Saturday, January 23, 2016

Birthdays and Memory

Hello! To my readers who have emailed me asking why I am AWOL, it is because my life has gone AWOL too, I don't really know when I had one.... Anyway, this is my first post in 2016 and because this year is the first time I turn 21 (sorry for sounding corny but it has a nice ring to it, that number), this is about birthdays.

I have never understood the concept of celebration of birthdays; one because I am a little dumb en generale, two because I don't understand why  we don't wish our parents who gave birth to us. I often have always wanted to wish my parents Happy Birthday on my own, because technically they were the ones who knew how it felt, when I was born. I don't know how I felt I was born: probably full of bodily fluids and crying when that doctor slapped my butt, cried more when she saw my genitals and said "It is a girl." She doesn't know how these four words have haunted me till date, but that's a topic for another post.

But the gist: my parents were also "born" then, as in, I know this is becoming too deep to dive in, but I am pretty sure I was awesome enough to change their lives that day. Since that date they have been living a different life, and it is their day to celebrate more than mine. Mera kya hai, I didn't even know my date of birth till I learnt how to count and learn months on my knuckles. Parents must have called people once a year for celebrating it before I had the required knowledge- I must have thought it is just one day everyone goes on a creep mode with my cheeks and gifts me with bottles, Tiffin boxes and frocks which were pink in colour. No wonder I don't remember these people who seem to remember a lot of creepy details about me. Like, how I had a pink bum and face when I took birth. Those who know me will know that's how I derive my nickname. Thanks brain, you have your priorties right. *pats head*

What I think of birthdays now is a healthy reminder of my age and my responsibility increasing year by year towards my own self and my parents. I know, I sound so grim...but that's the way it is. For me, birthday is equal to independence day or any other national holiday we celebrate: history tells us that that particular day was a great day and people did great things and it was good for the country and we celebrate it with sleeping till 1 pm.. Our own birthday was also reported to us. Celebrating a day which I have no memory of, and that too thevday which marks the time of my own arrival, it doesnt make sense.  I may as well celebrate the day my Mum came to know she is pregnant with me (and I am told was happy about it lol....though I bet this is the exact moment she regrets when she hates on me sometimes). Also that analogy becomes weirder because I was born on 26th January. (Such a cool segue)

But now birthdays have become those days when some people resurrect from their slumber to wish (or remember) you, and you feel great that they took the pains to remember. Wait, now even that happiness is not ours to have: Facebook has become this one weird friend we used to have who used to remember most minutest details like landline number and birthdays. So you don't really know people remembered your birthday or it was this website reminding them. It is sad sometimes to think a website which didn't even exist when you were born is now taking over genuine wishes you could garner.

Anyhoo, once I start getting negative I won't stop. I like how my college friends celebrate birthdays: making people feel at home by providing one day to the person the same happiness one gets with their folks, or for some it is the first time they are treated so specially. If there is one bit, (but the largest bit) of positivity I can get is that it is the day when you know who genuinely acknowledge, love and appreciate your existence, who cherish the fact that you are breathing the same air as they are and that your birth has made a difference in their lives. Then, the lack of knowledge of happenings of the original day gets glossed over. You end up feeling: maybe this is how people must have felt when I took birth. And if not then, if today there are some people who are happy that I exist, that day gets a new memory of its own every year.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Varied Varieties

India is not a sexually frank country, nor it is a country which is good to people who are just, frank and truthful.

 Now when I make that statement hundred people will be ready to hurl shoes at me. Or have discussions about me, about how I have no 'sanskriti' or 'sanskar' or whatever we love to spew when it comes to our hard core reality. India is a country where no one accepts they like to have sex, no one accepts they like to watch porn, no one accepts they are sexual beings with genitals. India is a country where no one accepts their reality. We get offended by our own reality, by our thoughts which are sexually active. Funnily, even our 'traditions', the 'sanskriti' which is hurled on people when they accept who they are, do not direct us to be so hypocritical. Our country gave the world Kamasutra, Khajuraho, and is one of the highese porn watching country. Why? When one can't accept their reality publicly, they are bound to fulfill their desires vicariously. Or in our country by raping someone else. Sounds too harsh? Anything that makes you uncomfortable, makes you think about the greatness of the country and how everything is going against this very greatness, know that it is your and everyone's reality. India is a country which does not know how to laugh at itself. It is a 10 year old kid who likes to blame the kid next door for a mistake it did, who takes offense and starts crying and holds on to its parents, the upholders of fascimile tradition.

Now what I am going to talk about it is- fat shaming. India is a country, which cares about it how it looks, and not how it really is. That can be applied to humanity as a whole but right now I can only stretch my arms towards my own country. We are the country which has apparently got the best melanine combination in our skin but we are racist towards our own people. Go, open a matrimonial paper and no one wants JUST a girl or a boy, they want Fair, tall, thin, men or women. Each to his own, yes, that is right. Everyone likes variety, has their choices. But when you see it as a recurrent pattern, it is disconcerting. Same, goes for the 'thin' bit. The greatness attached to thinness is so demeaning and devaluating to a person's ego, that India has become one of those countries where teenagers are going through problems of anorexia and bulimia nervosa- it has led to depression and anxiety. Is it really worth all that mental trouble? 

Being healthy is important, but being shamed for what one looks like is not. Being fat is problematic, but what if for that person it isn't? No one has the right to shame the person for his or her looks. Not only fat shaming, but skinny shaming is also on the rise. Body shaming as a whole is such a problematic issue that one can write a whole book on it, a never ending one at that. It is the most disgusting for a fellow human to do- to shame another person for their fat, or the lack of it. It leads to a person getting low self esteem, low self confidence and even leads to suicides. 

Now many arguments would sound something like this: Why take offense? Why not work out? Why not CHANGE how you look? Why not take offense? Why be judgemental? Why not just take it as a joke, and move on? Fat feminazis will be the worst comment one can get for talking about body shaming. "All these fat girls are feminists because no one will fuck them"- is one sentence which resounds in my head whenever I want to talk about shaming. The funny part is the very sentence proves my point- it shames a fat person, makes them look like perenially sexually frustrated human beings and cherry on the top- makes feminism looks like a curse. Why do these sentences come forth time and again? Is it too offending to know your reality? To know that you have been unconsciously or consciously destroying someone's life by demoralising them, and now when they have the gumption to come out and speak about it, your idea of normalcy has been challenged? Mere anarchy, is loosed upon your world.

 Hundred of my friends call me 'motu', 'golu', 'moti'. Terms of endearment, they say. I never feel bad about it. In fact, I feel it is alright, it is my reality, I am fat, and they are not telling something new to me. Nor will I tell them to call me 'patlu', 'lakdi'. 'patli'. That is the words they reserve for my thin, 'too skinny' friends. 

It is when this harmless joke, which is not offensive ( no really, be assured),  takes a turn and hits us on our faces- Moti, apni haalat dekh le! Bhai! Stage na toot jaye tu chadhe toh! (See your condition. I hope the stage does not break if you stand on it.). This is just one I remember. There are so many that my brain has voluntarily ejected them out of my system. But that is how MY brain works- some people hold on to it for lives. They don't need to, you know. No one needs to make them go through that mental pain. Yes, one can go on to become healthy by listening to such demoralising words- but is it a healthy stimulus for leading them to change themselves? Not everyone can eject, not everyone can hit the gym. Everyone has their own stories, and such generalisations of jokes lead to never ending problems. 

I have always followed the maxim of 'laughing at oneself before anyone else does'. It has become my defense mechanism. I make fun of myself, before anyone else can start the joke. But it is a very unhealthy mechanism. I have become my biggest critic!

Can I tell anyone to stop calling fat people fat and thin people thin? No. But when did someone's bodily appearance become a cuss-word? How did their very appearance become a matter of joke?

Do you think this problem will solve if you become thin by exercising or by adding a little fat on your bones? Not really. People will still go on saying things, searching for things to shame you.  That is what makes me think: what is the solution?

The issue I started off with, not accepting reality. Anything out of the 'ordinary' offends us, is revolting and disgusts us. But we never question what is that 'ordinary' thing to which we got used to so much? Why is this new thing so extraordinary? Why is it so revolting? Have we been tied down by some power which forces us to think unilaterally? Perhaps. 

It is time to accept reality in its myriad forms. Just imagine, the way we think the world 'should be', if the world was really like that, it would have been such a boring world- unilateral, unidimensional, all the same everywhere. I am trying to make a very blase argument in the end because elite, high handed arguments do not seem to work, and they never will. I can write about Cixous, Audre Lorde and Butler but what will really hit you home is this: a world where everyone will look the same, be the same will not be a world worth living in. Haruki Murakami said this about the habit of reading: If you keep reading the book everyone is reading, you will think what everyone is thinking. And how bad is that if it becomes a norm, a rule- the world being run by this weird rule book which forces us to become inane robots? A Beckettian world where nothing happens, nothing is different.

 World has given us variety which is inherent to us and we should start accepting the multidimensionality of reality. People are fat, thin, black, white, brown, gay, trans, girls, boys and the list goes on. People are people and they come in various forms. And our duty as varied individuals ourselves is to accept someone else's  form of variety. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

This world and You

"Prerna thought she will buy the box of nutella herself. For she was hungry for some chocolate!"

It is beautiful how we all live in a certain kind of interconnectedness, without the knowledge of it. We are bound by this cosmos which allows us to do actions but we somehow are responding to some kind of equilibrium. Today, I am laughing but somewhere around the corner someone is crying. Today you get married, and someone has had their first visit to a divorce counsellor. Thousands die and thousands take birth on the same day.

I am walking down the street, listening to music and someone is fighting in a corner of a street. I lower the volume, pass them by. I hear 'You don't understand' only, and the look on the man's face is despondent. I hear two men talking in Tamizh in a rickshaw- I smile, listening to your mother tongue in a different place always fills you with a weird kind of joy. I pass by a woman who is talking on her phone who is telling to the other side of the call "Punjabi Ladki hoon, mujhe dar nahi lagta!". I smile, for some inane reason. As I walk past I see two kids of my age smoking, a whole montage of people who I know who smoke passes my mind, and I fight a lot of judgemental opinions that my brain creates. At the same time I see a 10 year old selling ciggarettes, with such informative vigour. And I am witnessing all of this while having a whole life my own, and I am being witnessed at the same time. Someone saw my hair, someone saw my cellphone, someone saw my eyes. Someone did not look at me at all.

Almost always, what we do is a reaction to what is happening somewhere else. It might seem like an overstretched thought but coming to think of it, the world's stasis is possible only if we are acting in accordance to some kind of equalizing structure. It fills a certain kind of optimism in me- that today's tear can turn into a smile soon enough to balance it out.

All this, comes in my mind while going to buy a box of nutella- an impulsive decision taken sitting in the college canteen, wanting to eat something inordinately sweet. The impulsive decision connected me to Virginia Woolf's first sentence in Mrs Dalloway: Mrs Dalloway thought she would buy the flowers herself. Certain sudden impulsive decisions could always make you learn a lot you signed up for. I learnt that no matter how lonely you feel, your very being is made up of this world you live in. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Process That Has Come Alive.

Sometimes I wish the world slowed down its pace. It just gets too fast and too insane to tackle and one starts to lose control and hold over what goes around them. We just become machines, cogs in wheels trying to work it out the way we are mechanically systemized to do it. Time and tide wait for none, but nowadays they don't even come at a normal speed. Time goes away before you even realise it came and affected a change in your life. It is both beautiful and disconcerting at the same time. Life looks like a pack of dominoes, sadly.

Now that I have started on a very bleak note, I cannot change my tone can I? The bleakness ensued because of what is going on in life right now. College is ending so fast, it is unimaginable. I still feel I came to the college last day, met the principal with my parents and entered the room waiting for my roommate to come the next day. I still feel that those days were just yesterday. But the reality is that two and a half years have passed and now people around me respect the lot I am in, the "third years", the way we are seen by our " juniors" and are talked to is so different that it beats me. Until yesterday I was the one talking like that, today I am on the receiving end.

It struck me hard when I directed a play with a first year and a third year, and to me, more than the play it was the first year whose talent was a revelation. I got reminded of my first few days in college where I just wanted to try out everything and try and get my hold in the college somewhere, but at the same time wanted to be a stranger, because fame came with its responsibilities and issues. I saw this person with my own past in mind, and I felt a certain kind of responsibility towards him. Even though he had already acted in a play in college, this was the time I could break the mould and surprise him with what he could do. With really supportive people around me, he was brilliant enough to even get acknowledged for his work. The feelings that came to me were inexplicable.

The feelings came with an added sense of seniority and nostalgia: I felt I have got just six more months in college, I need to make the most of it. When I saw him as successful, I saw my college life's last chapter being written. Even my being was a contribution of so many seniors who affected changes in me, but this time I could actually feel how it felt.

Being older to someone and polishing their skills isn't the point here. The point is how amazing the feeling is when you get to see a process come alive in one person, how one person can be an amalgam of your thoughts process,work, time and effort. It is a beautiful feeling, and it makes the epoch even more meaningful. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rantings of a List-Maker

Sometimes, I just feel like losing track of my self, my surroundings and let things go haywire. Sometimes, even I feel like doing things impulsively, and doing things without a checklist. Even I have those moments of exasperation, those moments of "I GIVE UP" and "I CANNOT HANDLE THIS SHIT". But, I mostly fail.

I have realised that even my fun time is in my routine, the amount of fun I have is also proportionate to how much work I am doing in a day. My "Google Keep" has a check list of "Things to Read" "Things to say to People", "Things to do", and  in between, I have marked out "Have fun". And when I do have fun, I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that maybe I am having fun right now but what if I am not doing something important which needs to be done, and what if I will pay for it. I have utterly failed to live in the moment, because while living the moment I am already planning my future.

I wake up late sometimes, yes. And funnily, even that is planned. I don't just "sleep with the book on my face", or "sleep while the movie was on." I have never had those moments, and if I have, I may have repressed them because they make me feel guilty. Hell, this blogpost was the only unplanned thing I am doing today and it has already put me on a guilt trip.

My lists are getting too many and are piling up. I have forgotten to add one list, and that is to live. Because I don't really know when I can do that.

Do you?

To know more about my OCD:

Excessive list-making: People with OCD often fear they will forget something important, so they may make excessive lists to remind them to do daily routine activities (i.e. brush teeth, make breakfast, etc.) However, research has shown that people with OCD do not have memory problems, so the lists are actually unnecessary. List-making would be considered a compulsion because the list reassures the person with OCD and helps them to feel temporarily better, thus they never learn that they do not need the list to remember things. People with OCD may also make lists to remember things that may be contaminated to later wash or avoid, which also contributes to the OCD process. List-making can be in writing or verbalized aloud.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What Women Want

Of Seductresses and Vile Victims: Using Positions to undermine Feminism

Nowadays Men Rights' Activism  has emerged and has led to the utter amazement of feminists upon this movement, because they never knew what they were working for could lead to an alternate movement. Something has gone wrong, and we need to realise it as soon as possible.

Feminism is nowadays seen as a monolithic movement with internal contradictions because of the gross misinterpretation done by people who call themselves feminists. Feminism is often treated as an elitist movement because it has not led to the upliftment of women in rural regions, but these are arguments given without seeing what feminism has achieved.

Today, here I am, writing a blog on a public forum. Today, there is an India Today Conference on Women's Rights, a website like Feminism in India. How was this made possible? How was this feat achieved? It was due to that 100 years of fighting for universal suffrage and equal rights, equal recognition of humaneness in both female and male that has led to this. Some years ago it would have been impossible for women to have opinions, let alone voice them out. But this generation of ours has got everything ready on its plate, and thus it is easy to ignore the movement which led to the formation of the food we are ready to gulp down our throats. We take our rights for granted. 

Today a woman can walk on the road, ride in a metro, have a job and do things outside the oikos, the domestic space. Yes, a woman is in danger when she walks on the road, can be teased in a metro, isn't given equal pay in the job she does but everything is in the pipeline, and a bit of optimism goes a long way. If we could achieve the former, removing the issues would not be a problem. But it can only happen if the former is not taken for granted, as a given. I am not saying treat it as a privilege, as a favor being done to our sex. NO, not at all. It is not a favor which has been granted to us. But it has been our birthright which has been successfully realised and now we can exercise it- one should see how it was achieved whenever trying to extract it. It was achieved through years of revolutions, deaths and fights- it wasn't a mean feat. 

Riding in a metro for a woman would have been a privilege 50 years ago, because 'rights' were quite foreign to women, they were only used to 'duties'. But now, most of us are used to having our own space. The problem is that we often forget that only few of us are aware enough of our rights let alone exercise them fully.It does not mean that we use it for extracting ulterior purposes. Lilly Singh's Girl on Girl Love campaign to remove Girl on Girl Hate is important to understand this- it isn't a simple Youtube video, but a very problematic phenomenon of 'women against women'. Patriarchy does not stand isolated in the hands of men, but is also buttressed by women who have been taught the terminology of patriarchy, taught to use the space of their body for gaining advantage.  Quite a few women have successfully gotten the name of 'honey traps', leading to the generalisation of all women using their sexuality in an advantageous manner, potentially seeing every woman as a vile character. This is not a unilateral superficiality- women who did not know anything else but the power of their sexuality were forced to use it for extracting ulterior purposes. This is because the society sees a woman in binaries: either she is pure, or she is vile, and everything stems from her body: it is either delicate, or sexually useful and penetratable. A woman is always seen through lens of stereotypes, leading to most women accepting their positions, and thus trying to act around it, use whatever tools they have. This kind of construct was clearly resonating in Amber Rose's recent controversial statement about women using their position as 'seductresses'. 

The Rohtak Girls incident is often quoted as an example of how women are playing the 'victim' card to get what they want. Being a 'victim' is seen as a privilege- and that in itself is problematic. A movement won't be successful until we understand what we are working for. We want equality, and not special treatment. We do not want to overthrow patriarchy and establish female-control We do not want to be people who men and other sexes are scared of. We want to be equal, we want to be the same, and not different. We have different requirements as two sexes, but not exceptionally disparate ones that we need to be accorded secondary status, leading to the misuse of such a position. 

Fake cases of rape and other kind of sexual harrassment aren't just stories of women using their victim position, but are much more complicated. One may ask-is a woman left with only one choice in this world to get justice or solve her purposes: claim violation her own body, albeit hypothetically? Before blaming women, or blaming anyone for such an act of fraud, we must question why must a person take such a step. The answer lies in the conditioning of a women taught by the patrairchal society to preserve her body for its dignity, and the only way she can destabalise the society is by claiming her body's violation. This action of false accusation often leads to real cases being seen as potentially false.

Such cases are oftne used to steer forward Men's Right Activism and other "anti-feminist'' campaigns using feminism as a crime-furthering concept. Feminism stands for removing the gendering of any activity or social phenomena- it does not want gender as a criteria of judgement, but a egalitarian concept based on merit and personal choices. As anything feminine is seen as the 'lesser' choice or inhabits the lower rung of meritocracy, the word 'feminism' is to remove this negative charge from femininity: position of a woman as either a victim or a seductress is because of the lack of masculinity, thus putting femininity in an inferior position and raising the bar for male counterparts. Feminism is for both men and women, and those women who say they aren't feminists because they love men, are contradicting their own statement. The mere act of you voicing out your love for the other sex publically is the feat feminism has achieved. Thanks to feminism, you can say you are not a feminist.