Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Why do I write?

My writing and my job as a writer is no accident. I have never wanted to be anything else but a writer. I literally have never told anyone anything other than that. 'What do want to become when you grow up?" "writer", even when I didn't know what are things writers write. So when I complain about my job (if I do), everyone knows I am talking about operational level stuff. Never about writing itself.

My parents are really cool people for not wanting me compromise on my desire of wanting to be a writer. I cannot imagine myself as anything else. I can only see myself keying words after words till I hate my writing and then waking up to do it all over again!

Last evening, I was talking to my friend Chandni and we got around to talking about writing and I opened up like a well shaken bottle of champagne! She just had to say 'writing' and I was all words. These kinds of conversations are very important to me, because they help me think about my beliefs and my ideas about writing. One of the things that came up was about what we write. People write with different agendas in mind, for some it is a portfolio, for some others it is a pride thing, for some it is their means of making money; the only common thing however is that all of them love writing!

When it comes to this blog,  I have no plans, I have no agenda, I have no goals, I have no milestones. I think of it like a friendship. We do things together, we go without talking for months, then we talk to each other obsessively, we make time for each other from time to time, but then again, other things take centre stage and sadly, my friend gets no love. But I truly truly truly love my friend. My lovely blog, waiting for me to reach out. (Other than that we have no social media scene either :P)

My blog and me are perfect for each other. We move at a pace both of us like. We don't bother with competing with other people and their friends. If anything, we're happy sitting on the sidelines talking to each other.

Some random Tuesday, I'll reach out to my friend and its an effortless conversation, we aren't chasing word limits, page views, hopes, dreams, money. We just are. We talk books, movies, TV shows and some days we talk politics. We'll to what we want and vent, get angry or write love notes; just like this one. :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Oh. Kangana. What have you done? #WomenOfBlogging

It is Women's day in a couple of days and almost as if in time for the day, we have a barrage of absolutely irritating, horrifying and some just downright nasty stuff being said to and about women. I read a piece about the Kerala Priest who raped a 16 year and the magazine came out in *his* defense with the age old 'human tendencies and desires' argument.  It is absolutely terrifying that we live in a world where men stand up in the Parliament in front of women and nations to say that women should make less money than men.

I recently read a post about Karan Johar, he is now a dad to beautiful twins. Adorable. Surrogacy, adoption, natural birth or no children at all- I am not going to tell people when and if they should have kids. But something Karan Johar did do caught my attention. In a recent event he said that he is "done" with Kangana and he is tired of her "playing" victim. If she is so "unhappy" she should "leave". Wonderful. Except, Karan seems to be under the impression that the film industry is like his own home (exactly that which he is accused of).

If you listen to Karan, he is almost too proud to say that he gave her the platform on his show. A show that's supposed to be about being open and fun and discuss really deep secrets.That's literally your entire show. I am a bit of a Kangana fan. So ya.  Karan knew fully well she was there for the promotion of her film. She wasn't there like  say Sania Mirza or Farah Khan who are just his buds.  If you deliver exactly what you set out to do, that isn't an achievement.

The problem with people with means seems to be their complete lack of understanding of the troubles of lowly mortals like us. When people ask others to "leave the job you hate". Live the life you want. If you're in an abusive relationship, leave. If you want to live well, work harder. If you're hungry, eat. It is annoying when people are so unaware about the challenges that come with leaving, feeding yourself or quitting or even working harder. Not everyone is born to really rich people. Much like Kangana. She can't leave and you are no one to ask her.

A little insight into my tiny mind: I at no point will be okay with us (people who haven't been victimized) to tell victims on how they can  or can't react.  

What Kangana did was mess with the rich and famous on their home turf and walk away. Also, I understand Kangana's anger: she was made fun of for her English no less. I'd be mad at whoever did that to me as well. I don't know what the expectation was, probably that she'll be too overwhelmed by the 'big' show just be like 'you're all that's good'. That's not how it played out. Obviously. And no points to Karan for not editing the show -that's the format. If he thought that content wouldn't sell, it wouldn't make it to the screen. TRPs are everything.

Basically, my take away from that speech was : telling people that you were wronged is annoying and that it was better if you didn't show up to work. The worst part is you're wrong no matter what your choice, if you talk about your troubles- you are playing victim. If you don't - how are people supposed to know you're having troubles?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

#WomenOfBlogging: Let us talk about our cheersquads!

It has been a wonderful start to the year, personally and professionally. I have been reading better, sleeping more, eating better and talking about my feelings a little loudly than brushing it away with humour.

However, all is not well with the world. Trump's America scares me, but India isn't any less scary. For every Hidden Figures that is released there is a celeb who quits twitter because it got a bit much, for every Kangana there is at least one person saying 'it is PR training'. So what? For every opinion a friend puts up, there are 50 comments about its wrongness. I mean, why don't you wear a tshirt that says 'I hate women' and get it over with.

I just left Twitter around the whole demonetization scene because of the things that were on agenda, voluntarily signing up for stupidity lessons was not planned. But then, the beauty of the internet is that the real connections you make transcend platforms, which is why I keep bumping into my favourite person on the internet- Chandni!

She wrote wonderful blogs and then pinged me about them. Not read the blogs as much as it was to write. I am yet to meet a person as so persistent to get me to write. Just like Chandni (in my case), I see other women supporting their friends and colleagues by taking their interests, passions, hopes and dreams seriously. I've literally no idea how I've ended up being surrounded by as many wonderful women as I have. Work, school, college... I've met fiercely competitive women, who'll bare their soul and help you bare yours. However, we never seem to talk about it. Perhaps the confusion arises from the fact that we think healthy competition does not exist and that well meaning people are just people who haven't found an agenda as yet.

Society seems to paint a picture that we are bitchy, gossipy, annoying, nag too much, get angry... but in all honesty women in their own circles seem to be more than willing reach out, teach and learn. Women are fiercely loyal. When I think about my friends or colleagues or family one thing that comes to mind is a barrage of support I receive. I don't think anybody takes this support for granted and neither do I. A sense of sisterhood helps people like me sail through.

I don't think society would have progressed had it not been for women who support other women. For every Hillary there is a Michelle, an Adele to every Beyonce, a Pink to every Lady Gaga. What we need is women who celebrate success genuinely but what we need more is the acknowledgement that their support means something. We find the time to thank our partners, parents even our neighbors for their help, but somehow miss out on the invisible but strong presence of our female cheersquad.

I love Legally Blonde, to me its easily the nicest celebration of female friendships. In a world that demands so much, female friendships seem to be doing the exact opposite. They want to give. This women's day, I want to shout from rooftops and say thank you to the hundreds of women who support each other wanting nothing in return.  

A huge shout out to the lovely Chandni and Richa who I absolutely am in awe of. This blog is being written as a part of #WomenOfBlogging

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Of women and their money

There are 2 words that have sent shivers down many a spines in the last week -demonetization and Trump. This post is about the former; of course my opinion on demonetization is of little or no consequence. Okay, no consequence. What I did see was about how deeply women felt about the money. Not husband's earning. Money that they've save up.

I've been a stay at home wife for a bit (5 months) and I am open about how I felt. I've been without a bank account too (because I couldn't get one). I've been without my "own" money. The thing is, I've always had my own money. Starting at the age of 7(?) My mother started giving me 5 Rs every month and I had a small purse that I saved money in. I also had a small piggy bank that held cash I often asked from my grandparents. With 4 adults at home, I found quite a few coins in the couch, on the fridge and in pockets. I had a finders keepers rule - my parents actually appreciated it. I remember, one year I ended saving a little over 500 Rs! I gave my mum the coins or she took it added some cash and put it away. When I came of age, she had a spot of cash to put into my SB!

The only reason I didn't feel completely lost in a foreign country was because I had someone who I could bank on. Plus, I had close to 100 something dollars on me at any given point of time. That's not a lot. But if I was ever in trouble, I knew I had some money on me.

Do you know that a lot of women do not have a someone to bank on? Do you know the number of women who have no access to their own cash? Maids who would rather keep the cash with the home they work for than the home they live in? Women who would lie about prices of things just so they can save up what is left? I am not talking lying about a dress from Zara, I am talking about lying about the price of a cabbage.

I am not going to paint men or the government as a villain here. But I understand the desperation that some of these women face. Your average woman is like a duck, calm but busily waddling to stay afloat. That saved up money is why they are at peace. When they shut their eyes at night, they know that in their worst hour, they have something they can summon. Almost like a wizard.

Don't laugh when you read a story about a woman who had a heart attack, dont say "small price to pay", dont make it look like collateral damage. What this kind of conversation leads to is a less empathetic society. One that views all units as the same without ever taking the time to understand. Build your conversations to identify with the person than simply shrugging it off as yet another case. Remember this is a newspaper headline to you, but there is a family out there who is currently going through something very real and irreversible.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The places that men eat at #Blogging

“Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars--to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording--all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night"

I cannot begin to explain this intense frustration. I was talking to a friend who went on a trip 'just like that', neither can I explain how tired of everyone thinks I am a spoiled brat for booking Volvo tickets or 3 tier AC. But here's the thing, what you don't get is that I have had terrible experiences travelling like I want to, I am neither rich not spoiled, what I am is a woman. 

Off late, I am noticing how many places I keep away from. My brain goes into a game of "Is this place shady.." I know people who on a whim go to places like a railway station because the canteen is great. I have no problem with these people, what I do have a problem with is how limited my access to these amazing places is. 

I started going to this place for lunch, its absolutely amazing! Typical dhabba food. I have to say, the only place that I've had dhabba food is a dhabba themed restaurant. My new found love for this lunch place is a constant reminder of a lot of things I do miss out on. I am sure glad to have found my dhabba and some girl friends to eat there. But the first day I went there, i saw just men. I was constantly trying to not bump into people.

This is not just about one dhabba. You know how people take smoke breaks when travelling? I've never even stepped out of a train. Guess what else I've not done, made plans to go out. I've never taken cabs in the night... okay that might be because I lack a social life.

I am not in a complaining mood, I am in a observational mood. I guess stumbling on this  Plath Quote really brought back a bunch of things that I've been noticing. I have over the last year become a lot more assertive of my presence. But I still have a loooooong way to go and I can only go the distance over a period of time, and I can only go the distance over a period of time.

For now, I refuse to be invisible. I am not optional. I am not going to be an afterthought.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Is beauty just for the rich?

Unless you're living under a rock, you've probably heard of the 'Chaiwala'. This really handsome man from Pakistan who has now landed a modelling contract. I get that he looks gorgeous, blue eyes, tall, neat looking. What's not to like, ammrite?

My facebook feed was just Chai wala, chai wala. No identity. No name. Nothing. The hook to every article wasn't a good looking man, but that a good looking man was a tea vendor. Each article could mean one of 2 things, either good looking people can't be poor or poor people can't be good looking. I'm guessing it was the latter. Why is someone's income a hook? Why is the world so surprised? Would it be so shocking if I told you Aishwarya Rai or Sonam Kapoor were beautiful? Apparently not.  It's almost expected of rich people to look good. I remember when Akash Ambani was spotted at one of the MI games, he was overweight and the internet wouldn't stop making fun of him. A few years later when he got fit, damn we wouldn't stop swooning. Seriously. It was like celebrating the fact that he 'finally looked the the part'. Remember how Aishwarya Rai was criticized post pregnancy for weight gain (yes. that happened).

Back to Arshad; I wasn't comfortable sharing any of the posts, I couldn't really put my finger on what about the posts made me so uncomfortable and bam! it hit me. I wasn't uncomfortable because it was people "objectifying" him. It wasn't even that I didn't find him good looking, just that most people thought he was "good looking for a chaiwala". Let's get one thing straight, beauty isn't a rich people thing. That being said the normal working women/men don't have the money to spend on looking good. People don't have the energy to look perfect all the time.

I would be okay if we looked at ordinary people and thought they look beautiful, because why not. But that's not what we do, we're surprised that a 'chaiwala' , a person who wasn't supposed to look good (based on stereotypes), looks like a model.  We're the same people who go around saying "she's dark, but beautiful" as if dark people aren't supposed to be beautiful. We don't think of people as beautiful. Nope. We think of people as stereotypes, she's fat but beautiful, she's thin but , same with Arshad.

To us (the internet) he'll always remain 'dreamy eye tea seller'. Pakistani tea seller, blue eyed tea seller. The hook will forever remain the oddness of his job.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Are you noticing enough?

Because I have nothing else to do on the bus and I travel close to 3 hours per day, I tend to watch people. I can't read (motion sickness). Can't listen to music (cuz earphones are annoying and they tickle my ear). This story is from a couple of days ago, something quite amazing happened while I was on the bus, two people boarded the bus and as usual people were buying tickets, looking at their phone, listening to music, hoping someone will just give up their seat for no real reason.

Okay, back to what happened, 2 people, visually impaired, got on the bus. Nobody noticed as nobody offered their seats. But soon I realised they knew where they wanted to sit. They made their way to the seats reserved for them with a little difficulty. The next few minutes were quite something,  everybody was trying to look at them, some sneaking glances, some others just blatantly staring. I make it a point to not stare because that's just rude so, I went back to looking at the road.

I am not saying you should find anyone inspiring or sympathize even. But looking at those 2 people, I could instantly tell the mood in the bus changed, people became *aware*. It brings me to my post, are we waiting on something or someone for us to start noticing life itself? and if so, What are we noticing? Are we noticing enough and more importantly what are we taking for granted? At some point, we are taking everything for granted, especially that which we've never taken the time to accomplish. Are we taking our friends for granted, our spouse, our parents? We'll these are tough to answer, nobody thinks they are, but fact is have you asked yourself the question?

Moving on to something more personal, are you taking your literacy for granted, your intellect, your dreams for granted. There is no tomorrow. There is an expiry date on everything, including your knowledge (you are at some point going to become irrelevant), are you taking your relevance for granted? I often think speaking in 4 languages is something you put on a resume and that's that, but have you thought of how happy you should be that you can speak, communicate and enjoy conversation with diverse sets of people just because your mind retains random combinations of words?

I am quite amazed at the sheer number things I am not thankful for, some of them I am. Some of them, I didn't realise I needed to be thankful for. The reason we aren't more involved with ourselves, is because we take ourselves for granted, everything we can do, we take for granted because it comes so easily to us. I look at people making fantastic art and all I can do is ogle. Why aren't we more amazed at the things we can do? Not in an arrogant way. But in a mindful, more observant way. Why can't we take 2 seconds of our time and be glad to exist and to exist in a way that's not completely horrible (unless you're a serial killer or thief or you know deserve to be in jail; then you're horrible).