Monday, October 17, 2016

Fair skin racism: Why we must shun it right now

A visit to the Kirana store can sometimes be a big leap towards insanity. The big cut-outs of fair women smiling at me is not a very happy sight. And the shopkeeper at the big kirana store in the central market, is the only one who stocks up the lotions and potions. While many times he runs short of a basic moisturizer, you will surely find fairness cream tubes of various sizes and types at his store. You name it and he has it, from Fair and Lovely to Garnier and even those for men. It is amusing that despite not being a country of Caucasians Indian people lunge behind fair skin. 
As a young girl I was a fan of basketball and remember dribbling the ball with my best friend at a time of the day when the sun was spewing fire. Both of us never bothered, and by the time we hurriedly paced towards the classroom for the next period, we were sun-burnt. The nastiest May heat couldn't scare us and there we were, two Indian girls fascinated by tanning. While many of our other girl friends hid in the classrooms, petrified of sun burns and skin darkening, we made sure that we hopped around in the basketball court and didn't hide from the angry sun. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Seven steps to a healthy heart

Health is wealth but in today's times, wealth is our new best friend. We all are running from pillar to post to make ends meet. A comfortable sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food have become our soulmates. Most of us do not hear the warning bells ringing until a trip to the hospital doesn't happen.

Two years ago at around this time, I discovered on an accidental visit to the hospital that I had put on some extra kilos. I had been a victim of persistent throbbing headaches but decided to ignore them blaming the sweaty humid heat for my ordeal. While I was intending to meet the dermatologist, I also happened to walk upto the general physician. I felt thankful at the startling revelations  that he had to make about my health, and from then I took a decision to give up on habits that were playing a spoilsport for my heart and health.

My sleeping schedule has been erratic since college and all through the long tiring hours I spent at the laboratory trying to unravel the mysteries of life, it continued. That very day I made a promise to myself to go to bed early, come what may. That also meant that even if I were to fall in love, I had to make sure that I don't lose sleep over it.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Parched-Taking Feminism a step further

Bollywood with it's unrealistic, sugary stories and spotlessly beautiful people as though they have come straight out of fairy tales, had very little to offer viewers like me, rabid feminists to be precise :) This is perhaps one of the very few instances when I am watching a second Bollywood movie in the same week. And, both movies were worth my money. 
Parched unlike Pink is set in the rural hinterland of india, trying to tell the stories of three women who do not have the agency to break rules, shackled by violent alcoholic husbands and a society that looks down upon its women. Still, a wave of rebellion strikes and is fuelled by the eons of oppression they have suffered. 


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pink the Movie: The Movie that started a discussion on consent

What is a definitive no, and do we really understand consent, even as women, the kind of consent that we should rightfully be able to lay claims on? Does a woman become a 'loose character" if she doesn't wear modest clothes and consumes alcohol? Should her loud laughter and friendliness be considered as a doubtless "yes" ? Do men who support women in their quest for equality exist, and why are they frowned upon?
These are the important points that Pink raises. It loudly and unbashedly questions the " victim blaming" culture that men of Indian families, leave alone goons do not understand. Although people were praising Meenal (Tapsee Pannu) I also fell in love with the other characters especially that of Falak (Kirti Kulhari) who is making ends meet and is the sole breadwinner of the family.Andrea's (Andrea Tsaring) character struggles to tell Indian people that women from the north east are one of us, as opposed to how they are considered to be, especially the stereotypes around their character.
The things that I couldn't digest was the title of the film. We are tired and bored of the feminization of the colour pink. Once upon a time pink was considered a masculine colour, and this again is a Western import.  A female lawyer instead of Mr.Bachchan could have done more justice to the character and would have been more emphatic. Perhaps we have still not evolved as a society to take women professionals seriously. The sequences of a creepy neighbour keeping a check on three working girls living in the neighbourhood were scary.Why did Falak wrongfully admit to taking money when none of them had agreed to exchanging favours for dinner or drinks? Perhaps she might have done it to remove the stigma around sex work or did she try to make a point about consent and it's withdrawal. Why did the lawyer appearing in defence for the girls raise questions about Meenal's sexual past and use it as a yardstick to prove a point?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Mask(s)

Young fresh faces with not a fine line
frown at you 
at the entrance
sashaying in neatly pressed uniforms 
hats that are perfectly balanced on a head
standing straight, smiles sacrificed 
in call for duty, talk with a wild posture of hands
learning directions that will set us free,
painted lips curve to not hurt the jaws
serving coffee and food on a 6 am flight
minds still imprisoned in beds that shook them off
money is their honey, a comatose mind luxury
their choice is a will
to buy objects that demand a price
as misogyny's mistresses, a size zero figure 
tip-toes on pencil heels 
slapping the floor rudely
disguises  dissapear every time
a passenger presses a button
flying freely to places 
with strange names, the only perk
for wearing this camouflage of colours.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Breaking the stigma around menstruation

We are a country full of ironies. While we unfailingly worship the goddesses for nine days every year during navratri, we shun women and their bodies forcing them to hide and feel ashamed of their existence. Menstruation is a normal biological function that is definitely messy and painful but not at all shameful. Period shaming is widespread and in a country like India where being a woman is a dangerous disadvantage because of traditional misogyny and patriarchal structures ruling the roost, being on your period spells trouble. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Johanna

The curtains had been pulled over and the large orange sun was struggling to enter her room as though he was a trespasser. She had decided to sleep over all day. She occupied the left side of the bed, as though Johann was snoring to glory. His sounds and smell had become her drug. She never knew that a man she had met at a friend's party five years ago would give her a reason to live, after her parent's untimely demise. 




She always used to have her breakfast from the tiny coffee shop located at the curved end of the street. It was a clean place, a tiny patisserie that made the city's best pastries and breads. A cup of delicately brewed cappuccino and a corn spinach sandwich was her breakfast for the day. She had been asked by her doctor to cut down on flab, because of which she had given the mud pie a skip, which was a tempting obligation every morning. The owner of the shop, a middle aged man in his fifties with a balding head and a pot-belly, always gave her discounts. For the past five years, except for weekends she had not missed out having breakfast from his pastry shop. She was his favourite customer.
Today he was trying his best to lure her into buying a mud pie or brownie, which were her favourites by incessantly smiling at her and pointing to the dessert counter. Since the past one month she had learnt the trick of looking away in the other direction while she paid the bill to not get enchanted into buying a portion of her favourite dessert. As she hurriedly walked out of the bakery, to not get smitten by the aroma of the delicacies being dished out there, she was greeted by a husky male voice.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Story of a Suicide- A novel by Sriram Ayer

A book with hand-drawn illustrations that dares to break the stereotypes is a fresh new chapter for bored readers like me, who were tired of the run-of-the-mill heterosexual love stories. I am not a fan of romance but ofttimes, I take a peep into a book that talks of love, that is fresh like the blossoming buds of spring or the dewy mist on the grass after a rainy day.
The first chapter is a chilling account of what a person goes through before deciding to retort to the inevitable. Most suicide notes read exactly like the letter that the person who had decided to give up on life wrote to his loved ones. Only if we were to lend an ear to such voices when they stifle and struggle to tell us their story, many untimely suicides could have been avoided. The writer has wisely created an air of suspicion by crafting the letter carefully. I thought that this was clearly a case of a heterosexual romantic relationship having gone wrong.  
The author has taken careful caution to describe situations and people by using images, sights and sounds that transport you to the world which is being described in the book. Only a clever observer can use noises and mental pictures intelligently to tell a story. 
In chapter 5, Hari narrating his ordeal about how he was first molested by his uncle was a saddening tale, and many abuse victims as we see on social media have bravely dared to speak of the mishaps they had to encounter as kids. In chapter 6, Mr.Narender Hegde reminds us of many of our possessive worried parents who were afraid to let us go from the comfort and security of our homes, the first time we decided to step out to build  a career. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Fallible World of Facebook and Human Relationships

I always make it a point to wish all my friends on facebook, on their birthday. It's thoughtful and beautiful to add a pinch of sunshine to someone's life, especially on a day like their birthday. A one-liner of a birthday wish can cheer up a person which is the best we can do to keep in touch with people we know and also our acquaintances. On a social media platform like facebook, a birthday or anniversary wish sent once in a year according to me is the only and best route of communication once can maintain with their facebook friends. To add to this can be the occasional chatter on issues that are burning down the world or a discussion about personal problems that we so often talk of on platforms like facebook. 

There was a time when I had 1700 friends on facebook. The idea of logging into facebook where 1700 people were keeping a watch on me, on different occasions or at the same time under the rare circumstance of everyone logging in at the same moment was making me restless. To add to this awkwardness was the hard perverted stare from a few strangers who kept a check on my pictures. Then there were a few friends who loved to pick on me when I started a thread of discussion about gender. A no-holds barred talk on gender shakes the confidence of men with fragile egos. These friends were subsequently driven away from my facebook profile. Technology didn't destroy friendships here, it exposed the real faces behind the masks some of these men were wearing. Imagine a world, an educated civilized world where thoughts about gender inequality still threaten men who do not understand the root cause of the problem, to begin with. Recently I bid adieu to my best friend who had on countless occasions towed the line and made a joke of me on facebook, in full public view, earning the ire and criticism of many female friends who thought that the guy didn't deserve to be my friend in the first place. I wonder had facebook never existed, this discourse on gender benders might have never taken place, although I do not regret letting him go. Facebook acted as a mirror in this case I guess.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Teething as an Adult

Adulthood is a difficult phase of life. Life wastes away in daily deadlines at work, worrying about the future and most of all in seeing your energy reserve dwindle. I remember the times when no matter how many hours were spent in skipping, playing stapu or sweating it out in the basketball field, I didn't feel tired. Yes, I did gulp down gallons of water but I was always on my toes. As adulthood has stealthily engulfed me in its trap, I think I have become a new person. A human who is always fatigued and is looking for the slightest reason to hit the bed or curl on a couch with her favorite book. While our energy is getting spent like water, adulthood also brings with it, a peculiar problem of teething. We call it the arrival of the wisdom teeth, the hindmost molars appearing in your twenties which can be a valuable asset to you if properly aligned. Their eruption usually leads to excruciating pain and dizziness, which is exactly what I have been experiencing nowadays. 
This year had been passing away without too many debilitating health issues, until I realized day before yesterday that my wisdom teeth were tearing my jaws and torturing my sanity. 
I haven't been able to cut through my food properly since then trying my best to not chew food with my distant right molars. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Benefits of Filing your Tax Returns

A few days ago I happened to do a post on why the Danes were the happiest people in the world. I was amused to discover that the people in Denmark were fond of paying taxes and did their best to pay it on time. Since most financial transactions in Denmark happen through plastic money, cheating on taxes is difficult. Danes consider paying taxes as a sacred duty and in a country where air-surveillance is employed to make sure that everyone gives their dues, to pilfer is a tough task. In countries like Denmark, citizens focus on paying taxes and getting as much as they can, back from the government, in the form of paid maternity leaves etc. The government of Denmark is doing its best to provide the best of facilities to its citizens by judiciously investing the money in the development of the country. 

Coming to our part of the planet.
In India, everyone considers paying taxes a moral and social obligation, but very few go down that road and make sure that they give their dues. While most people are aware of the requirement of filing taxes, many more are still unaware of the implications of not filing returns on time.

The last date for filing returns is 31st July for the financial year ending on 31st March. The government has made it mandatory for all citizens to file returns whether they belong to the taxable bracket of income or not. Filing returns has made it easier for firms and individuals to enter transactions that are in the knowledge of the IT department.


My friend had always nurtured the dream of going abroad for the future seems to be grim in India for research students like us with the slashing of research funds by the government and the sub-standard research facilities in the laboratories of the country. She filed the papers for permanent residence for Canada recently along with me when her visa agent told her that for applying for VISA she needs to show her income tax returns. Since she was getting a meager stipend until now she was not punctually filing her returns. Her agent's words came as a shocker and she decided to start filing her returns immediately, but her dad gave her a pleasant surprise when he told her that he had filed her tax returns in the past. Her dad came as a messiah saving her from the hassles of paying her old returns, as she realized the importance of dutifully paying her dues to the government.   

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Inside the icy terrains of Iceland

Since I was a teenager, I have dreamt of catching a glimpse of Northern lights which is why I have been planning and saving for a trip to Iceland. When someone asks me about my favourite destination, pat comes the reply, it is Iceland. I want to visit the place for two reasons, to watch the northern lights and see the midnight sun. Yes, you heard it right, in Iceland the sun stays awake until as late as 11 PM, which is only visible in summers. If you're travelling to the place especially to see the Aurora Borealis or northern lights, then winters are the best time. Most tourists pay a visit from mid-June to September mainly to indulge in outdoor activities like horse riding, snow mobiling etc.


                               
                                                Picture credit: guidedtoiceland.is

The number of daylight hours can have unanticipated emotional and mental effects and this should be taken into consideration before timing the trip. 
The temperature is cool in summer and remarkably mild in winter, all thanks to the Gulf stream and the lowest temperatures in New York is surprisingly lower than that in Reykjavik. The weather is violently volatile and once can sometimes experience four seasons in one day.  
If you're looking to discover the country side and participate in outdoor activities then September is the ideal time to visit. Experienced horse riders can get to see the countryside and participate in the Icelandic farming ritual that will tell you about the lifestyle and culture followed by  dwellers in the tiny hamlets outside the capital city.
If Aurora Borealis is in your list of "To do things" then mid-September to March is best suited for a visit. However one must also brace themselves up for disappointment, because the freaky weather can be a hindrance to the view. If you want to see this electromagnetic phenomenon, make sure that you stay for more than a week in Iceland. You can opt to stay in the city and from there head for a guided tour of Aurora Borealis or the more adventurous option is to stay near the forests in a warmed bubble made of perspex that will provide a scintillating view of the Artic sky.

How to get there?
You need a valid passport and visa applications in India are processed by the Embassy of Denmark. More information can be found on the website of Icelandic Directorate of Immigration
There are no direct flights from India to Iceland. Most flights consist of one to two stops with the most cost efficient tickets taking an extra travel time of seven hours in comparison to the priciest picks. See as to what suits you and you can make an informed choice about what you will go for.  Etihad Airways offers you pocket friendly deals while Lufthansa Airlines will provide comfort and save time.

Money
Krona is Iceland's monetary unit and dollars, euros and pounds can be easily exchanged for Krona. The most practical and reliable way is at the ATMs or currency exchange desk. Avoid exchanging money at hotels since they charge exorbitant transaction fees.
Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted. Icelanders are in love with plastic money and whip one out for the smallest of transactions. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Five happy facts about Denmark

Danes are the most laid back of Scandinavians and the happiest people in the world. There are quite a few reasons that keeps them hale and hearty throughout the year, although it snows for most days of the year, which maybe a turn-off for many like us. Their high spirits can be attributed to the fact that they are thankful for the simple pleasures of life and have a good social support system. These are five of the many happy facts about the joyous Danes.


1) Danes are very passionate about protecting the environment and keeping their surroundings clean, which is why they love to cycle. This is like killing two birds with one stone. Cycling keeps them fit and at the same time keeps vehicular pollution in check. It's doesn't embarrass the citizens at all and you''ll find most of them cycling their way to work or school. In Copenhagen alone, 50% people commute by bike everyday and there are more bikes than inhabitants in the city. The other side of the story is that public transport is very expensive, and bikes are the cheapest modes of transport.
Perhaps we can take a cue from them and adopt these measures to battle our pollution woes, especially in large cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Denmark plans to become carbon neutral by 2025 and is working towards it.
2)Danes are disciplined people. They believe in following rules, especially traffic rules and make sure that they do not jaywalk even when no cars or bikes are plying on the roads. One of these days as I imagine our beloved Indians crossing heavily congested roads by ignoring traffic signals or safety rules for pedestrians, I think we can look upto them when it comes to pedestrian safety.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Melpadom, Kuttanadd, Kerala, 17.30, 12th January 2016

On the gilded dome of another dawn, strange shapes
of different sizes are being made
sometimes it looks like an orange
being peeled, sometimes like tender mango skin
then it changes colours, like a chameleon
behind villas getting eaten up
by dust, a slow fire burns
in a shanty.

Riding on the lacy blue winds
birds return home, to a place
where eyes will be heavy with sleep
earthworms wriggle back into tiny holes
as coconut trees let their hair loose to dry.
The murky owls will take refuge
in the chimney of the house
before which I steal a glimpse
of shadows growing paler
of hens getting into their coop
and the servant scuttling into her
one room house
the sky will rub off the red vermilion
from her forehead
and will soon wear a black veil.

Monday, April 25, 2016

14th February 2016, Aurora hall, Calgary


From the winter window
melting with human heat
in a strange city brimming with nameless life
I watch two people ensconced wearing each other's bodies 
like warm cardigans, twining their fingers like knitting needles
It's the festival of love, as love can be seen
plastered on walls of restaurants,
malls and the community hall in pink
sealing the deal in sales 
or doled as discounts.

While in this part of my weary world, 
these two speak to a civilization
Torn by bombs, fractured by barbed wires
My lonely eyes capture the postcard greeting they give to the world
On a moonless night lit by silent street lamps.
Sipping slowly from my favourite mug with a happy picture
He gave on one such Valentine's day

I wonder,
Why do photos save moments
that will be forgotten?
As tears trickle down my face
I realize that I now prefer my coffee salted
as my tongue gets used to the taste of 
wet memories.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apology

To the man trespassing her body in a hive of huddled humans
buses, metros or the local trains, where female body is a mosquito
that can be trampled by mustached machismo
to the guy in the lab who walked on her, with an unapologetic wince

walking into her way is his right, he thinks
to the teacher who doesn't bother to listen to her questions
mathematics is an equation, hers was never right

the science of home making they say is her call
to the salesman at the mall, because the dress doesn't sit on her

her tiny frame gives rush if hormones
to the brash neighbours who harass her with impunity

her lonely wars fall on their deaf ears
to the boss who thinks a promotion is not her cup of tea

making tea is what he thinks she's good for
to the mother-in-law who considers her opinion as bad manners

and her sneeze an ugly omen
to the husband who thinks she isn't allowed to fall ill.
Everyday a woman says sorry and chews her words
like her favourite bar of chocolate
or sweetens them with apologies, for secrets that wane inside her bones
for it is not lady-like to raise a voice or use her brain
while she carefully cuts the tags from her new clothes
she thinks of the labels women wear everyday,
for daring to open their mouth, or asking questions
or claiming for a raise at work
while for some like her, apology tags along
for being the pale shadow of a man.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Death

Death is the beggar
pleading to you for mercy
found at the street corner
embalmed in stink
staring helplessly at
his begging bowl.

Death is the master
punishing you for your sins
striking with a million lashes
for mortal cowardice.
Death is the latest suitor
who has bought your sanity
for a million unanswered questions
whose absence strikes like lightening
and melts in the babel of birds
singing an elegy, dumping you
to perish in the litter of leaves.
Death is the black box
gilded in gold
cut to carry your bones
the most comfortable home
that doesn't deny
for the riches you don't possess.
Death is the iceberg
the tip of which we all
will touch one day
to perish, and resurrect
under a golden sun
shedding our shrouds
the last skin we'll wear
as our loved ones pluck the
'forget-me-nots' rooted
around our grave.
Death is the only promise
life ever gave, naked we came
bare-footed will we go
with clenched fists
that opened at our birth.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Learning English

English is a funny language
grammar not playing to advantage
some words have silent sounds
as the confusion pounds
stacking up like layers of cabbage.
Wrist and write chew on first word
these funny rules do seem weird
a set of tooth are teeth
many booths are never beeth
funnily if logic was spared.
While sweetbread is a piece of meat
and sweetmeat is a sweet one can eat
noses run and feet smell
laws made are hard to tell
Which is why English is no mean feat.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Meeting a stranger for an Arranged Marriage date

I’ve felt like an anorexic model
reed thin, yellow, listless
while sashaying down the restaurant floor
Restaurant is their favourite place. 
They may meet you in these places

restaurants, book stores, malls or coffee shops
wrapped in crisp, neatly ironed clothing
buttoned up, their protruding Adam’s apple peeping out
most remind me of young boys dancing
their way to school. 

Others look like businessmen
waiting to seal a deal with a signature.
Some look like rag pickers
who hate to bathe or clean, stinking like 
piles of garbage piling
in the corner of your colony

attracting diseases.

They appear confident
when they hit on a conversation
gulping down glasses of water
Their eyes fixated on the legs of the chair
you are propped on like a kitten, coiling in her fur.
They sell their degrees
and blow trumpets about the money they bring home

flexing their muscles.
While they mouth sweet nothings to you, 

Their eyes twinkle like a love struck teenager.
Inside their dirty heads muddled with selfish misgivings
they will be giving you points, on a scale of one to ten
You will be judged on the light that your face can emit,
to the stupid talk that barfs from your mouth, 
being thrashed for intelligent opinions you may dare to have. 

Some may want you to be a donkey, carrying your own burden 
and that of theirs. Some may think of you as baby makers,
considering your body as a machine that plops out babies 
when their semen gets lost in your womb, much like your mind.
Some may want you to be a guinea pig
with whom they can practice the various “Kama sutra” poses
or may think of you as an ATM machine

your money will buy their happiness.
It’s a million dollar industry, this arranged marriage market
where daughters every year are trained to be mute mannequins
or trophy wives that men can show around to a society
that loves to poke its nose in other’s business
blinded by the big fat log in their eye.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Finding clues

In our everyday conversations I hunt for clues
looking for a new word, that will end this isolated struggle
like a child looking for his friends
in a game of hide and seek
The universe might have conspired
or the stars would have fallen to mark that moment
to let this gigantic catastrophe happen. Or not?
Even after a thousand phone calls and 
hundreds of e-mails, I still wonder who you are?
Are you the eager four year old boy I knew
whose queries never seemed to end, 
or the bored loveless flirt who feasts on 
carcasses of lustful women.
Sometimes when I pass by the places I had wanted 
to visit with you, I count the yellow beacons
drifting past me, their brightness blinds my vision.
I still wear the million dollar smile 
I bought for a discount from my family
try to keep my hair straight like a runaway model
and pick at an uninvited pimple, that may leave behind a scar
brown, ugly and stubborn
what if you decided to meet me again
And find me to be someone else, not the reed thin doll
you had wanted to carry around like an arm candy
Still lost in a series of hints, I surrender my arms
and begin a new battle, of telling myself
to stop wishing on a star.  







Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Art of Healing your Soul

This post begins with a confession. I must admit that I was a scared cat for a good part of my life. You can comfortably call me an introvert. Introverts can't mix with human life and yes I am one of those people who worry about putting off others and press the panic button at anything that my mind may not able to come to terms with. We introverts wear colored masks to hide the frown lines that the world and the drama it creates, puts on us. For a long time, I struggled at choosing those masks and painting them with my favourite hues of emotions. With the passage of time, I am learning the trick.
An article sent by the bestie on the three different kinds of people in the world based on their negative feelings shook me up. This thought provoking article on Mental Floss  talks about three different kinds of personalities. If you happen to read it, you may get a fair idea about the kind of personality you are. I tried to wear one of those personality types, and failed to strictly put myself into any of the kinds that the author has mentioned of. For me the journey has been from a sense of nothingness to weary boredom and finally at this stage in life, I have given up on the world and can't fit myself into the shoes it has offered.
This discouragement led to anger, hopelessness and fear. I wasn't aware of those moments when I was becoming an epidemic of negativity. 
In 2013, I took to practicing spirituality. My mom was startled when one fine day, I declared that I was attending the Sunday mass. For someone who had seen the altar of the church as a young girl, this was one giant leap towards a different kind of life, one that she had never perceived to live. After endless rounds of confession and spiritual cleansing, I took a few decisions. One of the most important of those resolutions was to deactivate my Facebook profile and stay away from twitter. I think one can freeze the former while I didn't know how I was supposed to delete the latter. Perhaps, it was one of the best decisions I ever took for myself. Yes, if you have been hunting to find peace and have failed till this day, then trust me this is the first door that you  need to open, to be in harmony with yourself. I had scuttled away from social media during lent and by the time I returned, fifty days later, I was many kilos lighter and detached from the dramas that had taken a toll on me. If TV is the culprit for you, especially the depressing news channels, then try and cut that clutter from your life for sometime. Trust me, you'll thank me for having given you the advice.
A few months later, I also cleaned up my friend list, unfriending people who were there on my list because we had 125 mutual friends. We never bothered to speak and since it was scary to start a conversation with a stranger I chose to set them free. On the other hand, a few other people decided to set me free and that evened the equation.
The social media is keeping us informed and raising important issues but at the same time, it is accumulating pessimism inside us when we read about them everyday. Also, it puts us at par with people who talk about their personal lives or goals. We start measuring our materialistic and emotional happiness with their yardstick and that is the point from where we fall, and hurt ourselves. 
Remember not all fingers are of the same length, and yes research like this says that Facebook can magnify narcissism and anxiety.
                                                 Picture credit: christianpost.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

30th January 2016

Yesterday night was special. After spending an extended weekend in Delhi, I headed back to Bombay. The paradigm shift from winters to a pleasant climate is a kick in the gut. I usually prefer the Delhi-Bombay Rajdhani as it saves me the extra miles from the Mumbai airport, but this time I was in hurry so chose the latter option.
After reaching home I curled up in the annals of my comfortable bedroom, still reeling under the winter chill that had been coughed into my lungs by Delhi.
A little later in the early evening I received a phone call from my best friend. She was in Bombay and wanted to catch up with me. Unlike in Delhi where we scoot inside our homes after eight pm, in Bombay it's a different story. The people of Bombay are not bothered about others and their lives, as all of them are hurrying to reach their destinations, since travelling is an arduous activity. Perhaps because of this reason Bombay is brimming with human life even at night.
For Delhites though,  conforming to the idea of travelling at night is difficult. Even then over the years, I have punched fear right on its face and journeyed across the length and breadth of the city. 
I remember those days when I had landed in Bombay, and navigation had bogged me down. I couldn't ascertain routes or plan an outing, and had to rely on the autorickshaws and kali-peeli taxi. In Delhi, where every nook and cranny of the city is connected by metro, moving around isn't a big deal anymore.While in Bombay you need to have extra starch in your backbone to hop onto the local which drives the city. For a person who had recently landed in the city, the probability was a big no. I chose the next best option, the rickshaws and taxis, since learning routes took some time. Infact memorizing the names of places took me about two months until I could wean myself off from relying on taxis.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

26 th January 2016

"67 year old republic. Oh really!" said my american cousin giving a bemused expression.
"Yes India is growing older but its young citizens are keeping her on toes."
By the time I had defended India's youthful ageing like an angry warrior we had reached Rajpath. The sun was glistening on the green grass sprinkled with the morning mist. 
"It isn't as cold as we had thought it would be." she said.
I had hoped against hope that the weather would treat us kindly and especially since this airy american cousin had landed down in the city, nail biting chill would have played spoilsport and given her all the reasons to complain.

We had reserved our seats and were sure of being comfortably seated, but even then to avoid a last minute confusion, I dragged her to the venue in the wee hours of the morning.

"Oh I thought we have cushioned seating arrangement." she complained.
"This is an open air event. Do you get to sit on padded seats during soccer matches in the US of A?" I asked visibly irritated by her snobbishness. 
"Ah ok! We'll manage." she said sensing the angry discomfort in my voice.
These american born confused desis. Ofttimes I wonder, whether they were all born with a silver spoon?"

The city had turned into a fortress with 50,000 police personnel and a whooping 150,000 paramilitary staff guarding the city. I had read in the newspaper that one police personnel was deployed after every twenty metres. With the recent Pathankot attacks, the government and security agencies were leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the city was nestled in safety.

The celebrations began with the chanting of the national anthem. This was followed by a posthumous Ashoka chakra award to Lance Naik Mohan Goswami who was martyred while fighting eleven terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. I could see my cousin intently listening to the voice of the announcer reminiscing Mohan Goswami's  acts of daredevilry. Our brave soldiers are the only reason that we sleep comfortably in our homes and we must always be thankful to them for guarding our borders from the enemies of the state.
The first highlight of the day was the French army's 35th infantry regiment marching smartly in their uniforms. They were not stiffly marching much like our armed forces but yes most of the people present there were awestruck by their charm. There was also a french band named "Music of Infantry" that played tunes joyously as the crowd cheered them.
                                                       

                                    Picture credit: newsnation.com

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas Gift 24/12/2015

The delivery guy rang the bell
and handed me a black box
one that had kept me on my toes for many days
it's arrival devoured on my sleep
like a pregnant woman I stood guard.
My impatient fingers tore open the tape
sealing the objects of affection you had sent across
on an overcast winter evening,
socks to warm cold feet
eyewear to let my eyes build castles in air
diary with a message on the last page
scrawled illegibly with a pencil
thermometer to measure inner rage during a fever
postcard addressed to places that will look 
for me and you,inside a crowd of tourists
Christmas message that would someday be born
on a nameless street across Marine Drive.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The BIBA ad-- Challenging some stereotypes while staying mum on the rest!

Every attempt at changing minds or challenging stereotypes is ridden with its share of criticism. That is what happens in our country mostly, where everyone has an opinion and a facebook or twitter account. Of times I wonder as to when we really be happy. Finding a grey hair in a black mane had become our favourite passtime, all thanks to the social media revolution. I agree that healthy criticism is very important, but should it always overlook the spurt of changes we are aiming to see in our society infected with patriarchal mores.

A few days ago while checking my emails I happened to come across this post, mentioning BIBA's new advertisement that was claiming to question a stereotype. The stereotype discussed here was the cooking skills a woman should posses in order to find a groom, whether that happens through her family or if she happens to make the call. 

The advertisement brings into picture a coy girl who is wearing over-sized earrings in an effort to bedeck herself and look pretty in front of the suitor arranged by her parents. Her worried father barges into her room where she dares to question him about how could she magically take a decision about how can she spend the rest of her life with a guy by feeding him a plate of samosas? The father gives her a stern cold look and asks her to come soon. Next, she is shown sitting impassively in her drawing room where her parents and the guy's parents are taking a decision about her future. I wonder what qualities were taken into consideration which inspired the groom's mother to give a green signal to Payal, the quiet shy girl who was shown to be the mute mannequin in this advertisement. At this instance, the father decides to take the matter in his own hands and tells them that they will be visiting their house soon. The guy's mother aghast at this idea asks why are they considering a visit? To which the father replies that his daughter wants to know as to how adept their son is when it comes to cooking or taking care of a household, so that they could give away their daughter.The mother laughs off the proposition by saying that her son can't even boil water and can only make noodles in a microwave. The girl's father apologetically conveys to them that their daughter can't live on noodles alone.At this juncture, the groom intervenes into the conversation and invites the girl's family to their house after ten days, trying to buy time to learn cooking. The frame closes with smiles spread on the faces of everyone present there.