Roots and some epiphanies

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4 May 2018
For the first time in my life, I actually miss India while being away. Usually this never happens, because of my insatiable wanderlust. To add on to it, I have been having revelations of sorts. Out of which the most striking one is the fact that I’m suddenly immensely glad I was born Indian, and for the first time I’m feeling overwhelmingly happy because if it. I’m appreciating from where I come from, for the fact that my roots have a tenderness that the west lacks, for the fact that we have an unruliness the west does not possess, an unruliness which is almost poetic, because it comes off as more natural than the mechanical orderliness of the west.
I’m suddenly grateful of the fact that I understand and enjoy eastern things..and feel an innate sense of belonging to them. They may not be the finer things in life, but they sure have a quality, or rather a tenderness that is etched into the nature and the cosmos – a sort of beauty in chaos. Eastern music has it, our dance and art forms have it, our literature and our spiritual places have it. And the bliss I feel even at the thought of it all is divine. It is not something that the western materialistic world possesses and for the same reason we are not able to perceive them while in the thick of western lifestyle or culture. I don’t know how much I’m making sense, but I do think at least some of my fellow Indians have thoughts aligned to mine, and can at least obscurely understand what I’m getting at. I guess it’s always most difficult to express something that we feel at the core of our heart, rather than something on our mind, especially when our heart is brimming with the said feeling that it just doesn’t overflow as words.

I am wondering if being pregnant is what is making me have these thoughts that I’ve never felt before. Maybe bearing this pixie stardust from the core of this universe inside of me and being one with this incredible, magical spark of life, is what is making me have ‘enlightenments’ I’ve never had till date. After all, at this moment this tiny one is divine in every sense.

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Women’s Day Wishes to all Superwomen!

It’s Women’s Day and especially in the wake of the highly controversial breastfeeding campaign that swayed Kerala this way and that, with a rollercoaster of opinions, just pondering over few things.

1. Why do some people think showing ‘some parts’ of the body is ‘vulgar’ and some are not? Showing off mid-riff while wearing a saree is okay, skin seen till just above the knee is okay, showing your bare-skinned back through a low cut back-open blouse is okay, hands seen bare till the shoulder is okay, but showing part of your shoulder and upper chest is not?

2.Why are even modern women with supposed modern outlooks still conditioned to such pre-conceived notions?

3.Isnt it high-time we understood it’s personal freedom of a woman to decide and feel comfortable with the length of her dress or the amount of skin she shows? And that noone, not even other women have the right to judge it.

4. Breastfeeding may look the same as wearing a low-cut blouse, or an off-shoulder top, but it isn’t. Someone is having food, not having sex. So it should be less frowned upon, but unfortunately it is the opposite.

In this 21st century where women are oppressed in all walks of life, we should at least be granted the freedom to choose how we dress or feed our baby.

So, all my women friends, please wear whatever ‘you’ want, a low cut blouse, an off shoulder top, a micro mini skirt, a bikini, a hijab, whatever. Feed your baby however you want, in the privacy of a room, in a public place, wearing a towel, without it, or however you deem comfortable. Wear, flaunt, fly, for you are all Supergirls! Noone has the right to judge you. Those who do, are hypocrites of the highest order. “Attire Nazis” I would say!

Happy women’s day, all you beautiful women out there ! Much Love 🙂

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US, UAE and some lessons in love (23/09/2017)

20 days, 10 flights, 5 cities, 2 countries, numerous people, and uncountable experiences later, I sit here pondering on what exactly was my single take-home from this trip. Despite all the fun I had, the many places I visited, the memories I made, I think the one thing that struck me most, and stuck with me were the amazing people I got to be around. Though I was on a solotrip, I spent most of my time in close proximity with different couples in each city. And I somehow got to learn a lesson or two on relationships. Which expectations are unrealistic, and which are not, and whether I was wrong every time I self-doubted my worthiness to receive anything in a relationship. I realised for a happy and healthy relationship, taking each other for granted should stay an anathema.

I don’t know if it is the fact that these people are away from their extended family, or the fact that they are in a place where they don’t get house help like in India  that seem to have worked in favor of their relationships. I saw men who considered his woman as the other half of him, and not a bigger half who has the bigger share of house chores, or a lesser half who is a slave who does all the house work that he is also meant to take care. Moreover, I saw that a completely contented woman always had a husband who was mindful of her smallest discomforts. Even when she pulls open the car dashboard he would ask her to mind her knees. When she walks across the street, he looks out for oncoming vehicles even from inside the car. When she sleeps in late, he makes sure he cooks her breakfast by the time she is up. And so on and so forth it goes.

I realized that a truly contented relationship may not always have a wife who is mindful the same way even with her boundless love for him. But that’s forgivable, I understood. Because like it or not, it’s a fact that almost always it’s a woman’s heart which craves the need to be tended to, to be protected, to be kept in a treasure chest padded with soft pillows, and man, the one who revels in keeping it in a safe haven, just the way she wants.

I saw people who made love and consideration for each other their priorities, and there I saw truly contented hearts and eyes. I saw love that is worn like a beautiful trinket, which shimmers its way even through the darkest of nights. Love that clothes them, salvages them from the fiercest of winters. Love that was like tattoo, had become part of their skin, which cannot be stripped off of them, no matter what. Love that was etched on to their flesh and to the core of their beings. Love without which they cease to exist, their souls be no more.

And only that kind of love, is love. ‘Cause, there just isn’t any place for mediocrity in love.

(Wrote this 5 months back, but thought of posting it on the day of love.)

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY !

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In the wake of #MeToo…

MeToo-twitter-imageOver the past 2 weeks, social media has exploded with the #MeToo campaign. It caught fire when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo in the aftermath of ‘Harvey Weinstein’ scandal, where dozens of women accused the Hollywood mogul of having sexually harassed them. Following Alyssa’s tweet millions of women have come forward with stories of being prey to known and unknown men who sexually harassed or molested them.

I too put up a #MeToo post just like 90% of my women friends did. It is commendable that we women have found strength in the collective, which we couldn’t as individuals. I prefer to refrain from articulating on the many incidents over years, which led me to write #MeToo. Instead I’m pondering over this one time when someone groped me in an office meeting room – the safest places of all, one would assume – and to my utter disbelief, I found myself dumb-struck. I was unable to move or say a word for the first few minutes. My tongue felt like it was glued to the roof of my mouth, my hands seemed stuck to the sides of my body, my senses frozen.

So what happened to the bold, liberated, free spirited woman I presumed myself to be all those while? What was this inertia which suddenly consumed me beyond my own belief? Was it because I was transported back in time to a period when I found myself in similar predicaments, but did not know how or if I should respond? Or is it that despite all what I had surmised about myself, I too am just another weak, feeble, hapless woman like the millions I doled out pity over the years?! If so, who was responsible for my complete incapacity to react, despite being a non-conformist who has been relentlessly vocal about justice and its paraphernalia? Why did I let him walk out of the meeting room with a puffed-up chest like he had conquered something prodigious, instead of hanging his head in shame for his abominable behaviour? The fact is, I felt disgusted. I am not sure who is responsible for that though – him, my upbringing, or the society as a whole. A revolting, repulsive feeling overtook my entire being that I was ashamed of my body, ashamed that I have breasts. And made me freeze like an Arctic iceberg.

Thankfully I was wise enough to come to my senses, lodge a complaint with the HR department and the punishment he deserved was meted out – immediate termination. The myriad of #MeToo hashtags that have been swarming the internet shows the unbelievable number of women who have been preyed upon right in our vicinity. Isn’t it surprising that most of the women we know have all been wronged against, but none of us know as many men who have been in the wrong? Precisely why women need to rise from being lambs who find strength just in herds, and be tigresses who hold their heads high even while facing the storm. Let fingers be pointed with no shame, at those who think they can hide in the safety net of anonymity endowed by the silence of women.

This thought catapults another incident to my mind. Of another woman who stood up against the atrocity that she was faced with. A colleague at the same office, who had an exactly identical experience from her co-worker. She promptly filed a complaint to the HR team. She had to attend multiple hearings and discussions for months, which culminated in them deciding to move the person to another location as a disciplinary action. She expressed her disapproval that this sort of trivial penalizing would not suffice. And now even after 10 months, she is still fighting for justice. The worst part is that, one of the lead in the HR team, called her for a meeting outside office premises and advised her to forgo the case, lest it creates more issues and more ignominy to her. The difference between mine and her case was that, I had a voice clip I discreetly recorded while confronting the guy about his deed and that proved his culpability, while she on the other hand had no proof of the incident. Whatever happened to ‘no questions asked for harassment redressal’, that too in a company which has been featured repeatedly in the global list of ‘Top 50 employers for women’!

And a question gnaws my insides – When a woman is treated like she is a run-down wall any passer-by could scrawl scruffy graffiti on, it takes every shred of her strength from every crevice of her being to tear herself open, lay out her entrails and scream aloud of how she was trespassed. And when she manages to do that, if the law, the organization she works for, or the society that includes her family and friends look at her as if she is a culprit, and if she needs to prove what happened to her or she needs to be ashamed of what transpired, what is she left with? When she tries to stand tall and cry her lungs out of the horrors she endured, where would a woman draw strength from, if her trembling shins are kicked down?

 

For ARoy, from my humble pen

When the hands that pray

Are same as the ones that kill,

And people think it’s divine to fold palms

And bow down in temples, still.

Should you give them a ‘sermon’,

Which noone else will ?

Or instead, just sit back, be nonchalant

And take a tranquilizer pill?

Even when those voices ring in your ears,

Painful and shrill,

Should you let it blare,

Alongside the incessant blood spill ?

The thoughts that make you restless

And make your bones chill,

Should you let it be, let them wane, or at least

Let your bleeding heart be dipped by your quill?

 
Arundhati Roy, such an inspiration.. and this is about her.. from my humble nimble fingers 🙂

#ArundhatiRoy #Inspiration #TheMinistryofUtmostHappiness

Chester.. “In the end , it does matter”

For the past 10 hours or so, I’ve been scraping every bit of news off of the internet, about the apparent suicide of Chester Bennington. In the shock, didn’t know what else to do, or how else to vent.

Chester and Linkin’ Park holds a significant part of my coming of age, the days when I didn’t know if I am a teenager or an adult. His words ran deep into my veins, and his songs drilled right into my heart. And it was so easy for him to have that effect on me, like many others I’m sure, because such was the power of his music, and his voice. I had all of LP songs in my playlist most of the time, their wallpaper and screensavers on my computer desktop. In fact the best way to concentrate while I study was to listen to LP loudly with headphones and then read the textbooks. Chester was my go-to-person during my ‘not-so-bright’ days at college, imbued with adulterated friendships, broken relationships and tattered hearts. And then the image that comes to one’s head would be me taking a long drive in car, lulling my head to music slowly. But no, the only way I knew to vent was to drive like crazy, screaming his songs out loud and that was my healing process. And it worked like magic, every single time.

When I decided to go abroad for higher studies, the very first article on top of my ‘to-do list’, was to watch LP live before I come back to India. And I made it happen, even though I had to drag friends who knew absolutely nothing about the band. To my surprise, they too enjoyed the concert quite a lot even when they had never heard any other songs than ‘In the end’. That was the charisma of Chester running all about the stage like a rabbit, singing and screaming, throwing water all over his face intermittently and never taking a proper break in the whole 3 hours. He really was born to perform, an absolute superstar, in every sense of the word.

I am sure many like me understand it when I say LP gave me the will to go on. To an extent, it is better to face things with rage than with depression. With rage you fight it out, you don’t give up. I don’t know how to explain feeling connected to a person whom you never knew in person. But I felt it. And I know for many my age, his songs helped fight our demons, and he literally was part of our growing up. I felt he dragged me out of hell holes and pits of darkness, while singing to me that he’s been there too, and I am not alone in feeling what I felt. I remember feeling that if he could fight the devils inside him and rise up in life, so could anyone. And through it all, I changed, transformed, and I learnt one more way to vent and cope – write.

But I think I still need to take a drive now. For, no amount of words seems to heal this pain.

He sang,

I want to heal,
I want to feel,
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long (Erase all the pain ’til it’s gone)
I want to heal,
I want to feel,
Like I’m close to something real
I want to find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

Chester, I hope you are in a place you feel you belong, and you find the peace you wanted all along. Nothing can ever deter the love and allegiance I feel to you and your music. Love you forever and ever.

 

Women’s day specials

FM channel 1 – Man congratulating his lady colleagues ‘cos they are going to achieve a supposedly ‘unheard’ feat of cleansing the sea by scuba diving to celebrate womanhood.

FM channel 2 – Lady in high pitched voice irritatingly saying thanks incessantly to all women in her life, in her office, in the city, in the country for being women, for being successful and followed by another list of superlatives I can’t recollect for the life of me!

FM channel 3 – Tamil song which LITERALLY translates as the following..

Male vocals: “You are a Mango, A Malgoa Mango from Salem..I am going to pluck you and eat you whole..
Female vocals: “Yes I am Mango, how are you going to savour me?
Male: I am going to bite you here and there..
Female: Devour me and say where all I taste good..”

No more channel change. Next stop: The power OFF button.

Because, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough with all this pseudo enthusiasm and jumping-up-with-joy over Women’s day, and enough with the peppy fun events to celebrate womanhood ! ‘Cos you look around and all you see is women being objectified in every way possible way; men, women, celebs, advertisements, movies, songs and everything and everyone under the sun equally applauding and endorsing it. Don’t people realise this is the crux of is what is terribly wrong with our society. This is what ultimately leads to women being preyed upon at every place she goes to. There is not a single safe haven for women – not school, college, office, buses, public places, her own home or even in her mother’s womb. Because a woman is just an ‘object’– for religious extremists, for moral polices, for movie heroes, for family members and for men in general. There is no escaping it, even if you are a glitzy glam girl who goes on screen all dolled up and is overwhelmed by the claps of millions! Hope no one still wonders why in this great nation a woman gets molested every 2 hours and raped every 4 hours! (And that’s real stats!)

If media is actually genuinely bothered about women’s welfare, they should start by creating a better milieu for women to dwell in. They should stop promoting anything that objectifies women and vehemently oppose it. They should start channelizing their energies towards educating people on why women too deserve respect, towards bringing awareness among the lower strata of society to treat and value women as equals, and to make every man recognize the fact that women are not mere soulless ‘objects’.

P.S.: Forgive me all my friends who wished me and whom I didn’t wish back. Forgive me for not able to overlook the glaring eczema our society wears with pride, and join in the ‘pretend-that-ALL-women-are-happy’ events to celebrate womanhood.