Memory is a weird thing. It seems to make you forget the most important things of life and ensure that you remember the least significant of things that happened around you. I either completely forget the birthdays of friends I have known for a long time or embarrass myself by wishing them a month in advance. The craziest part is I clearly remember the birthdays of some long-lost acquaintances whose faces I can barely recollect. My mother had the habit of keeping things safely, only she forgets where she had kept them. She usually brings the entire house down every time she starts looking for something that she had kept safely.Did I mention that memories are weird? Well, they always take you on a detour and you almost forget what you wanted to say in the first place. I wasn’t planning to talk about my mother. In fact, I wanted to talk about one of my English teachers from school.

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I was skimming through my news feed and for no reason, I was reminded of Carl Sagan. I repeated his words in my head – “We will know which stars to visit. Our descendants will then skim the light years, the children of Thales and Aristarchus, Leonardo and Einstein”. I glanced again at the piece of news I was reading and I was overcome by a sickening pain. The news was all about the NEET fiasco.

China has banned the usage of a few Islamic names in the Xinjiang province. This is a Muslim majority province and such an action is supposed to impact children who would be named Imam, Hajj, Islam, Quran, Saddam, Medina etc. These names are supposedly heavily loaded with religious extremism and must not be considered by families for their children if they are to get hukou (household registration) and other state services.

Vajra pushed down the lid of his laptop, gulped down a bottle of water, and hastened to his bed with his cellphone. It was 11.30 p.m. and he had to finish sending a few replies on his phone before calling it a day. There were 120 messages flooding his inbox from friends and groups. The most noisy of all the groups he was part of spoke of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar incessantly.

George Orwell had been a lot of things in his life from imperial police to teacher, but he is remembered the best as a writer, novelist and an essayist. Although Orwell did not live past 1950, his works have continued to influence not only his readers and other writers, but also the political culture of all these years. His creations rendered a new adjective to the language – Orwellian indicating a totalitarian regime and a set of whole new terms which continue to be relevant even in the modern societal and political discourses

Travelling alone in a city with no specific agenda leaves you with ample time to appreciate those beautiful little things that light up the spirit of the city. That fellow lone traveller, a part of whose face is hidden behind his wise- looking beard and reading glasses , the rest of which is buried in the book he reads; the chuckling brother- sister duo who discuss animatedly about what they see across the windows; the carefree young dude whose music reaches you over the rattling rails and gushing wind; an elderly gentleman who held his wife’s hands all along the journey and those assuring smiles they always exchanged. They all did have me smiling all through the day.

I was taking a break at my cousin’s place at Mumbai before starting for the onward journey to home. My niece was about 10 years old then. It was evening and we were talking of studies, sports, music and every other activity she was involved in. At one point, she made a comment – “Chachu, aap chaai bahut peete ho kya? Chai peene se hi aapka rang aisa ho gaya hai.” (Uncle, do you take tea often? Your color has turned into this because of this.). Her mom who was sitting in a corner, feeling embarrassed cut her short and told me – “We have told her that she would become dark if she drank tea, just to keep her away from it. Please don’t mind.”  I couldn’t say much. Here was a kid who had been taught that dark people didn’t exist in the world. People became dark only because they overdrank tea.

On 19th February, it was the turn of The Bookworm (Church Street, Bangalore) to host us for a discussion on the philosophy of the Objectivism exponent – Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand, who has written a few of the most widely known books of all times including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged has been a subject of great interest among readers of all ages and nations. We were aware by the virtue of our own readings and our discussions with fellow readers and friends that Ayn Rand’s usage of literary devices to drive her beliefs about man, society, and economy into the reader’s realms of imagination is intoxicating.