Dilli Hai Dilwalon Ki

Tens of firecrackers burst in haphazard intervals.
Car alarms set off from the same dins, adding to the madness.
Children’s faces are more lit up than the homes they live in and there are plenty sweets stocked up in fridges to last for the entirety of winter.

Caveat lector: This is NOT a post about Delhi’s weaknesses. There’s plenty of material out there for that.

This is my personal ode to a city that makes you breathless (literally, a day after Diwali) and you do not realize how much she has woven herself into the fabric of your soul until you move away and return.

Despite the reputation Delhi has carved for itself owing to some sensationalist news and genuine safety concerns, this city has an unmistakable charm.

I’m still in the honeymoon phase of being back in Delhi.

A few weeks ago, I went out on an autorickshaw with a minor headache.
The autowala took a sharp U-turn with no heed to oncoming traffic and all cars miraculously stopped just in time for us to pass through, as if nothing peculiar ever took place. The autowala then nonchalantly jumped to the next lane and we missed bumping into the buttocks of a traffic guard.
My headache was cured instantaneously.

When I finally purchased my first car, I began navigating it around an assortment of vehicles and hapless pedestrians who simply raise their palms, remnant of an aashirwad, to heed to oncoming traffic. 

It is no secret that lanes are imaginary concepts in the mind of an Indian driver.
I somehow manage to fit my Maruti car between a huge Pajero and a horse pulling a fatigued man’s cart load of vegetables as the South Ex Metro construction continues.
All this is nothing short of a circus trick to witness in the States.

The morning jhaadowalas and the cloud of dust engulfing them, unruly neighborhood roads, chaos and congestion of people, traffic, shops and homes that otherwise would have been major culture shocks in a foreigner, are ordinary occurrences that carry hints of the early days of going to school.

The unusual has become usual.
And strangely, I never felt more at home.

A typical morning ritual involves yoga and jogging at Deer Park around the block from my house, followed by some fresh coconut water with malai (cream) for only 35 rupees (50 cents). Then, I take my mother to feed some cows who are seen typically content in their spaces of dung and flies, salivating all the while.

I must admit that a great deal of my comfort in adjusting back home is due to the presence of the hone-wala-dulha (to-be-hubby) whom I am very fortunate to have in my life (apologies for any barf owing to the mushy stuff).

Then there are my beloved cousins and Dilli friends and those purane one-liners and all night sleepovers that make me feel as if I never left.

“Rehne de bhai, tumse na ho payega!”
“Arey, itne main itna-ich milegaaa!”

It may seem child-like to live in this bubble of nostalgia ad nauseum, but maturity is only disposable to those who’ve learned to live in the moments.

The best bazaars have little to no parking. Calls get dropped just as you get hold of a customer service rep. Your biggest fear is when your kaamwali takes absence for a stretch at a time and you can’t find a replacement. Internet connectivity is slow and disappears when you need it most. Taking a stroll anywhere implies coming home with some form of mud stuck to your chappals, as you narrowly escape the paan-spits and overstepping from locals who are clueless about the concept of personal space.

Despite these mentions, there are tremendous joys of being a Delhi-ite. The garam-garam samosas after an impromtu rain; the mouth-watering and crunchy gol gappes that reign only in the capital; the scarcity of resources in general that teaches you to be happy with a bucket of water to bathe and ask locals for directions when your phone is out of service; the little tasks that get done by plumbers and electricians who live around the block and the grocery app walas who are quick to deliver at home; are all facets of the modern mess that is Delhi.

Lovers are abound in the nooks and corners of every major District Park, some openly devouring each others faces, others covering them with a dupatta, your reaction ranging anywhere between borderline regurgitation to romantic inspiration. India Gate becomes a prime picnic spot whilst Chandani Chowk is the go-to market for designer clothing without the designer price-tag.

Delhi’s bottleneck traffic at odd hours of the day, and the general populace’s disregard for her environment is troublesome but is somewhat compensated by kinder souls who help each other with or without the pretext of a festival, like my neighborhood chowkidaar getting his boxes of mithai after Diwali or the kids of my kaamwali who receive free education and medication from Streebal, a nearby non-profit.

Delhi is a foodie’s delight and festival lover’s paradise.
Like how the deliciousness of malai chawal multiples when eaten with your hands, the joys of eating and celebrating in Delhi become tenfold when experienced with your loved ones.

She makes you feel like you are always welcome to her many surprises. And for someone who has experienced profound loneliness in the States, Delhi’s chaos is tremendously soothing.

Once you are born in Dilli, a remnant of herself seeps into your veins. You can never truly let go.
If you listen closely to the blood that flows into your relentlessly toiling Dil, this city is alive in those very rhythms, making you fall in and out of love with her at her own whims.

The horns continue to toot, the kabadiwalas make their rounds to yell, the cows moo on, crowds surge towards buses and metros; humanity endures and survives.

Yeh Dilli hai Dilwalon Ki 🙂

A Busy Street, Chandni Chowk, Delhi

A Busy Street, Chandni Chowk, Delhi

Posted in Beauty, Chaos, India, Laughter, Life, Love, New Delhi, Nostalgia, Soul, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Emergency Contact

Today, at the age of 26, I have spent exactly 13 years in either country that so remarkably define my identity – India and US.

My accents for either land still change at the drop of a hat, depending on which fellow I am talking to, like an uncanny brain switch. Moreover, I can defend either nation with praise, and criticize with equal censure.

Every place presents its share of upheavals and joys. When you stay in one place, they become the wins and battles you are willing to choose.

Naturally, my decision to move back to my nation of nostalgia abound, will prove to be another fork in my Frost-like road.
For those who’ve known me well, this decision to shift to Delhi has not been a surprising move.
My playlist is almost always a collection of Hindi songs and I am more likely to belch the lyrics of “I Love My India” from “Pardes” in my drunken avatar than any American pop song. In college, I would foolishly cry anytime I would listen to “Jahan Piya” and the line “chali tu kahan, kasam tod ke, humein chor ke” would surface. Whenever I could find any random import like myself to exercise my tapori Hindi with in the US, I would be elated.

Then there are those who know me very little like my real estate agent, who presume that I should give India a few years before I decide to come back.
But I would like to politely decline.
And this all boils down to the that one line in a medical form that ascertains whom you trust the most — Emergency contact.

Fortunate are those who have more than one. We may have the greatest amenities in a land, but if we do not have even one person whom we can list as a contact in a time of need, it begs us to rethink our priorities.

When my father passed away earlier this year, he not only left the void of a best friend, but also that of my primary contact, going beyond emergencies to fixing any array of problems I may have had.
After him, my mother would have been the next best contact but god forbid, someone calls her about my emergency, she will probably worry herself to the point of getting admitted too. My brother is too far away in the West Coast to help for such immediate calls.

An emergency contact is one who, in addition to truly loving you, must be strong enough to face the outcomes of your being and preferably stays in your vicinity. 
Though a father cannot be replaced, it has been my secret endeavor to find my pillar of support in a man in India, with my father-like qualities.
When I finally did, I knew I had to move back.
I had found my new emergency contact. (Thank you babaji 🙂 )

Apart from my parents, I had very few American friends who spoke fluent Hindi. Those who did, I would argue with them to use less English and chat in our mother-tongue instead. When that didn’t work, I resorted to harassing my high school friends over Gchat or Whatsapp and pulling my absurd Hindi liners with them.
I’m certain I have lost many friendships in this process.
(Sorry Achint Naveen, Mansi Singh, Raghav Ghosh, Hemanshi Gupta, Dipti Kishore :P)

Even then, America has been a revelational experience for reasons I shall briefly describe.

It is a country that teaches you self-sufficiency at the core of your being. Every nation has their share of “Shruggers” and few “Atlases” (Ayn Rand, ftw!).

America emboldens you to become that Atlas. In short, it teaches how to get shit done….yourself.
Need to grab an important medication from the pharmacy? Well, drive over with your prescription.
Need to install a new device in your home? Get your tools from Home Depot and read the instructions to do so.
Need to move some furniture? Rent a Uhaul and load it into your truck.
You can hire labor to do the same but it will cost you an arm and a kidney donation.

India, on the other hand, consists of a long line of middle men, whereby one man will pass on the duty to another man, till it falls on the shoulders of the lowest ranking individual.
I am often startled to see some upper middle class folks resort to keeping even the simplest of tasks reserved for the classes beneath them. It would be easier to simply fix that light bulb or wash their own dishes every so often, rather than cribbing about the maid or repairman on leave. I can recall my own cousin who has enough servants to take care of his every need in Delhi, but his study abroad in London taught him the importance of cooking and rinsing his own dishes. This is where living in a land, unlike your home territory, opens the eyes of your mind to value what you have.

I doubt my brother would have ever learned to cook or do his own laundry had he not lived in his own apartment in California. Today, he can whip up some amazing chole and biryani like a pro. 
Frankly speaking, if you cannot even learn to complete the basic task of nourishing yourself, what is the point of your excessive degrees?

The surplus of people in India proves itself beneficial in many respects but also has its cons.
For example, I can call for the home delivery of groceries and medications. Companies always provide servicing and installations of devices and even FedEx allows for free pickups of goods to be shipped. These are the small luxuries that I so value now.

The one luxury I do not have with the same ease as I did in the US is the freedom to show affection in public, and by that I mean, specifically kissing in public. As gross as it may be for others to witness, I have to work extra hard to find spots behind bridges, trees, and monuments, only to discover that they are occupied by other such hormonally charged lovers 😛 

During my stay in the US, I have erased many misconceptions fed to me by Indian cinema (especially Karan Johar NRI movies). For example, I have seen some of the most successful marriages and close-knit families here, from the Italians to the Jewish, Arabic to the Mexicans, etc.
But I have also experienced the uglier side of America’s healthcare mess. Post quitting work to take care of my dad, I had to purchase my own insurance plan which was limited in its coverage. The most affordable one came at a cost of $185 per month, that too with a $6500 deductible! In short, I did not have the financial capability to fall sick. Even if I was to suffer an emergency, I was more worried about the successive bills it would generate than actually getting better.

India also has its profit driven hospital culture that aims to get your payment before treating you, but I can, at the very least, get regular checkups and meet any doctor without a huge dent in my pocket.

With years of spending one feet firmly in either land, I thank God that I can finally live in peace in one place. My 13 years of exposure in both nations has helped me develop a balanced mindset between America’s independent and India’s co-dependent culture. This will prove useful to withstand future troubles alone and enjoy present joys with family.

I am excited to make Delhi my permanent home, and visit more parts of India that I have heard wonderful things about, but hitherto seen (Sikkim, Leh, Kashmir, Goa, Pondicherry etc.)

And best of all, I can fill in that one line that has remained empty for more than half a year. I am certain it would make my father happy too.

Peace.

delhi
(Hanuman Statue overlooking a metro rail in New Delhi)

Posted in India, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Minni’s Mettle

Cruelty is not just the label you seek on your cage-free egg packaging in the first world.
It is not bound to the blood stains of a child near a suicide bomber in the patronized third.

It is also the sight of a father who cries out “Minni” from a hospital bed because he trusts no other,
yet she can do nothing for the face that is begging to live;

Apart from spewing profanities and beseeching Shiv;

That she hoped for a miracle in a land that notoriously sells miracles,
yet she could only watch him wither as relatives poured in with their sickening stares of his face stuck to an oxygen mask;
That he would have died in greater peace in a land that notoriously masks aloofness,
yet would come with the casualty of his coffin on a 14 hour flight bearing his wife and mother who wouldn’t last.

It is also the tears that have become so salty that your eyes burn when you release them,
an irony of the relief they served in the eyes of the father as effects of chemo,
the other in the daughter relentlessly missing him at home.

Cruelty is partaking in any pain undeserved, in flesh or abandonment of the soul,
The resulting statistics we so casually compare; the unsung heroes and their stories untold.

But as I pause to make another silly joke, occasionally invoking a stranger’s laughter as toll,

I look Cowardice in the eye all the while, acknowledging that today is another battle I’ve won,
That I shall not be broken by Him tomorrow, and face other duties to be done.

-Minni

sad

“Cowardice is the mother of cruelty” – Michel de Montaigne

Posted in Love, Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Time Watching Porn

Caveat Lector: This post contains content for mature audiences with a tadka of humor. If you are uncomfortable reading this, I recommend hiding in a cave where there is no wifi.

If there is one thing that makes us all human, it’s being horny.
It’s a natural instinct. If we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t reproduce. Our human civilization would have perished a while ago if we didn’t feel the desire to do it.

This brings me to porn. It serves the significant purpose of self-pleasing.

Recently, the Supreme Court of India blocked a ban on porn sites, citing that such an order would violate personal liberty. This is a phenomenal move coming from a country that tends to blur and bleep anything that may cause an erection, yet is a sound voyeur to item songs.

Compare this to neighboring Pakistan where porn is banned, yet they have the highest viewership to porn sites than any other country. (Middle Eastern countries and conservative US states like Louisiana fare the same way. Notice a trend?)

The best way to describe masturbation is that it has fewer consequences than the real deal, and just about the same health benefits.
Men are all too familiar, given that most get 2-3 erections over the course of their sleep cycle, and wake up with one too.
(And that’s the most action some can hope for)
If its any consolation, women supposedly get some clitoral stimulations during sleep as well, but the only time I can attest to that is if I dreamt about the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, Prabhas, or Abhay Deol.

Now back to the actual topic of porn.

I thought I had seen it all, but it was only when I saw a porn clip 2 months ago, that I realized how unbelievably wrong I was.

Men – here’s the truth. A woman can only masturbate to Uday Chopra and Abhishek Bachchan for so long. We need our variety too. 😛

dhoom 3

This is why I asked a guy friend if he could help a broski out, and he sent me a link.

I was all prepared, one night, with my high-speed Amreekan internet service, and anti-virus software. I clicked on his link and was directed to the site page with varied thumbnails of zoomed-in body parts, which looked like photos from a biology seminar on procreation.

There was also a convenient search-bar so folks could filter they kind of porn they were in the mood for, with options including the color of the woman’s hair, to the animal style of making love. Classy.

I clicked on a random thumbnail video and it began to play.
It showcased a woman sitting in her limo and a uniformed man driving in the front. You don’t need a scientist to deduce what will happen next.
To be honest, this has been one of my secret fantasies. The “having a limo” part.

My first impression of the woman was that she was remarkably beautiful.
I wouldn’t use the word hot. Rather she was heavenly, and I was almost about to exit the video out of low self-esteem.
The camera then focused on the man’s face, who appeared to be a long lost cousin of present day Hugh Hefner.
Before I could fully acclimate to his features, the camera quickly zoomed in to his penis; the size of which made me believe that it was built on steroids. My instant reaction was how Edward Cullen feels when he is directly exposed to sunlight.

Perhaps size matters to a few, but I assure all men to be content with what they have.
You don’t want your goods to look like they were byproducts of a nuclear reactor.
Same goes for the women.
In fact there should there be a warning label on porn – “Breasts, butts, and penises that appear in this video are larger that normal human limits to attain them. Do not perturbed. Common folks do not look like this. If we did, we would all evolve with unbelievable staminas, flexibility, and very little hair follicles.”

The entire clip was 15 minutes long! Naturally, I was hoping they would introduce themselves, maybe get to know each other’s favorite color, movies, and goals for the future etc.

Instead, 20 seconds into the video, the guy’s pants come off and he is inserting it into every possible orifice he can find. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts humping her ear next.
I fast forwarded the video and realized that both of them continued to hump without any break!

The only breather the man took was to fire himself up again when he lost some steam.
Relax bro, you’re just making love, not sending your penis into an orbit around the earth!

In short, that video was not working for me, and I decided to switch to another one.
The next one had the scenario of woman dressed in what looked like a Halloween Maid costume. She was pretending to do some dusting on a staircase when the owner approached her. He starts making bland references about her career choice such as – “I love it when you’re dirty!”

They start humping immediately (which reminds me, why aren’t any of these men using condoms?) Both clips affirmed the fact that porn has very little foreplay and is almost always about what the man wants.
What about addressing other erogenous zones to spice things up? – behind the ear, collarbones, lower lip, lower back, forehead, bellybutton, dimples on the chin, crinkles on the nose, hands, feet etc. or even a gentle hug. Unfortunately in porn, it’s all about penetration. If us regular folks tried to emulate any of their acrobatic moves, we would most certainly end up in the emergency room.

I also realized that female pornstars are, indeed, very good actors.
This is why Sunny Leone is flourishing in Bollywood. Can’t say it was easy to find this picture of her, but she is a stunner!  

sunny-leone-in-saree

The amount of enthusiasm they show for no reason whatsoever is worthy of an award — Oscar, Tony, and even the Grammy!
For example, the woman in the video kept making loud noises at random intervals that would make Maria Sharapova blush. Then she proceeded to ask the man, “Oh, you like that don’t you?” and repeated that phrase a few times over.
Honey, you just went down on him. I believe he is very content in life at this point.

Anyway, the point of writing this article is to support the Supreme Court’s decision, but also point out that porn comes with its own share of issues. I definitely liked one video where the woman was given a meatier role to take initiative, rare as they were.
Funny how that transcends in cinema too.

However, I was horrified to see a few thumbnails that had taglines of words like “forced” or images of women with tape on their mouths to silence them.
If you happen to come across anything visuals that demonstrate rape, or child pornography on any site, please do not hesitate to report it.
Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is one such resource, where you can report abusive sites online. (I had done the same with one site when I observed such disturbing content.)

The Internet is a jungle with its merits and demerits. Sexually abusive content is a difficult beast to tackle as it gets masked under sources that are difficult to trace.
Do your share in addressing it.

Till then, I wish you all happy and healthy orgasms 🙂

Posted in Bollywood, Comedy, Humor | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Feminist Interpretations of Cinema and the Freedom to Disagree

As a feminist, I could not be happier with the current progress that the female leads are making in cinema.

Hollywood

The critically and commercially successful – Mad Max: Fury Road was a movie with tremendous feminist undertones.
The movie belonged, through and through, to Charlize Theron’s character Furiosa.

In a post-apocalyptic world, men are fighting for basic living resources and oil.
It is Furiosa who champions the rescue of a group that has been commercialized and held captive for years – the dictator’s wives. Furiosa and the wives join forces with the clan mothers of the Green Place. The sights of the aged mothers riding their motorbikes and the wives fighting the soldiers of Joe’s Citadel are the most badass feminist scenes I have ever seen in my life!!

However, some critics and feminists could only notice the barely clothed depiction of the wives and labeled it outright sexist.

mad-max-fury-road-wives

I’m sorry, did you not watch the whole movie? Initially, they are depicted as such because they were tortured as slaves, but the film’s objective is to overthrow the notion that they are objects for male pleasure. By the end, it is Furiosa and the wives who are shown to take the mantle of leadership at the Citadel and rule, without tyranny, and more compassion for the citizens.

In one of the most poignant scenes, one of the wives helps warboy Nux to mend his heart and help him realize hope and the good he can do. It demonstrated the natural, nurturing role of a woman in a world where little nature was left. Beautiful contrast.

When another recent movie, Entourage, was met with critical condemnation and bombed at the box office, I was elated! This was a movie that was promoted as the ultimate male fantasy, with parading of vice and objectification of women. This surprising reaction had me thinking just how far men and women have evolved in their understanding of each other.

Indian Cinema

In the past, National Award winners were often ostracized as actors off-beat cinema, and therefore, poor in delivering box office numbers. Kangana Ranaut, who is a two time winner, addressed this topic in several interviews. She said that a leading male Bollywood actor once warned her that winning a National Award would be the end of her career.

Instead, she proved that you could be commercially viable and critically acclaimed at the same time. Queen raked in over 100 crores with a tenth of that as its budget. And recently, Tanu Weds Manu Returns is one of the highest grossing Bollywood movies of all time, and that too, with Kangana Ranaut in a double role!

This is hitherto seen in Hindi cinema, for all such top grossers have had a Khan, Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, or Devgan to attract the masses.

When Kangana was able to enter this league, she was quickly labelled a “female Khan” by Deepanjana Pal, a leading critic at Firstpost. I found that to be an insult because Kangana came this far without ever having worked with a Khan. That was one of my first major disappointments with a feminist writer.

To be honest, most of us were rooting for the supremely confident Datto to get hitched in the end, but I realized that she deserved better, as she said herself – “Sharmaji, main yah toh first aati hoon, yah last. Mujhe consolation prize nahi chahiye.”

When Datto lectures the bratty Tanu about what it means to be a self-made woman in a face-off, Tanu realizes her mistakes and tames herself. It is one of the best dialogues written between two women and passes the Bechdel Test with aplomb. Now I am more content with the ending, though the story could have supported it better. (The one major flaw was that the writer wanted some rationale for the entire gang to visit Datto’s village and the kidnapping scene was a poor excuse. When Payal calls Pappi “disgusting” in the ending scene, the writer prays that will redeem him.)

Now, I already see some criticism coming for SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus – Baahubali.

Anna MM Vetticad has done well to highlight disturbing scenes of harassment in Bollywood flicks in the past, ranging from Rowdy Rathore to R…Rajkumar etc.

Recently, she went on to helm a piece controversially titled – “The rape of Avanthika.” I went on to read it and did not agree with it. At the end of the song – Pacha Bottesi, Avanthika removes his shirt and removes her own clothing, after which they make love.
It was, perhaps, the most tastefully shot love scene I have seen in a long time in Indian cinema.
The best part was that Avanthika took the initiative in taking Shivdu’s clothing off and initiate sex, a rarity in any sex related scenes in Bollywood, or even Hollywood for that matter. For that, I give due credit to SS Rajamouli’s direction.

baahubali 2

Frankly speaking, I did not see anything wrong in Shivdu character adorning Avanthika with beautiful tattoos that later reveal their union in a romantic number. She was strong as a warrior, no doubt, but he brought her confidence back to her attention.

baahubali 1

Another writer, Viveknanda Nemana, had issues with Avanthika needing to be rescued by Shivdu. Again, that scene is taken out of context.

The first time Avanthika fought off a gang of Bhallala deva’s army, she had support from her team who attacked them with spears. The next time, she was fighting them alone.
Moreover, the Shivdu chracter is portrayed with God like attributes (holy Shiva), so unlike a Dabangg cop or Khiladi Kumar, Baahubali had mythological personification to support his single-handed rescue of Avanthika.

Granted that Vetticad’s article made valid arguments about the kissing scene in the first Tanu Weds Manu movie and the value of consent which cinema is still grappling with (re: “Rape in Cinema” piece), but I feel that the word “rape” in her headline was used as a clever clickbait.

Mike McCahill of the Guardian had a different outlook to Baahubali –

“Upon scaling that waterfall, the adult Baahubali finds he’s strayed into a civil war; only with a glimpse of warrior princess Avanthika does he sense which side to pick. Their slyly feminist pairing makes some headway, yet that last-act battle forms part of an extended flashback that reveals the full extent of the dynastic tangle they’ve charged into.

He even mentions about the tattoo scene –

“It’s merely cute when Baahubali plunges into a lake to paint the hand the dozing Avanthika has let slip into the waters, yet the action has a lovely pay-off: this impromptu tattoo is seen to complete one on the hero’s bicep during a later embrace.

While critics back home were quick to denounce Avanthika as eye-candy, Lisa Tsering, from Hollywood Reporter said this –
“Some confusing flashbacks, shaky CGI, and hammy overacting by Rana Daggubati as Bahubali’s brother and rival Bhallala Deva, water down the film’s potency, but performances are otherwise strong (especially Tamannaah Bhatia as a lissome rebel warrior). Notably, M.M. Keeravani’s score captures the epic scale of the story, and the songs are a welcome — at times even erotic — diversion from its equally epic seriousness.

Conclusion

Just because a group is marginalized doesn’t mean that we can’t have difference of opinions, for e.g – a gay member may disagree with another member of the LGBTQ community about their representation in governance, or a differently abled would share life experiences that vary with another. We all want the same ultimate goals but our means and perceptions may differ.
Previously, I hesitated to disagree in the fear of being labelled anti-feminist myself. But my association with feminist friends and our healthy debate on topics like the taboo of menstruation, masturbation, birth control etc. helps us grow as individuals. For example, while I think it is great to provide access to affordable birth control, I also feel that greater emphasis needs to be placed on educating men to use condoms. Apart from women who depend on birth control for medical reasons, those pills are not the healthiest option and can have serious long-term side-effects such as blood clots and increase in risks of certain cancers.
Through this blog piece, I hoped to share my differing views of feminist interpretations in cinema.

If we don’t allow for this breathing ground, we will create a risky group of intolerance and submission to opinions of few.

Anurag Kashyap addressed this a few years ago in a blog (link here). His quotes about rape were taken out of context and criticized by a feminist on Twitter which prompted him to briefly quit the networking site.

“If her choice is ‘life’, why is that very life taken away from her, once she is raped? Why is she called stuff like ‘zindaa laash’ and why does the entire focus shift to ‘honour’ rather than to ‘healing’?
My distress with our social network-ists is that they assume they understand rape simply because they are women. Rape is not that easily understood and it is not a gender’s prerogative to do so.
In this world men are raped too and more so in our society, in this part of the world. I am also a victim of rape and I have healed a lot more than most because the world was not fussing over me.
If I had to discuss or argue about rape, I would much rather do so with the victims and survivors than with a feminist.Why? Because I get a strong feeling that the Indian feminist is very hard to talk to, because he/she doesn’t listen. He/She has a fully formed opinion etched in stone and will give no space to accommodate any other point of view.”

Kashyap made it clear that neither he nor Vikas Bahl is a feminist, even though Queen was adopted a feminist film. And that’s ok.
We cannot change others, only ourselves.

Every issue has a humanitarian relevance but we all have our distinct grievances that help us associate with a progressive movement. For example, if someone suggests replacing the term “feminist” with “humanist”, I would disagree because such a move would undermine the struggles our gender had gone through in the past centuries. But if say a man is requesting for laws to become more gender neutral because of his own experience being falsely accused in a rape case, then we need to address such concerns, rather than blindly following the words of few who may be quick to label him anti-feminist.

This is where I believe feminism needs to keep evolving. Some of the biggest detractors of feminism are feminists themselves. We cannot put a few on a pedestal and let them decide how we should think. The virtual and real world are full of bigots as well as tolerant and respectful individuals. Marginalized groups are certainly bullied online, but we can’t perform the same bullying and create fear to disagree.

A prevailing feminist may not agree with me and I don’t have to agree with everything they write either. If  that makes me a bad feminist, I am ok with that.
Most of us are anyway 🙂 

Peace.

Posted in Feminism, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sakshi-isms for the Soul

For the heart-broken and hopeful, despondent and delighted, here are some of my Sakshi-isms for every soul. (My vegetarian version of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” 🙂 )

Time

It is no surprise when people tell you that “timing is everything.”

You might meet someone who may be unsuitable for you at one point in your life, but wonderful in another. Perhaps they have matured to meet your needs, or you have matured enough to appreciate their presence.

On the contrary, you may have to let go of some folks who were once in your closest circle. And you may find yourself adding new ones who reveal your best and truest potential, but they didn’t seem so pleasant at the time.

Each one plays their part. The best way to recognize these people and their significance in different times of your life is to hone into your intuitive, gut feeling.

Meditate to block out the noise and hone into your inner voice.

Life

“Ache logon ke saath acha hi hota hai” (good things happen to good people) is one of the most wretched lies told in the universe.

Be mentally prepared to realize that some of the most terrible tragedies may take place on the most benevolent of humans, and the some of greatest fortunes may be bestowed on others who do not deserve so.


(A hawk waiting for a child to slowly perish from malnutrition)

Life is just one big examination.

There are no mystic angels or demons in the world. We become that person in someone else’s life, including our own.

It is not that karma is too slow to act, but that we collectively  progress or regress. Those that persevere ahead; those that serve as angels despite their sufferings, have made it through 🙂
Now, in order to become those angels, we must first help ourselves, and for that, we need our health.

Health

Folks that live longer than a century are often quoted about their health habits so as to gauge into what we should do we ours to lead a long and healthy life.

Some of these centenarians have been regular smokers, ate fried foods, and even lived sedentary lifestyles. How is it that they still maintained such longevity?

cent smoker

Most of it is due to the possession of extraordinary genes that helps them ward off the major killers of 21st century (cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, diabetes etc.)

The rest of it depends on factors that may or may not be in our control.

For example, we have the power to improve our genetic makeup by virtue of healthy diet and exercise that not only benefits our current life but improves the chances for our offspring.

We also have the responsibility of cleaning up our environments to make it habitable for ourselves and future generations.
However, the hidden toxins around us and destined circumstances are factors we can’t always avoid.

Now, a more beguiling question is – would you really want to live that long? Even when all who’ve known and loved have passed before you?

This brings me to death.

Death

Every possible psychological fear culminates into a fear of death.

Afraid of snakes? Because they may poison you with their venom, or wrap around you to suffocate you like their prey.

Afraid of heights? Because you may fall to your death.

Afraid of your mother-in-law?
mil

You get the point 😉

Embracing the universal fact of our impending deaths is a necessary acceptance to live. Fearing death implies never having lived in that moment. While it is important to maintain one’s willpower to live, embracing the notion of death helps us grieve for those we loved and lost.

We are participants in a cycle of birth and death.

We breathe the same air, we poop the same crap, fart the same gas, pick out the same nose boogers, etc.

And with time, we all meet the same end.

Namaste.

Posted in Health & Nature, Science & Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Now Understand

I am what I am; pardonably human
Born not to man-made constraints, but to a time and place in the Universe
I am what I am; a proud woman
Born to realize Whitman’s humanitarian hope that we shall all “contribute a verse”

“Swades” did nothing to sway my Indian heart that had “strayed” to foreign waters
For I was never loyal to this land or that land,
but to Mother Nature and the gifts of her sons and daughters

I love my motherland and I’m shaped by the scarcity with which she raised me
But when I witnessed the tenants that continue to pollute her with blackened hearts and money,
I now understand why my father left his home country

I love my new mother who adopted me in all her abundance
But when I witnessed her profound aloofness and poor social mobility
I now understand why I need to retrace the steps of my own journey 

I forgot that some of the kin I left behind are, at times, better than foes
They appreciate your losses and applaud your woes
If an Indian girl is so fortunate, she may grow up to be a woman
But the shrewd society will find the means to blame and restrain her every movement
I now understand why I must dedicate my time to make improvements

My father was the first in his family to achieve a Masters and made all his American living in white
Yet God took him in spite,
Whilst his counterparts back home mastered their gains in black,
And are thriving despite

But I don’t understand this,
Is the world all black and white?
Or are the colors just out of sight?

Blurry are the lines that ascertain what is wrong or right

Alas, with every lasting breath, I shall fight
I now understand that I must see the world in a new light

nature

Posted in Nature, Science & Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments