When we say “writing”…

After a long time again, I return with some more gibberish!

For a change, the article isn’t this but it is in the pictures that follow. So without much ado let’s get reading. And yes, have a wonderful week ahead fellas! ūüôā

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Celebrating what, again??

The world over people are celebrating something today.What, I fail to comprehend. 8th of March each year they all talk about what women have achieved in the society, how no household would run without the superwoman who turns a house into a home. Although, the fact that we have to remind ourselves every year that women still need empowering is sad in itself. If you go to the official website for International Women’s Day, it shows a timer that says “170 years to gender parity”. 170 years! Can you imagine? When did we start? Forget the beginning of human life, if we even look at the beginning of civilization, that was around 3200 B.C.! In all this time, how far have we moved from women being clubbed in the head and dragged into caves as a mate? The sense of ownership that men have over women still persists. What exactly are we celebrating then? That we are still supposedly 170 years away from being equal to the other section of society? In an era where women are building spaceships and travelling to space and back, there are people judging women over their sense of dressing and their choice of lifestyle. While some men can get away with eve teasing and harassment, because they’re men. Girls are required to dress “sensibly”, enter home early and be careful to avoid anything untoward, because “men will be men”. Every time some crime against women flashes in the news, it is made sure that our daughters are reminded – this is what happens if you stay out late and have too much fun. Men can manage themselves, you can’t. But then, what makes us unable to¬†manage ourselves? Do not blame our lack of security on our weakness, blame it on the derogatory mindset of a certain section of society. It is not OK to be harassed, it is not OK to be looked upon as an object, it is not OK to be considered as property, no matter what lifestyle you choose to follow.

Yes, this is a very cliched topic. Feminism is now just a trend and the critics may scorn. Yet I can’t help but lament about the gap that still exists. Because every second day, someone or the other makes me realize that we aren’t liberated yet. Be it someone’s comment on a woman’s choice of clothing or someone’s disapproval of a woman’s way of living or someone’s remark about women being too highly qualified to find a suitable groom. It just doesn’t stop.

I do not wish for women to be at par with men in terms of physical strength or “intellectual abilities”, I just wish that women are treated as individuals in their own capacity, just as men are. So that every time a woman achieves new heights, you don’t have to marvel at her success “despite this being a man’s world”.

So, if you are wishing me a Happy Women’s Day, I take it as a celebration of the beauty and strength that nature has bestowed upon all women. But definitely not for being empowered or liberated. Not yet.

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The Festive Spirit

The air is now soothing and fresh. Such a relief from the sweltering heat of the last few months. Going down the cliched memory lane, I remember how this change in season would bring a sense of excitement and joy to my heart. Being the extremely sociable kid that I was, it meant four days of non stop revelry, family addas, late night pandal hopping and lots and lots of good food (particularly those that would satiate my sweet tooth!). Seeing the bamboo frames being built on the streets for all the lighting and decorations, nearly one month prior to Durga Puja, would have my heart fluttering in anticipation.

Those were the days of yore. Now, however, the revelry looks like chaos to me. The pushing and nudging and tugging amidst the crowd for a blessing from the goddess seems like naivety.  Yes, growing up has its side effects. And this is one that was not welcome. My overly enthusiastic self has now evolved into a lazy, world-weary adult who avoids human interaction as far and as long as possible. I looked at the half built pandals this year too, waiting for those butterflies in my stomach to wake up. But they too seem to have grown old with me. The extended family has also spread apart, with my partners in crime (read cousins) all working or studying away from home. And for those who have had a taste of joint families, you know festivals are not the same without the people!

Or could this be the result of turning into an agnostic from a believer? With due respect to all the believers, maybe I fail to find reason in all the devoutness and extreme piety. Maybe all the man-made rituals – the earthen lamps, the incense sticks, the bright red vermilion, the chanting – do not fill me with blinding devotion any longer. Whatever be the reason, I surely do miss the inexplicable happiness that the festivities brought along.

Growing up and forming opinions of your own does take away a little from you.

With hope that the enthusiasm will return to me one fine day, wishing everyone a joyous festive season.

And of course, a real reason to be happy – winter is coming ! ¬†ūüėČ

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The wings that remain hidden…

On a not-so-busy afternoon at work, as she sat at her computer reading one pointless article after another on the internet, her eyes happened to move over an article on personality traits. She clicked on it. Surprisingly, it is always interesting to know more about ourselves from others, no? Aren’t we supposed to know ourselves inside out? Maybe because approval matters.
Anyway, she opened the article and one short quiz later, the “truth” laid bare in front of her. All flattering stuff! No wonder, these websites get so many visitors. They know what makes people happy. She read on, knowing at the back of her mind that most of it was a lie and probably common to every second visitor to this page. Nonetheless, it had a feel good factor to it and for a moment she would like to believe all of it, true or not.
But then, she saw the words “free spirit”  a few lines down. “Huh? What? Nope! Now I am sure this is all made up!” she goes. Why would anyone describe HER as a free spirit?? She was the most paranoid, panicky person she ever knew! Planning everything ahead, getting annoyingly hysterical when those plans don’t work out (which is most of the time!). Desperately trying to have everything in control. She was definitely not a free spirit if she really knew what the term stands for.
And then it struck her. That quiz she took asked for honest answers. And she was being honest. The traits that showed up were the results of her uninhibited knowledge of herself as a person. It was not a webpage that was defining her. It was her candid self at work here. Everything she answered led to this.
Yes, some of the traits did match and some didn’t. But maybe  she was indeed a “free spirit” deep down. There are so many things she still longs for. Go on a sudden backpacking trip with him and with no schedule to follow. Climb mountains and bathe in the sea. Leave the job that is paying only in terms of money and find something that she had always dreamt of doing. Learn to dance. Scoot away to nowhere on a two wheeler, the wind caressing her face. Dance on the streets at a carnival, or even for no particular reason as such.
She thought of all of this nearly everyday, while living the controlled, monotonous life that has been going on forever. Maybe if she wasn’t taught to be “proper” she would have done all of this, and more, by now. If there weren’t ways for a “good girl” to behave and goals for a responsible person to fulfil, she would have lived life.
If her true self wasn’t bound in shackles, she would have been a free spirit.
Irrespective of whether that webpage showed correct results or not, she did get to know what she was hiding within.

She put the computer to sleep and went back to her daydreaming.

“It is never too late though!” she thought.

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Keep Calm and Carry On

There are good days and then there are bad days. On a good day, you probably feel there shouldn’t be an end to this life when life has so much to offer. On a bad day, you may feel otherwise.
Given our lifestyles in today’s world, there are very few of those good days and too many of those bad, depressing ones. So much to account for – jobs, relationships, health, responsibilities, expenses, desires, ambitions. For a day to be really good, with all of these factors in their right places – quite a tough call. So, yes, most of our days can be labelled as bad, in one way or the other. And I wouldn’t deny that, on particularly bad days, we do sometimes wish this life would end and we could start afresh. No, I am not a psycho or suicidal to be thinking like that. But when life takes a toll on us, we all tend to break down at some point and then we gather the pieces back and continue with the journey. Yet most of us would accept to thinking of it at least once, for a fleeting second maybe, on some mind numbingly bad days!
I, however, questioned my weak mind in this matter when I suddenly happened to notice a sad detail on a busy sidewalk one afternoon. A homeless man. With just a few clothes to cover him, no food in sight and certainly no family to keep company. I probably would not have noticed if I wasn’t feeling a little broken too on that day. Misery makes you empathetic, you see. There are homeless people in every nook and corner. How often do we pay attention anyway? But that day, as I was looking out of the window of the bus with disappointment in the life I was living, I saw a homeless man. The first thought that crossed my mind then – why does he live? What makes him want to live? Could he not end this life if he wanted to? Of course he could.¬† But he chooses not to. And why?
We have families to care for, dreams to fulfil, places to travel, promises to keep. And yet, one bad day makes us want to give up on all of this sometimes.
That man has nothing. No family that would cry after him, no places he could ever plan to visit and probably not even enough food to keep him going another week. Life can never get better for him unless he is in a Bollywood movie. But he lives.
That made me think. Why do we fall apart when people who have nothing of their own still strive to live? And for us, life could actually get better, unlike them.
We’ve always been taught to count our blessings. But we don’t, until we have seen someone less fortunate.
I wouldn’t say this one observation changed me for life or something. I still feel terribly weak during crises. But it did make me think. Either it is much easier to go on with life when you have nothing to lose and know that it can’t get worse than this. Or, you have just one chance at life and you just shouldn’t give up on it even when you know it can’t get any better. Life will be over eventually anyway. Why not hang on and see what comes next till then?
I wonder if the homeless man has ever introspected so much about his life, but he definitely gave me food for thought.
So, a humble reminder to anyone reading this who may be having a tough time – do not give up, no matter how much your exhausted mind may want you to.

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Of stereotypes and prejudices

We are so good at judging, aren’t we? Somebody who knows nothing about acting and makes the crappiest movies in history is judging an acting talent show. A writer, who’s not even good enough at his own job, is judging a dance show! And we, the less notable ones, well, we judge people. I say “we” because¬†no matter how much I despise this human nature, I too am guilty of this vice. But I presume there are good people around who probably do not relate to it and they may wash their hands of this write-up¬†if they please!

Anyway, returning to the topic at hand – what made me think about it? There are so many things going on around us that brought this to my mind. The very first instances of prejudice being implanted into our brains during early childhood by no one else but family. Every time you meet an older kid who tops his class, you hear mom and dad telling you “See how intelligent he is? Be like him.” And there you go. You now have a preconceived notion that anyone who excels in academics is “intelligent” and anyone who doesn’t is good for nothing. Most of us spend our entire lives believing this and judging people based on this ‘ Law of intelligence’. But we do know this couldn’t be more wrong, don’t we? We have all seen college dropouts go on to become great innovators . So, no. Academic excellence is not a measure of intelligence in any sense of the word. One prejudice down! There are so many more. I see our earlier generations had a little too many prejudices as compared to ours. They had their own notions of so many things that are indeed nobody’s business. If a girl has too many male friends, she must be of questionable character. If a guy doesn’t bag a high paying government job, he must’ve been a weed-smoking, class-bunking alcoholic during his college years. She goes out with her friends too often – she is going out of hand. If you’re not married “even in your late twenties” there must be something wrong with you. Oh, you’ve chosen your own life partner? You have absolutely no respect for your elders. Why would someone separate from their spouse? There must have been an affair on either side. Ah, kids now-a-days,have no sense of responsibility, care about no one, are so fickle minded. Phew! Too much generalization, too many expectations to fulfill, too many mouths to shut. And all this without even trying to know¬†the whole story.
But can we really only blame our predecessors of being prejudiced and stereotyping our entire generation? Aren’t we doing the same? Every time I see a girl and a boy walking together, the first thought that crosses my mind is that they must be a couple. And then I feel guilty. I could be walking around with a male friend anywhere and be judged by prying eyes (at least in the country that I live in). And quickly correct myself by thinking that men and women can be friends and it is not our job to assess anybody’s relations. If someone has a better job than we do, we quickly jump to a conclusion that he or she must have had some unfair advantage over us. While they may have just worked harder to get there while we didn’t. You hear a girl has had a number of failed relationships and you readily assume that she must be playing around and never means to get serious. Some of us would even tag her with some unmentionable names. While the poor thing might just have been unlucky in love.
We have this tendency of generalizing everything and everyone based on just a few past examples. We tend to forget that every individual is different. That we all have our own stories, our own preferences  and make our own choices based on those preferences.

I find this quite evident (and annoying!) in the articles that I see almost every hour on social networking sites – ‘ 10 things this’ and ‘ 15 things that’. 10 things every girl likes in a man. 10 qualities every man wants in his woman. 15 dresses every girl would die for and 5 shirts every man should own. I feel a very strong urge to shout out to these people – STOP! Every girl and every guy does not necessarily want the same 10 or 15 things. Neither in their partners, nor in their wardrobes. So please stop stereotyping all men and women on earth based on your likings or those of a few of your acquaintances.We all want different things from life and we need to respect our individuality.

With high hopes that this generation will at least stop this vicious cycle of prejudice and stereotyping and with a resolve that I shall myself try to abstain from it. Signing off.

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Alive, alone and kickin’, shall we say?

Quite often we come across certain quotes and phrases that have a lasting impression. Well, we mostly relate to quotes of love and heartbreak and the struggles of ¬†our “oh-so-difficult” lives. But very recently, the one quote that caught my attention was very different and got me thinking, actually realizing! It went something like this, “Solitude is dangerous. It is addicting. Once you see how peaceful it is, you don’t want to deal with people”.¬†And I see how true this is. The time you spend alone is the only time you are being yourself. Nobody’s child, nobody’s friend, nobody’s lover; just yourself. You do not have to worry about being judged on your thoughts, because it is only you who’s listening. You do not have to worry about the way you look-there is no one to see. You do not have to worry about offending anyone – there is no one to please, but yourself. And dayum! Am I pleased with myself!

This state of being is, however, not to¬†be confused with loneliness. Loneliness is devastating. Solitude is rejuvenating. Being “alone” and being “lonely” are two very different experiences. And I would always prefer the former, thank you! Because being alone doesn’t mean you have no one to go to or talk to, it only means you’re spending some quality time with the person you love the most – You! Whether you while away your alone time day dreaming or read a good book or try your hand at a hobby, it never fails you. After all, Archimedes wouldn’t “come up” with buoyancy if he hadn’t had his alone time in the bath tub! Or Newton couldn’t have “laid down” his theory on gravity if he didn’t spend time alone under the apple tree! And neither would “The Solitary Reaper” have caught Wordsworth’s eye if she wasn’t “solitary” in the first place! Solitude bears terrific results, hence proved.

It is scary though, to think that you may begin to dislike company when this stupor of solitude gets to you. But who needs people when you have yourself! ūüėČ

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