Sunday, 21 September 2014

How to 'Look Your Best'

Hello, darling Geeks!

About a month ago, one of my favourite YouTubers posted a video talking about looking your best. Here's the video, for those of you who are interested.


Maybe I misinterpreted her, but from my understanding of the video, I could gather a few things: that looking your best is absolutely essential, that you need to be all dolled up to look your best, and that you have to do these things because you're a part of society and you have to play by the rules.

I disagree.

I hate the fact that we're becoming so obsessed with our looks. Yes, everyone enjoys looking at beauty. Looking at beautiful things makes me happy.
But my version of beauty is probably different from yours. My version of 'looking your best' is definitely different from Mimi's version.

According to me, looking your best doesn't mean you have to change your appearance because society wants you to. It's about dressing the way you want to - the way that makes you happy. Can you really look your best if you're not comfortable in your own clothes?

One point that Mimi made in the video is that we're all wearing costumes, living in our own movie. She said, "What costume do you want to wear? The costume of an extra, or the costume of the main hero?"
My question is... how can you be an extra in your own life? Why do you need to be 'dressed up' to be the main hero?

Being a hero has absolutely nothing to do with looks. Being a hero has to do with being a good person, being kind, being brave, making other people happy.... your actions and choices make you a hero, not your 'costume'.

And yes, it's important to respect yourself, as Mimi said. And I agree, it's important to eat healthy and be active and take care of your body.
But there are also other ways to earn the respect of others - through your personality!

It's true that first impressions matter. And most first impressions are gathered by your appearance, because that's what people notice first. But does that really mean you have to get out of your comfort zone to dress for others?


I don't know what people think of me when they see me for the first time. Maybe some of them think I'm average. Some may think I'm beautiful. Some might think I'm not trying hard enough, or that I'm antisocial or that I'm a Geek. Some people might not even notice me!

But that's okay, because even then, I'm being myself. And that, I believe, is how you look your best.

I could definitely look more atractive if I blow-dried my hair or hid my dark circles or wore cute heels every day. And yes, that would definitely make people want to approach me more. But it wouldn't make me more comfortable. I may have the time for it, but I don't have the willingness to do those things all the time.


If you're comfortable doing those things, go for it! You should always, always, always do the things that make you happy. Happiness is the most important part of life.

You know what makes me happy? When I wear fandom clothing, or an outfit that has sentimental value, or a pair of earrings or an accessory that has a fond memory attached to it. Maybe it doesn't make my eyes pop and maybe it makes me look shorter - but it reminds me of the amazing things and people in my life. And that's what will make me look my best.

And maybe getting all dressy is how Mimi looks her best. And maybe she does it only for herself, as she claims in the video. But that isn't true for all of us, is it?

Don't ever do something because others want you to do it. Don't change your appearance so more people will hang out with you! Don't blow-dry your hair straight so people will 'respect' you!

Do it because you want to do it. You can do all those things as much as you want, only if you want to do it for yourself! Your comfort and happiness is more important than a stranger's approval.

I know a lot of people think first impressions are everything. And sometimes they are - like in a job interview. But even then, the interviewer would pay more attention to your body language and your confidence - not what shoes you're wearing or what hair gel you're using.

So do whatever is in your power to become a self-satisfied person. That's what will help you look and feel your best.

What about you? What do you do to look your best? And what are your opinions about Mimi's video, if you've seen it? What do you think she wanted to say?
Let me know in the comments. I love discussions with my Geeks! :D

Bye for now. :)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

'Four: A Divergent Collection' by Veronica Roth: A Book Review


Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened 'Four', he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.


Hasn't it been a while since my last book review? More than two weeks!!

Anyway, I finally got around to reading the Divergent short stories from Four's perspective. It makes for a nice, quick read - I started and finished it today - because these stories are set in a time much before the events of Allegiant and Insurgent, so all it did was remind me how much I loved the first book in the series. 



There are four stories in this book (whoa, I just realised why!) plus three additional Divergent scenes from Four's perspective. 
The first one, The Transfer, is about his Choosing Ceremony. The Initiate is self-explanatory. The Son takes place after his initiation but before the first novel, and the final story, The Traitor, talks about Four's life after he meets Tris. 

Unlike in Allegiant, Veronica Roth does a good job writing from Four's perspective. Personally, I always liked Four better than Tris, so I really enjoyed getting some in-depth back story about the guy.
A few secondary characters are also seen - Eric, Max, Zeke, Shauna and Tori are prominent characters - but apart from the first two, none of them make a lasting impact. 


I didn't like The Son as much as the other three stories because it focused on a storyline related to Insurgent that I was never fond of. The Transfer and The Initiate were very exciting, and seeing Tris through Four's eyes (without bringing up bad memories of Allegiant) was refreshing. 

The three bonus scenes were all Tris-centric, probably targeted towards the FourTris fangirls. While I don't consider myself one of them, I do appreciate romance!



There are some great quotes hidden in this collection. Here are some that I took a fancy to:

Dead people can be our heroes because they can't disappoint us later; they only improve over time, as we forget more and more about them.

One thing I know: For helping me forget how awful the world is, I prefer her to alcohol. 

In that moment I'm able to accept the inevitability of how I feel, though not with joy. I need to talk to someone. I need to trust someone. And for whatever reason, I know, I know it's her.
I'll have to start by telling her my name.


The hurts from my last day with my father are healed now, but I want to remember where they were; I want to remember what I escaped for as long as I live.

To conclude, this book doesn't offer anything new to the Divergent universe. Sure, there are a few minor things here and there that haven't been disclosed before, but this collection is only a companion to the trilogy. It's not a spinoff, prequel or a sequel.

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for Four: A Divergent Collection.  
This book strengthened my allegiance to the Divergent trilogy, and it almost made me forget how bad the final book was.
I think this book is a must-read for all fans of the trilogy. From action to humour to romance, this one's got it all!


What did you think of Four's stories? Let the comment box know.

Bye! :)

PS: If you haven't already, be sure to 'like' my Facebook page. I post daily updates, trailers, fandom pictures... lots of cool stuff, in short. And I'm only one 'like' away from 150! :D

Monday, 8 September 2014

I Love Coursera + Some Online Courses I'm Taking

Howdy, internet!

Today I'd like to talk about one of my favourite websites: Coursera! Coursera is an amazing company that provides education in the form of online classes and courses, taught by professors from top universities. And best of all... it's free!

I'm the sort of person who's interested in personal growth. And I believe that personal growth comes from new experiences and learning.
And Coursera gives me the chance to learn as much as I want to!


Here are some courses that I've taken or am going to take in the near future.

1) Presumed Innocent? The Social Science of Wrongful Conviction:

Oh, how much I loved this course! This course talks about the many loopholes in the American justice system, and examines the issue of wrongful conviction using a social scientific outlook.
It was only by chance that I opted for this course. I was bored, and I felt like learning something about criminal law, and this was the only relevant course at that point of time.
But boy, am I glad that I clicked the 'Join for free' button.
Before taking this course, I had no idea that so many people are convicted or even executed for crimes they did not commit, and that too for the silliest reasons!
I now feel so strongly about this topic. There are people that spend more than half of their lives in jail for something they didn't even do! Sometimes they even get killed for someone else's mistake! Can you imagine the trauma these people go through? Not to mention the social stigma after they get exonerated!

This course has made me realise that I could never be a lawyer... but at the same time, it has made me really interested in the justice system.

I took this course not just for learning, but for the certificate as well. Grading is currently in progress - I hope I did well enough to get a distinction!

2) Social Psychology:

I love psychology so, so much. And this course has made me love it even more. Full of interesting facts, subtle humour, mind-boggling puzzles and very, very difficult assignments... Social Psychology is one hell of a ride!
I have learnt so much about my fellow human beings in the past few months, all thanks to this course and its amazing instructor.
A lot of renowned psychologists have shared their resources with us, which means amazing video lectures and interesting psychology books to read! I've heard that Social Psychology is actually Coursera's most popular course, and I don't doubt it for even a second.

I'm not taking this course for the certificate, so I haven't done all the assignments. They're very tricky, and I honestly don't have enough time to juggle college and all my courses. So this course is purely for fun.

3) Introduction to Forensic Science:

Growing up, I used to watch a lot of CID. And my favourite part in any CID episode (other than "Daya, darwaza todo!") was when they would go into the forensic lab to analyse evidence. The same goes for when I play Women's Murder Club on my laptop - the forensic aspect is the best part of those games.
So when I heard about this course, I immediately decided to pursue it. It only started a month ago, but I've learnt so much about DNA, decay, blood spatter and time of death. This course is exciting and educational at the same time - which is what learning should always be.

Again, I'm not doing this course for the certificate. Partly because it probably won't have any utility in my career, because... well, in theory, I enjoy learning about blood. In real life? That stuff makes me sick.
But it is a lot of fun to imagine that one day I could help an ongoing investigation and then become a detective. You never know what life has in store for you, right?


4) Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade (Fundamental English Writing):

This one hasn't started yet. It's a very basic course, and it's going to focus on grammar, editing and (of course) writing. I think I'm probably an intermediate writer, but I feel like it would be good for me to go back to the basics and see if I've missed out on anything that a good writer should know.

I will be taking this course for the certificate. I hope that works out well!

5) An Introduction to Marketing:

This course starts in a month.
I did a marketing project in school and I really enjoyed the process. I'm going to have an option between Marketing and Finance in my final year of college. Currently, I'm leaning towards Marketing based on my understanding of the subject. But I have no idea what a college-level course would be like, and whether I have an aptitude for it or not.
Taking this course would be like a test run. If I enjoy learning about marketing, and if I'm good at it, that decision at the beginning of third year would become much easier. And I'll do better in class, too!

I probably will take this course for the certificate. I'm not sure, though. By the time this one starts, Social Psychology would have ended, but I'd still have Forensic Science, English Writing, and my college courses to do. Depending on my workload, I'll decide later.

I'm glad my sister introduced me to Coursera. It's given me so many opportunities to learn subjects that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to learn. I could never study Forensic Science in an actual college, because I didn't study Science in my last two years of high school.
And I don't think there are any colleges in India that would let me take such diversified classes - psychology, writing, law, science, marketing... online education is so flexible!

There are no boundaries to learning, Geeks!
Check out this website and let me know what you think of online education. Which courses would you pick, and what are you planning to study in college? The comment box awaits you.

Happy learning! Bye!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

'If I Stay' Movie Review


Mia Hall thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam. But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate.  (IMDB)

A few months ago, I reviewed a young adult novel about choices, life and death. Well, today I'm going to review its film adaptation.

If I Stay released in India a few weeks after the international release, so all the critics had already voiced their opinions. And they didn't like this movie at all.
So, as I munched on my popcorn in the practically empty theatre, waiting for the advertisements to end, I figured that the next two hours weren't going to be anything special.

And I was right.

If I Stay is a story that claims to hit you right in the feels, but that actually doesn't happen. The book didn't appeal to me at all, although I did enjoy reading the sequel. So obviously, I didn't like the story of this movie that much, either.
But a few things in this movie are different, and I'm glad. There were a few instances where I - and the four other people in the theatre - laughed, a few where we smiled at Adam and Mia's love story (they actually have a decent, fleshed-out love life in this movie, unlike its paper counterpart), and one or two scenes where I felt a little bit sad about the events in Not-A-Ghost-Yet Mia's life.


I liked the way Mia's family was portrayed. They brought a lot of humour into the story. I also liked Mia's friendship with her friend Kim.
Chloë Grace Moretz was a good Mia, her parents were cast just right, but I feel like a different actor should have played Adam. I don't know... he just didn't fit the part very well. In general, the acting was fine.

If I Stay's concept focuses primarily on the back story, so this movie was full of flashbacks. One thing I didn't like was that the movie kept switching from past to present without any warning, so a non-book reader could get confused very easily.

The music was great - from the background score to the cello music to the few songs Adam sings - I loved them all. I was, however, hoping to find the cello theme that is used in the trailer. That piece of music is just phenomenal, but it wasn't featured in the movie at all. That was actually one of the reasons I was looking forward to watching this film...


One thing that surprised me was that although If I Stay is rated PG-13 in the US, it's rated A in India. And I didn't understand why. There's no actual explicit content. A few kisses, an implied sex scene, and a couple shown together in bed. Nothing that you don't see in a Bollywood movie.
I really don't understand the Indian censor board. Is it because the characters are supposed to be teenagers? Is that the reason?

At the end of the day, although I wasn't bored during the movie, I wasn't particularly interested, either. This movie and this story simply did not resonate with me. On my way home from the theatre, I thought about how I would react in a similar situation - whether I would stay or not - but ten minutes later, all I was thinking about was the popcorn.

I'm going to go with 2.5 stars out of 5 for If I Stay - the same rating for both the movie and the book. I can't tell you which one I prefer - they were both mediocre in their own way.

I do hope they make a sequel, because Where She Went, the second book in the series, was much, much better.

Here's the trailer for If I Stay. If you know the source of the cello music played at the beginning, please let me know. Also let me know what you thought of the book or the movie, or even the trailer!

Have a good day or night, folks. Bye-bye!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

'Looking for Alaska' by John Green: A Book Review


 Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.


Why do I do this to myself?

Okay, a quick recap: what did I think about John Green's other novels?
The Fault in Our Stars was good, although quite pretentious. An Abundance of Katherines was okay, although somewhat pretentious. Paper Towns was the worst book I've ever read, and every word on every page of that book was just overflowing with pretense.

So why did I think Looking for Alaska would be any different? Because everyone says it's his best work, apart from TFIOS? Because it's going to be made into a movie? Because I love Hank Green's digital works and I wanted to give his brother another chance?


I don't know why I read this book, but I wish I hadn't.

This is John Green's first novel, but it might as well have been called Paper Teens or Looking for Katherine or The Fault in Our Cigarettes. Honestly, doesn't John Green ever get tired of writing the same story again and again and again? Unpopular and geeky protagonist falls for sexy, confident, interesting girl (or boy, in TFIOS's case) and said protagonist's life changes forever.

 First of all, I don't know why all of Green's books are about pretentious teenagers who can only think and talk about pretentious things. Pretense does not make you look smart. It makes you look pretentious.


In this novel, I assume we're supposed to loooove Alaska. She reminds me of Margo from Paper Towns. Bitchy, bipolar, annoying... but, of course, she's gorgeous and our protagonist is madly in love with her, for reasons I do not quite comprehend.

To make the readers think that Alaska is an independent woman who doesn't care about what people think, John Green makes her an alcoholic, cigarette-smoking feminist who just 'loves sex'. (Alaska talks about her love for sex at least five times in the novel. Okay. Fine. We get it.)
There's nothing wrong with drinking or smoking or having sex, but did he have to shove that fact into our faces every time Alaska was mentioned?

Miles is a pathetic, pretentious fellow who succumbs to peer pressure and starts drinking and smoking because his friends do. I know that this is the truth, that a lot of teenagers have these habits, but why didn't Miles ever think about what he wants? Before coming to this new boarding school, he'd never smoked a cigarette or had a drink. But his new friends offer him some, and who is he to say 'no'?
There's one scene where he coughs after trying to smoke, and after that, he smokes like a chimney. I'd like to have seen a better transition.

The Colonel, Lara and Takumi (the supporting characters) made no impact on me. I did not care for any of them... or for Miles and Alaska.

The entire novel was full of crude jokes, content that I would consider explicit for a book about high school students, and pretentious thinking. It was so exhausting to read this book.


Here are some quotes from the book, and my opinion of each of them:

“When adults say, "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
(We cannot be born and we cannot die? Yes, we can. Energy cannot be destroyed, but we can. Stop being so pretentious, Miles.)

“It's not because I want to make out with her."
Hold on." He grabbed a pencil and scrawled excitedly at the paper as if he'd just made a mathematical breakthrough and then looked back up at me. "I just did some calculations, and I've been able to determine that you're full of shit.”
(Okay, this was funny. I laughed at this part.)

“It's not life or death, the labyrinth. Suffering. Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem. Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?”
(Just shut up. Just shut up, just shut up, just shut up.) 


I have had enough of John Green. Honestly. This book is not well-written, it's even more pretentious than Paper Towns (which is saying something), and it's a classic example of how a writer's debut is never his best work.

Sorry, JG.  
I'm going to go with 2 stars out of 5 for Looking for Alaska.
Better than Paper Towns, at least, but it's pathetic compared to TFIOS and AAOK, which were both funny and entertained me thoroughly.

Looking for Alaska has a huuuuge fan following, so let me know in the comments below if you disagree with my review - and be sure to tell me what you loved and didn't love about this book.

See you later, Geeks!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Things I'm Grateful For!

Okay, I'm feeling really awful right now, and just a moment ago, I saw this Humans of New York photo on my news feed. And I thought... well, alright. Let me list down the things I'm grateful for - because no matter how upset and homesick I am right now, my life, in reality, isn't actually that bad.

So... here goes.

1) My Family:
I personally feel like I have the best family in the world. My sister loves and understands me like no one else can, and my parents think I'm the coolest kid since, well, my sister. They may be far, far away right now, but I'll see them in just a few months.
And wherever they may be, they're always with me... in every fibre of my being. We are genetically related, after all!
So thank you, my family, for always being by my side, no matter what. And for all the adorable childhood photos.


2) My Best Friends:
You both know who you are. I've lost touch with a lot of people since school ended... A LOT. And some of those people are the ones I thought I would stay friends with forever.
But you two... it still feels like nothing's changed when I talk to you, even though a lot has. I'm not in the same city as you and we don't get to talk as much as we used to. But our friendship hasn't changed... and hopefully, it never will.
Thank you, my friends, for reminding me of our countless inside jokes, for filling my life with love and laughter and friendship.

3) Food:
Today, I ate a lot of delicious food. Chocolate milk, dosa, cotton candy, chocolate, Maggi... and I like eating food, because it's fun. And good for health. And did I mention how much fun it is?
Thank you, food, for being food.


4) The Internet:
From Google to Youtube to my blog to Facebook to Coursera to torrent websites to everything amazing that you can find online... I can't tell you how thankful I am for the internet. If it weren't for the internet, I wouldn't be able to WhatsApp my darling father, I wouldn't be able to read the news in bed, and most importantly, I wouldn't be able to talk to you, my dear Geeks!
Thank you so much, the internet, for helping me make new friends and learn new things that I wouldn't be able to otherwise. My introverted self is really, really grateful.

5) Books and Education:
Books are my escape. I can leave the world of boredom and enter a world full of fictional people and fictional stories... a world of happiness! Reading is my life. I don't know what I'd do without words on paper... or on a screen.
And I love learning new things. Sure, that may brand me as a 'nerd' or a 'geek'... but that's who I am. I'm going to do a post very soon about the online courses I'm taking. Education is amazing. It is a thought-provoking, enriching experience.
Thank you, books and education, for making me a smarter person.


6) Music:
I like going to college a little early every day. There's a window along the staircase on my classroom floor, and I like to stand by that window, enjoy the cool breeze, plug in my earphones, and sing to myself. I listen to all kinds of music - from pop songs to deep, meaningful songs to tracks from the soundracks of my favourite fandom movies. And that makes me feel really happy and alive.
A lot of people in my class don't understand why I do it. They actually give me the 'Are you crazy?' look when I tell them why I'm standing by a window instead of 'socialising', or whatever it is that people my age are supposed to be doing.
So thank you, music, for helping me figure out which people actually understand me... and for being so epic. Music... music's just amazing.


7) Dance Workouts:
Come on. Dancing. Good music. Getting fit. Having fun. All at once!!! How AWESOME is that?

I'm running out of things right now... but I swear there's more. There's a whole lot more that I'm grateful for. I just can't think of anything right now because... well, because I'm not that happy right now.
But I will be soon. Just because I'm having a bad time right now does not mean it'll be bad forever. And no matter what, I'll have all of the above to cheer me up.

I'm going to listen to some music, read a book, and have some tasty snacks right now. And then I will sleep, with the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
Let me know in the comments below... what things are you grateful for? :)

Until next time, good people!
PEACE OUT.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

I Love Myself - Just The Way I Am!

It's two a.m. as I'm writing this, I'm not at all sleepy, and I feel like I really need to talk about this on the blog. So here goes.

A few days ago, something weird happened in class. I'm not going to give you the details, because it really doesn't matter - honestly, it was just a stupid comment made by one of my stupid classmates. But it made me realise that people really tend to judge each other on the basis of looks - which might seem obvious, but... I'm very naive.

And it's true for everyone. Even me. I tend to judge people A LOT. I tend to stay away from people who wear too much makeup or people who wear low-waist jeans and bathroom slippers, because they just don't seem like my kind of friends.


I wish we didn't do that, but we do. I try to stop myself from judging others like this, but sometimes I can't help it. And I know I can't stop others from judging me, and neither do I want to. It's their life, their opinions. I have no say in what they think of me.

But I have a say in what I think of myself. And at the end of the day, that's the one opinion that truly matters.
I've talked about my past life as a people-pleaser before. I used to think that the only way to be happy was to fit in or to make everyone like me. So I tried to change the way I behaved and looked. It didn't make me happy. It just made me hate myself. And that made me realise that if I had to work so hard to try to make people happy... then I was clearly in the wrong place with the wrong people.

I'm glad that I'm not pretending anymore. I'm finally true to myself. But of course, it means that there will be people who'll think I'm weird or different. And that's okay! Because there will be other people who will think I'm the coolest thing since the internet! That's a hell of a lot of cool, by the way. Because the internet is epic.

After that incident in class happened, I started thinking about why that person would say something like that about me. Was it because I don't wear makeup, or because I wear the same old jeans and sport-shoes to college every day? Or because my hair is frizzy, or because I sit at the front of the class and take down notes? Or because I have a blog where I talk about geekie stuff?

That's when I realised that I'm not willing to change even one of those things about me. I'm not going to start wearing heels or foundation and concealer and eyeliner, because I'm not comfortable in that stuff! And I sure as hell am not going to straighten my hair or drink alcohol or quit reading books so that I come across as 'cool'.


According to me - and the people that matter to me - I am an amazing person. I am beautiful, confident, intelligent, and absolutely hilarious. My blog is solid proof of all these things!
Nobody else's opinion matters. Especially not the opinion of some random classmate who barely even knows my name.
I am not going to let anyone else's opinion dictate my behaviour. I love myself just the way I am, for all my strengths and weakness, for all my quirks and pet peeves.
And that is what matters.

So judge me all you want, creatures of the universe. Because I am AWESOME. And that is that. ^_^