Sunday, October 26, 2014

 No #offence but this is b*******

The #feminist in me cocked her eyebrow and pursed her lips in disdain at an outrageous reference to women, especially wives. I’m just glad and thankful to God that I did not hear these words from the horse’s mouth or the horse would have had his hoof stuffed in his mouth for life. I’m a pretty secular person and respect people’s beliefs and the rituals they like to follow. But sometimes  I don’t want to be secular, I just want to be #humanitarian. The offender in question was a muslim man with his wife at a laundry. On being questioned by a member of my family as to why he dressed up his wife in a #burkha he uttered an extremely creative simile. I agree the question was too personal but it is only such questions that force people to question and wonder about their actions and beliefs. Anyway. The very loving husband replied, “A wife is like a box of sweets. If you keep it uncovered it will be infested with flies.”

Wow. That was all I could say when I first heard these words. And these words were spoken loudly in the presence of the object under discussion. For isn’t this simply a man who is objectifying his wife in front of a stranger. I wonder what his wife felt. Perhaps her bringing up, years of hearing such comments and her absolute dependence on the men in her life had made her immune and submissive. But the woman in me was offended and hurt to no end. And I felt worse because I realised that the burkha-clad woman probably agreed with her husband. It’s possible that the man was merely possessive about his beautiful wife. But I don’t think so. This is like saying that all the women behind burkhas are exquisitely beautiful and will have men swooning after them if they were to expose their mere face. Also an implication that men are uncivilised #neanderthals who have underdeveloped brains and uncontrollable urges. If that be the case it should be the men who ought to be restrained. Maybe all men should have electronic devices implanted in the part of the brain that generates these uncontrollable sexual urges. A small electric shock to the brain should do the needful. Isn’t that what we do in the psychiatric wards to patients that have no control over their emotions and urges?

This is of course wishful thinking at the moment. And this isn’t just about muslim men. It’s about all #men. What all men basically want are beautiful, hard-working #wives who don’t speak or demand. Only the muslim world has been successful in achieving that. Isn’t a burkha just ensuring that a woman is just a vessel to give birth, do household chores and satisfy a man’s urge? Isn’t it ensuring that women would have no identity, no rights, no voice? In this so-called free world we have a flourishing system of #slavery of women and the followers of this system have the audacity to say it is God’s word. If you look around you, you will realise that there are many non-muslim men who slyly manage to practise this suppression even without the burkha. To all these men, shame on you for using the power that God gave you to suppress the #women who gave birth to you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

#Mirror, mirror, on the wall.

Women, from times unknown, have been under constant scrutiny. Are her clothes fashionable enough, are her eyebrows the right shape, is her nail paint chipped, is her hair a bit too frizzy, is she a shade too dark? Oh yes, the #fairness obsession. Among all these benchmarks, fairness is a gift envied and lauded. Thus the million-and-a-half #beauty products to make the darkest of skins turn light, irrespective of how unnatural or harmful it may be. The #matrimonial ads are always looking for a fair, slim and educated girl. The #advertisements slyly tell dusky women it’s a crime to remain dark when fairness can be achieved. Our Bollywood blockbusters and magazines photoshop or cake dusky beauties with makeup, transforming them into fair maidens. If you are not dusky and happen to be tanned, your elders will also complain of how unbecoming it is. In this sun-filled country a fair complexion is more important than some Vitamin D. Don't get tanned even if it means getting a shot at the doc's.

The #Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf proposed our society has been conspiring against women by means of vanity. Most women would agree the burden of looking good is phenomenal and never-ending. Add to that #bulimia, #anorexia and #plastic surgery.  It’s frankly, tiring. And we know this. But this requirement is very deeply, universally ingrained in women today. So we struggle every morning, to look better than God made us. To look prettier than the next girl. We mentally reprimand ourselves for being not so perfect. We waste our time in front of the mirror. Trying this and that. And by the time we get out of the door, we have drained out half our brains and energy on the dressing floor. Also, if you observe carefully, our massive advertising industry instigates not only perfect beauty but an eternal rivalry among women. A two-pronged strategy to weaken the fairer sex I would say. #Feminism is nothing but a by-product of this sly suppression. In the last century women burnt their #bras. If another tide of feminism hits the world, I hope to see fairness creams going up in smoke.

I must lightly touch upon the alleged suppression of the male species. I’ve been carefully observing along with many indignant men, the unfair sexual harassment cases and false dowry cases being filed by some unscrupulous women. I wonder how the women convicted and burnt at stake during the witch hunt felt. Injustice perhaps? I’m not condoning these acts of immorality and vengeance. But I see women becoming primary breadwinners and men becoming house husbands. I see women holding positions of power in companies. All this is great I thought. And then I saw the likes of #King Khan and Johnny boy endorsing fairness creams. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Could it be? Is the beauty myth backfiring?

PS: To all the women I know and don’t know. You are #beautiful, for you are #God’s creation. Do not doubt his work of art. You have the divine power to create life. You can create and be anything you want. Just don’t stand in front of the mirror for too long.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

“If there is #paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here.”

These famous words are engraved on the pages of history. But the fate of the beautiful valley has been anything but heavenly since the last few decades. #Terrorism rises and ebbs away, rearing its ugly head sporadically, leaving the populace in constant state of uncertainty. #Kashmir is now in the clutches of nature’s wrath. The worst #floods in 60 years have terrorised the residents yet again.

More than 200 people are reported to have died. With the phone towers down, panic has struck hard as those who are stranded and those unable to locate their loved ones desperately seek information. Efforts are being made to bring the telecommunication back online. Apps have been being created to help locate people. Air force choppers and transport aircrafts are working around the clock carrying men, boats and medicines. The army boats are rescuing people from the inundated regions. Naval commandos have been mobilised for the first time ever. Medical camps have been set up to treat the injured. About 68 Relief camps are operative in #Jammu. A control room has been set up to monitor flood relief operations. Goonj and many other NGOs are collecting relief material to be provided to the victims. Around 47,000 people have been rescued till now. The brave teams of the army, the air force,  the #NDRF and the navy have the blessings of thousands of survivors.

The water is slowly receding. The situation is stabilising. But some will never see another day. Some will thank their stars for surviving. And some will bear the scars of this flood on their souls forever. It is ironic and sad that this paradise and its residents have truly seen hell on Earth. Again and again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#RIP Mr Khan

Have you ever heard a #song and felt it was sung for you. Of course later on closer inspection of the lyrics you might discover to your amusement or shock that the song is talking of murder, drugs or porn or something very inane. But the music just squeezes your heart and transports you to a special memory. You can smell it, you can feel it, you can see it as clear as the day it happened. It gives you goose bumps. You escape your current shell and like an invisible audience you hover over your younger self experiencing what has now become your memory.

One of the songs that takes me back to my school days is “ankhiyon se goli mare”, featuring #Govinda and #Raveena. It’s not what you think. This song was my music teacher, Khan sir’s pet song when he had to boost the spirits of the school choir group. Those were the days filled with music and euphoria. I studied at a Christian school, which obviously exalted #Christianity and ridiculed all other religions. This was funnily strange because 80% of the population in the school was non-Christian. But we were kids untainted by the complexities and prejudices of religion, so we did not care. Anyway being in a Christian school meant a choir which I joined with extreme enthusiasm. Our teacher Mr Jogen Khan was an exceptional human being. Like all artists he was moody and very touchy to even a hint of disrespect. He chucked out many a kids, talented or not, for even a laughter out of place. Despite his idiosyncrasies, I thought he was the funniest and the most adorable #teacher ever. I like to believe he had a soft spot for me even though I was not really the most talented singer around.

I’m a Hindu by religion but I never felt closer to God than when I sang the intricately woven notes of love and worship that is the identity of Christianity. For a 16-year-old teenager from a West Delhi school to be let loose amid toughened, smart-mouthed South Delhi kids was no joke. I remember the two years I spent there as being the worst time ever in school life. But amid the jibes and culture shock, I found solace in the choir. It was in that little music room stuffed with 20 kids that I discovered, to my surprise and glee, the sopranos, tanners, altos and base. I would never listen to music in a lateral, casual way again. Khan sir’s #choir was my saviour. I had a ball travelling to places like the #Rashtrapati bhavan, #Delhi Haat, FICCI auditorium and various Churches to perform. Whenever we were nervous on stage before performing, Khan sir would wink and utter in his broken, adorable Hindi,“ainkhi se goli mare”. And just like that the atmosphere would transform from nervousness to uncontrolled giggles.

I continued to learn the Violin from him after school and even after I got married. Owing to the vicissitudes of life I just stopped going eventually and lost touch with him. I kept thinking I must find his number and meet him. But I thought too long. I recently met a schoolmate who informed me that Khan sir passed away 2 years ago. My shock and regret knew no bounds. I realised I never knew anything about his life really. I did not know anything more than the persona he exhibited to his students. All I knew was that the man who brought beautiful #music and humour to one of the lowest points of my life was gone and I didn’t even say goodbye. Govinda’s “ainkhi se goli mare” will always make me smile at the memory of that wonderful #musician and human being. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#Dark and bitter

Frequently, in a couple’s life, both or either of them look back and see only regret and disappointments. Most of these regrets and disappointments stem from the belief, “What should have been”. This tenet originates from the constant comparisons we make with the lives of other #couples, which is a confirmed, non-refundable ticket to #marital hell. Piggybacking on this comparison is the common excuse that my Kismet is rotten. And bada-boom goes the universe.

Every couple I know struggles with their own unique set of issues. Each couple is as different as an 80% cocoa #Lindt and a #Milkybar. But each one of them insists on comparing themselves to that orange peel chocolate or that chilli chocolate. Imagine a Milkybar saying I want to be a dark chocolate with a shot of chilli. And since it cannot be, for obvious reasons, it makes itself miserable. It begins to hate its white colour, its sweetness, its packaging, its milkiness and even its name. We all are like that Milkybar gone berserk.

We want to be like that couple because we suddenly don’t like who we are. Her husband buys her things without her asking for it. Why can’t you do that? She makes non-veg for him at home even though she is vegetarian. Have you ever made such a sacrifice for me?  She is such a great home-maker, unlike you. He is always holding her hand. He always walks with her, not ahead of or behind her. They both are such a spontaneous and lively couple. Why are we so dull? And.......................
I’m sure you can extend this paragraph to infinity with your own personal comparisons and complaints.

Have you ever considered that the other Milkybars out there think you are the coolest couple around and they aspire to be you? Or they want something that you have but they never can? Since the Milkybars and the dark #chocolates and everything in between know that their taste, colour and packaging is a result of their ingredients, the chocolate world is at peace. If you realised and accepted that your marriage is a product of who the two of you are, you would never make another comparison. Because if you are the milk and he is the sugar, you cannot be a chilli chocolate. Unless you want to add a third ingredient called polygamy or polyandry, which is of course illegal.

So be happy being a Milkybar. Make yourself milkier and sweeter, if you want. If you just want to be dark and bitter. Well, tough.

Monday, August 11, 2014

#Threads of #love

This #Rakhi was different. My brother wasn’t here. Neither was my sis. Nothing new there. They've been away in Canada for years. But I never missed them so much before. I think it was the endless traffic jam--a consistent feature on every Rakhi-- with masses of people literally hanging onto their wits and last threads of energy atop precariously balanced bikes or within stuffed, rickety buses.

Once upon a time, all five of us--me, Shveta, Babbu, mummy and papa--would settle into our Maruti 800 every year and head for west Delhi. Majority of my cousin brothers lived there then. Of course, I and Babbu would bully Shveta to sit in the centre as always, while we occupied the window seat. And we would set out towards that far, far, away land. I remember the jokes, the little tiffs and the inane conversations en route.

 I remember especially my brother’s moniker for that side of the town. Ulti Nagar. No offence meant to anyone. But we laughed our guts out on that one. We were parked next to a DTC bus wherein a dressed-up, young woman who, in her love for the festival, must have travelled afar to meet her brother. The momentum of and the duration on the bus did not sit too well with her. And all her agony came hurtling down Babbu’s window. Thank God, the window was shut but it was disgusting nevertheless. It was Babbu’s shocked expression that sent us into a crazy fit of laughter. The moniker that shortly followed upped the hilarity of the situation by significant notches.

So yesterday when I was parked next to a bus with a girl who looked decidedly yellow and disturbed, I recalled the Rakhi days with my family. Tears came unbidden. I missed the torturous travel on Rakhi with my family. And I must mention that I and Babbu don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. But I missed him like hell. Now we all are just dispersed across the globe. So I spend my Rakhi with my husband’s family. It never bothered me before, but I guess as times flies by, you miss the beauty of the simple things you took for granted and probably hated doing before.

But #hope is a wonderful thing. And I hope that one day Babbu and Shveta will be here and all five of us would take a trip down the #memory lane of Ulti Nagar.   

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A bizarre #love letter

My dearest #Coccyx*,

I know I’ve taken you for granted. Please don’t be upset with me. I was just being adventurous. I did not know you will get hurt.

Without you, my life has come to a standstill. Music seems bland. Dancing without you is no fun. Going out with friends is impossible without you. Food has become a sin since I lie all day like a slob. Even the idiot box doesn’t distract me as your absence constantly invades my reverie. My car stands idle, waiting for an excursion to the mall or someplace exciting. Romance has deserted me for pain is now my constant companion. The outdoors beckon each day but I look away in resignation. For without you indoors/outdoors are evil vacuums mocking my immobility.

I have a new best friend. It’s called a doughnut #pillow, with a cover that says “invalid ring”. Seeing that was as shocking as being informed that I have #fractured you. I am supposed to carry the insipid orange doughnut everywhere so I can sit. It is not a very flattering accessory. If you don’t come back soon, I might have to bedazzle it. So please make haste. I promise I will never ever, ever, ever take you for granted again. I truly love you, with all my being.

PS: I hope when you come back, you will be stronger so we can glide again. The #ice-skating ring awaits. And this time, my dear Coccyx, I will protect you from all harm.

Yours lovingly,

*Coccyx- the tail bone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do you know her?

Her #smile dazzles the shining sun
shadows steer clear of her
her feet venture farther and bolder 
she wants to be an #explorer
she chatters with passersby
all are just #angels in disguise
she hides n seeks with abandon
her heart knows no caution

Her smile dimmer than watts five
she escapes the limelight 
her feet shy and taciturn
she sticks to known nooks and turns 
She scorns every kind word
Asmodeus* skewed her world
she knows better than to play games
caution is now her middle name

Don’t turn a blind eye
Don’t save face
Don’t say it happens 
Don’t look away

She is a #sister, a #child
She is now a #mother, a #wife
She is a 'he' for all I know
God forbid it happens to someone you know

*Asmodeus - The demon of Lust (of inappropriate sexual desires)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The #romantics

It is easy to say you love someone. I love you. So simple. At the beginning, we all dreamily utter these three little words, imagining our own better version of a fairy tale ending. It comes so naturally to us then. But what happens after the fuzzy feeling in our heart fades and the stars in our eyes lose their lustre? What happens after the “happily ever-after”?

What happens is that romance, which has a ridiculously short life span, exits and therein comes reality. Don’t get me wrong. I love romance and #fairytales. I still swoon when the tragically expired #Gerard Butler romances his wife in PS: I love you. Yes, I sigh longingly for that buoyant, tingling sensation. The truth is that romance is wonderful but it has to be created. It is moody. It is situational. It is limiting. It is not and cannot be an everyday routine. But love is. And if you look closely, romance is a subset of #love.

If you choose to, you can find romance in the effort your partner exerts to do a simple chore for you, everyday. He cooks a meal for you and dries the clothes for you because you are overwhelmed with work. He lets you snap away at some petty issue in silence because he does not want to upset you further by pointing out the obvious. She runs your bank errands. She searches for your misplaced document at some God-forsaken hour so you can sleep in peace. She stays quiet when you are mentally occupied, even though she is dying to ask what, who, where, how. Aren’t these proofs of love? But no, we all want the flowers and the candles and a delectable meal and a sexy dress and three little words to remind ourselves that we love. Again, I’ll say I love the #fairy-tale kind of romance. But what could be more definitively romantic than these daily reminders of love? 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The #artist

Body shop’s mountain rose fades in oblivion
as I bury my nose in His blooming #rose
top notes, base notes, please note
original there is only one

The swirling wisps of sooty clouds
a dance of wind and water
I know no other with such moves
or with a better light and sound show

#Al-Burj and the likes touch the skies
mocking the miniatures below
His magnificence overshadows
whilst you gaze upon His rocky #skyscrapers

A bejewelled sky mirrored in tranquil waters
a titillating fusion of sky and sea
artists and sculptors some of us are
the paint on His #canvas we all are

Monday, June 30, 2014

#Tomorrow is the end.

Tomorrow I will begin. I will be more #disciplined.  Tomorrow, I will write this article. Tomorrow I will get that tattoo although I’m yet to pick a design. I will do so tomorrow. I will get in touch with my long lost music teacher, tomorrow. Oh and I will follow my dream tomorrow as well. Yes. I think my life will be all sorted. Tomorrow.

The most intelligent beings on the planet, we, #humans, have the uncanny ability to be in denial--our favourite defence mechanism. You might say I’m talking about #procrastination above. Yes, that too. But where does this procrastination originate? In denial that our tomorrows are finite. Logically we know this but in our actions we behave like we are immortal.

We all know, one day we are going to die. Whether our #soul is going to become one with the #cosmos, or we are going to #reincarnate as some ugly-looking organism or whether energy will simply change forms, I have no idea. Nevertheless, this form is going to not exist one day. And therefore, this knowledge should ignite in us a drive to be immortal in our actions.

And yet, we continue to delay living. We wait for tomorrows and day-after-tomorrows to arrive so we can further postpone the experiences that we crave. Why do we do that? Maybe there are other supposedly more important things, maybe we are scared of stepping out of our comfort zones or maybe we are just lazy. We are living as if we can borrow another tomorrow from a #bank if we run out of them.

Every morning and every night, we ought to remind ourselves, at the risk of scaring the s*** out of us, that we are not #immortal (unless we do something worthwhile while we are mortal). All our dreams—silly ones and the ridiculously big ones--are meant to be fulfilled today. Tomorrow is for dreaming up new, outrageous #dreams.

My friends, tomorrow is almost here, and so is the end.