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(not the bird in question)

Government guidelines on what to do in quarantine include going out for mild exercise — namely, casual walking in the mild early spring weather. Under quarantine, this kind of walking is considered a luxury — a reminder that the world actually existed a few weeks ago, that time when apparently you were spending “too much time on Twitter” and not enough time “being present in your actual relationship”.

As I walk down my street, I pass a concrete tower block and I curse it. Or rather, I curse the winged demon that sits on the top of said block –– the grey and orange ghoul that towers over the newly quarantined. The winged ghoul rarely moves. It stands, sometimes stretching its wings, as it observes its new kingdom, bestowed on it by the virus. I stop and stare at the bird, and it stares back. I wonder if it understands its new power. I wonder if it respects it. …


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My Life Is Not Mine —
Give up wanting what other people have.
That way you’re safe.
“Where, where can I be safe?” you ask.
This is not a day for asking questions,
Not a day on any calendar.
This day is conscious of itself.

— Rumi

This is my penis song
I wish that I had a bigger shlong
One that was quite a bit more thick and way more long
One of those porno king kong dongs

— Macklemore, Penis Song (2005)

HK: Hey, quick question, why do you have your dick out so early in the afternoon?

Sam*, a software engineer from Australia: We are all going to die anyway. If I am found, I want to be seen doing something that I love.


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According to these MCs, Soundcloud has nothing on your least favorite social network

A couple of weeks ago, a Coventry, U.K.-based rapper connected with me on LinkedIn. In his bio, Skatta (aka 23-year-old Nathan Hunter) describes himself as a “Grime Artist” and has been “endorsed” by other LinkedIn members for his skills in music production and entertainment. His work experience details his time as a manager, before becoming a full-time rapper working on an upcoming album. Skatta has profiles on all the major social media networks and even a Spotify page, but he tells me he invests most of his efforts into LinkedIn. …


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Tiger

And making history in the process

As a kid, Simran Jeet Singh had dreams of becoming a professional boxer. At 10, sleeping in a Leicester bedroom surrounded by posters of Muhammad Ali — his favorite being the iconic image of Ali towering over a knocked out Sonny Liston — Singh started boxing at a local sports center. (Other favorite pros he used to watch over and over again on VHS tapes of his grandfather’s: Frank Bruno, Cornelius Edwards, Kirkland Laing and Maurice Hope.) Eventually, Singh began fighting in amateur club bouts. He tells me over the phone that he only had three losses in 30 fights, all of which were on technicalities. “I was very good at the sport and took to it naturally,” he says. …


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Forty-year-old Marcus Jones finished his first marathon in London this year, in just under six and a half hours, an unremarkable, if not disappointing, time for most marathon runners. (Even the average mark for novices tends to be just under four and a half hours.) It was far from unremarkable or disappointing to Jones, though. He took up running last year after developing breathing problems due to his heavy 240-pound frame. He set the goal of completing a marathon largely because the people around him, including his doctors, suggested he couldn’t. …


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Introverts are carving out their own space in the resistance movement—and changing the way we protest

In November 2010, Andrew, 28, was in a fetal position on a side street in central London. At the time, he was a first-year undergraduate at the University of Leeds, studying history and politics. Like many students across the country, he’d traveled to the city to protest against the government’s decision to raise university tuition fees, alongside nearly 60,000 other students. While the protest received mainstream media attention with images of anti-fascist protesters covered in black balaclavas breaking the windows of the Conservative Party headquarters, Andrew, a pseudonym, remembers that moment for different reasons.

“I was so overwhelmed. There was so much noise, and I got stuck in huddles a few times. I’d lost my friends, and no one was picking up their phones. It was all so chaotic. I tried to find somewhere to calm down, and I ended up on a street away from the protest, completely on my own,” he tells me. “I felt panicked, anxious and unable to cope with all the noise, lights and sirens, so I sat down and tried to block it out. In the end, it was too much for me.” Andrew says that he was on the ground for more than half an hour before someone helped reunite him with his friends, who were further up in the march and were trying to call him. …


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In the opening shots of the trailer for the Bollywood movie Stree, a group of men are huddled together in darkness, whispering about a notorious female ghost who captures the souls of her male victims, leaving only their clothes behind. Written on the walls of the house in red paint is the slogan, “O Woman, come tomorrow.” Throughout the film, men living in the haunted village of Chanderi — a local economy largely built on the manufacturing of women’s garments — quietly express their fear of going outside. “Come home soon, I feel scared when I’m alone!” …


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boyswithplants

In a greenhouse in Istanbul, Tayfun, a young Turkish man with a shaved head and a thick, black beard, sits shirtless in the sun, casually admiring a fan palm tree. Meanwhile in Bangkok, Takoyakrit, a male model, stands among bright green barringtonia flowers, showing off his pec, chiseled abs and bedhead. The images are tagged #plantdaddy, and underneath commenters share adoring sentiments — e.g., “You are a HOT and PERFECT guy” and “pure #plantporn.”

This is a mere snapshot of the hundreds of pictures collected on the instagram account Boyswithplants, showing men from all over the world posing with their plants. And while their facial expressions may be coy, the account’s prevailing sentiment is cystal clear: Plants are hot, and the guys who take care of them are even hotter. …


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In their suburban home in Finchley, North London, Stuart and Mary Townsend, a young, professional couple in their 30s, are hovering over a laptop, adding to a spreadsheet labeled “donors.” The eight column sheet lists almost every detail about potential sperm donors, ranging from their height and weight to snippets of family history. “One person we interviewed claimed his great-great grandfather was a descendent of King Charles VI,” Mary says, while sitting in her magnolia painted study, lined with books on surrogate pregnancy and guides to sperm donation and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). “But we haven’t been able to prove it.” …


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Such guides are as old as dust, but they’ve found new life online among recent gym converts who swear by them

For the past four months, Shravan Upadhayay, a 30-year-old tech consultant in Faridabad, India, has been on a strict workout regime. He lifts four to five times a week and does one high-intensity cardio session at a small, cheap gym at an old motorcycle repair shop near his house. Similarly, he’s adopted a strict diet, complete with a meal prep schedule that includes measurements of how much his food should weigh. His goal is to both add more muscle and become more toned.

About

Hussein Kesvani

Writer, UK/Europe editor for MEL

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