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2030 – it seems so far away, but it’s only 15 years ..

Hypernormalisation.

The BBC documentary is a revealing consolidation of events from recent decades, and a dark dive into the world today and why it is so. With power, politics and human nature  at it’s center, we witness how the world we have now, took shape in deeply lasting ways through the actions of a few – some of whom still alive.

The tone, mood, background score and narration feel like a journey through a modern museum – one of our very recent times.

The narrative takes us through New York and Damascus from 1975 , covering the Reagan years, the Assads, the rise /fall/rise of Gaddafi’s role and the phenomenon of Trump.

Names, places and events that have been central to mainstream news for decades unravel from their infancy to their growing consequences in all glory – strung together to make a cause and effect narration.

 

“We have retreated into a simplified and often completely fake version of the world”

 

The film alternates real documented footage of bombings, fitness workouts, the images of a prim & proper Russia to show a surreal projection of our reality.

This is a necessary film to assimilate. Almost everything you see, would be news you might have read at some point – but this documentary connects the dots of the various social, political, religious and cultural agents that have landed us in the current world situation

“You were so much a part of the system that you were unable to see beyond it,”

 

2030 – it seems so far away, but it’s only 15 years. The events and actions that we witness and perpetuate today, will create a world that we could be proud of, or look at with dismay

The most telling moment in the documentary for me was the montage of “Holy crap ..” moments from early disaster movies, following by silence and a clip of 9/11.

Go watch.

Saturday morning

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Cheat day!

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Dalit

One questions that pops up quite often in a geographically diverse group is ” Does the caste system really still exist in India? “.

It is rather sad to admit, that discrimination which denies many of dignity and basic human rights is still a reality, only just hidden from mainstream urban culture of India.

‘Dalit’ – a word derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dalita’, meaning ‘crushed’ or ‘destroyed’ – even the word that is used to identify them tells a story of oppression.

Early in August this year, thousands of Dalit’s started a march from Ahmedadbad to Una.  Organisers said the march called ‘Aazadi Koon’ (March for Freedom) has been planned to galvanise the community and will cover a distance of around 350 km.

This wasn’t a first of it’s kind uprising. Dalits have been fighting for basic rights from the time of India’s independence. And yet, the extent of the indignation, even now, is palpable even through the charcoal words of newsprint.

The underprivileged minorities often have it tough, even when they want their voices to be heard, a marathon task, quite literally in this case.

Some facts:

  • This march was triggered as a reaction to the “mob justice” met out by ‘gau rakshaks’ on 4 Dalit men. These men were merely doing their job of skinning an already dead cow ( in this case the cow had died of an lion attack)
  • Dalit families usually skin dead animals and sell the leather they procure, to supplement their often meager incomes
  • Away from the glitz of urban India, Dalits still struggle for decent job opportunities and most are left with no options other than working as landless labourers or as manual scavengers
  • Since the march, a large number of Dalits have given up cleaning and skinning cow carcasses, leading to sanitation concerns in some parts of the country
  • If Dalits were allocated the land as per the Land Ceiling Act, most would not depend on side gigs to support their families. Except, the lands officially allocated never really reached them, instead it was encroached by the people in authority.

For the Dalits of India, the fight is real and one that continues as a daily struggle even today.

Mooing mowing business

Sometimes, the desire to cut costs, brings oddly creative solutions.

The Indian monsoon has pretty much swept the nation, leaving behind farms, lawns and vast lands in need of a mowing. Until recently most farmers would hire labourers at an hourly rate to trim their farms, discard the unwanted weeds, and sell the chopped tall grass for a profit.

Most farmers nowadays in an effort to curb costs, go direct to their customers and just let some cattle loose. Retaining the services of local dairy farmers, this is a happy situation – the farms are “mowed” even as they get re-fertilized and the cows are fed well too.

So much so, the ever popular “gated colonies” have let in some cattle in too.

moo

The cost – marginal to the cost of hired labour.

The upside – It’s eco-friendly, it’s economical and there need not be special perks to keep the cows going.

The downside – Fresh cut grass smells great, re-fertilized grass – not so much.

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Crooked democracy

All the mud slinging in the race for US presidency, isn’t exposing the candidates as much as it is the flaw in democracy.

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Blind faith and fan love, may make for a fun segment on a late night show,
 

 
 

but when voters begin to believe that the only truth is what their running candidate states, such social experiments are no longer amusing.
 

 
 
Distrust in the economic standing of one’s country and it’s leadership, despite numeric and factual proof is a disturbing trend, and one that is fueled further by candidates with vested self interests.
 

In a recent poll , released earlier this month it was found that more than 4 in 10 Americans somewhat or completely distrust the economic data reported by the federal government – among Trump supporters this share is 68 percent, with nearly 50% stating that they don’t trust government economic data “at all.”
 
While the erosion of public trust in government began in the 1960’s, the same continues to be at historic lows each time it is verified.   
 
 
Can the essence of democracy survive and thrive, when the facts do not matter?
Can democracy serve well, when widespread suspicion is spread by hopeful POTUS candidates?
 
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Repercussions of such data suspicion do not need election outcomes to trigger an effect.

Rather, such suspicions become self fulfilling as soon as people start believing them. When individuals and businesses, believe that the economy is not doing well, they behave in bleak ways. They spend less, are more skeptical towards people, curb hiring to cut costs and essentially contribute towards a bleak economy.
 

 
 

In a paranoia driven anti-fact, anti-commonsense, anti-intellectual election, democracy faces it’s strongest opposition.

When strong personalities, go about dispensing false information, present themselves as sole saviors and the only reliable sources of information – gullible citizens respond in subtle and dangerous ways much before the day of election.

 

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This is how a democracy falls. This is how the people fail. This is how democracy is crooked.

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On fire today

Smokes the bed, hot flame
On a hammock
Let the sweat drain
You, onto me

Blazing through the streets
We streak, leave laughter behind
As on the day we were born
Done with a deed
And gone dipping skinny

On a run, in sync
This day is sweat and bones
On a streak of skinny run

Days of monsoon
We’ve found the sun
Windows popping open
as we roll,
down that ocean street
No fuel’s needed
The ocean street is on fire, today

pause. before you speak

 

When you take your time to articulate your thoughts, people pay attention. More importantly, you are paying more attention.img_20161009_043541

Guest Post: One day in New York

When you visit the Big Apple, you’ll know why they call it the city that never sleeps. Only here can you ride the subway at 6 am and be met by a train full of bright eyed bankers with their morning coffee in tow, nurses in scrubs coming home from the late-shift, and extreme partiers stumbling home just before dawn. You can come here and check off the Trip Advisor bucket list, because why wouldn’t you want to see the Statue of Liberty or 9/11 Memorial? Or you can also come here and experience life like a local. If you give yourself at least one day to explore the city as a New Yorker would, here’s just a sampling of what you might encounter.

Morning:
You wake up and grab a bagel from the corner deli, probably smothered in cream-cheese. There’s often 30 flavors to choose from, so the sweet-tooth among us will likely want to try the cinnamon raisin or strawberry variety, but if you’re craving something extra sweet, Nutella or cake batter flavored cream-cheeses are not hard to come by. Some bagel shops even make rainbow bagels these days which are really the talk of the town (confession: they taste just like any other bagel, cost way more, but make for a pretty picture to Instagram). If you’re more of a savory person, grab an egg and cheese sandwich on a roll with “SPK” (salt, pepper & ketchup).

bagels

Then it’s time to hit the town. If it’s a nice day, I always recommend touring the Highline. It’s the most touristy thing a real New Yorker actually enjoys (that, and the Brooklyn Bridge). You’ll find us sunbathing in the lounge chairs soaking up a good book, or sitting atop the Gansevoort overlook watching cars whizz by below.

highline

Beneath the Highline, right next to the Standard Hotel, you’ll find what looks to be an ordinary Samsung store. It’s actually their flagship, Samsung 837, and a really cool immersive experience. Best of all, it’s free!

Head inside the store to experience virtual reality on a roller coaster stimulator, get your picture taken by a camera that compiles thousands of photographs from those who went before you (and puts your face up on a 2 story wall), or, especially awesome is their Instagram immersion tunnel. You walk through a tube of glass that fills up with your own pictures, words and memories. It’s a surreal experience.

instagram-immersive

If you’re feeling hungry after all that walking, you may want to grab a NY slice. There are so many delicious places to get pizza in NYC that it’s hard for us New Yorkers to agree on what’s the very best. Some say Artichoke is their favorite – you can try it if you want, especially because it’s right by the Samsung store anyhow. For me, it’s gotta be Two Bros. They’re everywhere, and only charge $1 a slice. That’s the way to go.

Afternoon:
No trip to NYC is complete without a few iconic views of the skyline. As a Queens resident myself, I’m partial to the borough, so I recommend taking the 7 train to Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue in Long Island City. Hop off and walk towards the East River. You’ll be at Gantry Park in minutes, one of my favorite hidden gems in the whole city. It’s the site of the iconic Pepsi Cola sign that can be seen from most of Manhattan’s east side, and it’s also a really great place to walk, talk and hang out with friends and family alike while gawking at our beautiful skyline.

moma

Near Gantry is another spot I love, MOMA PS1. It’s an offset of the Museum of Modern Art, similarly to the Cloisters’ extension of the MET. It’s a great art museum even for the architecture of the site itself, not to mention that on Sundays in the summer they are often host to a fun daytime party, Sunday Sessions.

Depending on how adventurous of a foodie you are, you can head deeper into Queens to visit Jackson Heights for some of the city’s best Colombian, Mexican, Indian and Thai food, or onward to Flushing for a far less touristy version of Chinatown, complete with Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean cuisine, too.

Or maybe it’s time to check out Brooklyn?If you’re as addicted to street art as I am (seriously, what better way to get a sense of culture), Bushwick is a must. The Bushwick Collective is a group of very talented artists who have adorned the neighborhood with murals that take up city blocks, like this one just outside the Jefferson stop on the L train.

bushwick-collective

Evening:

Nights in New York are like another world. You can visit a comedy club, order bottle service at a lavish dance floor, hit up a dive bar, watch a Broadway show…the options are endless. I would definitely recommend checking out a speakeasy, because there are few places in the world where you can walk into a hardware store to find that it’s actually a bar (Last Word in Astoria).

Maybe try a delicious hotdog from Criff Dogs on St. Mark’s Place. See that London phone booth in the corner? It’s not just a prop. It’s the entrance to yet another speakeasy, Please Don’t Tell, or PDT for the even more exclusive amongst us. You could spend your whole night hopping from speakeasy to speakeasy if you wanted to.

popsicle-drinks

Most visitors ask me if New York is more of a bar city or club city. When they do, I always respond, “Neither. It’s a rooftop city.” At some point in the evening, you have to head to a rooftop to catch the sunset, or see the city illuminated by its nighttime glow. 230 5th is open year round, so yes, you can even sip on a fancy cocktail with the Empire State building as your backdrop when it’s snowing. They offer complimentary red robes to wear when it’s chilly and the outdoor deck is filled with heat lamps. Mr. Purple is a fan favorite downtown in the Lower East Side, as well as Loopy Doopy in the Financial District, which serves a famous cocktail with upside down popsicles. For a dancy vibe, hit Le Bain, PHD or the Gansevoort in Meatpacking District.

If $20 cocktails aren’t your thing, try the roof at Output in Brooklyn. You still get a great view of the city, but here you won’t have to dress up. Locals love Output – it’s a fun place to dance, always features prominent DJs, and not to mention the sound system is amazing. The club downstairs pulsates with the sounds of house music well into the early morning, often staying open to let the diehards trickle out after closing at 4 am. The best part is their no cell phone policy. This means everyone around you will actually be dancing instead of Snapchatting the whole night and holding sparklers in their mouths.

No matter how you choose to spend your day, week or month in NYC, I hope you come to love the city I call home, and, maybe I’m biased, but one of the best cities in the world!

 


About the author:

olivia

 

Olivia is a born and raised New Yorker with a passion for other cultures. She loves meeting new people and trying new foods, be that here in her own backyard or overseas at any number of the countries she’s visited.

She’s touched down on 5 of 7 continents so far and hopes to get to them all someday. When she’s not traveling, Olivia enjoys photography, attending concerts, painting in the park and going on a good hike with her friends.