What Song Would You Want To Be Remembered By?

Story Time!

I met this girl a couple of years ago at a friends party and we hit it off instantly. We had similar interests and were both big Potterheads. We exchanged numbers and texted for a while and when things went well, we decided to go out for dinner and get to know each other in person. 

It was a nice dinner. We talked about a world of things and one of the topics amongst it was Music. Our choices, likes and dislikes, artists/bands we completely geeked out on, etc. 

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Turns out, she was a huge (and I mean HUGE) fan of Queen (The Band) and almost walked away halfway through dinner when I told her I did not know about them (THE BLASPHEMY!! – I know). In my defence, I’d heard of Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie Mercury (because they’re icons and I don’t live under a rock), but I never knew about the band or some of it’s other music. 

Luckily, Bohemian Rhapsody (The Movie) had released a couple of weeks back and she decided that we had to go see it. I was enjoying the company too much and had faith in her choices by now to oblige. We left our dinner halfway and ran to grab the last show of the day.

Let me tell you this, that was one of the most amazing movies I saw that year and somewhat changed my life forever. I mean, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury was so brilliant and THE MUSIC!!!!!

On my way back home, I downloaded the entire album from the movie and heard Bohemian Rhapsody atleast 10 times before going to bed. I have been a big big fan of Queen since. 

Here’s the interesting part. Although things with that person did not go too far, she brought something so awesomely intangible, that it is going to stay with me forever. 

She is always going to be the person who introduced me to Queen and every time I listen to Bohemian Rhapsody or any other Queen song (but who am I kidding, nothing beats Bohemian Rhapsody), I am reminded of her. 

Honestly, this is one of the nicest ways to remember someone if you ask me. I’d be pretty happy if someone were to remember me when they heard such a legendary song. Which is why I ask you?

“What song would you want to be remembered by?”

Ps. Here’s a link to Bohemian Rhapsody, for all those who want to listen to it since I’ve mentioned it numerous times now!

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Chai? Chai.

Synopsis:
This is not a post about Chai consumption patterns, statistics, or its health benefits. No no.
This is a love story.
And a journey of self-discovery.
So.. buckle up!

C h a i

Of course, you’re familiar with Chai. I mean. Who isn’t, right ?! * looks around the internet universe suspiciously *
I’m going to trail you along for a non-quintessential story, quite dear to me. But first, the lovely reader is going to relate with at least one (if not more) of the below avatars that I’m going to describe. Just a little ice breaker sesh before we start on our voyage, if you may.

So. What is your Chai personality? (not a Facebook Quiz, you guys. Come on, have a little faith)

The Bare Necessities.

The essence of waking up in the morning starts with a cup of Chai. No, you dare not talk to them before they’ve taken their first refreshing sip. It’s fuel to the body AND the soul.
Also, the number of cups they have during the day goes into the void; no trace can be found. There can be no minimum or maximum count. It’s limitless.

The Medicine Man/ Woman.

They consider Chai to be the remedy to all problems of life.
Gloomy Afternoon? Chai.
Didn’t get the bonus? Cutting Chai.
Stressed or feeling low? Chai (paani kaam)
Rainy morning? Adrak wali Chai. (with Parle-G)
Fought with a roommate? Kadak Chai.
Runny nose? Kaali chai.
Hotel? Not Trivago! Dip wali Chai!

The ME-Time.

They are simple people looking for simple pleasures in life. They will find that one moment of solace in their day and make themselves a big cup of their favorite Chai. Free of all judgments and pressures.

The Sutta Squad.

Every Chai needs a cigarette. Every cigarette needs a Chai. We can never know which is when. But we can safely assume, at any given point, that it can be both!

The Experts.

The know errrrrything there is to know about Tea. (noticed how I said Tea and not Chai? Hm.) They enthusiastically boil and bubble over intricate details of tea leaves, flavors, brew time, teacups, filters, etc; whenever there is even a HINT of tea in a conversation. They are a fun walking-talking Wikipedia; what’s more, they almost always have single tea bags stashed in their bags. (fruit-flavored? hell yeah!)

The Communal Statute.

They strongly believe that a communal gathering (3 people or more works) should be commemorated with a Chai session and/ or break. Chai sipping together is a bond that they sincerely cherish and value.

The Chai Latte Crowd.

You thought I wasn’t going to call you guys out, huh? Yes, these are popularly US return folks who seem to have forgotten what it feels like to pour piping hot Chai in the saucer, blow on it and then sip with a slurpy sound. #BeingDesi
Not to forget that one, extremely cringe-worthy person who will order it in an Indian Starbucks. UGH.

I do not mean to belittle these different types of Chai lovers, not at all! If anything, they are more like my co-passengers and counterparts than some status quo war participants. We all need a Chai companion in this journey of life, even if it’s to just share a packet of Monaco biscuits.

Since you’ve sort of figured which one you are, or maybe a beautiful blend of any of the above; why don’t you sip on your cup while I paint you a short story of my Chai Life?

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You Vs. Who?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
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I was Cycling this morning and I noticed another cyclist about half a kilometer ahead. I could guess he was Cycling a little slower than me and that made me feel good, since I was faster.

I said to myself, “If I ride a little faster, I will catch up with him in no time”.

So I started cycling faster and faster. With every pedal, I was gaining on him a little bit. After just a few minutes I was only about 100 feet behind him, so I really picked up the pace and pushed myself. In that moment, all I could think about was getting past him and I was determined to do just that.

Finally, I did it! I caught up and passed him. It was a small moment of rush and joy where I told myself, “I beat him”. Of course, he didn’t even know we were racing. It was only after I passed him, that I realized I had been so focused on competing against him that I had missed the turn to my house!!!

In this entire unnecessary charade going on in my head, I totally missed out on enjoying the moment. I missed out on enjoying the activity that brought me peace, I missed out on seeing the beautiful greenery around, I missed out on paying attention to my thoughts and in the needless hurry my feet slipped from the pedal a couple of times and I could have have hit the sidewalk and broken a limb.

Like a lot of my other thoughts that I’ve penned on this page before, it then dawned on me, that this is exactly what happens in life when we focus on competing with people around us ; co-workers, neighbours, friends, family ; trying to outdo them or being busy trying to prove (to ourselves and people around us) that we are more successful or more important and in the process, missing out on our happiness within our own surroundings.

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We spend so much time and energy running after them that we miss out on our own paths to our given destinations. The problem, I realised, with unhealthy competition is that it’s a never ending cycle. There will always be somebody ahead of you, someone with a better job, a nicer car, more money in the bank, more education, a prettier wife, a more handsome husband, better behaved children, better circumstances and conditions, etc.

But one important realisation is that

‘You can be the best that you can be, when you are not competing with anyone.’

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Some people are insecure because they pay too much attention to what others are, where others are going, wearing and driving, what others are talking. Take whatever you have, the height, the weight and the personality. Accept it and realize, that you are blessed (Ofcourse, there’s always scope for growth and one should never stop working hard to be where they want to be). But accept it, be grateful for it and stay focused and live a healthy life.

There is no competition in Destiny. Each has his own.

Comparison AND Competition are the thief of JOY.

It kills the Joy of Living your Own Life. Run your own Race, one which leads to a peaceful, happy and steady life. Seek adventure if it suits you, seek competition if it brings out the best in you, but don’t let it pull you down or rob you of your joy or self-love.

I hope you find this helpful or atleast it provokes your thinking engines. Until next time!

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Dating Your Bestfriend

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Over time, we’ve come across all kinds of love and friendships. And with that, comes all kinds of various suggestions and ideas around dating your friend. In fact, a lot of the movies we see have been on this premise.

From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in Bollywood that revolved in its favor and very famously said, “Pyaar Dosti hai (love is friendship)”, which every second Indian today quotes at some point in their lives, or a comfort watch like “When Harry Met Sally”, to Hollywood movies like “500 Days of Summer”; which suggest that it’s just not meant to be.

When ‘Chandler and Monica’ get together or when ‘Joey and Rachel’ can’t. Maybe it’s the best thing to happen or maybe it’s not, it’s all too subjective. It cannot possibly be just me who’s made this, ‘We’ll get married if we’re single at 40’ kinda promises with my bestfriend, to which I sometimes wonder, why wait until 40 (when your life is almost half gone)?

I’ve come across so many instances where it’s said, dating your best friend isn’t a good idea because that could lead to the beginning of the end of a cherished connection and is not probably worth the risk. That just makes me wonder… Here’s a recent incident that made me think about this for hours!

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Amidst this COVID19 lockdown and us not being able to meet the people we love, with there being no first dates and where every relationship feels like long-distance; I’d simply forgotten about how a lot of things are supposed to make me feel. But it all changed in the span of 60 minutes when I met my bestfriend.

We saw each other after an ETERNITY, which was followed by a much needed (but anxious) hug and a lot of hand sanitizer. That’s when it all came back. That comfort of talking your heart out to your someone, listening to them talk about their life because you care so much; sharing problems, perspectives, and the obvious banter.

It all just feels like routine bestfriend stuff, I know. But that rush came back when I hugged her goodbye. I don’t remember the last time I felt such a pure emotion of nothing but joy and comfort in being in her presence and that just got me to wonder!

I’d want that genuineness and purity, that effortless care about someone I end up with. Just to feel so secure in someone’s arms or the fact that every embrace with that special someone is so wholesome because anything else simply feels like a compromise. When everything with YOUR person is like second nature, it’s your home.

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Relationships require work. They require a lot of effort to make sure 2 people can live under one roof and not drive each other crazy. Find common ground between different interests and choices and make life easier for each other. That’s a lot of hard work.

But emotions? Is it really worth it if I have to put a lot of effort into making myself ‘feel’ a certain way?

Shouldn’t emotions just be undemanding and more importantly, natural?

If it’s the latter, then I have never felt something so innate in my entire existence. And this may sound like an exaggeration, but this right here definitely seemed inevitable, especially having completely forgotten how it felt. Since then, I’ve been a little disoriented about my feelings and a constant state of pondering has been looming over me.

But one thing I’ve concluded for myself is that I could never be with someone where my ‘emotions’ did not flow as naturally. Which further makes me think, I’d probably not be able to feel that with just anyone, but someone I’m close to, probably a bestfriend.



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We Make Our World Uninhabitable

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‘We Make Our World Uninhabitable!’

Now, read that AGAIN! 

Think deeply about what I just said. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

You might probably think I am talking about the environment. About how, WE are responsible for digging up and burning fossil fuels, causing global warming, causing wildlife extinction, etc. Well, as apt as this statement applies around the environment and ecology, that’s not close to what I want to talk about today.

I am talking about how ‘WE’ make this world inhabitable for people like ‘US’.

Evolution began millions of years ago. From being mindless apes who did as they pleased, to developing into a complex beings that are able to think, communicate and follow instincts. We evolved from man’s basic human needs of ‘Food, shelter and clothing’ to an extended list that includes ‘Sanitation, education and healthcare’. 

Yes, we developed!

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We put together a civilisation, we developed languages, we created systems and laws to help us and we did a whole list of other worldly things which now seem so normal and at time, just obvious or primitive. 

But let me ask you this. Did you ever wonder about who ‘We’ in the above context is?

Was it unanimous? (Representative democracy as a concept did not exist until the later part of the 13th century), or was it just a bunch of self-proclaimed, mentally or physically superior individuals, who grabbed power or decided amongst themselves about what is good for everybody and did as they pleased.

I very often ponder about that tipping point when evolution became so skewed that one section of the world simply forced another to follow them, believe them and in some cases suppress them? 

But as always, nobody could prove Darwin wrong and just like he’d said, the world kept evolving. Only this time, challenging the same systems and societies that were an outcome of evolution to now being replaced by a new system which actually focuses on concepts of ‘standardisation’ under the guise of equality for all.

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How is it that appearing for a common set of examinations provides you an access to thousands of different jobs over different fields/industries? 

In a world with 7 billion people, who we presume have 7 billion souls, each one with a unique set of genetics which is totally different from the other, each one evolving in their own unique way honing their own unique abilities and yet here we stand, with one common exam that’s going to prove our aptitude to determine if we are capable enough to have further access to our field of choice.

And yet, here we are, trying to bring in a new system because that panned out so well for us in the past. Makes me wonder, are we actually learning from our mistakes? If we are, then why are we trying to create a perfect society when at the crux of it, the people (all of us) are imperfect or perfect in our unique way.

Yes, we need structure. Yes, that’s what has fueled our progress and set us apart from all the other species on this planet. But it has also made us arrogant and narcissistic enough to believe that we know the best for everybody around us. 

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Yup, ALL OF US believe that. 

Even today, in an ecosystem consisting strictly of human beings, we can find tiers of people beginning from the top level who consider themselves superior and look down upon others. People who force their will because they think they know better.

Now bear with me as I bring an ironical analogy to your attention.

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A tiny baby with the most primitive brain, is provided with unconditional love, support and nourishment to enable its growth. A soul given all the freedom in the world, because countless studies have proved the fact that this is the best way for it’s mental development and growth. For this innocent soul, the grass could be blue and the sky could be black.

And slowly as that primitive brain develops, becoming more and more capable of being independent, do we subject it to rules so that it doesn’t wander off; Or as I like to call it, ‘does not become independent or creative enough to challenge every rule that we’ve made and prove us wrong’ (we all do that subconsciously).

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It is funny how an underdeveloped 4 year old uneducated brain has more freedom to think and grow on its own than a 20 year old developed and knowledgeable brain, which is told at every step about what is doing wrong or when it is crossing a line.

7 billion people. 7 billion brains. 7 billion life spans. 7 billion growth trajectories. And yet, every 16 year old is expected to score well in a standardised test; every 25 year old is expected to get a job and be independent and every 65 year old is expected to retire. 

A world with over 7000 billion permutations and combinations of people and behaviours, and we still standardise everything because that’s just fucking easy. THE IRONY!!

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Want to know something more ironical? 

You’re constantly told about how much smarter you are compared to your parents or ancestors, or how you’re privileged to have access to so many more resources than they did. Isn’t ‘You just have to Google it’ a response you hear too often for when they ‘EXPECT’ you to learn something new?

And yet somehow, your smartness is always going to be challenged and belittled against their experience. Their ‘Experience’ from a past world that doesn’t exist anymore. Their ‘Experience’ that enables and encourages them to think they can predict the future, YOUR FUTURE, while it continues to let you down, and humanity down as a whole.

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ONE BIG FAT FUCKING IRONY.

Evolution made us smarter and we made our lives easier. Only to evolve further and begin complicating it again because now we’re just too smart to deal with simplicity. 

To be told, the world is a better place than it used to be. Is it though?

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Who Is Your G.O.A.T. ?

Image courtesy : https://www.facebook.com/BleacherReportFootball/photos/goats-still-doing-goat-things-/2318950891500700/

In sports, we very seldom come across the term ‘G.O.A.T.’ or simply put ‘GOAT’. For those of you who don’t know what it stands for, it means ‘Greatest Of All Time’.

Talk to any sports fan in this world, whether they’ve been following the sport since decades or just a couple of years; every fan has an opinion and a view. Moreover, the criteria for this competition varies from fan to fan and can never be summed up within an inclusive definition. 

If you’re a football (soccer) fan, you’ve come across a ‘Messi VS Ronaldo’ conversation which has been going on since a decade. While some compare them mainly in terms of countable statistics on the field with their respective clubs, some tend to include their national records. Some would also include other intangibles like physicality, age, teammates, overall skills, the era, etc etc. 

Similarly, one of the most talked about conversations in the NBA is ‘Jordan VS LeBron’. Some talk about Jordan’s 6 rings versus Lebron’s 3; whereas others talk about LeBron’s superior passing and rebounding skills compared to Jordan. Some talk about Pippen’s contribution in Jordan’s success while some talk about the extraordinary genius of Phil Jackson in orchestrating the whole 3-peat. 

The conversation goes on and on. If Hamilton keeps his win streak up, we’re going to hear a lot more ‘Hamilton VS Schumacher’, the better F1 driver or ‘Sachin VS Kohli’ the better Indian batsman or ‘Federer VS Nadal VS Djokovic’, the better tennis player. 

But here is a question which I personally ask all you sports fans : 

‘Do You’ or ‘Should You’ also take into account the impact these athletes have off the court when they’re not armed with their accessories or their heroics outside their jerseys?

We hold our political leaders and people with billions in their bank accounts more accountable than the average human being thanks to their power, privilege and clout. Shouldn’t we hold these world renowned athletes to some of those raised standards too?

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Just recently, we came across the COVID19 debacle surrounding the Adria Tour and Novak Djokovic. Hundreds of articles that ranged from ‘The World No.1 and ATP Players Council President putting lives of players in jeopardy’ or that ‘He’d never be the people’s champion’. 

You never hear such harsh criticism about Roger Federer, who is widely regarded as the best player to have graced the game of tennis, despite the fact that he may not hold the title for the most grandslams after a year or couple of years. We talk about his gentle, calm and graceful demeanour on and off the court and the bar he has set for every player through his entire career.

Similarly, should we also account for their philanthropic efforts and impact in their communities while they’re on top of their games? 

Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand recently announced to commit $100million dollars over the next 10 years with the goal of “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.” However, this comes from Jordan the ex-NBA player. Historically speaking, Michael Jordan the player never mixed his career with other social matters. 

On the contrary, Lebron James has been vocal about Social Injustice all through his career and has achieved so much off the court while taking advantage of the spotlight his play puts him in. LeBron’s active career ensures the fact that his endeavours are cast light upon a lot more often and his messages reach far more people than any other player. 

In my opinion, GOAT is the player who has the best impact on his sport; who pushes the sport forward; who is a lot more than just a highly skilled player in a jersey and who uses his platform for far better causes than just to entertain, because sports is a lot more than just entertainment. 

While a lot of y’all may or may not agree with my definition of GOAT, I ask you again : 

Who is your GOAT?

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Bombay Ficus by The Travellothoner

It was in September 2017 when I officially started this blog. Back then, I simply started writing because I wanted to take it up more seriously than just another hobby that I engaged in for a few months and because I told myself it was going to be easy turning into a Travel Blogger (everyone’s trying to do it after one trip). However, I knew I couldn’t come up with travel content regularly and so I mixed it up with the next best thing in my life then, Running. Thus came into existence, The Travellothoner. 

Travellothoner = Traveller + Marathoner. 

Fast Forward to June 2020, writing has become more of a passion for me now than just a hobby. It is something I hope to pursue as a career option someday and if not, simply take up courses on and learn more and more and keep engaging in this activity. I have always been a person who wants to emote but doing it verbally has not always been my strong suit and that’s where writing became an important part of my life. 

I personally believe that art is the purest form for a human being to express his raw emotions and feelings, an act which he/she engages in when words fail to do justice to them. However, expressing myself in words is the best I can come up with, since the right side of my brain lacks any kind of creativity; and this blog has been just me emoting in one form or another.

So far, all the content you’ve read is from a guy who has no professional expertise or experience in writing. This blog has mostly been about me penning down my emotions all through these years. However, to turn this hobby into a passion and making it much more engaging, I’ve decided to take this blog forward. In my opinion, the best way to do  that is to start afresh while holding on to the my roots and everything ‘The Travellothoner’ was about. This would mean a lot of changes on this website ranging from gathering a team of really smart individuals behind all the content all the way up to the website’s identity. 

Which is why I am very pleased and excited to bring to you ‘Bombay Ficus’.

‘Bombay Ficus’ as a name is inspired from our roots as well our journey so far and what we aspire to grow into, in the future. A page that is still largely going to focus on relatable and helpful content revolving around travel, fitness, life experiences and inspiring stories; while simultaneously focusing on entertainment and everything else it stood for before. I can assure you, we aspire to maintain and only raise the quality of our content on this page and hope for a joyful experience for each one of you who stops by! 

Over the existence of this blog, I’ve got nothing but a lot of affection and encouragement for my words from the people around me. However what inspires me the most are the thousands of people who’ve stopped by and taken the time out of their lives to leave a nice comment or hit like. I am eternally grateful for all that love and support that these pleasant strangers have showered my way. I hope all of you guys, our readers – new and old, will support us in this new endeavour and help us get to the next level. We have a lot of new things in store that we are excited to share with y’all.

Thank you again, because this wouldn’t be happening without all of you. 

Regards,

The Travellothoner

Ps. Also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Mental Health Is ‘My Thing’

With everything that is going on around the world, we are exposed to crises on a daily basis each time we scroll through our feeds. So naturally, one day gender equity is our thing, one day it is equal wages, another morning we are moved by farmers’ plight, and then our new thing is mental health awareness. It keeps changing – our cause, our rationale, our tipping point. Because that is what everything has come down to. A thing. So what are we really doing about these things? Just to save your time, this does not concern people who are fence sitters on issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis – online and offline.

I know it is overwhelming to read, watch, and listen to so much in one shot. Nobody really can. But whatever we do, can we do that with a little empathy? This has been something I have been wanting to talk about ever since the lockdown began, when we saw the migrant exodus in India. We cannot put up a fight against each battle, but there seemed to be an exceeding amount of ignorance and carelessness on issues that grew to hurt me.

It took an Indian actor’s death for the conversation around mental health to surface in our society. Even though there are finer details that are being combed through, my question is WHY. Why does it take a celebrity’s passing to throw light on a taboo that has been part of our society since the beginning of time?

Why does everything have to be so fleeting? Today’s topic is mental health awareness. Tomorrow’s will be something else and we will have opinions on that too. We all have our own battles to fight, yes. But in that case, can we please not join each and every bandwagon mindlessly? Because by doing that, we are only diluting the enormity of the problem people actually face.

Reading all the articles and messages around his demise was very triggering for me because of the artificial concerns expressed on how our society does not treat mental health as a legitimate issue. This has been an ongoing battle for many people like me who was ‘mature for my age’ or an ‘intense personality’ – we are this way because we feel and comprehend things in a different way. We felt a lot and we genuinely did not know better ways to process. And let me also tell you, that this is not a conscious choice. When we read long articles and stories about how depression is ignored, we know it is. There is countless research on how there is a prejudice in the Indian society against mental health. So instead of talking about it as something that just ‘happens to you’, please take some time out to understand the meaning of words like depression, trauma, and anxiety. Because these things are not incidental.

Casually tossing terms like OCD and anxiety and romanticizing about them does not make anyone a part of some imaginary community. Our mental health is not a quip for us going through it and it should not be for onlookers either. While I always give room for people to educate themselves and alter their opinions on passing issues, this is not a passing issue. So please, the next time a big wave hits the shore, do not blatantly join a campaign and narrate a story about how you ‘got anxiety’ when it was really just a reality check. I am sorry, but this is not cute anymore. If we are able to read this, we also have the capability to open our browsers to find answers or reach out to someone to help. And if incase we are not in the headspace to, then that is okay too. But let’s not dip our toes in the water and opt out when it gets uncomfortable.

This is not a random outburst that will fade away with the next headline. My entire thesis-writing journey revolved around equipping adolescents with ways to deal with mental health adversities. While it began with personal motivations, it was and has continued to be an eye-opener for me purely because it calls attention to the giant treatment gap that exists in our country. It is not a lost cause; there are several initiatives that are driving change through their content. But it will only take effect if people respect each battle even if it is not their own. We are not obligated to post an update about how moved we are only because we want to sound woke. Because trust me, some of us can see right through it.

All it takes is a little bit of empathy. We don’t have to suffer from something to empathise. If you need ideas on how to make a difference, here are a few – talk to someone, look up groups online and offline, educate yourself, spread awareness, ask questions. If you want to help, please make it count. Even if we reach out to one person to check on them, it means a great deal.

This pandemic has amplified our emotions in various ways, and it would be a shame if we came out of it as oblivious as we entered it.

A World Without Sports

Different sports.

It has been a difficult couple of months since the COVID19 pandemic hit, without any kind of sport being played because it was one of the biggest sources of entertainment for me. I follow the NBA, F1, EPL, Cricket and Tennis very closely. Watching these sports to geeking out on post-match analytics and arguing about it over lunch took up a lot of my day.

The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the word sports to me is ‘Passion, Competition, Discipline, Athletes, Physicality, Fitness, Training, etc.’ to name a few. The next thing that probably comes to mind is an athlete, a sport or an entire sporting event.

Lebron James with a monstrous dunk
You could sense the passion, intensity and competitive spirit in this moment when Lebron James made that monstrous dunk!

Although every country and every person has their own background, sports has become a universal culture that is represented in every corner of the world, becoming its own platform that unites people and their cultures in many different forms.

Polish fans hoisting their flag before Portugal V Poland during The Euros 2016

Take The Indian Premier League for example. A joy for every cricket fan and one that ensures every other human being in India is sitting in front of the television sets every evening for 45 days straight. Or imagine The NFL or The NBA or European Football. An event stretched over 36-40 weeks that entertains you everyday or weekend and usually leads to a big withdrawal and boredom over the summer break (Transfer rumours are super exciting though!).

It was only when it was taken away from me, that I realised how far reaching impact it had on a global scale through many multiple sectors. So let’s break down sports into various categories and how they impact our lives:

1. The Economic Impact of Sports

Economic Impact of sports

Sports represent a billion-dollar business—that’s no secret. But what you might not realize is the immensely positive impact sports have on local economies, mainly through tourism dollars.

According to the data provided by BCCI, the Indian Premier League (IPL) contributed Rs 11.5 billion ($182 million) to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.

2. Job Creation

Sports and job creation

Part of the economic impact involves jobs. According to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., as of 2013, the sports industry in America produced 456,000 jobs. These jobs include far more than just the athletes; other occupations involved with spectator sports such as coaches, referees and agents. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the many stadium vendors and their employees, front-office personnel, etc.

Sardar Patel Stadium in Gujarat, India

Currently, the Sardar Patel Stadium in Gujarat is undergoing redevelopment and with a capacity to host 110,000 fans, it is set to become the largest sporting arena in the world, overtaking Melbourne Cricket Ground. Development is not just restricted to the stadium, with management planning to integrate the metro rail and Sabarmati Riverfront Road in its schema. The new stadium is expected to attract more tourists to the area, bringing in contribution from indirect spends.

3. National Unity

Stretford End and Man Utd Fans

Sports provide a platform for people to come together and support their country. International events like the Olympics and the World Cup serve as a point around which to rally and show national pride and unity.

During the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the ratings agencies TAM and aMap respectively recorded that 135 million people in India watched the final live. The game was watched by 13.6% of Indian TV-equipped households on average, with a peak of 21.44% at the end of the game.

I still remember the goosebumps when the entire stadium was singing The Indian National Song and how the entire city came on the streets, shouting at the top of our lungs to celebrate that victory. Nobody cared about castes or communities. All we jeered about was that ‘India won the World Cup’.

4. Role Models, Motivators and Inspirers

Roger Federer as a role model

Ask young children who their role models are, and I bet a good amount of them would name an athlete.

Take an athlete like Abhinav Bindra who holds India’s only Individual Olympic Gold Medal or Virat Kohli, who now captains a dominant Indian side in cricket or Sania Mirza, a former world no.1 and 6 time grand slam winner. These athletes inspire millions of kids and athletes to take up sports and make the nation proud.

5. Community Relationships

Most teams and leagues have community-relations departments or charitable arms. This means that professional athletes often spend time performing service in their communities.

Take an example of an IPL franchise. Since 2010, Mumbai Indians has been supporting ESA – Education and Sports for All. Through this initiative, Reliance Foundation has impacted the lives of over 18 million children. The initiative provides quality education and sporting opportunities to children across India.

6. Emotions

I know this sounds hokey, but one of the most positive things about sports is the pure, unadulterated joy that can result—for the players, coaches, fans and everyone involved. Sports has the capacity to move people. It gets people to believe and bring about a feeling of ownership and inclusivity.

Sports are emotional, and they can incite great passion. Sometimes it’s joyful, and other times it’s not. But anytime something can bring out that range of extreme, raw emotion in people, it’s a good thing. I remember having tears in my eyes after Indian won that World Cup, mainly because I was relieved and I could finally let go off that anxiety and we achieved the best possible result. But, it’s not just upto a commoner like me.

Lebron James collapsed and cried after the 2016 NBA Finals when he finally brought a major sporting title to the city of Cleveland after over 5 decades. As did Michael Jordan after winning his first championship with the Chicago Bulls.

The entire city of Toronto was on the streets to celebrate The Rapotor’s first NBA title since it’s existence.

When a team wins, a city or a nation wins, millions of people win and nobody can take away that raw emotion from you.

7. Philanthropy

Many professional athletes have foundations. There are hundreds, in fact, with causes ranging from promoting healthy lifestyles to diabetes awareness.

Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, in existence since 1996, helps steer young people toward a healthy way of life. During his final season in 2014, many teams donated money to Jeter’s foundation to help honor him. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the foundation has raised over $19 million to date.

The inauguration of LeBron’s I Promise School in Akron, Ohio.

LeBron James grew up in Akron, Ohio and became a sports icon. James has done numerous projects to help disadvantaged children. With none viewed higher than the creation of a public school in his hometown.

While some might classify it as more entertainment than sport, there’s no denying the physical conditioning and functional strength of WWE wrestlers, and there’s absolutely zero questioning John Cena’s rank as one of the most charitable athletes in the world. Cena is not only the most-requested athlete in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he’s blown everyone else out of the water, granting more than 500 wishes to date.

8. Iconic Moments

I don’t find the need to say anything more about these memorable moments in sports, except just add a few pictures that any fan would probably never forget.

-The Travellothoner

Thank You COVID19! (NOT)

It happened.

The numerous times, in the past two months, that you tried to convince yourself that this virus will just “go away” is not even funny.

It happened.

It uprooted your physical/ social/ painfully normal life and changed it forever.

It happened.

The very job you detested but loved, complained but bragged about, barely survived but also thrived at – slipped out of your hand like sand. And you were left standing there, with the iconic Shocked-Pikachu meme plastered on your face.
(Oh no. Please don’t tell me you don’t know what a shocked-pikachu meme looks like.)

Who knew Pandemic, Pyjamas, and Penury were all synonymous?

The first week into the then-temporary Lockdown went by with you still digesting the reality of being unemployed and trying to get used to the quarantine life. Quite a breeze, no? 

And then weeks started passing by. Days had no names, 3 am was the new 11 pm, binging shows was the new shiz and Tik Tok was just around the corner waiting to swallow you into a world of… cringe behavior or cool videos. (However you wish to see it. No judgments. That’s a lie. There are internally screaming judgments if you choose the latter.)

Truth be told. Losing your job is like losing a close friend. Don’t roll your eyes at me just yet, hear me out.

Not literally – but comically – this is a friend you hate for taking up almost 89% of your daily life with stressful bullshit, but you can’t exclude it because it poops money.
Literally – this is also an extended version of your persona (also a close friend), that you warp into for almost 89% of your daily life.

Side note: The data accuracy may vary from person to person. The writer of this article is not to be quoted on any kind of research analysis that you wannabe nerds are looking for in your post-lockdown essays, marketing strategy presentations, or literally anything else. The number is, at best, random. Yes, you may roll your eyes at me now.

So. Someone died (your future).
There is a spirit circling you (your existential crisis).
The last rites are postponed until quarantine ends (the pity- alcohol drowning-party with your friends).
But Huzza! Not all is lost. This dreadful grief phase has an end too.There are, apparently, 7 stages of grief now. (Yeah. 5 just weren’t enough.) And if you would like to accompany me for this not-so-joyous ride into a hell-hole, read on! 

Damn, you’re still reading? Phew! You didn’t abandon me like my company. HA! Too soon to joke about it? Alright, alright.
Let’s plunge down to it: Here are the 7 stages of grief.

Shock: You feel paralyzed and emotionless.

A little extra-dramatic-shock-gasp action happened to you. And then you felt… hollow. Like your favorite Cookie Jar, had just been emptied out and crashed to the ground into million pieces. 

Denial: I’m not jobless, you’re jobless. Huh.

You behave like you’re on an unpaid leave. Yes, everything is FAAAINEE. You’re going try and make the most of all the free time you have now. Cause things are going to go back to normal soon, right?

Anger: *ducking corona ARGHHH!!*

Welcome – bouts of frustration: harsh venting to your friends, checking up with your ex-co-workers, the misplaced rage that you throw on your mom when she asks you if you’re applying for other jobs, and much more. 

Bargaining: Perseverance is key, right?

It’s time to try and to swallow that bitter pill. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise? I was thinking of quitting anyway. Maybe it was time I moved to something better?

Depression: Lonely… I’m Mr. Lonely.

All your other friends are ‘WHF’. They’re busy either eating, sleeping, or working. Their life trains are still on the track while your track got buried underground somewhere, nowhere to be seen. You doubt your experience, your work, your skills, yourself. Yeah, you’re doomed.

Testing: Peek-a-boo

You’re finally peeking out of your self-isolation shell to test the waters. Friends are not being left on Read anymore, rather you are subtly seeking their counsel. Some are sending you links from job portals; you look through them twice, once dejected and once a little hopeful. It’s now a 40-60 chance.

Acceptance: I guess it’s time to ‘Hustle From Home’ 

Yes, I’m out of work. No, I’m not embarrassed anymore. Yes, it’s difficult. No, “you are super talented, you’ll find a job soon” doesn’t always help. Yes, it is time to accept the ‘new normal’.

Somewhere between these pointers, you felt my pain, did you? Even if you’re one of those dangling in-betweens.

To all the souls who are currently on this emotional-rollercoaster-wave of Grief, all I have to say is – been there done that. Still doing that. Ugly crying while updating your resume is a phase, it does get better. You will also learn to cry on the inside while applying on LinkedIn, trust me it’ll be an achievement. 

And if doomsday still looms over your head and you feel like you’re stuck in roller coaster seat, running in a loop? Hit me up. We can zoom call and sob about it while we bake a lousy chocolate cake in a mug. What do you say?

A Letter To My Doctor – Bestfriend During The COVID19 Pandemic!

Dear bestfriend,

You know, it is already difficult that a person you feel so close to, lives a few thousand miles away from you on a totally different continent. But it is all the more difficult with your profession and these torrid times, that a man cannot help but worry even after all the assurances he’s given. But that is also not why I am writing to you.

I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I do know I’ve not said it enough. So here goes:

Thank you so so much best friend. Thank you so much for the profession you chose and the job you do. I mean, I always knew it was not easy and I cannot fathom how you gather the courage to go through it everyday, knowing the fact that you’re putting yourself at risk but going through with it anyway.

It takes an incredibly huge hearted human being to be able to do that. The lives you better and the lives you save, I honestly don’t think there’s anything more Nobel on the planet. So I say it again, thank you!

A big big Thank you on my behalf, on my family’s behalf and every other human being out there. And an equally big thank you to all of your colleagues and fellow peers and people in this field of medicine. Y’all make this world a better place.

On a more personal note though, I love you. You’re a wonderful and an amazing human being and it is a privilege for me to have you as a friend and acquaintance. All I’d like to add is, while you’re out there taking care of the world, you will always have me in your corner. I’m always there if you wanna talk, vent or just stay silent across the phone for an hour cause you don’t wanna eat alone.

I had to say it out loud. But genuinely, thank you for your service. I may not have received them personally, but I am grateful that you do what you do anyway. You’re one very amazing human being. Take care.

Lots and lots of love,

The Travellothoner.

An Open Letter

Insecurities – Overthinking – Validation – Self Respect – Mental Peace – Love – Happiness.

Some very big words these, big enough to literally control huge chapters in our lives and yet, so easily and critically connected to each other like a series of dominos. Take care of one of these aspects in your life and everything else will slowly fall into place. If not, you still have one very solid pillar to lean on and keep working on others simultaneously.

Take it from the guy who excels at being insecure, overthinks and spirals all the time and drives himself crazy with hundreds of ‘what if?’ questions everyday. Who on a good day thinks all he needs is small joys and a grateful attitude to be happy and feels abandoned or is harmfully critical of himself on bad days.

The truth is, I have always been very insecure about myself. Insecure about the way I look, about the number on the weighing scale, about my grades and career, about the people in my life, etc. Some of those things are internal where nobody could’ve helped me and I worked hard and made a lot of progress over the years around it.

But a crucial part of my insecurity stems from the people I have or want to have in my life. Something I have no control over. An aspect I fail in miserably. To be honest, ‘miserably’ also seems like an understatement.

All I have ever wanted was to have just one person who’d have made me a priority over everyone else in their life. The kind of person who’d know when something was wrong without me having to say it out loud or who’d cancel their plans to be besides me on a bad day. Someone who’d have my back under all circumstances or tell me when I was wrong and help me take the right path at the same time. A person so close, that not seeing them for a week would seem like an eternity. Maybe like a childhood best friend (never had one of those).

It’s not just about having such a person, but also being that person in someone else’s life. I don’t know about other people, but it makes me, personally, very happy to know that I add some value to someone’s life or am their go-to guy. That they can trust me with everything. Basically, I just want to be wanted and liked.

I realise it’s too much to expect these things off someone and I’d never put that weight on someone. But it’s okay to want something and be a little selfish, right? The worst part is not being able to control these insecurities and throwing your mind into an overdrive over the tiniest, silliest things. It’s almost pathetic how I once saw this one person I really like meet her other friends and post about it on social media and that sent me on a spiral for 2 days.

And that’s where the chase for validation comes into play. You just want someone’s validation or attention of your existence and your actions. Get enough validation and it’ll keep your insecurities at bay. For me, this is where all my troubles actually begun.

I used to think being really nice and friendly to people, doing things without expectations or being there for someone without being asked to would be the traits of a decent human being. But the hard truth is, these are only things that look good as morals off a Panchatantra story or Aesop’s Fables.

I thought it was nice to be sensitive too. It helped me empathise with my people, help them, support them, be there for them emotionally, etc. It never occurred to me that this would come at a cost. A cost that was way too high for me to personally pay. Having a sensitive response to every kind of stimulus not only adds some extra weight on your shoulders each time, but it also irks some people because it dogs them with “How can one be so nice?”, “He’s definitely got his own agenda” or “something’s not right about this guy”, kinda questions.

Insecurities led me to chase validation, which further led me to take some unethical or wrongful ways and I hurt a lot of people in the process, which in turn hurt me more cause I always wanted to do the opposite of hurt the people around me. What I failed to realise was I was also invading someone else’s personal space which wasn’t the same as mine.

I pushed my boundaries and tried to be too familiar to people and although with the best intentions, I failed to realise they never wanted or ever asked for my help. All in all, this is just a recipe to push people away. When that happened, I felt all the more abandoned and thus creep in the insecurities and the circle keeps growing, but only getting bugger with each round. The bigger the insecurities, the harder the chase for validation and the more pushing people away.

What hurts the most is that I may have successfully managed to push this girl that I really really like away. Someone that I care so deeply for and want to have around for a long long time. The kind of person I’d dream of being together with. Someone who has a lot of space to grow into this wonderful human being but is already phenomenal.

That’s my story. It’s not over yet, but as much as being hopeful helps, it hurts too!

-The Travellothoner