She’s a brick, house.

A few weeks ago I was asked, “Why don’t you have a better half?” and I responded with a generic response – something like, “Oh I don’t know, I just don’t”. Of course, hours later I came up with the rather witty response of “Because I haven’t yet found even a half that’s better than I am!” The arrogant and egotistical side of me was very proud that I could come up with such a clever return, but of course it was completely useless as the situation had long passed. I am, though, undoubtably your go-to man for wit, if required the following day.

The occasion would have gone completely unnoticed had that been the only time it had arisen. I was asked a similar question just a few weeks previous, and had given a similar, non-specific response.

Now I am not the first person to think about the intricacies and fallacies of the idea of love, nor am I the first to write about it. That being said, I think that love is one of those few fundamental things that all of humanity can relate to. It probably doesn’t matter how many times we question it, curse it, swoon over it or take advantage of it, it will always be as relevant to our lives as bees are to honey.

But alas, it did get me thinking again. There always seem to be those individuals who find themselves in relationship after relationship. One doesn’t work out, and then the next is just around the corner. Now, are these people just better looking than the rest of the population? Do they all have remarkable personalities that make then endlessly attractive? Or are they just more open to different people? The flip side is also heavily prevalent. There are people who have have one relationship every now and then, or even less. Are these people just less likeable? Maybe these people don’t require the same number of chances to reach the person they are most compatible with?

Compatibility, I think, is the most crucial issue when it comes to relationships. It has very little to do with ones likes, dislikes, or general mannerisms. It’s one of those things that we cannot define. That, surely, makes falling in love one of the most remarkable things we as humans experience.

We live in a world with over seven billion people. It seems statistically unlikely that each of us is only compatible with one particular person. We have experienced this first hand, I am sure. Most of us have a number of people we get along with, people we can spend hours with and not be frustrated of their company. We call them friends – surely these people satisfy some standard of compatibility? Why do we not date them all?

The answer is simple and plainly obvious. Love and attraction is not just about compatibility. It should be, I believe, but we have been so instilled into a structure and ideal of love that we cannot deviate from it. It is this ideal that we will fall in love with someone whom is the correct gender we have chosen, they should be attractive in our eyes and must, in addition, hold a certain degree of compatibility. But surely this narrows down the number of people that we could possibly spend our lives with?

Let us say that out of the seven billion people on earth, we are ‘compatible’ with one billion of them. Then, maybe half of them are not the ‘correct’ gender. Then, maybe, we only find a quarter of that number physically attractive. That leaves us with considerably less people that we could live happily ever after with.

The thing is, though, that our selection criteria does not end there. It is a biological trait that we are attracted to those that are like ourselves. This means that, generally, we are more likely to find love within our own race. This further narrows the field. We nearly always look for someone within our age group, and further more within our social circles. Then, we have to add personal preferences. Maybe I would like to date someone that speaks french? Maybe I need them to be able to cook? Maybe they should be super rich? The field just gets narrower and narrower.

Say then, after we have added all of our own personal criteria, we are left with a number of around 500. The earth is a very big place. What if most of these compatible people live on the other side of the world?

A far more frightening thought, I believe, is the following. What if we have already met one of these compatible people, and we messed up the relationship with them? What if we are accidentally reducing the number due to our own fallacies?

Yes, I have made us all very scared, and I apologise for that, but I do have a point to all of this. I will express it by talking about lego.

When I was a child, I always loved playing with lego. I loved building towers and castles, little bridges and trucks. One day, I decided to build a tower. I wanted it to be a green tower. I went through all of my lego pieces and found all the green ones, then proceeded to build. Inevitably, however, I ran out of the green pieces before I could finish it. I was distraught as I could not build the tower that I wanted. Of course, I dealt with the blow, and began to add different coloured pieces. It was unpleasant at the beginning, the tower was all uneven and not uniform as I had imagined. I finished, however, and the tower stood grand. I decided then that I would add a fence around it, add a drawbridge and a garage. The tower stood still and upright, holding my lego structure together.

Every little brick that I didn’t really want there, still standing up straight, and being the tower I needed.

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Tom walked to her apartment, intoxicated by the promise of the evening.

I watched the film “Twelve Years a Slave” the other day. While I thought it was an incredible story and a very well made film, there was something that held me back from loving the movie. I spent the following few days trying to figure out what exactly it was – whether I found it too violent, or too slow – but I soon came to realise that it was none of those things, rather it was the fact that everyone and everything had hyped the quality of the film to a level beyond what it deserved.

This got me thinking (dangerous, I know) about the concept of ‘hype’ and how it has the ability to ruin everything that is good in our lives. The second someone tells you that something is ‘good’, your reaction to that thing is doomed to be a comparison of their feelings. It doesn’t matter how good you are at blocking out their opinions, their viewpoint will always be sizzling in the back of your mind, poking at your senses, unconsciously and automatically inflicting their demons upon them.

It’s not just about films either.

“Here, take a sip of this drink, it’s amazing”

“I wasn’t a huge fan of that restaurant”

“I have a friend named Sam, I think you two would really hit it off”

That’s why I hate hearing what people think of films or books, especially ones that I’ve been looking forward to. I know that someone reading the Harry Potter series today would never enjoy it as much as I did when I first read them because of all the fanfare surrounding them these days.

Admittedly, hype could also have the opposite affect, especially when something has been hyped down. My most recent experience of this involved the city of Paris. I was always told that it was rather a disappointment – apart from the Eiffel tower and the Mona Lisa, there was nothing to get overly fussed about. Maybe this lowered my expectations of the city, but I ended up adoring that little town. Nonetheless, however, I am fairly sure I would have still really liked Paris if I had heard nothing about it. Imagine never having heard of the Eiffel Tower, and then seeing for the first time!

Every now and then, though, there comes the things in life that power through all the hype. They are different for everyone, I think, which is a peaceful thought. Maybe there are so remarkable to you that no amount of hype can overthrow the expectation. Things that give you that shivering sensation when you encounter them or make you learn forward and scream into your fist. I guess, maybe, it’s those things that keep us going, those things that make life worth living. Maybe that’s why we meet new people, see new films and visit new places – to see if life can gift us with another spine shivering moment.

Makes it all kind of worth it then, doesn’t it?

My name is Sidd and I have abandonment issues.

So there is this girl I used to go to school with. Let’s call her ‘Lisa’.
I was never that close to Lisa. We didn’t eat lunch together, or sit next to each other in class. We were never paired up for a project, or even spoke that regularly. We did however acknowledge each other’s presence every now and then – a nod and smile as we passed each other in the hall way and sometimes, if we were feeling quite vicarious, a “Hi, how are you going?” every now and then.
Lisa was never a friend, nor was she was never an enemy. She was an acquaintance, a classmate, and nothing more.
Four years ago we graduated from high school and both of us, amongst others, went to the same university. We did not study the same course, nor were we on the same campus for much of the time. We did, however, run into each other every now and then.
The first few times this happened, we said hello to each other and had a short conversation. Nothing major, but just acknowledging that we knew each other from our past.
A couple of years of this passed on, our random meetings becoming less and less common. She never thought of me, I never thought of her. It wasn’t an issue, nor was it anything at all. They were average interactions between two old acquaintances.
There was a day, however, last year in March. The semester had just begun and I found myself walking through a relatively busy corridor. I saw Lisa ahead, walking in the opposite direction. I looked at her, making an effort to acknowledge that I’d seen her, only planning only to say hello and continue on my path.
I made eye contact and saw that she had seen me. As I proceeded to smile and say hi, I saw her turn away and just walk past.
Now this may just be me being shallow, but when was the point where we stopped being acquaintances? When did the nod–smile combination stop applying as a greeting? When did she become some kind of inhumane, psychotic bitch?
(I may have taken that too far)
Regardless, I eventually accepted that I was not worth the effort of acknowledgment. I got over it fairly quickly, but I will admit that it did stick in the back of my head for a while. Similar instances occurred between Lisa and I a few times over the past few years and I have finally come to peace with the truth.
It did get me thinking, however. How do you decide someone becomes not worth the effort? Is there a systematic process, or just an absence for a particular period of time? Do we all do this? Or just those of us that are generally horrible?
Or is it purely that fact that conversation is effort? The greetings and formalities and finding out information about the lives of people you don’t really care about – it can be a chore.
It’s been a few months since I last saw Lisa. I hadn’t thought about her until this morning. I had just arrived at the train station and I saw an old primary school friend named Julie. She was talking to a friend, whom I didn’t know. I considered stopping and saying hello, but I decided against it. It was a horrible moment when I realised, wow, I’m just like Lisa. I did not bother, with dear Julie. I deemed her ‘not worth the effort’ just like Lisa did to me. It made me realise that, maybe, I was a little harsh on Lisa.
It seems reasonable that we can only have a limited number of friends and acquaintances. We would, otherwise, spend much of our day involved in small talk.
Small talk is awkward. It’s a two or three minute conversation compiling of a beginning, middle and an end. It’s like writing an essay with a word limit that is far too low – you don’t want to get into anything too serious cause then you’ll go over. You could talk about anything and everything, but it’s probably more effective to focus on one point in particular. And, you have to find an interesting way to sum everything up and find a way to finish up. Extra marks for succinct language and marks will be lost for incorrect referencing.
I probably won’t see Lisa again very soon. It’s safe to say that our relationship has fizzled out into nothing and that neither of us really mind that it’s gone that way. It’s not that she’s a bad person or rude in any way. It’s just how these things work out.

Or maybe she just really hates me?

The amount of sugar I put into my coffee is dependant on my mood at the time and how many people are watching me add sugar.

Today, for the first time in what seems like decades, I went to a coffee shop and used my real name. Now, I never use my real name, and there are many reasons for this. The main one is because nobody ever knows how to spell it. I’m not even talking about my full name – Siddharth – I’m talking my one-syllable, shortened version of my name. Sidd is not that hard to say or spell. Though yes, I do complicate it slightly by using two ‘Ds’ instead of one, it still cannot be that much of a deal.
Now, back to the coffee shop instance – usually when I say my real name, I get my coffee cups back with a number of different spellings. Here a few of my favourites:
“Zid”
“Side”
“Saed”
“Mark” (I’m not even kidding)
Because of this, in recent years I have resorted to using a numerous number of fake names. This, I thought, would solve the problem easily (as lying always does). Then, I realized, that even when using generic names such as John, Tom or Fernando (It’s a conversation starter) there would still be corrections needed. My favourite occasion was when I took on the character of “Jasper” and the name “Jasmine” was called out against my order. My greatest worry in that case was that the girl taking the order looked at me and didn’t even flinch in taking that name.
So in knowing that it is not the complexity of the name itself that causes confusion, I must conclude that maybe it is the environment of the shop itself that restricts the barista from hearing my name correctly. The loud chatter of customers, the grind of the coffee machine, and the whistle of that milk-frother thingo – all factors contributing to the baristas lack of hearing. Worrying, though, considering that they are taking my coffee order in the same environment.
Now, I’m a fan of coffee shops. They bring in everyone from addicts needing their daily fix to couples on tentative first dates. But it’s amazing how well baristas get to know their customers, and I don’t mean just through general conversation. I feel as though you can tell a lot about a person from their coffee order – espresso shots for the no-nonsense business type, and caramel latte’s for the ones just going for the coffee-drinker image*. Of course, the longer the length of the order, the more serious the coffee connoisseur (or just the more annoying).
The reason I started writing all this in the first place was that today, when I used my real name to order my coffee, the barista actually spelt my name correctly. No, I did not spell it out for her, and no I had never been to her before. She just naturally spelt ‘Sidd’ with an ‘I’ and two ‘Ds’.
Who the hell does that? Seriously?
*(sorry NLH – RB, you’ll like that one)

So do you want to get a drink and check-in on Facebook with me some time?

The other day, as I was sitting in restaurant with a group of my friends, the topic of Facebook came up in conversation. In reality this topic comes up quite often in our group because one of us, let’s call him ‘Tom”, doesn’t have a Facebook account.
It usually starts by someone bringing up a issue regarding a party or gathering of some sort.
“Hey, are you going to Jen’s 21st?”
This is usually followed by a confused and slightly paranoid response from Tom.
“I didn’t know Jen was having a 21st.”
I’ll need my ears checked if more than a second passes before someone yells something along the lines of “DUDE WHY DON’T YOU HAVE FACEBOOK?”
And then it begins.
Is it not odd to think that just a few years ago we survived without this device? Something that we are constantly checking every few minutes on every medium we can get our hands on? Personally, I have Facebook on everything from my tablet to my phone, but rare is the occasion when I only have one device on me. As I write to you now, I am sitting at my laptop with our friend open as a tab on my desktop. My mobile phone is sitting a few metres away, with my iPod next to it. My iPad is in my messenger bag because I’d taken it out with me earlier today. So really, if I were to get a notification now, I’d get it four times. Yes, I need to ensure that I immediately know that my friend Mark has posted a ‘Y U NO’ meme on my wall, with no momentary lapse in concentration as an excuse.  
On the flip side, we have to consider whether Facebook has become a necessary part of life these days. Do we not generally assume when we meet someone that they have an account? Has it not come to the point that we now instantly judge anyone that doesn’t have one? Has adding someone on facebook become the new ‘getting their number”? Surely without that medium anybody would be at a disadvantage.
So during these discussions, or arguments (yes, they are minor arguments), Tom puts forward a very similar case each time. It’s the usual “I don’t want to conform” point – the classic, go-to move for any non-Facebooker. This, whilst being admirable, is such a ridiculous notion I feel like stealing all of Tom’s shoes and super gluing Lego to the pedals in his car.
What would you say if a doctor chooses not to prescribe antibiotics to an influenza patient because, well, they don’t want to conform like all the other doctors? What about if an electronics company started making black and white televisions because colour is just a bit too mainstream? Do we not think of people that refuse to use telephones as backward? Isn’t Facebook and social networking not the new, more advanced, telephone? Basically, the point that I’m trying to make is that there is a difference between conforming to society and just simply not getting with the times, man.
The other argument that Tom uses is the “If I get Facebook I’ll just procrastinate on it all day” case. Fair, yes, but Tom is surely in a position of power in this respect. He knows the effects of Facebook. He recognises the power of time wasting it can enforce; he’s seen it with his own eyes. Surely it would be easier for him to go to lengths to ensure it doesn’t happen to him? Regardless of this, aren’t the benefits far greater than the drawbacks?
Tom brought up an interesting point though, “Do you think we’ll get to a point where babies will be assigned Facebook accounts just as they are born? Will they become like identification documents?” Interesting, yes, but all I could respond with was “Would that be such a bad thing?”. If Tom gets an account and just checks it every now and then, he’ll be able to keep up to date with all of his friends. It bugs me that he misses out on things just because he is kept out of the loop. It’s frustrating when you need to contact him and you’re overseas and can’t just send a text. Facebook, the corporate, mainstream giant that it is, is part of our lives now and will be until we find a better way.