Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Parting

Tears rolled off her cheeks as she let him go.
It would be an eternity before she sees him again.
The sign said, "Play-Way Hours - 9 to 12".

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tradition - The loving term for Inertia

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t despise traditions, its the convenient usage of the word that really pisses me off. What exactly does the word tradition mean? Going back to the dictionary, here is what its definition will look like - 

an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.

In lay person’s terms, it simply means the way things have been done or situations perceived -  from generation to generation.

We make traditions to create a sense of identity, a sense of purpose for the community or simply to come together in events of extreme emotions - happiness, Mourning, etc.. But there are times I really wonder if we make traditions or if the traditions make us.

Talking about the recent Jallikattu ban. We saw all sort of people coming together to protest against the banning of this centuries old ‘tradition’. I believe they felt that by banning the sport, the legacy of their ancestors would be taken away from them. That they will be lesser versions of themselves, if a few people from their state were not able to play that sport(yes, because only a few have the actual cheek to try and ride the bull).
But this logic of lost legacy applies to every tradition that was widely accepted and practiced but eventually was shunned by societies. Here is a tiny a list of traditions that were and some still are, practiced by many people across the world - 

  • Slavery
  • Caste System
  • Sati
  • Purdah
  • Polygamy
  • Child marriage
  • Widow ostracisation
  • Dowry System
  • Vaginal mutilation
  • In animal sports
    • Bull fighting
    • Cock fighting (perverts can smile here)
    • Dog fighting
    • many more..

Each of the above-mentioned traditions had and may still have millions of supporters, who must have seen or still see much merit in them continuing. But most of us now know, how out-of-tune, those people were or still are, with where the human civilization is heading. 

My whole point being, that no-one is crying or protesting because hundreds of traditional crafts that are getting lost because the new generation is not interested in learning them  No such reaction even for the languages and dialects that we are losing every year. Not one protest to save the environment or to save the thousands of plant and animal species being wiped off the face of the earth. Only because these traditions, practices, and organisms are dying a natural death at the hands of the changed environment and lifestyles. But we as a local community or the entire human civilization are able to survive any sort of identity crisis erupting from the end of these practices and traditions or the extinction(rather murder) of millions of unimportant(from the perspective of region and religion) species.

Will Diwali be less of a happy occasion than it has been because there are no fireworks? Will Holi’s meaning be lessened because the government banned throwing water balloons? Aren’t we all making up new traditions every year, within our own homes, our workplaces, and communities? Are the traditions associated with region and religion the only important ones? We tend to be quite logical and practical with the rest of the traditions that we introduce in our lives.

I would urge you to believe more in yourself and what you stand for, right inside the core. Once you do that everything else will seem ancillary, you will be more than the sum of your  - gender, financial status, region, religion and country.  Time to free yourself from these boxes that you did not choose to begin with, but have to spend the rest of your life defending or rationalising.

Monday, December 5, 2016

You know something is horribly wrong when ……. - #1

I am one of the people who can sense something amiss right in the beginning of a blunder. But I still keep telling myself that I am being paranoid and things might turn out just fine. Later, in most of the cases, when things just don’t turn out fine, I tend to think  - “Wow!! how did I know this beforehand?!!”  So given my vast experience in life and such things, I thought I’ll start a series imparting my pearls of wisdom that can act as life hacks for those who are still trying to put a finger on the cause behind that queasy feeling in their tummies.

Here is a first of many(yes! sorry in advance) such posts.

"You know something is horribly wrong when - the poster boy of development and the head of the state brags about the enterprising tactics of a beggar in his country.”

Disclaimer - This is NOT a political post. 
If I succeeded in riling you up, then I suggest a quick remedy - Replace the person you think I am talking about, with the head of another country of your choice. You might see the irony in his/her words. Incase you still are pretty agitated, here is another remedy - “Stop reading this, now!”

For the rest, whenever I will get that feeling of dread and I am able to figure out the cause behind it, you’ll see another of my posts here.  Till then you’ll need to figure out the world, all alone!

All the best!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dear Nike - Da Da Ding, Thank you!!

Have you guys seen the new Nike ad?  The really long one, with only women in it? Lots of sporty, sweaty and badass women. (You can watch it here.)

Wow! The ad took my breath away…. My elder one, a girl, was also startled to see so many women, having fun, being focused, being crazy, yet looking great without wearing flouncy or skimpy dresses, makeup or even a smile. The music is also great, along with all the other aspects that go into making an ad film. Kudos to the team who created and approved an ad like this.

Did you know, with the sole exception of Deepika Padukone(who played Badminton professionally, but no more),all the other women in the ad are professional sportswomen? I didn’t know, I dug around to find that out. No wonder the ad looked so  real, their movements looked instinctive and not rehearsed. They looked like real sportspersons. Period.

The ad resonates completely with the Nike tagline  - “Just Do it!”. In the constantly objectified projection of women and their body parts, this ad is like the first drop of rain on parched,drought-ridden land. It was not about towing the line, being a good girl or a sex object or looking like a doll, but about doing your thing and doing it with full conviction.

I know there are be many people who would change the channel and comment about how advertising standards of Nike have gone south,for them to come up with such a girly ad. They would also be some who would find titillation looking at women running in slow motion with their navels exposed.
Then there will be some who would wonder out aloud, as to what is the future of all these women? How are they going to get married in respectable households and raise children? You know, the “settle down” question that even Wimbledon champions have to answer.
While I have don’t have a single gram(yes I only do SI units) of sympathy for their concerns but I do have answer for their entertainment needs, why don’t you stop watching the ad and go back to  Bhai movies, Porn and Saas Bahu soaps respectively.
On behalf of the rest few like me, who rejoice in this real and splendid portrayal of women, I thank Nike for this ad from the deepest core of my heart. 

Da da ding!! Da da ding! Da da ding!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Like a girl!

Recently my husband made me watch this video - Do things like a girl!, in which they ask people what is the meaning of doing something like a girl. It’s a nice one and I highly recommend that you watch it. In this video, anyone above the age of 8-9 knew that it was used as an insult. Boys even younger than that knew that they were being insulted when they were compared with girls. The video features mostly caucasian children, teens and young adults from USA but things aren’t better in India, in fact they are much worse. 

Religion tells us that if a man sins in a specific way in his current life, then he gets ‘punished' with the next birth as a woman.There are jokes across all geographies making fun of driving skills of women. “Be a man!”, “Man up!”, “Show us some balls!” all tell us that, to show courage and gumption, you have to stop behaving like a woman. Hindi language has extra provision of suggesting that someone is cowardly by saying that "they are wearing bangles” - directly indicating towards the gender associated with jewelry. 

Breezer' a light alcoholic drink, was deemed beneath drinking, by someone I know, because it is a 'ladies'' drink. During social occasions, women are often told off, in a light vein, to take part in 'lighter' and hence more suitable discussions than the heavy duty stuff only suited for the male mind. Crying - a form of anger and emotional release, is considered extremely weak and an effeminate trait. Shouting and beating people up - also forms of emotional and anger release aren’t as bad, rather manly and hence more acceptable. 

She is one of us guys”, is a compliment for a girl. She has won her place in a social group comprising of guys and they almost treat her like an equal. But analogous to it, if rarely a guy is called “One of us girls",  by a group of women, then he should prepare himself for some lifelong hammering by his male friends. It is a joke on him, that he will take to his pyre. 

Even the most eloquent of statesmen also fall victim to such use of language. Recently our esteemed Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, lauded Seikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, for acting tough on terror, ‘despite’ being a woman. Wow! She must feel on the top of the world. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan in his good intentions, pointed that we can call our daughters  - 'Beta', but we can’t call our sons - 'Beti'. He meant how special his daughter is for him, but it made me think about what would people think of a person who lovingly called his/her son 'Beti'. “Crazy!” Right? It sounds like an insult and not a loving moniker.

But, this is just the top micron, of the tip, of the iceberg of insults, associated with the female gender. In my opinion it is a full blown research topic.
True that our generation did not invent these phrases, idioms or sayings. They have been handed over to us by generations, some of which even equated women with cattle. Many of us use them unmindful of what they truly imply or indicate. But every time we use a phrase like this, we are not only insulting all the strong, intelligent, wise and fun women who fill our lives but we are also propagating another cycle of this verbal abuse. Let’s try and use our words consciously, we owe that to our daughters, if no one else.

Also, if there is a wise-ass reading this, who knows not a single woman worthy of being called strong or intelligent, who does not consider his mother, sisters, wife, daughters, colleagues or friends in either of the categories, clearly he has wasted his time reading my blog. I suggest he go back to his Playboy or Hustler or whatever cutting edge literature he frequently ‘sees'  …

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Roshini

Dear Roshini,

How is my little pudding doing? I know, I know, you’re all grown up now and you don’t like being addressed like this, but I can’t help calling you such silly names.  You maybe surprised or even shocked to hear from me now, that too not one-to-one at home but here in college that too after long vacations. I always felt that letters were the best way to express your deepest and most stable feelings.  The fact that the receiver can hold them in their hands and read them again and again is an added advantage.

The most  important bit in this whole message is that “I Love you”. You are the most important person in my life and there is nothing that I won’t do for you. You have given me unimaginable joys in simple things and I thank you for being part of my life. I have been proud of you the moment I set my eyes on you as a newborn and I am proud of you today.

Feels odd, to write a letter to my own daughter telling her my feelings.We have lived together all these years and I have held you in my arms everyday. You should already know most about me and I think I know much about you. Yes, even about the tattoo on your bum. 
But still I wanted to write to you my love. I wanted this extra connection between you and me that may outlive both of us.It makes our relationship a bit more tangible, doesn’t it?
You being a girl of current times, may say that even emails are tangible. After all one can hold a cellphone anytime and access the email. But to me email is even more impersonal than a typed letter. I don’t get to choose the paper, it’s color or texture, I don’t get to use a pen of my liking, I don’t get to write in my own handwriting and I don’t get to perfume it with the fragrance that is dearest to me.

Your father and I used to write a lot of letters to each other during our courtship days. The letters used to carry the intense fragrance of our new love and light scent of our perfumes. You may not be able to tell that by looking at us lately, but those letters, still in my study’s locker are a testimony to that fact that those days were real and so were the emotions. Like most things love is also transient having it’s high’s and lows and unfortunately our highs ended in our youth.

My own family had been my pillar of strength through the extreme lows in our marriage and you sensed that too. Your grandparents and uncle were always there for me, loving me, running errands for me, whenever I needed them. My brother, your uncle Paritosh, from being the silly little boy of my childhood, became my man Friday and my confidant. 
There was a point of time when I used to think what I would do without his support. My career and the growth of company was all thanks to him. Even at home he had been most resourceful and helped me juggle my work and family quite well.  There was a time when I could not have imagined living without his support, his encouragement and most importantly his brotherly affection.

It seemed so surreal, reading your journal from years ago where you mentioned how you didn’t like being held by Paari and then another where he touched you while you slept off on the sofa while watching a movie with him. I couldn’t believe my eyes and had to read those entries again and again to accept, what had happened. Sorry honey, I was not meaning to pry, but your recent rebellious streak left me in a very fragile mental state. I needed to understand why this distance had come between you and me. Looking back I was able to put the pieces together and explain why you avoided him in the past few years. Why there was always a class or a friend to be visited whenever there was an occasion to meet with him. Clearly I had not been the best mother, my neediness and dependence on my family must have been a more recognizable trait than of a protective parent. How I wish I could unwind the clock and prevent this from happening or at least make it stop as  early as possible.How I wish it were me to whom you had confided in and I who had put a stop to this. But I am thankful to your friends and to that tattoo for giving you courage and confidence that succeeded in getting rid of his clutches.

Your father is a good man Roshni, but something broke between us a very long time ago. I could not go to him with this. I was too coward even to accept to you that I knew. But knowing this I couldn’t sit still. How could I pretend that this never happened? That the person I trusted the most in my life and most importantly with my own child, could breach that trust in the most diabolical manner. I had a very hard time in reconciling with the fact that this dreadful thing happened to you and my blind trust in someone not worthy, had a role to play in it’s occurrence. The more he expressed his affection for me or you, the more my hatred for him increased. I could have confronted him outrightly but that would not have served any purpose other than telling the world about what had happened to you. Moreover he was more resourceful and useful than me in social circles, eventually it would have been my word against his and I know how that would have ended.

You can say I went crazy and started to look for other ways to teach him a lesson. For many months I couldn’t find a way that was befitting and also didn’t implicate me. But then my prayers were answered in one single word, called - Dimethylmercury. Pretty interesting chemical that. I had a really difficult time getting hold of this thing but our Nepal trip was a ploy to get it. Wow! what a hard time I had trying to convince you and your father to travel back by train and road. Anyway, using it was no problem at all. Paritosh was helping me in the garden, we were both wearing gloves, just that mine were not plain rubber gloves. I supposedly spilled a few of it’s drops on his hands which he didn’t even notice.

Then began the longest few months of my life. I knew that the poison took very long to show symptoms but I was getting impatient and well as paranoid. I started to wonder if the day would ever come? If I had bought the right thing? If it were pure? If Paari has super human capabilities to process a poison like that. You must appreciate my acting skills those few months. I remained the guillible, loving elder sister to him despite my inner hatred and anxieties. I had already begun to hatch my next plan to kill him, convinced that the last one had failed, when his symptoms started to show. He started getting sick, feeling numb, loosing vision along with other things. You must remember me being there for him and his family during his sick days. I nursed him, fed him, giving breaks to his tired,clueless and very thankful wife. I wanted to be close to him, to be sure that he was dying.They did detect it as mercury poising eventually, but the therapies to remove mercury from his body didn’t help much. It was established that he was going to die and I now only had to tell him the reason why he was suffering so much. As much as I wanted to rub it in his face and tell him before he became incoherent, I also had to avoid the situation where he could inform others and had me reported. 
Days went by and Paari became very religious and always wanted to hear shlokas or mantras recited to him. I always took care to subtly read to him the shlokas talking about one’s karma and how it comes to haunt us. How coming clean about one’s bad deeds can lead to salvation. In the mornings when he asked me to read newspaper to him I would carefully scoop out the stories about children getting abused by their relatives and express my shock at how someone can do it to an innocent child. I would wrap it up, by cursing those people and wishing that they be poisoned to death. It seemed that eventually Paritosh started to suspect. He would often ask me about you. He would also ask me if I thought he would go to heaven or hell? Not wanting to bite his bait I would tell him that he should have faith in his deeds and the purity of this thoughts. They will lead him to the place that is right for him. The ambiguity in my answers seemed to disturb him. He would get agitated and would sulk for hours. This game went on for many days, but hen he seemed to grow tired of it and kept quite. His health was also failing him in many ways and he was almost at the brink of death. A few days before he died he said to me, “Didi,  maybe you think what I have done is unthinkable or unforgivable. But if there was ever a moment of true brother and sister connect between us. If you think that there is one good deed that I have done in my life, then I beg you never to reveal to my family about the reason for my suffering. I can’t tell you why I did, what I did. I myself don’t know. I am not even sorry about it. I am sorry that I am dying like this. My children are young, they deserved better.” 
When he said this, his words just bounced off my head. Seeing him getting emotional, I assured him that his children and his wife will always love him like they have done so far. I came back home that day, emotionally drained and feeling a hint of guilt. Feigning bad health I didn’t visit him for a couple of days and then the news of his death came. 
I had imagined a sense of euphoria  coming over me when I hear this news. Reality was much different from imagination, I felt no happiness or relief when I heard of Paari’s passing. Instead of a climatic retribution, I felt my sense of loss deepening further. It was as if someone had cast a darker shadow upon me. The false sense of purpose that I had cultivated while killing him was suddenly gone and it left behind the emptiness that reminded me every second of my failures as a mother and now as a sister and a human being. Avenging my own daughter I had created two children who further deserved vengeance. 
You are my daughter and quite aware of my failings as an individual.Courage has never been one of my virtues and you should know better than blaming yourself for what will happen a few days from today. I have been thinking about it all long, ever since Paari died. Seeing him suffer so much for so long I have developed an aversion to poisons.  As I was thinking of better ways to achieve my goal, you had already started to plan for our annual vacation. You may blame yourself for picking up Jog waterfalls as one of the destinations. But the idea of going there was subtly planted in your head by me. I was the one who told you do something different, go to beaches , mountains and maybe a waterfall. I was the one who steered your mind towards Karnataka that offers all those things.

I have also arranged for this letter to be posted from my office only after a delay of 3 days. That will give me leeway to stop it from starting it’s long journey to you, in case I lose courage again. The fact that you are reading this letter today implies that I have been successful at jumping to my death at the Jog falls. But it would have looked like an accident, I don’t want to leave you or your father in a legal mess. If there is something that I want to give you my darling, then it is the sense of closure.  I punished the man responsible for the darkness in your life. I am proud of that. 
I don’t know if Paari deserved a punishment as severe as death but I certainly did.
I seek forgiveness from you for not being there when you needed me the most and for not being there whenever you’ll need me in future. 

You can treat this letter as my confession or a suicide note or both. But to me it is the closing of the dark chapters in your life.

Goodbye Darlin’! Thank you for being the brightest and shiniest light of my life.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pose like you mean it

Have you ever wondered about the way people pose for pictures these days? No I don't mean to point at that goofy guy or gal who puts a "V" sign behind someone's head. That has been happening since the inception of photography. I am talking specifically about the way people pose for pictures especially since it became viable and also 'cool' to click and share pictures using cellphone cameras.

I have observed a pattern of poses, especially with the younger crowd.  The girls/women are generally pouting, unnaturally with their pout sizes ranging from Angenlina Jolie right till Late Sh. Narsimha Rao.

If not the pout then you'd see the duck face which is also quite very popular amongst both the genders.

The cheeks are sucked in(intentionally) and one hand is on the waist. Atleast one of the legs is bent, if not both, giving the girl a very strange and unnatural posture. It's almost as if they are trying to take the least possible space on the ground.

The eyes are enlarged, again consciously, to give a "I am desirable and I see you seeing me" look(See Priyanka Chopra's pic above). Also popular amongst girls is the mouth open and licking-the-upper-lip pose.

The boys/men don't do the bent leg thing, they claim their space on the ground and still believe that they are desirable. But then they resort to other things like fist pumps, the rock star demonic or peace signs.

Also popular amongst guys is the pose where they are looking away from the camera, usually down, with their hand on the neck.

Raising eyebrows is also common amongst both the genders and so is wearing sunglasses on the nose with eyes peering above them.

To me these pictures seem to be newer versions of the yesteryear pictures where the girl showed the henna on her hands, or when she posed with her face between her wrists with bangles or when men posed wearing suits looking far away into the horizon:

In both the cases it feels like the picture subjects have been trying toooooo.. hard. Only the definition of cool seems to have changed, but in both the cases - Pretty girls end up looking like wannabes and  good looking guys end up looking like creeps.

By the way, how do you get your pics clicked?

Image Sources:
  • https://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/8-tips-pink-lips-naturally-000304791.html
  • http://jbob1390.deviantart.com/art/Popular-Girl-Poses-The-Neck-Break-442501076
  • http://article.wn.com/view/2015/04/08/Politicians_posing_for_and_being_caught_in_selfies/#
  • http://layzeebee.com/22-overused-selfies-not-expected-2015/
  • http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?models=225031&context_photo=18868339
  • http://ink361.com/app/users/ig-207279304/isthatjessiej/photos
  • https://www.pinterest.com/erincolson1/i-love-photography-seniors-boys/
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8687002.stm
  • http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-topless-young-man-posing-hands-behind-head-closeup-portrait-holding-both-back-his-looking-camera-image32079276
  • http://www.gettyimages.in/detail/photo/smiling-bridal-woman-posing-royalty-free-image/464741037
  • http://www.shutterstock.com/s/india+dance/search.html
  • http://dylanmoranforum.yuku.com/topic/1471/MEN-other-than-DYLAN-we-FANCY?page=62#.VZNyP2SeDGc
  • http://www.slate.com/articles/life/gentleman_scholar/2013/04/how_to_take_a_selfie_for_men.html