I don’t know how to say this – frankly, this is getting a bit repetitive anyway – but I’ll try getting it out regardless: here I am! For a brief stint meant to clear some thoughts. I am writing this post for the purpose of revitalizing intention: I declare, or hereby intend, to write something about my transition into a new country very, very soon. I simply must. I am ashamed to admit that despite reading a fair amount of literature, ritualistically listening to podcasts, watching videos on online learning platforms and whatnot, there is no substitute to practice. I learned this in my last philosophy course as well. Excellence beseeches a never-ending state of practice. A temporary stop-gap post will not do. As you can tell (or more appropriately, read), my writing prowess (if there was such a thing, to begin with) has attenuated. I am using words that don’t fit. Even if they do, I am never sure. There is a flurry of thoughts every day but I can feel myself weakening at the moment of expression. I simply cannot speak, or write, or express in any shape or form in ways I would really like to. I have tonnes of assignments to write, exams to prepare for and more, and all of this is routine. If there ever was a practice to ruin whatever skills one could hone and acquire, then living with a lack of thought to action each day is it. This is an attempt, a cry and a whimper, directed at myself to pay some heed to my writing. It needs me, and I need it too, more than ever.
People have a fetish: debaters are constantly bickering about meaningless things – everything that could be utterly useless – and they don’t realize it but they are still afforded great attention. An audience is always at their disposal of viewpoints.
It is not too hard to know why.
We have an appetite for the scandalous, bold and dangerous opinion, no matter how much we later try to suppress it. We also have an appetite to engage with such opinions. Most of the debaters are the object of envious contempt and this predisposition has exponentially grown; ‘snobby teens with weak physical frames’ are easy targets, and for most, ‘they have it coming’ because they can outspeak the ‘normal’ with commanding theatrical performances and outwit the same with glossy words and complicated sentence structures. So the only way for the ‘normal’ to turn to is abuse; words start meaning a lot more than they should, and things escalate beyond meager sentences and highly charged verbal spats. Interestingly enough, resorting to other means isn’t a concession; no one believes they are wrong or that they have the weaker argument. It is the debaters; they are the fools who love twisting words and dragging people into unnecessary conflict just for the sake of it. Exceptionally exemplary sadists, in-fact.
Each year towards the end of the spring semester, seniors huddle in front of the iconic, immemorial academic block at LUMS. Each year, the academic block witnessed something surreal. Students, having evaded each other’s gaze for a good part of four years, now come together, eye to eye, shoulder to shoulder and look up towards the sky. They want to get a picture taken. The camera man stands and signals on the second floor of the PDC, and almost instantly, the chantings begin. It’s a countdown. Ten…nine…eight…and just like that, the picture fails to capture the nostalgia, the depression, the ecstasy, the gloom and other innumerable feelings that hundreds of people are going through or have gone through, together. These people are all joined in unison by the colour they are celebrating. For the years they went to the same university together, they enjoyed the liberty of not dressing up in uniforms. After all, university is not like school. It is something much more special. These colours – blue, white, yellow, red, green, orange, purple and some more – are uniforms they wish they never wore. For four years, they wanted out. The sleepy 8:00 AMs, the exhausting evening classes and all-consuming stress of examinations and grading instruments: my people thought they would have it better once they leave. No heed is paid to accumulating suggestions from the batches above them repeatedly saying that good-byes are not so exciting once you come closer to them, even if they are beautiful. Why would a freshman, a sophomore or a junior occupy his mind with the end-of-days festivities? It would not make sense. Anticipation cannot do justice to the moment felt in time, and every batch lets that moment come to it at the time it is due. Today, as I look around my peers all dressed in the same colour, much like a uniform, I understand that the time has finally arrived. If you look closer, the eyes reflect a weariness, a gloom that the rest of the body is oblivious to. It has not been stirred just yet. The good-byes are dormant but they will be ceremoniously performed, and that realization is starting to dawn upon everyone.
My parents tap into a mysterious inner reservoir as soon as they land on a foreign tarmac to become shopaholics. You won’t find these things back home, they say. I agree, just a little differently. I have never been fond of scouring streets one after another to satisfy my shopping demons. I am not fond of trying to locate and fall uncontrollably for an exotic item, a skinny jean (available back home), those 5 Euro tee-shirts on sale and souvenir refrigerator magnets. I am a sucker for museums, trying to find meaning for myself and the life of things around me in abstract art. Food is also of paramount importance. After all, my parents are right; there’s nothing like what you eat here that you will eat back home, so no foreign experience is complete without my palate divulging in alien cuisines. On a tight budget, it does not make any sense to stroll into a Michelin star restaurant and order a 50 Euros upward fancy lunch or dinner: it suffices to pick out the odd Vapianos, random street gelatos that also sell wood-oven pizzas with halal meat, and the infamous Turkish doner kebabs stalls. Berlin is not short of options when it comes to cuisines.
A few minutes ago, I was climbing up the stairs to the first floor of my house. The endeavor is banal and meaningless, but it oddly resembles standing in a hot shower with lots of time on your hands. Thoughts pour in as a new altitude is broken every second until the mind becomes fixated on just one, and today, my thoughts got stuck on my experience (or the lack of it) in hiking up to a mountain. It’s not fitting, to say the least. The comparison appears to be shoddy at best. Climbing a stairway should not remind you of climbing a dangerous mountain capable of terraforming its own weather. The allure, however, is too leechy to pass away.
I hate emotional triggers that are evoked instantaneously. I hate the way this activity induces unwelcomely symptoms, which later or immediately manifest physically. My professor returned an assignment today and despite the awareness of all the flaws it carried as well as the weak spots I could have worked upon, I expected things to go better. Writing is cathartic, but it can still inflict an anxiety that speaks violently inside my head throughout the day. I fear that poor writing may not be the culprit; my struggles with life on a daily basis keeps me on my toes and stifles my brain power in unexpected ways, at moments most monumental.