The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a cricket league hosted in India, with the teams representing cities or states in the country. Although usually held in March/April of the year, it was postponed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic (no surprise there). More than 6 months into the lockdown, the IPL was an extremely welcome source of entertainment for a whole bunch of cricket-crazy Indians. Every night, my family and I watch the 4-hour-long match without fail. I’ve had to adjust my sleep schedule, dinner time, and homework and study timings, but I try not miss the match as far as possible. I enjoy watching cricket in general, but this daily ritual is even more special as it allows me to spend more time with my family, especially my grandparents– which I usually don’t. Since the IPL began a week back, I spend 25% of my waking hours watching that match. So, it’s not surprising that I chose to go with a cricket-themed idea for this post that I’m calling ‘No Cap On Family Time’.
The colours worn by the cricketer in my drawing resemble those of my favourite team– Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Challengers have consistently performed badly over the past 12 years since the first tournament was hosted, and so I get a lot of sympathy, confusion and even ridicule when I tell someone that I’m rooting for them. But, I like that they’re the underdogs– it makes every win extra special.
The Sprite bottle cap is the ball. The idea to use the bottle cap stemmed from the fact that I often (definitely more often than is good for my body) spend these family IPL-watching evenings, drinking Coke or Sprite, and eating ‘Chutney’ sandwich. So, although it appears to be very simple and unoriginal, I thought that the bottle cap seemed appropriate to use in this case.
Laptop/phone: 80% of my world is on there, now even more so thanks to virtual classes.
Powerbank and charger: To save me from panicking in the middle of a Zoom meeting.
AirPods: To watch funny videos and listen to embarrassing voice notes from my friends, without the fear of getting judged (or worse– my parents hearing someone swear :p).
Mask and sanitizer: Because COVID is still very real.
Wallet: Only reason I need this is to buy food when I’m hungry (that is, always).
Driving license: Subtle plug that I can drive a car.
Comb and hair tie: To maintain the bush, otherwise referred to as my hair.
Hoodie: I have extremely low resistance to cold temperatures. (‘Noice’ and ‘Toit’ are references to my favourite TV show– Brooklyn 99)
Sanitary pad: Hopefully don’t need to explain this.
Painkiller tablet: The only reason I survive period cramps.
Umbrella: Because it’s easier to predict the position AND energy of an electron (what’s up, Heisenberg?) than the weather in Mumbai.
To do list: A small effort to manage my time well and avoid procrastination.
Body spray: Just to, you know, smell good.
Sunglasses and watch: This is just me trying to act cool. I don’t really use either on a daily basis.
Snickers bar: For emergency hunger and/or stress situations.
This is definitely one of my favourite posts so far. I use the objects in the image almost everyday. These objects, and the post in general accurately represent who I am as a person– just another average (virtual) college going girl with a questionable sense of humour. This kind of representation of self through an image of contents of one’s bag seems random. However, I believe that it actually gives an interesting take on a person’s personality which other forms of writing may not be able to shed light on completely. Often, seemingly irrelevant details add depth and character to the impression of a person in a reader’s mind, and thus make the person feel more real.
My Player Narrative primarily focuses on the role of games in my life as ‘social tools to make connections with people’. At least for the past 18 years of my life, games have always been about the memories and relationships I created while playing them, and not really about how they have directly impacted the way I think and behave. Although I have to say, I have begun observing the latter more so over the past few weeks, thanks to the thought-provoking discussions we’ve been having in my English writing class in college.
While writing the Literacy Narrative, I believe I was more controlled and structured in my writing. I was afraid of how it would be perceived, and so I mostly steered clear of taking big risks. In the Player Narrative, however, I have really experimented with my writing style. I was more comfortable to write in a way that I’ve never written in before (a choice that could easily and terribly backfire). This time around, I tried to deviate from the 5-paragraph-like structure, to write paragraphs of inconsistent lengths, and to work with a more conversational tone. I’m not sure if this paid off, but it definitely gave me a lot more creative freedom to express my thoughts.
I think that the pre-writing exercise was even more helpful for this assignment. Before I did it, I could not think of anything that I wanted to / could write about. I knew I had to write about playing games, but I had no angle, no viewpoint, no theme. The listing of memories, and then particularly the continuous free writing let me spill out the total mess of ideas from my brain onto paper, and then systematically work through the mess and sort it out.
On the whole, this has not been one of the easier things I’ve worked on. I found myself procrastinating writing it until the day it was due, and even then had to deal with the non-writer’s equivalent of writer’s block. But somehow I finished it and produced a piece of writing I’m pretty unsure and semi-proud of.
It’s a rainy gloomy evening in Mumbai. It’s dark when I look outside, even though it’s just close to 6:00 PM. Blissfully unaware of what the game was like, I decided to play Gone Home– not my brightest idea.
As the game started, I could hear the roaring sound of the rain, and the deafening thunder. I was on the front porch of what was supposed to be my home, but there was nothing that made me feel welcome. It was dark, periodically illuminated by sudden discharges of lightning. I saw the note that someone called Sam (possibly a sibling) had stuck on the main door– they were missing. I figured that the goal of the game was likely to figure out why they ran away and/or to find them. This did not improve the emotions I was feeling, the suspense heightened, and the game started feeling increasingly like a horror game. Horror– my least favorite genre.
I tried to get into the house, but I could not figure out how. It took me an embarrassingly long time, much longer than I’d like to admit. I tried walking into the door, I walked around the porch 20-30 times, to no avail. At some point, I thought my laptop had a technical issue and that the game was glitching, so I quit and restarted. After several minutes I found the key and cursed myself for how obvious it had been. I entered the house, and the sense of eerie persisted.
Maybe it’s because I don’t usually play video games and I don’t really have much to compare it to, but the visual effects of the game thus far really struck me as beautiful, in a sinister and dangerous way. This, along with the sound, really set the atmosphere and make the game-playing experience more immersive. Another minor detail which I found very interesting was how the game manages to establish the time, location, character and situation (the character returning home after a long trip) without explicitly saying any of it.I figured out these facts by listening to the message she leaves for her mother, and looking at things like her passport and boarding pass.
But anyway, back to the ‘home’ I have to explore.
There are a couple boxes laying around, it seems like the family is moving out. I went to the bathroom, and didn’t find anything too interesting. However, the faucets were in working condition and there was some soap by the washbasin. Outside, the telephone was in working condition as well. There were some messages left on the machine too. Someone is calling Sam because they’re in trouble. These things made it seem like the people living in the house (my parents and Sam) had left all of a sudden, and it was unplanned. Something was wrong.
I ascend the looming staircase. I fumble around trying to make sense of all that I see. I learn that Janice Greenbriar (presumably the mother) is a Senior Conservationist. They live in Boon County. Small details that help build the characters without meeting or seeing them.
I’ve been walking around the house picking up on random details. My father is a writer working on a new book. Someone (certainly the dad) is also obsessed with the death of JFK. He’s got a whole room dedicated to this. Also, the house originally belonged to someone called Oscar Masan, who we learn is the deceased, ‘psycho’ uncle. This is getting interesting. I feel myself losing the ‘creeped out’ feeling and gaining the ‘I need to know more’ feeling. I am more comfortable with the spooky and borderline morbid vibe of the game.
I see a door that has a warning sign on it. ‘Caution: Radiation Area. Keep Out.’ I’ve played this game long enough to know that I definitely should NOT keep out. There was something important in there. I enter into what the map tells me is Sam’s room. There was a locker with some female models’ pictures pasted on top. I open the locker and there’s a magazine in there called ‘Gentleman’. It is, quite clearly, ‘the Magazine for Men’. What’s it doing here? I listen to Sam’s journal entry. She has a friend called Lonnie who is afraid she’s done something wrong. I spot some clothes in the locker with the anti-theft tag on them. Was that it? Maybe. I listen further. Turns out, Lonnie kissed Sam who is a lesbian. (Maybe the word ‘friend’ wasn’t appropriate). I’m a sucker for teenage couples, so for a moment I got quite excited. Suddenly, I heard a piercing sound: thunder, and I remembered that this was not some cheesy rom-com. Sam had still run away, and the house was still terrifying. I tried to make sense of what all I just found out. Did Sam run away with Lonnie? Was she afraid to come out as a lesbian to her parents? Why did she have stolen clothes in her locker? Did Lonnie steal them? Is she covering up for Lonnie? So many questions, but for me, the game just got really, really interesting.
Thinking of an idea for the combophoto was pretty difficult for me. I wanted to combine two pictures that had some connection, but still were completely different from one another. So, I thought of putting together pictures of things that are opposite in terms of size and colour.
I found a picture of a building I had clicked a few months back– it was black and white. The building represented ‘bigness’. I then found some vibrant Lego blocks, made a tower using them and clicked a picture of them at a similar angle (which was very hard to achieve)– this was the ‘smallness’. The result– this image I call ‘Building Blocks’.
I think that this image, in a sense, symbolises growing up. When we’re young and building our little Lego buildings, our world is small and colourful. We’re oblivious to the hardships, stress and obstacles that life is sure to offer. As we mature, we’re exposed to the big, bad ‘real world’. We have real buildings to build, real problems to solve, and the world just doesn’t seem too colourful anymore.
I tried very hard to think of an avatar that would represent me. I thought of a couple of ideas, but I was not fully convinced about them. They didn’t feel like they were me.
So, partly out of frustration and partly out of amusement I decided to post an Instagram ‘close friend story’, asking those who know me best to describe me as a bunch of words or emoticons. This proved to be more insightful and helpful than I intentioned. The most common replies that came up were ‘sleepy’, ‘coffee’, and ‘lazy’. I also got ‘nerd’ a couple of times. I found this funny because these were contradicting each other: coffee is supposed to make you feel awake, not sleepy, and lazy and nerd have opposing implications too. I decided to combine these random aspects of my personality to create an avatar.
My avatar is a sloth (primarily known for slowness and overall laziness) who is cuddled into a blanket, drinking coffee– a visual that makes me smile just thinking about it. It is exactly what I do to relax in my free time. I added the spectacles to incorporate the ‘nerd’ part– a reputation I have falsely been awarded for studying too much. A small, possibly irrelevant detail that I really liked about this particular image is that the blanket looks exactly like the one I sleep with every night. I believe that this avatar truly represents me in my ‘natural habitat’.
Writing has never been my strong suit, mainly because it’s never been my interest. A considerable amount of all the reading and writing I’ve done in my life has been out of compulsion. So, I was pretty surprised when I didn’t hate doing the Literacy Narrative after spending almost 6 months (since I finished High School) of not indulging in any writing. In fact, you could say I almost enjoyed it.
A large part of the reason for this is the free-writing exercise we did before drafting the actual essay. Admittedly, the exercise seemed tedious and futile initially– I’d never done anything like it in the past. However, I actually came up with my central theme– ‘a sense of community despite differences’– by picking out similarities and noticing patterns in the memories related to reading and writing I had listed as part of the exercise. It also allowed me to express my thoughts in an unfiltered and raw manner. I didn’t have to worry about sentence structure, grammar, spellings, word count or any of that ‘basic English stuff’. I could write down my ideas exactly as they appeared in my mind. I think this helped me produce a more honest piece, if nothing else.
The clear and straightforward message the narrative puts across is that differences amongst humans are not only inevitable, but also necessary. We need to acknowledge these differences, respect them, and forge relationships in spite of them. And all the stories and articles that I referred to have a similar lesson.
On a more personal level, however, I learnt several things about myself. I’m not exactly sure if I am pleased with these things, but they’re definitely intriguing and got me thinking. I realized that the reason I was drawn to the stories of so-called ‘outcasts’ is because I subconsciously considered myself to be relatively unorthodox (in terms of society’s standards) as well.
In conclusion, “Engaging with stories of strong interpersonal relationships between those who are conventionally ‘different’ gives me hope that maybe I’m not alone, in feeling alone.”