Walking Into Walls: A Special (Navigation) Story

When I was young, I used to walk into walls a lot.

My parents would let me toddle about the house, as you would allow any normal two-year-old to do, but the minute they took an eye off me, I would invariably find a wall to walk straight into. I like to think that I was a child prodigy conducting empirical research into theoretical physics from a very young age, but my parents were convinced that something was wrong with me. Strange.

The “phase” continued until I was seven. My seemingly unfulfilled desire to collide with solid vertical surfaces, repeatedly, resulted in the loss of two front teeth, a mild concussion and for a short while, my ability to communicate in any form other than frog-like croaking. In movies and novels, when things like this happen to children, they usually become child prodigies, or ambidextrous. I was already a child prodigy, so in my case, head banging had the reverse effect. I became the opposite of a child prodigy, and amphibious.

Spatial navigation remains a problem for me. I haven’t learnt to drive yet (thank goodness for everyone else on the road) but I’ve practically been forbidden from giving anyone else directions. I’ve been living in the same city for 15 years now but I can barely get from my bedroom to the kitchen. To this day, I haven’t been able to find my Narnia wardrobe. And I’m convinced I have one; I can’t have walked through all those walls for nothing. I’m pretty sure I am the Chosen One.

Anyway, strangers have stopped me a few times and asked me for directions to the nearest railway station or Starbucks or Cold-War-themed Disney Adventure Park – you know, ordinary tourist stuff. And I’m so pleased that I bear the look of a well-travelled, knowledgeable local that I ignore the fact that I still need to ask myself (sometimes out loud) which hand I write with to tell my right hand from my left. My usual go-to is “go straight along this road and then take a left”. Sometimes I mix it up a little, and say, “take a left and then go straight along the road.” If the asker looks like he/she expects more, I add “and then take the third exit off the roundabout to your left”. Always left, never right. Right seems suspicious, somehow – anything that practically announces its own degree of correctness is probably wrong. Anyway, I’m not putting their lives in actual danger or anything, just inconveniencing them a little bit. Plus, there’s only one cliff in the area I live, and what are the chances that they’ll drive off that? My mother just doesn’t seem to understand.

Psychology has an explanation for my disability. Redistributed grey matter. People who have more grey matter in the right posterior hippocampus have better spatial navigation. ‘Right’ is my least favourite side. ‘Posterior’ is Shakespeare for buttocks. Hippos are weird. All this supports my main argument: I’m pretty sure I lost some of that grey matter walking into all those walls.

Update: I just told my mother and she says that this is a circular argument. I can’t tell; is it?

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Babies On A Plane: Sit Back, Relax, and Try Not To Cry (Too Much)

I’ve finally made it to my 50th post. After two years of blood, sweat, tears, anxiety medication and more sweat – I live in a tropical country – it’s finally happened. This blog was my baby, and my baby is all grown up *sheds single tear while staring into the distance in a powerful, masculine way*.

On that note, lets talk about babies.

As a rule, babies aren’t too bad. A little bit overrated (come on, they’re just overgrown potatoes) and I certainly wouldn’t buy one unless I got a good discount plus a free coffee mug, but from a distance I wouldn’t feel the need to throw sharp objects at them. That’s generally a good thing, I think.

There is only one exception to this rule. There is one place where baby-hating would be fully justified and even encouraged. Yup, you got it.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why they don’t allow sharp objects on flights.

Disclaimer: I did not/ do not have any babies of my own. I am not closely acquainted with any. I have concluded a business deal with a few but it ended in a lawsuit. The only credentials I have to speak on this matter is the fact that I was a baby once – something that I am not very proud of and would prefer not to speak about. So parents, do forgive my lack of empathy. My mother says that I am a vengeful person.

Anyway, BABIES WERE PUT ON FLIGHTS BY SATAN WHEN HE SAW THAT HUMAN BEINGS WERE ACTUALLY ENJOYING THE HELLFIRE AND SETTING UP DECKCHAIRS AND TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS AND TRYING TO SELL HELLFIRE ON EBAY. BABIES WERE MADE TO SLOWLY LEECH THE LIFE OUT OF YOU, 10,000 FEET UP IN THE AIR. THAT WAY, YOU’RE ALSO CLOSER TO HEAVEN, SO SATAN HAS MORE YUMMY CAMPING TREATS FOR HIMSELF. WHAT A DOUCHEBAG.

I think I should clarify that this post was provoked by my recent travels on a domestic flight, graced with the presence of not one, not two, but three spawns of Satan. For the purposes of gender-neutrality (#Equality) let’s call them Satan’s Spawn 1, Satan’s Spawn 2 and Satan’s Spawn 3. The SS, for short. Like the original SS, the infant SS too enjoyed committing what can only be classified as crimes against humanity. One of them looked distinctly like Heinrich Himmler.

SS1 was a troublemaker from the start. It had grabbed my hair and thrown its Binky at me in the airport before boarding the flight, so it’d already made it clear that it had something against me. The minute the flight took off, it began to bawl. Its parents pretended that it had a earache because the change in cabin pressure (yeah, right) but I know it was doing it specifically to irritate me. Irrefutable evidence of SS1’s devious mind came from the fact that it began to cry the minute its parents sat down in their seats, and started to giggle almost as soon as its parents took it for a walk up and down the aisle. It wanted to watch its victims suffer. You don’t get a good view when you’re sitting down.

SS2 was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It pretended to be the most angelic, holier-than-thou little human, an incarnation of Gandhi himself. I almost expected it to launch a non-violent protest and spin cotton. It blinked at everyone with these annoyingly perfect big blue eyes and smiled like it was in a beauty pageant. All the air stewards and stewardesses wanted to take pictures with it, like it was a celebrity or something. For some inexplicable reason, SS2 provoked my mother to say, out loud, “Aww, I wish I had another little baby.” This was strange for two reasons:

  1. How on earth could these screaming devil-children stir up her motherly instincts?
  2. She has me. What more could she possibly want?

I hate SS2.

SS3 was nowhere near as pretentious, but my God, he had the lung capacity of Tarzan. One would think that the flight was entirely powered by the sound energy being singlehandedly generated by that one-year-old. One saving grace was that, to make it easier for his audience, he had a wide range of frequencies to convey different messages. ‘Hungry’ was two screams followed by a prolonged cry. ‘Still hungry’ was one constant long wail. ‘Get that damn air stewardess out of my personal space’ involved a complex combination of short, angry screams and Binky-flinging. By the end of the flight, each and every one of us could help write an autobiography of SS3’s life, simply by interpreting its screams.

The situation was finally brought under control by one huge, terrifying-looking man (let’s call him Archangel Gabriel, God’s special messenger), who turned around and roared “QUIET” in the most fearsome voice he could muster. For a moment, both baby and parents were stunned, while the rest of us considered nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize and making him our Lord and Saviour. From then on, He became Enemy Number 1 for all babies and toddlers on that flight, with parents whispering “shush” and subtly gesturing towards Gabriel every time their babies tried to feign colic.

My trip got my thinking: Everything in a plane is supposed to be terrorist-proof or installed for safety reasons, but I think it was originally meant to keep us safe from babies. The huge metal cockpit doors? They ensure that the wailing doesn’t reach the pilots. Seatbelts? Without those, who knows where those squirmy toddlers might crawl to? In-flight magazines? Look, look, they have pretty pictures.

There’s only thing that we’re not utilising properly: the overhead storage cabin.

If you know what I mean.

Basically High School Musical, But Without The Annoying Song Bits

When I entered high school a few years ago, my impression of it having been moulded by High School Musical and Mean Girls, I didn’t have very high expectations of the years to come. In my mind, I had created a hazy image of girls in pink dresses plotting to overthrow the administration using high heels and hair clips, football jocks bursting into songs like “Bop to The Top” and “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” during the game and computer nerds hacking into the System to steal the Principal’s secret M&M stash while he moonwalked with the nurse in the Photocopy Room.

Having graduated high school a few days ago, I realise now that I have never been more accurate about anything in my entire life. I was wrong about only two things:

  1. Contrary to my expectations, I absolutely loved every single minute of it.
  2. The football jocks didn’t sing “Bop to The Top”; they sang “Let it Go”, and occasionally, “I Am 16, Going On 17”.

Both Mean Girls and the High School Musical franchise portrayed high school cliques as being a terrible thing. At actual high school, however, I found that these are nothing but uncorroborated stereotypes created by Hollywood. I found it outrageous that Hollywood would do this without consulting me first, so this provoked me to make some uncorroborated stereotypes of my own.

High School Cliques, According to Mushroom Sup

The Bourgeoisie

Depiction in traditional high school movies: Pun(n)y little bespectacled kid, referred to as “Nerd”, “Geek”, “Give me your lunch money or I’ll give you a noogie, $%#&” or “It”.

Manifestation IRL (In real life): The high school bourgeoisie controls the dispensing of all knowledge to ensure the perpetuation of their intellectual supremacy in society. They hold too much power; they are invincible. Notes, homework, books: you wouldn’t survive high school without them. Forget bullying, you have to laugh at their terrible jokes – usually puns – if you want (to stay in) their good books. If not, expect no mercy: they’ll sic you with science and, to add injury to insult, they’ll beat you.

At chess.

Catchphrase: “Flunked a class? Was it the middle class?” followed immediately by “Laugh to pass, $%#&”

Starbucks Lovers

Depiction in traditional high school movies: The meanest of them all. They somehow have access to dangerous medication such as prescription sleeping pills and cough syrup, which they will sneak into your morning coffee (just because they’re evil) using tactics even the Navy SEALs would be in awe of. This involves wearing camouflage miniskirts and halter-tops.

Manifestation IRL: Completely harmless. The closest they’ll get to dangerous medication is pimple cream. No one admires them more than, well, they themselves, and their favourite verbs are ‘to Instagram’, ‘to Snapchat’ and ‘to #LetMeTakeASelfieBecauseIFeelSoPrettyRNLikeCommaIReallyDo’. You feel nothing but sympathy for them as you watch them stumble about in high heels looking for the perfect lighting and the perfect backdrop and the perfect hashtag to caption the perfect selfie.

Catchphrase: “My instagrammed Starbucks cup got fewer likes than hers. Do you think I should ask the Starbucks guy to spell my name wrong next time?”  

Douchebags

Depiction in traditional high school movies: The bullies. The football jocks. The ones who should really set up a bank account or ask for an allowance because they’re always short of lunch money.

Manifestation IRL: A major loss in status after the Nerd Revolution means that they are good for nothing but their entertainment value. Obsessed with (their own) facial features a day spent with the Douchebags means that you are likely to overhear things such as “Sick jawline, bro”, “Eyebrows on fleek” and “CHEEKBONES duuuude”. Football has been long abandoned in favour of the Mutual Admiration Society and giving noogies to nerds can absolutely destroy your nails. Basically, they’re the New Age Mean Girls.

Catchphrase: “Do these shades make my eyes look big?”  

The Fringes

Depiction in traditional high school movies: Also known as The Crazy Ones, the Fringes are usually arrested for snorting crushed sugar cubes off the Principal’s desk or storing the body of their mummified cat in their lockers or attacking the football goalpost.

Manifestation IRL: The Fringes are the most sought-after group. No Starbucks Lovers or Douchebag group is complete without at least one Crazy One – they’re the personal jesters. This may even amount to wars amongst sub-groups: who has the Craziest One? The Fringes themselves don’t usually know that they’re the subject of the war; they’re too busy sacrificing goats in honour of their Great and Glorious Lord, Jaden Smith. Or miming. They love miming.

Catchphrase: “Are we humans or are we dancers?”    

Teacher’s Domesticated Homo sapiens

Depiction in traditional high school movies: In the moves, for reasons unbeknownst to me, they always put an apple on the teacher’s desk. Why? No one wants to come to school and be given an apple (although it’s quite big and heavy so it might be useful to throw at students sometimes). Anyway, they’re the ones who follow the teachers around, ratting out The Crazy Ones when they bite the lunch lady. Again.

Manifestation IRL: Integral part of the social hierarchy – they’re the middlemen. Negotiating deals between the administration and the Plebeians is what they were born to do. Students want less homework? Teachers will listen to no one’s pleas but theirs. Teachers want higher pay? Sure, as long as they get a 15% cut. 20% if it’s the weekend.

Catchphrase: “An apple a day makes me rich beyond my wildest imagination.”  

To conclude: Of course, these are stereotypes from my little corner of the world but if you look carefully enough, I hope you’ll find yourself reflected in one of these, perhaps even in the front cameras of the Starbucks Lovers, or in the reflecting shades of the Douchebags or even in the shiny apples of the Teacher’s Domesticated Homo sapiens.

God, I’ll miss high school.
I’ll have to find a new place to hide my mummified cats now.