, who probably haven’t ventured into the comically geeky world of Silicon Valley. Yet.

Created by Mike Judge, loosely based on his experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, this sitcom follows the struggles of the introverted college dropout and accidental genius, Richard, and his friends.
Richard, Gilfoyle and Dinesh, in trying to make a niche for themselves in the hottest place for aspiring entrepreneurs, spend their time in an incubator run by Erlich, a millionaire who had hit it big in Silicon Valley long ago. Erlich lets them stay at the incubator rent-free in exchange for stakes in any successful projects they invent there. Richard, in creating an uninspiring music copyright app, comes up with a killer compression algorithm which makes him an overnight hero. He decides against selling his app to an insufferable, commercial company – Hooli, and instead works with his friends at his own company – Pied Piper. They work together, improving the algorithm to incorporate 2D and 3D video compression as well, which fares extremely well against a fictional compression metric, the Weismann score.  

With quips and jibes, the series manages to show the two types of people needed to run a successful tech company. One such incident involved the following exchange between Erlich and Richard.

Erlich: You’ve got to deliver, like Steve.
Richard: Jobs or Wozniac?
Erlich: …
Richard: Steve Jobs or St …
Erlich: Oh I heard you. Jobs!
Richard: Jobs was a poser, he didn’t even write code

Even after this take on Steve Jobs, the sitcom manages to show how Jobs is essential to Wozniac and vice versa. It also manages to capture the essence of the tech world, as being predominately male, more obsessed with technology and efficient algorithms, than girls. A scene also depicts Dinesh falling in love with a girl for the Java method she wrote. To quote him –

“She wrote a Java method that was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. It was elegant, tight. There’s just something so hot about a woman who can code like that”

Of course all his hopes came crashing down when he found out he was actually in love with Gilfoyle’s mind, who had written the code for her. (Oops!)

It goes on to show how geeks are taking over the world. In another inspiring quote by Richard –

“For thousands of years, guys like us have gotten the shit kicked out of us. But now, for the first time, we’re living in an era when we can be in charge. And build empires! We could be the Vikings of our day.”

The show also cites a comical and interesting observation about programmers.

“It’s weird. They always travel in groups of five. These programmers, there’s always a tall, skinny white guy; short, skinny Asian guy; fat guy with a ponytail; some guy with crazy facial hair; and then an East Asian guy. It’s like they trade guys until they all have the right group.”

Silicon Valley could be one of the best satires of our time. After the huge disappointment that was ‘The Internship’, I found this sitcom a refreshing take on the lives of programmers at Silicon Valley.  The characters are stereotypical, thoughtful and lovable. The sitcom team went a step further and actually created a website for the fictional Pied Piper. You can check it out here.

Now if you didn’t understand some of the things mentioned above, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the show. There are a few heavy tech words thrown about, but if you don’t know what they mean, it really doesn’t matter. After all, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. and Sc.D. to be amused by The Big Bang Theory, do you?

Why Emma Watson is my Hero

I was in a very feminist mood today. So I started thinking of Emma Watson. I’m a fan-girl, and a proud one at that. It’s not every day that you come across a talented actress who studied at an Ivy League university and became the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador before the age of 25! But Emma has proved that fame is not the answer. She has always perfectly balanced her work with her studies and never compromised on her education for her career. She is counted among the most influential women in the world and has no qualms about living life on her own terms. She is  role model to me, and to a million other girls out there.

So I put together a list of 7 times when we fell in love with her all over again.

1. When she was a true Hermione

"The saddest thing for a girl to do ..."

2. When she embraced her individuality

"I want to decide who I am for myself"

3. When she told us how trivial the opinion of others is

"Your self-worth shouldn't be tied up in what a stranger thinks"

4. When she told us it’s okay to be different

"Don't feel stupid ..."

5. When she recognized her inner beauty

"Beauty comes from within"

6. When she told us a woman is not  doll

"I am a human being who is not made to look like a doll"

7. When she told young girls they don’t have to be princesses

"If I were a princess, I'd be a warrior princess"

We love you for the person you are, Emma.

Thank you for  childhood full of memories.  

I am a Microsoft hire

What? Microsoft?

I still have nightmares about campus placements. This post comes a little late because of that. It has been 3 days now, since I got placed at Microsoft, but it still hasn’t completely sunk in. Just yesterday, I was travelling in a bus when I remembered I have a job now and started creepily smiling to myself. I’m sure the other passengers wrote me off as a deranged lunatic.

Microsoft. All of a sudden, I’m a part of the largest software company in the world. How am I supposed to digest that in 3 days?

All right. Let me start at the beginning.

You can read the technical details of my interview at Coding Trysts.

August 4 was the day we had our online MCQs and coding tests. To be very honest, I wasn’t expecting I’ll get through them. But somehow mysteriously (I swear I’m not a witch. I wish I were, though. Ah, Hogwarts. Hoggy Warty Hogwarts), I did.  So I was all set for a group discussion on August 7. Turns out the group coding, or group fly as it was called, was an individual round for us and a group round for the Microsoft team. Yeah. They called it a group fly because one member of the panel had to look at the codes of 6 candidates. We had no discussion about the questions at all. But I wasn’t going to slim my chances by arguing with their logic. So I went on to code individually in the group fly round. After waiting outside from 2 p.m to 7 p.m, people who hadn’t had their interviews for MSIDC yet (I was unfortunately a part of that group) were told to go back. I still don’t know how the slots were closed or people whose interviews had to be taken were selected. After waiting for 5 hours, this was a hard slap on the face. But I have learnt to let bygones be bygones. My name was also in the list for MSIT, and so I went and took another group fly round for this division. Again, miraculously I had cleared this round. It was already 9.20 p.m. and we were extremely hungry, thanks to skipping all our meals waiting to be called for the interview, only to be sent back. So we were given a dinner break and went back for technical interviews at 10. My interview went very well. That was the only period in the entire day when I forgot all about my feverish body. Some adrenaline rush cured my sore throat for those 20 minutes or so, and I soared through. Another hurdle crossed (Woohoo!). At 11 p.m, the panel came up with the brilliant idea of continuing the interviews the next day. I was so tired! I thought I would just drop dead on my bed. But to quote a song by Backstreet Boys, dedicated to my interviewer (yes, I like that band. *NOSTALGIA*) –

I tried to sleep
But the clock was stuck on thoughts of you and me

So I just couldn’t. I decided to make the best out this, hoping sleep, my BFF, wouldn’t come meet me during my interview the next day. I prepared myself for an ordeal. And it came as a seemingly unimpressed interviewer during my final round. CGPA – *poker face*
Projects – *poker face*
I thought I was done. I packed my bags and left for class. You can confirm with my classmates. I told myself that there is no chance I’m going to land that job. So I didn’t even bother checking my phone. Somewhere during the second class, my classmates who did check their phones told me I was being called to the placement department. After being shouted at by my teacher (Placement season! Sorry, ma’am), I ran to the placement office. And I found out I had been selected. That is how I landed the unexpected offer.

Do I really deserve to be there?
I don’t know. I know there are lots of people around me who are smarter, score better and know much more than I do. I certainly am neither the biggest nerd, nor the biggest geek around. But I did land that job, so I must be doing something right. Or, it was just my day.

As I said in the beginning, it still hasn’t completely sunk in. I don’t know when it will. But I don’t know how I’m going to wait a whole year! Ah, well, let’s see what patience brings.

Dog’s Own Hell

Man has decided he doesn’t need a best friend any more, and definitely not one of those furry little good-for-nothing creatures who just run around barking and yapping all day. Of course, it’s okay if you buy/adopt a good, playful dog, teach him to be obedient and stay quiet and follow your orders. But those filthy mud-covered strays? They listen to no-one. They are all extremely aggressive and will attack you first chance they get. IMG-20140824-WA0002 IMG-20141219-WA0018 Who in their right minds would ever want to go near them? IMG-20140409-WA0012 Jpeg So it’s a good thing that ‘God’s own Country‘ is turning into ‘Dogs’ own Hell‘, right? The Chief Minister of Kerala, O. Chandy, has given orders for dog culling despite strong oppositions.

Culling is the act of reducing population by selective slaughter.

See, that doesn’t sound inhumane at all. So what is this selection going to be based on? Aggressiveness. Stray dogs are being captured, spayed and neutered, but those conceived to be ‘dangerous’ are to be euthanized. Now according to the law, only incurably ill and mortally wounded dogs as diagnosed by a qualified veterinarian can be euthanized. If a dog is found to have rabies, he must be allowed to die a natural death in isolation.  But when you’re the Chief Minister, why do you have to care about what the law says? CKMLafaUkAEkjT9 Inhumane-Culling-Shopping-list-1.1 Why was this harsh step taken? According to Chandy, the dog menace had spiralled out of control, with 40,000 reported dog bites in 2015. However, according to CNN,

Dr. Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs for PETA India, said that many of the alarming figures on dog bites circulated by the Indian media should be taken with a pinch of salt. ‘Even if it’s a snake, dog or cat bite, everything is put into one; (they’re) not categorized if it’s a stray or domesticated animal, or with rabies or not’.

Is culling a good idea? For the sake of a ‘reasonable’ explanation, let’s leave morality out of this. Let’s say that human lives are definitely far more important than dangerous animals who must be put down to save our kind, no matter the moral implications. Will culling work now? It has been tried in different countries before, but it DOES NOT work. The reason? Dogs, who are descendants of wolves, are territorial animals. When one dog vacates his territory, other canines rush in to occupy his place. So unless you plan on eradicating the entire stray dog population, this won’t help you get rid of them. The only proven method to help in this situation is vaccination and birth control. Is Kerala the first city to face this menace? No. Kerala is definitely not the first city in India to face this perceived dog threat. Jaipur adopted the Animal Birth Control model, and by December 2002, the incidence of rabies had fallen to zero. Unlike India’s most literate city, they did not approve mass killing of dogs. Reports from Kerala The government is saying that unreasonable killing will not take place and only dangerous dogs will be put to sleep. But this is not the first time Kerala has resorted to killing dogs. According to reports, dogs in Kerala are killed using inhumane methods like poisoning and being beaten to death in the name of tourism. From the various oppositions, Chandy’s obstinacy definitely is not going to work for a better Kerala.