## A Dark, Disabling Secret

[this is an extract from a mail to my pen friend]

Dear Lipsa,

I woke up today morning ready to reply to your mail. Then something that happened here invoked the biggest insecurity in me, distracting me for a while.

I am at a friend’s place and in morning, his mom prayed that “There are many with disabled children, thank you God for giving us healthy children”. I won’t blame her – it’s a common thing that nearly everyone thanks God for though I logically disagree with the idea of “thanking God for some harm that never happened to [me]”.

As I have told you, I am partly disabled. The first thing that ran in my mind is if my mother will be able to say the same. How hurt she would have been if she heard someone pray like that the days she was still syncing in to the fact that I am partially blind. I don’t know if my friend read my mind – he intervened then and there and told her not to do it.

My disability is one of my deepest insecurities, which I am in a constant struggle to overcome. I fear it. Subconsciously my eyes tear up when I am requested to explain why and how I became almost blind in one eye, things I can’t do because of it etc. The attempt to overcome it so far were all futile.

It’s deep-rooted, and that makes it a hard thing to get rid of. I’ve been called “kannu pottan (blind)”, “cyclops” (Greek mythological giants with one eye) many times while I was in school, though it was for fun, it did hurt me. You might understand why I cried when the person who stood up for me that day and told them not to do it passed away two years back. He was and is always a hero in my eyes.

On a bright side, I realised calling a weak person “dumb”, as everyone does in our society is actually also referring a real deaf and dumb person as weakling. I have been, ever since the revelation trying to stop using such words in my day today conversations.

The only thing that helped me a bit so far is looking at the bright side of it – how it helped me develop some of my good skills, and understand the need of someone who might not have had any exposure to encouragement much as me or those who have much higher disadvantages than me.

While in proVISION ASIA, even in most of them who claimed to have overcome this fear seemed to hide this inmost fear, insecurity in them, which popped up at times.

I must actively start hunting this insecurity down now I think – I want to root out it’s origins!

I hope I am not boring you – this is something you’d notice in almost every disabled person’s eyes the next time you see them, though they may sound confident enough to conquer the world.

It helps a lot to speak up about one’s fear. In fact, I think this is the first step towards conquering it.

[and some more content, irrelevant to the topic of this post].

Write soon!

Jesse P Francis

## The Book List

This is more like a diary for myself, list of books I’ve read (and I remember that I’ve read it, only good ones)

1. If only they could talk – James Herriot (2014)
2. Dork – Sidin Vadakut (2012)
3. Service with a Simle – Wodehouse (2016)
4. That novel about attempted NASA Rocket launch mishap that I got from trash, returned to trash (I don’t remember it’s name!) (2012)
5. 1984 – George Orwell (2017)
6. The Bible – A lot of people (2014-2016)
7. To Sir, with Love – E. R. Braithwaite (2015)
8. The Alchemist – Paulo Cohelo (2016)
9. The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren (2014)
10. The Cross and the Switchblade – David Wilkerson
11. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling (2017)
12. In His Steps – Charles M. Sheldon (2015)
13. Back to Jerusalem – Paul Hattaway (2015)
14. The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway (2018)
15. Animal Farm – George Orwell (2018)
16. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch (2018)
17. Tuesdays with Morrie (2018)

Malayalam

1. Almost All Basheer (2000 – 2010)
2. Randamoozham (Sometime between 2002 – 2006)
3. Malavikaagnimithram – Kaalidasan (2011)

(will keep expanding the list as I remember)

## Recipe for a tasty PhD Scholar

### Past:

Step 1: Talk to a gentleman who agrees to be your guide. He, before prescribing the text, tells you to pray, early morning, and promises that he will too, without fail.
Step 2: See how God is convincing your to work under him.
Step 4: Reject even better PhD offers at hand, since you don’t want to miss the gentleman who is praying for you.
Step 5: Get gifted with crazy big things which are absolute essential for the PhD work, as a “go-ahead” confirmation from God.
Step 6: Something in you tells you to hold the application submission a day more.
Step 7: Write “NET Qualified” just because you submitted the application late (the result came the evening before – assuring God is really up to something cool with your PhD.)
Step 8: Submit application.

### Present:

Step 1: Get called for an interview as a teacher.
Step 2: Travel nearly 590 kilometres for an interview.
Step 3: Reach less than a kilometre away from the office.
Step 4: Bulb moment.
Step 5: Call up office and tell them you’re not coming for the interview, and start back home.
Step 6: Life goes on, as if nothing happened!
Result: Tasty PhD scholar thayyar!

### Future:

Step 1: Trust God better. When He’s with you, nothing better assures that life will be (good) dramatic and happening enough!

## I’m 25 and I’m constantly reminded about it.

Sister: “Da, what do you think about that girl”
Me: “I don’t think much about that girl”
Sister strikes again: “This girl?”
Me: “Why should I be thinking about girls now?”
Me: “Don’t ask, don’t worry! When it’s time, I’ll tell you!”

This kept happening, almost everyday I was there in Chennai.

“Do come – it’s my marriage, and I haven’t met you since school days!”

As if he did not have any other reason to call me, out of the blue, after almost 10 years!

“Da, I want to write one more book soon. Well, at least for my matrimony profile! The pressure to get settled is mounting up in my family”
Me: “If it helps you get married fast, I am with you!”

The next one:

“They say I must get married this year!”
Me: “Just had that conversation with someone in the morning! Why does all conversations end up in marriage today?”

At church:

Random uncle: “What are you doing now a days?”
Random uncle strikes again: “Research? How long will that course take?”
Me, having figured out where the conversation is heading: “3-4 years, minimum?”
Random uncle: “Oh, okay” (could read that disappointment on his face)

And then I text that random woman from contact list:

Me: How’s life?
“I got married last week”
Me: Woah! The right day to get in touch I think! Congratulations!!!

Wish that ended there!

“Da, does the family not pressurise you to get married?”
Me: “Well, they know I have given them a no-go notice till I’m 29, and mature enough to get married!”

No, that’s not the end!

Me: Will surely pray for the thing you told me!
“Then what should I pray about, for you? That you find a girl soon?”
Me: Well, give it some more time! Must I not learn some cooking before get married? Give me two to three years! I’m a slow learner!
“Cooking? Why?”
Me: Don’t you woman like to take break from kitchen once in a while?
“Which planet are you from?”

Well, I hope I’ll not have a nightmare about getting married tonight!

You might have figured out why I named the post “I’m 25 and I’m constantly reminded about it.”

## The Donkey Ears

The sky must fall down soon. Else it will rain here, and I scarcely have any space for myself to let it rain.

Love is in the air.

There’s tonnes of steel left to sell. All the fire that was there went out. How will I melt them, and let them flow to the buyer?

A phone with a cracked bone.

The new, shiny laptop awaiting Kernel 4.10. A malt based drink did not help it much.

The eagle, the other day, was gossiping to the sky, and said,”That boy, you see – thinks we are gossiping about him!”

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Grapes must be the fruit of the kings. It’s easier to throw them than guavas.

Happiness is sneezing.

The world is sick and tired of me. I must burn the earth, said the sun.

I stink. Said the waters.

Love is sinking in the water.

Love is in the malt-based drinks too.

Beef, fish or paneer fry?

Flavoured houseflies flies around the files.

Pricey by choice.

Must. Get. Back. To. Work.

(The language is called gibberish. Wonder what force in the nature made you read till here.)

## Travelogue: Madurai, a City Worth Falling in Love with!

“All of them man! All of them!” The lady was literally at the top of her voice. The topic was “mallus”, in a congregation of five in the food court of “the only mall” in Madurai. It was a confusing, confused bunch – Emma, Dinesh and me had come to meet Jo and a friend of hers who works in Chennai. Dinesh didn’t know Jo, and that friend of hers didn’t know anyone of us than Jo.

It’s just been three hours since I reached Madurai, and of course, even if we don’t move around much, the thing with Emma is that we can just sit at some place and talk or debate forever. But moving around added spices to it, making us non-Madurites (Dinesh, from Andra and me, a mallu) and Emma, the Madurite fall in love with the city for the first time!

Jo was also a Madurite, Emma’s mom’s colleague’s daughter. Talking about Madurai, almost every bit of my Madurai bond revolves around the Lady Doak College, and the staff there,  and their kids. All close to my heart, even if we haven’t talked for a very very long time. Jo’s friend was a Telugu, from Hyderabad, where I was supposed to be in instead of Madurai that day, but I decided to betray Christy for Nithya, whose marriage reception I had come to attend.

Back to the mall. The conversation started with the dear unknown friend of Jo’s asking “any religious religious guys here?” Jo knew where she’s getting to, turned and looked at me immediately. Emma followed her league. Dinesh was busy watching the film song in the big screen behind us. She got the hint, finished religious jokes off in a comment or two, not to invite a judgemental religious guy’s wrath. Well, I’m a Christian, one trying to be not of the kind she expected me to be.

I was about to thank God, and I even asked her if she’s just looking for a bakra (Hindi for scapegoat), obviously Emma, who acted well as an illiterate in Hindi asked for its meaning and made himself the bakra. The conversation evolved from Hindi to Hyderabad, Hyderabad to Chennai, Chennai to Tamil, Tamil to Pondicherry University (the factor connecting us all – we all studied there though in different years), PU to mallus. One who seemed to be an adherent evolutionist defied all laws of evolution at that point and forcibly denied every attempt of the conversation to evolve itself.

“Judgemental man! I do this, and this mallu girl comes and tells me that!”

“I can’t stand them – the other day, I won’t tell the name no, Jo, because he might know her! So the other day, I was …”

“They should just mind their own business OK!”

“The other day, after an interview, that mallu girl comes and tells me I might have got selected because I’m fairer! What rubbish!”

“Mallus and Bengalis have this thing between them no?”

And once in a while, I kept hearing, “All of them man, all of them!”

And it kept on coming. Most part of it, I was silent. I tried to imagine all the mallus she might have had the chance to meet till date. Oh, a horrible bunch it should have been. Well, I won’t blame her, if that’s the way mallus that caught her attention treated her in past. She’s got all right to generalise it.

Well, there was something else that bothered me. I’m a mallu. Do I fit in any of her description of mallus? I think I do to some extend, but I was too lazy to think deep into it – and I will leave that hardwork to you.

But my thoughts refused to stop evolving, unlike the conversation. I was tempted to ask myself, “What about the Telugus I know of?” The prominent names that came to my mind were Dinesh and Laxman, and they happened to be two of the nicest people I’ve ever seen.

I have been in middle of mallu jokes before, and why, even Emma sitting next to me is famous (and infamous among many) for his humanist jokes (he takes on the whole human race, part by part, disqualifying his jokes from being a racist) – and that’s a connecting factor between us, because I enjoy every bit of conversation with him. If Grace graces the occasion with her presence, it would create few sweet memories and laughs you would never want to forget. But why do I feel I’m getting a little defensive here? This sounded more like a mallu hatred than mallu joke, maybe. Emma was unusually silent. The songs on big screen kept entertaining Dinesh all through the conversation.

And I was distracted soon enough. The attempt to draw symmetric patterns on my mobile screen caught my attention soon – Emma, who noticed it, tried to attract everyone’s attention to it – but the conversation soon got back to mainline after a short detour.

“But one thing I can’t deny about mallus is their films – many of them are just brilliant!” That caught my attention. At last, the conversation’s attempt to evolve seems to have succeeded.

I should have drawn a lot of patterns, found three new designs I can draw on the screen, when Jo announced that we should go grab something to eat and leave soon.

During lunch, she dragged in Trump’s victory in US elections. “Americans have lost their mind”. Well, I should have controlled myself, but I couldn’t. I, who sounded a bit insecure till then, looked up at her. In few minutes, she realised it’s worthless to debate anymore on the issue, decided to just listen to me advocate against Hilary (and not advocate that Trump is a saint), and why Hilary played bad politics and which made her deserve the lose. There was a short silence, and we decided to get back home, freshen up, go meet Nithya once before the reception, while the girls went on their way.

I loved every second there in Madurai – the marriage reception that evening, the CSI Cathedral Church service the next day, the Meenakshiamman Koil and The Thousand Pillars, the Madurai Nayikkar Palace, and most of all, Emma’s parents!

It would be an injustice not to write more about them – such wonderful people! Though we had only a limited time with them both, I had two new role models to look up to. And the food they prepared for us, the time they laughed with us, amazing would be understating it.

As I recollect all of this which happened a week back, apart from Emma’s parents, I realised one another person had made a lasting impression on me – that’s that friend of Jo’s, whose name I don’t remember. A strong, opinionated, dominant, confident woman, one of the rare I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Had there been more women like her in this world more than the so-called self proclaimed feminists driven by their insecurities rather than their strengths, the world would have been a better place. But I do hope she realises one day that not all mallus are as horrible as she described, and that in our society, we too only have much morons as we have in any other society, in one form or another. And off late I’m learning to see the gem even in the morons, with no bar for religion, caste, creed, country, state, and that has helped me be more open minded, accepting, less judgemental and a better Christian.

To wrap it up – I saw three new people win my heart over there in Madurai – two with love, like Emma’s parents, and another with a bit harsh, but elegant offence. A precious new learning, I should treasure for all of my life.

Here are some pictures, as some wise men said, the best way to hide from a picture is to be the cameraman – and it was fun being a cameraman for these two crazy souls, made to be in the frame! And you guessed it right! I have this thing for ceilings! Also, I was researching on how to make the best of Panorama shots. By the way, I look somewhat like that third guy who appears in pictures less frequently.

Almost all photos were taken with Dinesh’s Moto Z Play (16MP back, most of the ceilings were taken with the 5MP front) and a handful of them with my Moto G3 (12MP).

*Hope to add more pictures of Madurai Meenakshiamma Koil soon as I get it from Dinesh.

## On Selling Hobbies

Must confess I’ve been in a mood to brag about my works since morning, thanks to the radiation from Christy, who launched his website christyvarghese.in which I designed. And this forest of blogs is the best place to brag long as I don’t publish it on my facebook, and no one would notice it. This is the catalogue of the works I’ve done so far – so I think I can direct those who want to know more about my works/experience to this post.

## Programming

• Stock Market Simulation Game v. 1 (with C++), v. 2 (with Excel) (Lost the files and formulas)
• ABASHGUI – A BASH GUI for Abinit, a DFT simulator with BASH and zenity (Files with me, can send to anyone who wants it)
• Centipede Game (Java) – GPLv3, find code here.

## Websites

• Arabian Link, Saudi Arabia – http://www.arabianlk.com (I disown the content in the website :P)
• Mpower App website – mpower.provisionasia.org
• Christy Varghese, author – http://www.christyvarghese.in
• proVISION ASIA blog (blog.provisionasia.org)
• Santhosha Vidhyalaya Alumni Association (SVAA, svaa.org.in)

## Graphic Design

### T-Shirts

• Department of Earth Sciences, Pondicherry University (GIMP)
• Department of Ecology, Pondicherry University (GIMP)
• (3 more, can’t be published openly)

### Brochures and Invites

Invitation (I lost the final copy with borders et al, MS Word)

• A wedding invite for a friend of mine who loved the colours of 70s and 80s: (leave a comment if you want it’s template, I can mail it to you – it’s in MS Word, so anyone can edit.)
• Cornerstone Trainers (Brochure)
• Honesta Fashion, Singapore (Logo)

## Teaching

• Hawkseye Academy, Eranakulam and Kannur (General Aptitude Trainer for UGC-NET Aspirants)
• Assisted Christy for a session at SB College, Changanacherry.
• And programming, and mathematics

## Art

Only picture I have – and it’s in the safest hands in the whole wide world now!

…… and a lot of stuff I don’t remember/that cannot be published openly! Then there’s an array of handicraft (dolls, chalk carvings, random stuff with papers, recycled plastic, threads et al)/drawings (random designs) that I sold/gave away to the one who bid for it first, I think I deleted all those pictures. Listed them out here because later, if someone asks for my experience in any field, I can just point them to this post! Hope this list will keep increasing!

Quite a dramatic mixture of events for a day it is, I tell you.

There was Mary Poppins. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Uncle-neice time. A happy mail to Lipsa.

Then mom calls. A silent wish from sister to get out of her house as her in laws are coming, and the house can’t hold everyone together.

The conversation with mom goes this way:

Mom: Did you get tickets for tomorrow?

Me: No. There’s no ticket for today, tomorrow or day after tomorrow.

Mom: Why don’t you try for today?

Me: No tickets.

Mom: Why not today?

Me: No tickets.

Mom: Then?

Me: Let me see. There are tickets on Monday. I’ll come somehow.

Mom: Why don’t you come stay here two more days? Come on Saturday.

Me: No, amma, no ticket! (attempt not to lose my temper is evidently there)

(sister interupts and gets phone from me, gives it back to me)

Mom: Did you try for tickets on Sunday?

Me: It’s not there.

Mom: Then try for today!

Me: There’s no ticket today!

Mom: You should have booked last week itself!

Me: I was unsure when I will have to meet sir again. I thought I’ll book after that.

Mom: Sure there’s no ticket today?

(grunts)

Mom: Come two days before Monday!

Me: That’s Saturday, and that day is also called tomorrow, and there’s no ticket, and I HAVE BEEN SAYING THAT FOR PAST 15MINUTES NOW!

Me: There’s none, not today, not tomorrow, and not day after tomorrow. I don’t know what else to say! (all anger aside, as calm as I can, because I knew anger is not helping)

Mom: I hate your attitude these days. Learn to speak nicely.

(silence)

I will speak only when you are done shouting!

(silence again)

Done?

Me: I didn’t say a word.

Mom: (more silence)

Shout at me all that you want.

Me: I still didn’t say a word. Are you not well?

Mom: Yes. Bad cold for two days. Is there ticket for tomorrow?

Me: (having lost hope, calmly) Amma, there’s no ticket.

(carefully diverts conversation to something else.)

Well, all that half n hour of phone conversation could have cut short in two simple lines,

“Did you get tickets for tomorrow?”

“No – there’s none available today, tomorrow or day after tomorrow.”

which had actually happened right at the beginning of the conversation.

The phone rings again. It’s mom again.

“They say my phone won’t work until recharge?”

“Ok, I will, it’s plan voucher. Not recharge.”

“You need the debit card number?”

“No, I can manage without it!”

(cuts the call)

Phone rings again.

“Here’s the card details”

“I don’t need it, amma!”

“Then how will you recharge?”

“It’s saved online”

“Still I will tell you the number.”

“I don’t need it. Just wait for sometime!”

Phone rings again.

And again.

And again.

Test of patience. Successfully managed to not express the frustration to anyone.

Neice wakes up. I went near her and she screams telling me to move away. Silently walks away, she might not not-express her anger like me.

Phone rings again.

I figure out how to fix the plan voucher thing. Fixed. Phone rings again to tell me it’s fixed now. Shuts down my laptop.

Phone rings again. This time, it’s Christy.

Christy: Da, NET results are out.

Me: Going with the flow of the day, I think I already know the results.

Christy: What is it?

Me: Still, let me check it once before confirming.

Laptop booting up, and just as I expected, my roll number is not there among qualified candidates. I was reminded of Danielle, who had written an exam a week before mine, and results came last week that she did not clear it. Both of us were pretty confident about the results, that we will clear it, and both seemed to have failed.

(text)

Me: Not there.

Christy: Aiyyo!

Me: I’d be gone form visible world for few days.

(throws phone away)

Few seconds later, I find myself wondering the same. At least I’ve got this blog to  vent worries of my heart.

I think I’ll just get out of the house and walk down until I get lost.

And try saying “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

Bis bald.

## Quote #0: Sylvia Plath

Sounds like “Jack of all trades, master of none!” Loved the quote!

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” -Sylvia Plath

Or mathematically put, $lim_{x\to\infty}d(x,0)=0$

## The Philosopher’s Stone

One day, a philosopher found a beautiful stone. He wondered what to do with it, and after contemplating for a long time on possible ways the stone may entertain him, he decided to try throw it up and throw it down at the same time.

That was a saisfying meal for him as a philosopher, I tell you.

(…and I’m clearly bored, you might have noticed it already!)