No earphone project

If you are in your late teens, twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and your usual place of residence is earth, it is highly likely that you work to earn a living. To work you move from your place of residence to your place of work (Unless you have a work from home job or live in your office). To reach your place of work, you travel. More often than not your place of residence and place of work are gonna be at polar opposite ends. If you have the pleasure to live and work in the Silicon valley of India, well your patience is about to be tested. The journey to the centre of the IT hub, can easily take anywhere from one, two, three hours depending on the source and destination. To spend or efficiently make use of this time people resort to do different activities.

So what do people do while on commute via public transport?

  1. Procrastinate, do nothing, think, stare out of window : Day dreaming while travelling is the best! Cause you don’t know how time flies.
  2. Work work work work work : I have seen people pull out their laptops from their backpacks so quick. Its almost like a reflex like as soon as their butts come in contact with seats – swoosh – the laptop is out! For the rest of the journey you will find them stare at the screen, type / bang the keyboard with either uncontrollable delight or frustration.
  3. Sleep : A lot of them are sleep deprived. Cause the only way to avoid peek hour traffic is to wake up early and be early to office. Some company buses go around different locations to pick up employees, so the route is longer. To compensate this sleep deprivation, people sleep in the bus. This too is a great way to pass time.
  4. Read newspaper : These are the people you thank when you need to start a conversation with your boss / colleagues to avoid awkward silence. Usually I find people flipping pages of Business Insider, Economic times or TOI. You have an edge only if you sit on the seat behind the person reading the paper. Then you get access to full view of the paper without being judged. But if you are sitting next to them you are gonna be annoyed AF with them flipping pages.
  5. Read books : Cool people. Ain’t saying more.
  6. Watch movies / TV shows : These people are just hell bent on breaking their necks.
  7. Phone calls : Some keep their conversations low – that is great – got no issues there. The problem I have is with loud freaks. It feels like they are announcing something rather than have a conversation.
  8. Listen to songs / radio : A majority of people fall into this category. Some of us have tiny noise induced earphone, some of us noise cancelling in-ear earphones, while some others have huge noise cancelling headphones.

That’s about it. My travelling activities are usually a combination of the first, third and eighth.

I don’t know how this works in rest of the world. But in India, there are individuals appointed to halt buses at random locations and check if every passenger in the bus has bought a ticket or not. If you haven’t bought a ticket, either you will be fined or the conductor who didn’t issue the ticket will be fined. Once when I was on my way to work, ticket checkers came in to check on the tickets. I had my headphones on which meant I was in my own world. Apparently this guy checked tickets of all the passengers in the bus and they were waiting for me to hand out my ticket. I was blissfully unaware of their mere presence. Suddenly, I see a hand being thrust right in front of my eyes. Only when I remove my earphones do I realise that I am being asked to show them the ticket. At that exact moment, I can’t find them! Now everyone is staring at me, some are angry the bus is on halt and they are getting late for work, while I am starting to phase out into a hyper panic mode. Alas! I find my ticket, show it to the checker and breathe a sigh of relief. Few minutes after the incident I am wondering why am I listening to music all the time on the bus. My favourite song comes up on the radio and I forget about it all.

On my way back as i pulled out my earphones from my bag, I have a flashback of the morning’s incident. I have my earphones in one hand and my mobile in the other. I look around me. Everyone more or less has a earphone in their ears. I consider how boring the journey back home is gonna be if I don’t have my earphones on. I decide to give it a try. I mean, if I really get bored i do have a working earphone in my left hand and a phone with seventy percent battery in my right hand. Guess what? The ride back was not that boring.

So I decide not to plug in the earphone on the next day, the day after that and the day after that. So for three days straight in a row I did not use my headphones at all (YEAH!). I always had my earphones with me – just in case I needed them. Not using them while I had it, gave me a small sense of accomplishment. The origin of all sounds were at least three two feet away from my ears (except when I got calls). Its not like I didn’t listen to songs or watch YouTube, I did listen to them but on loudspeakers, at a volume that did not annoy my co-beings in the universe.

I wanted my streak to last a bit longer but annoying co-passengers, what can I say.

Here’s what I thought while I was on a break with my earphones and even later.

  • You don’t have people getting annoyed at you cause your ears are earphone-less and people don’t have to repeat sentences a hundred times before you can finally comprehend what is happening or being said
  • You are more aware of whats happening around you (Unagi 😛 )
  • You have more control over yourself than you think you do
  • The world around you is more interesting than you give it credit for
  • You only listen to what you wanna hear

I have done this ditch the earphone a few times after that incident and plan to continue on doing so. I am calling this the no-earphones project”.

In other news, if you are an Indian you will probably know this.. the weekends here aaaaand Deepawali is right around the corner! For those who are unaware of what Deepawali is, its a festival of lights. Some dumb morons confuse it with the festival of noise. I hope i don’t need to use ear-plugs to block out the loud sounds.

Wish you all a happy and safe Deepawali!

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TRYST WITH FLUTE

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First!.”


Today’s prompt: Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.


I joined carnatic flute classes last summer to keep me engaged during the vacation. This was the first time i took classes to learn a musical instrument. Why carnatic flute? I had learnt carnatic vocals for a few years and discontinued because of school and lack of practise. I thought i would have a better hold at it (since i knew the basics).

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On my first day i was asked not to bring anything. Along with me there was another student who had learnt hisdustani flute and wanted to try his hands on carnatic flute. So we were handed out flutes of different scales and shown a demo on postioning of flute and blowing technique. We were asked to practise in a different room while the teacher delt with other students. Mr.X (the student along wuth me, i do not remember his name) caught up easily as there isnt much difference between hisdustani flute and carnatic flute when it comes to beginning lessons. After a few minutes i was left catching my breath. I never realised plating flute would be so tiering! i was so tired that i had mentally decided to forgo these classes and try something else.

Mr.X sensed my inability and tried helping me by first showering some words of encouragement and then giving out detailed procedure on channelizing the blow of air into a single point, with uniform pressure. Thanks to him the flute gave out faint sounds to my strained attempts. After a while we had a casual chat. He mentioned that hisdustani flute has only six holes while carnatic flute has eight. He was a working IT professional. When i told him i am an engineering student, he gave an shocked look masked by a faint smile. He explained his reaction by saying he thought of me as a school kid and not a student pursuing a bachelors degree. People usually say that i look younger than my age. When people pass such comments i really don’t know if i should take that as a compliment.

More time was spent infront of our teacher just blowing the flute. Towards the end he laid out the basic notes in melakarta raga, showed us the different fingerings and asked us to practise. I returned home completely exhausted and devoid of energy. Till then i thought it just requires practise to learn an intstrument, that day i realised it also requires a lot of stamina and energy.

Mr.X attended just two more classes and never came back. I think he wanted to carry on with hisdustani music and not carnatic music. Hmph, i was the only one student at the beginner level. And that bored me. I didnt have anyone to challenge and compare my progress with. It went on for four months after which i gave it up. Flute is a musical instrument that belongs to a category which when played by a beginner gives out melodies that cannot even remotely be called pleasent. You see the flute for beginners gives put superlatives of unbareble sounds which annoyed my brothers quite often. Though my parents were supportive my brothers often barged into the room asking me to stop the dischage of torturing frequencies of sound. This coupled with lack of interest on my teachers part (he was preparing for an important concert -that is what i was told) led to me giving up the instrument. Every now and then i catch a glimpse of the flute wrapped up in a red vevlet cover in a cupboard.

My tryst with flute lasted only four months. I do not know when it will cross my path again in life. But if that happens again i am willing not to give it up.

My first TedxGateway event.

Today i had the opportunity to attend the live streaming of the TedxGateway at my University, which was taking place in Mumbai, India.And i can tell you it has been an amazing experience. With Mr. Ralph Simons as the host, the event turned out to be very entertaining.

A huge applause for all the speakers who spoke and presented their ideas today!

A day of inspiration and learning.. of vibrant, practical and functional ideas.. Some of which i am going to elaborate here.

1.The event began with Sonam Kalra, who was also co-hosting the event. She spoke about THE SUFI GOSPEL PROJECT. A fusion of music, music not just to be labelled as “Fusion” but to mean every bit of what is meant by fusion.. to blend music making it universal. With a small demo that she showed us i sure can say that she has an amazing voice and talent.

2.Next came Arsh Shah Dilbagi, who inspired by the inability of mutes people to communicate created a device “Talk” Unlike other prevelent devices is both cheap and efficient, which could analyse the breath of user and synthesize a sentence in a fraction of a second. A boon for many indeed.

3.He was followed by Erica Hagen who spoke about the representation of slums on map.. representation of people on map.. the need for being represented.. and its development in areas implemented. Her initial work was in Kibera,Africa.

4.Literally rolling over to the next speaker, Cynthia Koenig. She devised a much needed solution to the problem of rural women spending hours collecting water over long distances. Her invention is the Wello Water Wheel

5.This for me was the best Talk today. Stuart Sender spoke about the F word, a word that affects people everywhere, people love using the F word, people believe and find happiness in practising the F word, The “F” word… FORGIVENESS. His project titled THE FORGIVENESS PROJECT reaches out to people and let them tell their stories of forgiveness. Forgiveness has a deep and powerful impact, we need to embrace it. His last words being “Live in peace and not in pieces”. Thank you Stuart for you advise and vision.

6.The next speaker was Sudha Kheterpal, a musician-percussionist, having a deep routed passion for music, she created something called the “SPARK“, she repeatedly asks us to “Shake your power”. Her device if shaken provides electricity which is used in areas with no power supply. It provides light, good example of applied Physics and Design to be learnt by kids.

7.Toby Shapshak an innovator from Africa, a very energetic speaker explained the need for innovations. The reason why most innovators are from Africa or India is that because they have faced the real problem and pain caused by it, he says. He goes on to say innovations solve real problems.

Though i have mentioned only a few names and projects here.. please feel free to visit TedxGateway 2014 Speakers for the list of 28 speakers and their ideas or present your thoughts on this topic.