Atomic Essays by KP

An atomic essay is a refreshing blog format for modern sapiens. In this blog, I write short, delightful essays under 350 words. They're simple, fun, and reads like butter.

#84 Patriarchy begins at the hospital

My wife and I crossed a major milestone last week. We had a baby girl. She is so pretty we constantly wonder how! Genetics works in mysterious ways, I guess. When I was at the hospital for my wife's delivery, I noticed something. Everyone at the hospital - from the hospital staff to random strangers on the elevator thought of the same thing. They assumed I had a boy. They addressed the baby using male pronouns. For instance, I was bringing the baby back to the room after her vaccination and a b...
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#83 The Baby Pressure

If you're an Indian, one of the things people ask you as soon as you get married is "so, when is the good news?" - which is the code word for 'having a kid'. Indian society hasn't come to terms with how pressuring and violating that one question is. They keep asking. And many ignorant newlyweds give up to this peer pressure. It is a lovely move for couples in long-term relationships, but it is dangerous for someone who'd gone through an arranged marriage. Without knowing their partner and stre...
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#82 Traditions change with time

This is not a rant or advice. This is something I’ve observed and thought about a lot. Societal and traditional values change with every generation. For example, a good chunk of people in Tamilnadu performs a ritual called “Kaateri and Muneeswaran poojai” before a wedding or childbirth in the family. They believe the ritual will protect the newlyweds and newborns from any harm. My grandparent’s generation conducted these rituals in open spaces at night. They finished the poojai, ate cooked me...
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#81 The ‘good luck’ song

Every time I boarded the bus to attend a semester exam, I listened to ‘Hotel California’ by Eagles for good luck. I’m not sure how I got introduced to the song because back then I only had three types of friends: the one who listened only to Tamil songs, the one who listened to Backstreet Boys, Westlife, and Britney Spears, and only one person in the third category who never listened to any song. I occasionally came across Metallica from friend’s friends, but I never got heavy metal, so I gave ...
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#80 We love teaching the experts

November 7, 2022 Last weekend, I witnessed something fascinating. I saw everyone on Twitter teaching Elon Musk how to run Twitter. They never cared about the fact that Elon Musk has revolutionized two industries in the last decade: the automotive industry and space travel, and has more experience running a company than 99.9% of the people on Twitter. But, the folks of Twitter never stopped. The advice kept coming. We love being the experts on social media. Whenever a major news event occurs, t...
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#79 Forgotten Favorites

I heard the song when my car tuned into the only available station at that time. The song was 'Adikadi' from the movie 'Ponmaalai Pozhudhu'. Most of you wouldn't have heard it. But I listened to the song every day when the album was released in 2013. It was my favorite song that year. But, then the song disappeared from my life. No signs of it all these years until I heard it that day during my drive. All those memories came rushing back to me. It happens to all of us. We all have a list of fav...
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#78 Enjoy the journey

In 2013, I boarded the train to Kolkata with a bunch of friends on a photography trip. We roamed Kolkata for five days, walked the streets from morning till night, and we shot hundreds of photographs. It was great. But, when I came back and looked at all the photographs on my computer, I found only five good photographs that I can proudly share with the world. The rest were mediocre. This was not new. Whenever I go on a photography trip or weekend photo walks, I get one, or maybe two decent pho...
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#77 Find ways to process your emotions

Whenever there's an arguement and I raise my voice, my mom would immediately say "There are people around us, living in other flats, Karthik. What would they think?" It was cue for me to lower my voice and suppress my anger. Only in those moments, I often think "What would they think? They would think I'm angry. What else would they think?" But, to be honest, why should I regulate my emotion wondering what would my neighbor think of me? Why should I care?. As humans we have basic rights for eve...
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#76 When in crisis, talk to a therapist

The title of this essay might have made you think “Isn’t it obvious?”. But, how many of us have gone to a therapist when we faced a crisis? When we felt angry, stressed, or anxious? We never did. During such moments, we either think “This too will pass” or chug down a few beers assuming it will make us feel better. I was no different. I never realized I had unprocessed grief from my dad’s death. I was suffering from anxiety and depression. Like all the others, I thought “This too shall pass”. B...
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#75 The remedy to overconfidence is a setback

My dad never believed in health insurance. He always said “I haven’t done anything wrong in my life, so I won’t get sick.” (I never understood this concept). I would say he was overconfident because he was in his 60s, he was a smoker and he had diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. That paints quite a picture, isn’t it? After a lot of argument, in 2010, my mom and I convinced him to sign up for a health insurance policy for a meagre sum of Rs.50,000. One day in 2012, I got a call fro...
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#74 Life is like a car

I came up with this metaphor while listening to a podcast. I know it’s a weird metaphor. I think so too! But, hear me out. Our body is like a car. It has got thousands of moving parts. But, there are some major factors that keep the car going. For example, our mind is the driver, good health is the engine, and time is the fuel. If the engine has issues or stops functioning, then there is no use for the fuel. The journey slows down or stops completely. Similarly, if we run out of fuel, the car w...
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#73 Get rid of habitual complainers

Some people cannot be satisfied. Whatever you do, how much ever you care, you can’t stop them from complaining! They’re known as habitual or chronic complainers. They always manage to find a reason to be dissatisfied. You can see habitual complainers everywhere. The dude next table who keeps complaining about the food at the best restaurant in the city, the old man who complains about the government while waiting to get government benefits, the lady on the flight who calls the air hostess a zil...
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#72 Society makes us feel guilty for spending our money

Earlier this year, I wanted to buy a MacBook. I had the money, but something was stopping me from buying it. I felt guilty for no reason. I thought what if my mom thinks I'm irresponsible! What if my friends judge me for spending so much money on a laptop! But then my wife said, "Why are you feeling guilty? If you have the money, and if you need that laptop, just go and buy it. Don't worry about others." We're often surrounded by this imaginary guilt that stops us from buying what we want. Whe...
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#71 The wealth that powers life

There are three types of personal growth: Physical, material, and mental. But, we only care about the first two. We’re often interested in the body image of ourselves and others. Someone becoming fat or thin or well-built is often a topic of discussion when we meet someone. It is even a major subject of interest for the media. We do the same when it comes to material wealth as well. We’re curious about moving up the career ladder, saving up, buying that car, or building that house. Society has ...
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#70 Everybody is selling you something

When we're young, parents sell us the idea of God, karma, education, and career. While growing up, our friends sell us the idea of love, relationship, and getting high. Teachers sell us the idea of education and prosperity. Our government sells the idea of taxes and patriotism. Relatives sell us the idea of selling abroad and earning in dollars. The society sells the idea of marriage and a family. Our workplace sells the idea of promotions and success. Financial institutions sell us the idea of...
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#69 Life finds a way

I have a spot to sit idle and do nothing. Everybody should have a spot to sit idle and do nothing. My spot is not a fancy coffee shop or a mall. It's a barrier that seperates the main road and the service road. There's a supermarket nearby and I usually get an ice cream or a drink and then sit on the barrier and observe the sky, the people walking around me, and the vehicles whirring past me to best the signal that turns red every ninety seconds. Today I was sitting at the same place with a c...
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#68 - We believe in mornings. Should we?

Mornings are magical for most of us (some of my friends who do their best work late at the night would disagree.) As humans, we believe that mornings signify a fresh start. If you feel sick, the advice you get is “sleep it off, you’ll be alright in the morning.” If you feel sad, people around you would most likely say “Get some sleep. Things will become alright.” Fighting an infection? The doctor would probably say the same thing - that things will be okay the next day. For some reason, we bel...
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#67 Don’t assume what’s good for your kids

When I was thirteen, my parents took me to consult a Psychologist. Reason? I flunked in all the subjects at school. My parents assumed I needed to talk to a psychologist without talking to me about what was going on. Until 9th grade, I used to wake up at 4 AM, take a bus to Egmore, play tennis, come back and go to school. In the evenings, I had a music class. Then I had homework. I felt tired all the time and was not able to focus on my studies. My teachers constantly kept telling me that music...
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#66 Choose happiness over sacrifice

When I grew up, mom never used to join us for breakfast or dinner. She’ll be busy in the kitchen cooking for me and dad. Her logic was the breadwinner of the family and the kid should eat first and they should eat it while it’s hot and fresh. She’ll eat after we finish eating. I always hated the idea. As I grew up I tried to reason with her, said we could all eat together. But she never listened. She used to say that this is how women are suppose to be. I don’t blame her. She was conditioned tha...
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#65 Friendships die because of assumptions

We make a lot of friends. But most of them fizzle out during the course of time. This happens because of several reasons. Unsaid words - There is build up of several opinions about the other person for a long time. We keep it to ourselves to a point and we stop hanging out. The other person would try their best to connect and will eventually give up. Life happens - We go on our own paths, fighting our own battles, we forget to get in touch with those who are close to us. At one point everybody...
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#64 The Promise I Made To My Bike

I bought my bike - a Discover 100 DTS-Si under difficult circumstances. Even though I was working a full-time job, most of my salary went into re-paying the educational loan, paying bills, and managing the family expenses. And a year later, I had to quit my job to do my master’s degree and my pocket money for a whole month was ₹800. So, I never had a lot of money for fuel. I’ll fill petrol for ₹50 and drive around. I never filled petrol beyond the reserve point. My bike always ran on reserve f...
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#63 Anything But Lucky

I recently met a friend from college. We were en route to meet a few other friends, and we started catching up. “What do you do now?”, she asked. I said, “I handle product marketing for an enterprise software company”. Her reply was, “so, you work in IT?” Even though we studied Biotechnology, a good chunk of us moved to IT and other jobs. “Yes…I work in IT, but in a non-IT job”, I replied. And that is when it struck me. I always wanted to be part of the tech space, but in a non-technical role...
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#62 Annachi Kadai Rasna Packet

I’ve heard so much from my mom and others about Chennai’s weather. When I came here with my parents in 1999, I realized every bit of what I heard was true. The summer heat was unbearable and I was often amazed to see people in the city walking like it was nothing. And, the worst part was the weather remained unchanged for a good six to seven months. We lived in an independent house and we beat the heat by sprinkling water on the terrace during evenings to wade off the heat and by keeping all th...
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#61 There is more to a car

My favorite pastime these days is having lunch in my car. I buy takeaway from a random biriyani shop, park my vehicle under a tree on some random road, turn up the AC, and eat the biriyani from the back seat of my car while listening to RJ Balaji’s ‘Naalana murukku’ podcast. A car to me is more than a vehicle. It is my personal space. An extension of my home. My ticket to freedom. Truth be told, outside of my home, I am my true self when I am in my car. I put on my favorite song and sing along ...
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#60 The vibe of Middle-class bars

I think about the weirdest things when I’m out on a walk. This time I thought about beer. “Some beer and fried chicken would be nice” I told myself. I then ignored the thought and continued walking. I stopped a few hundred meters from home to catch my breath. I looked up at the sky, but a neon signage blocked my view. The signage said “bar”. It was a message from the universe. I listen to the universe. So, I went in and took the corner table. The bar was empty, cold, and the entire place was fi...
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#59 Having babies doesn't make you previleged

This is a rant. The small ‘bhavan’ restaurant was full by the time I and Suba settled in our seats. The waiters were frantically moving between tables noting down and delivering orders. We asked for the specials and placed our order. A minute later, an elderly couple walked in with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson who was not more than three years old. Since there were no seats, the family sat in the empty seats. The old man in the family waltzed to our table and asked his wife to sit n...
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#58 No experience is Irrelevant

Money - that’s the only thing I thought about in 2013. I realized I was dependent on my parents for too long. So, I started saying “Yes” to creative assignments. I didn’t know any skill. But, I was confident that I can learn anything over a weekend. And, most times I did. The first time someone asked me if I can design a short film poster, I said yes. I also said I would deliver it in two days. But, I didn’t know how to design a short film poster. I learned the basics of Photoshop over a weeken...
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#57 The Sunset Constant

New cities can be overwhelming. The crowd, the culture, the food, the climate, the streets. Too much to take in when you’re visiting a place for the first few times. I had a similar experience in Delhi recently. I’ve been to the city twice (my last visit was in 2016), but the experience this time was different. It wasn’t like last time where I spent an entire evening sitting on one of the broken structures of the Hauz Khas fort that overlooked a small pond. A lot of things were different this t...
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#56 It’s Okay To Be A Hidden House

I take the same walking route every day. It’s been close to a year since we moved to the new place and I pretty much knew all the shops and buildings in my street. But, yesterday I noticed something new on my street. It was an independent house. A big one. It was hiding amidst the plants and the trees. From the looks of it, I would say it was there for a long time. But, I failed to notice it before. Independent houses have that quality. They hide in plain sight, in the middle of apartments and...
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#55 The soul of Cafés

I’ve acquired a new habit in the recent times. Working out of cafés. After two years of working from home, I realized chaotic environments help me focus better. I was able to focus better when the noise of a crowd played on my headphones. But, then I thought “why play recorded sounds of a crowd when I can actually be some place that has the real crowd?!” I realized there is a Starbucks five minutes away from where I lived. So, I decided to give it a shot. And, I loved it! The place was well-lit...
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