Bird’s Eye View of The Big Ben

On the London Eye, near Westminster Bridge, Central London, United Kingdom.

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Dante’s Inferno

The human race is undoubtedly the most superior race on Earth. We’ve come a long, long way from being mere apes to multitasking individuals. We’ve established ourselves, and we’ve made ourselves prominent. It is stupendous.

Let us just hope that we don’t destroy what we’ve devised.

The current population count stands at an overwhelming 7.2 billion. That’s a thousand million! It’s colossal. I had learnt about overpopulation in school. And how it was, or rather, is, a ticking time bomb. But it held little significance in my life that time. It was simply a definition I had to learn to score in my exams. Little did I know about the radicalness of the issue.

Overpopulation is going to be the largest nuisance to the human race in the very near future. The United Nations has predicted the population to reach about nine billion by the year 2050. That’s pouring 2.4 billion babies into the world in just  27 years. It is hard to imagine that.

The population landmarks are really just bizarre.World Population Graph

1 billion people : 1801

That is less than what China alone sustains today.

2 billion people : 1923

3 billion people : 1960

4 billion people : 1974

5 billion people : 1987

6 billion people : 1999

6.9 billion people : 2010

7 billion people : 2011

As in July 2010, China has a population of 1.3 billion, India 1.2 billion, USA 307 million, Russia 141 million, Germany 82 million, France 62 million, Britain 61 million.

The  dip in the graph between the years 1000 and 2000 marks the Black Death in the 1300’s. This is the time when what happened is what we cannot even hope to dream in the next 100 years – the inversion of the population graph! The deadly disease that spread over Europe is believed to have killed approximately 75 million people in just over 4 years. It originated in China and was carried over to Europe by rats living in the merchant ships. The first wave was in late 1347 and continued to havoc the people until 1351. Remember the poem ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’ we learnt as a nursery rhyme in kindergarten? Guess where it came from.

“The invariable sneezing and falling down in modern English versions have given would-be origin finders the opportunity to say that the rhyme dates back to the Great Plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom, and “all fall down” was exactly what happened.”                                                                 …source: Wikipedia

Overpopulation can be seen as a root cause which kickstarts all of the other urban issues. The logic is simple – the Earth is finding it had to sustain such a large population. The resources are falling short of our requirements. Water shortage? Food shortage? Land shortage? Blame overpopulation. More people means more pollution, more waste, and an amplified form of  global warming. Civil wars and flying crime rates will soon follow. There are so many shortcomings, and yet most of them boil down to the satanic issue of overpopulation. Extinction of exotic species is largely due to human encroachment on natural habitats and ecosystems. Because humans require more land. To accommodate a larger population. Ozone layer depletion and shortage of Energy follow the same cycle. There seem to be actually very few complications that don’t have their origin in overpopulation. 

The officials have come up with a lot of solutions, like providing an unlimited supply of condoms to the Africans, but they don’t seem to be doing any good. A very good policy was introduced by Communist China, known as ‘One Child Policy’ through which they hoped to combat the crisis. Studies show that this policy has prevented the birth of about 350 million babies. It would have worked wonders had they kept check on the violations of the policy. Because of this policy, the Chinese unfortunately started practising female infanticide, which has led to a deep sex imbalance in the country, where there are 118 boys every 100 girls as compared to the natural sex ratio of 105:100. What I read on Facebook really intrigued and amused me. The irony is really pronounced here – The two most populated countries, China and India are actually very shy in public when it comes to matters of sexual intimacy, as compared to the western world where losing your virginity at the age of 15 is not a big deal. The hypocrisy is hilarious.

All of this ranting is thanks to Dan Brown’s latest book Inferno which I finished reading recently. There were some hardcore facts in that book, which simply outline the fact that we’ve been living in a bubble. And how necessary it is to burst that bubble and take a peek at the bitter reality.

Do you know what a Doomsday Clock is? Imagine that all time, since the beginning of the universe, is compressed down to one hour. Then the proximity to 12 o’ clock tells us how close we are to human destruction. This symbolic clock face was introduced in 1947, and the changes in it were initially only based on nuclear wars, however, post 2007 climate changes have also been considered. The latest time the clock shows is 11.55 pm. Although it is only the people’s opinion, it should not be completely ignored.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Inferno, like most of Dan Brown’s previous books, is a wonderful integration of an exciting plot into the real world. It follows Robert Langdon in his quest to decode verses of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy which intend to lead him to his object of interest. The better part of the plot is set in the historical city of Florence, Italy where Dan Brown’s descriptions evoke great interest in the Italian history. Dan Brown takes us on a tour to Italy where he elaborately describes a lot of places of historical significance and imparts a lot of information about them as well, which simply resonates his immensely deep knowledge in this field.

He has also drawn the attention of the world to the overpopulation issue, and backed it up with mathematics, which really sets the mind thinking.  Dan Brown, through the fictional character of Bertrand Zobrist, says that unless we tackle this problem head-on, it wouldn’t take a lot of time for Hell, as described in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy written in the middle ages (and illustrated by Botticelli’s Map of Hell), to become a reality.

Botticelli's Map of Hell

“The Darkest places in Hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

About an Anecdote and Music

I wanted to get lost. It was really as simple as that. I thought about how calm I would stay in situations like these. I would secretly laugh at those idiots who panicked like babies with the sense of not knowing where they are. Until it happened to me.

It was 10 degrees celsius. Pretty warm for April in London, I would say. The sun was out, shining on the wet, glistening tar roads. The British weather and women – dealing with them is like handling explosives. You never know what hits you. The rains and sunshine alternate with the blink of an eye.

Spring in London

‘Walk around the block and come back’, my aunt had said, as I got out of the house and looked at the blossoming tree. I’m glad I didn’t listen to her because I would never have been able to experience what I did. So off I went, for a walk. Admiring the various styles the houses were built in, enjoying the light breeze that played in my hair. Blasting music in my ears. I was pretty obsessed with It’s Time and Chasing Cars that time, and I had them and a couple more songs on repeat as I swiftly left the neighbourhood block to go ahead onto the main road.

IMG_0707

The brief combination of the sun and the rains produced the beautiful product of a thin rainbow in the sky. I felt really good. I had aways dreamed of taking a walk in a foreign country and cold weather with the music of my choice and this moment lived up to every one of my expectations.

There were hardly any people in sight. It was a superb contrast to the hustling and bustling Mumbai footpaths with the sweltering  weather. I saw various schools on the way, an occasional man walking with his dog or a lady with a stroller. I passed the local recreation ground and boy, was it huge.With well manicured green lawns and shaped shrubs. There was a cemetery not far from there.

The evening slowly dragged into dusk and I began to feel the chill in the air. It was sharp. And I could see my breath forming white blurry clouds as they dissipated in the air. So I began to retrace my steps. It wasn’t that hard, because I had taken pictures of every lane’s name on my iPod. That was until I came to the roundabout. It split into four ways and that’s where I took the wrong turn.

It was eight thirty in the evening. And even though it was still sunny, I was losing light rapidly. I asked a couple of people where College Hill Road was and no one seemed to have an idea. People usually relied on their navigation systems. Even while on long journeys, they blindly follow the GPS system installed in the car, unlike in Mumbai where we stall the car and ask passers by for directions.

There was barely anyone around. I really wished I could ask someone for directions and that’s when I realised how helpful the shopkeepers and the Vada Pav wala’s and the Pani Puri wala’s can be when it comes to situations like these. Nickelback’s How You Remind Me did nothing but increase my agitation, and I stopped playing music immediately.

I saw a man with his German Shepherd. I went up to him and maintaining a safe distance, shouted out to him for directions with my best possible English accent (it turned out to be an epic fail by the way). He looked grumpy and irritated. Probably unhappy at being disturbed during his quality time with the pet. He only shrugged at me and walked away, leaving me absolutely angered at his indecency. Annoying pompous British. (No, I don’t really mean that.)

‘Excuse me, do you need help?’ It was almost as if an angel had come to my rescue. Probably because I had given a ten rupee note to a homeless man back in India, I reasoned. Making a mental note to give a five rupee coin to some beggar everyday after flying back to India, I turned around.

A fat black lady was standing on the opposite side of the street and I quickly made my way across to her. Deciding to go Desi with a normal Indian accent this time, I explained her about the fix I was in. ‘Well, I don’t know where College Hill Road is, but I’ll find out for you.’ She removed her iPhone 5 and showed me the way on Maps. I was smart enough to take a couple pictures of the map on my iPod. I thanked her heartily and slowly made my way back.

None of my family knows about this.

I have also picked out my 10 songs for the week and here they are (in no particular order) –

1) Closer – Kings of Leon. It’s got really good and unusual beats.

2) The Red – Chevelle. It’s your typical alternative song, and yet it has managed to retain an originality to it which makes it quite catchy.

3) Nothing in My Way – Keane. It was my favourite song a few months back.

4) Wasteland – Matt White. This song is from the soundtrack of She’s The Man my sister made me watch a few years ago. I sorta liked the movie.

5) Full Sail – Ryan Farish. I like to play it sometimes on low volumes when I study.

6) Take on Me – a-ha. and

7) I Want To Break Free – Queen. These two are the perfect 90’s songs. They’ve got a very nice touch to them.

8) Ants Marching – Dave Matthews Band. This is a perfect song to dance to, with so many instruments playing in the background. And they’ve got a really nice guitar piece in it. And I love his voice.

9) Night Time – The xx. It’s a very unusual song. Some may not even like it. But It’s got a nice surprise in it, and I love the beats in almost every song by The xx.

10) Exile – Dualist Inquiry. This guy’s an Indian. Which is what makes me so happy. And every time I listen to this song, I vaguely imagine myself in a suit and tie with a stylish suitcase i hand, nodding my head in tune with the beats, and surrounded by glass buildings. Kind of like in the 2011 movie In Time when Justin Timberlake visits Greenwich Time Zone for the first time.

The First Entry – The Beginning

I can move my ears, either of them separately. I can raise my eyebrows one at a time. I can move the bone which connects to the thumb of my right hand. I also have weird habits. Like for example, I like to draw with my finger imaginary circles in the air when no one’s looking. I sometimes imagine that energy is flowing through my body, and sequentially tighten my muscles to signify its flow. I don’t do that often, and I don’t do it for a reason. There are probably more weird things about me, but I can’t think of anymore right now.

Hi. The main reason I’ve decided to start blogging is because I love to write, and I like to think I have a suppressed artistic side to me, and blogging will hopefully provide an outlet to it. Oh, and planes. I love planes. I love flying. Let me add this to the list of weird things that I do – I love the thought of flying myself.

Love the thought of taking off with huge wings, just like planes do. Majestically soar in the sky at extremely high altitudes and great speed. And have those Biotechnologically engineered wheels in my legs appearing only when I need them. Every time I pass through open spaces, I often get a thought about how wonderfully fitting the place would be to just run down the length and take off steeply. I know, it’s pretty weird for a seventeen year old to have such fantasies, but hey, I never said I was normal.

I also love London. I’ve been to London on vacations exactly four times, and every one of those times has been pure bliss. I love the clear blue sky and the white puffy clouds and I love the British weather. I love the Tube and the underground railway systems and the fact that one can practically travel between any two stations with the simple use of the map with comfort. I’ve even gone plane spotting at the busiest airport in the world. London Heathrow has an overwhelming one plane simultaneously landing and taking off almost every minute. And the London Eye and the London Dungeons and Greenwich and the science museums and Thorpe Park and the Buckingham Palace and the Big Ben and Trafalgar Square’s National pillow fight day. The list simple goes on.

Another thing I love is the US television.  Modern Family, Suits, Community, Sherlock, Parks and Recreation, Shameless (US), The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Lie To Me, Do No Harm The Voice (US & UK) etcetera. I’ve also started Breaking Bad after a friend told me how awesome the newer seasons are. But my favourite show is Modern Family and it is likely to stay so for years to come. I will be talking more about that later.  I’m not a lot into movies. The small list of the good movies I have is probably the Madagascar series, Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games, Friends with Benefits, In Time, Step Up Revolution, Zombieland, Man On A Ledge and The Perks of Being a Wallflower while The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are currently downloaded on my Laptop but unwatched. The movies I’m really excited about are The Conjuring and JOBS.

I’m very much into music too, and I will be borrowing a friend’s idea in keeping ‘Songs of the week’ sidebar as well. The Imagine Dragons, Bastille, Coldplay, Daughtry, Dualist Inquiry, The Fray, John Mayer, Kings of Leon, Incubus, Nickelback, Oasis, Owl City, Pendulum, Poets of the Fall, the Scorpions, Snow Patrol, The xx and 3 Doors Down are currently at the top of my list.

I also like to read but haven’t got the time unfortunately, thanks to the madhouse of a schedule I have everyday and the bottomless pit of the backlog I’ve created in my homework. I have finished reading the Harry Potter Series like a dozen times over. Kidding, but I’ve actually read it five times and the fifth book seven times because of dear old Umbridge. It will always be something I associate my childhood with. I’ve also read the Hunger Games Trilogy (which I found absolutely thrilling) and The Perks of being A Wallflower over the summer. I love Sidney Sheldon, especially his ‘Mistress of the Game’. Simply genius.  I’ve read Catcher in The Rye by J. D. Salinger, and despite the fact that the widely appreciated novel is a hit in the general public, I never found it appealing at all. I kept waiting for something to happen in the book,  but all it does is describe one night in Holden’s sad, miserable and depressing life. Combine that with his pessimistic attitude towards everything. I may have failed to grasp the underlying message from the book, may have missed reading between the lines, and may not be in the position to criticise the book, but I’m sure there are people out there with great expectations from the book who were utterly disappointed who can relate to my views. Maybe the problem was that my expectations were a bit too high.

I’ve flirted with Apple’s personal assistant Siri and managed to get the BFF tag from her.  I feel happy.