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December 05, 2016

Face-Off



You wear a mask to fool the world,
But you cannot fool yourself...

How long can you not run away
From a life that always binds you
How far can you hide and stay
When love eventually finds you
How much can you ignore inside
Feelings that refuse to die
How helpless do you start to feel
Till you finally break down and cry
How deep does your face color
At the mention of their name
How easy does your heart enrage
And love them just the same
How forlorn do you tend to feel when they are not beside you
How hard will you fight for love when all else will deride you

You wear a mask to fool the world,
But you cannot fool yourself...

November 11, 2016

A free bird


The door of the golden cage was kept open until the bird with clipped wings expressed her desire to fly...as it was only then that the world realised that she was capable of dreaming.

But how had she dared to commit such a blasphemous  crime? The foolish creature had taken undue advantage of the privilege bestowed upon her---she had dared to fall in love with the sky.
The Gods were now fuming with anger. She had left them with no other choice. They had to act immediately. And that's what they did.

Soon enough, the dice was cast. Her fate was sealed. The door of the golden cage would stay shut until the day she'd lose her will to soar....unil the day she'd gaze blankly at the open door and choose the comfort of the golden cage...until the day she'd laugh at the memory of the silly dream she'd once dared to dream, of a brilliant blue sky that she'd once wished to venture.

However, the bird with the clipped wings was resilient. She refused to resign to her fate and continued to dream. Every day, she'd watch the sky through the bars of the golden cage. She'd pray for the door to open. But the Gods paid a deaf ear to her pleas. Afterall, some rules could never be broken---birds with clipped wings should not dream of flying.

And so life went on, as it always did. The door stayed shut. Grief stricken, the broken hearted bird kept dreaming and humming her melancholic tunes from the golden cage. 

Until one day, she finally gave up and died.

That was when the door opened. As her soul escaped her body, the cage was cleaned. She was now free to make love to the open sky. Her clipped wings didn't matter anymore. She was finally a free bird.

#DearZindagi...a letter to life!




Dear Zindagi,

You must be really surprised to see me addressing you with such terms of endearment today. I don't usually have positive things to say about you, no? But there are days when I also count my blessings. And lucky for you, today is one of them.
So tadaa! Here I am, Zindagi. For all you are worth, here I am, my head bent low, my eyes brimming with emotions and my heart full of gratitude. For you, only for you, and for all that you have taught me till date, I have only one thing to say...Thank you!

Thank you, Zindagi, for giving me a brand new chance every day---a new opportunity get things right; to learn, to prove my worth, to improve. You are the best teacher and worst critic one could ask for. You never allow me to be too hard on myself for the mistakes I commit and yet make sure I'm guilty enough not to repeat them. Of course, there are times you end up being an utter disappointment. Fretting and fuming, ranting and raving, cursing, blaming, and fighting with you for being unfair...has almost been a habit.

But in hindsight, I do realize that every second chance you refuse to bestow upon me does me a whole lot of good. Thanks to this, I have learned to value my relationships...to cherish and treasure them. You have taught me never to take for granted those who love me. In fact, it is this constant fear of not being allowed a second chance that helps keep me in check. And I owe you big for that.

People say I have changed. I think I have too, for the better. You have made me emotionally stronger and more hurt-resistant over time. There was a time when I was so hopelessly sensitive that one push (from someone who mattered) was all it'd take to shatter me. I thought I'd never be able to survive the agony of heart break, stressful relationships, work pressure. But you exposed me to the big bad world and convinced me that nothing here is indispensable, no one is irreplaceable. Friends backbite lovers betray, relationships putrify, and you can't do much than break the bonds that chain you, burn bridges that lead to nowhere, and never look back.
You taught me that there is nothing more important than self worth and peace of mind.  to leave before I'm left, to learn the difference between want and need, love and lust. I learned that sacrifice can be liberating, that love need not always mean attaining, and that hearts, no matter how badly bruised, will heal with time. I also realised that a mug of freshly brewed coffee and a good nap can provide an instant fix to most problems.

Of course, I cannot forget to thank you for the more permanent reasons to smile--the amazing friendships you have helped me forge. Some that have won over time, distance and even fate to stand by me. Some that have proved my cynical heart wrong by showing me how lucky I am to have them in my life.
However, pain and grief are part of every journey. I have had my share of it as well. Cliched though it may sound, it made me stronger, showed me what I did not want, and helped me see what I really needed. I needed to believe in myself, respect myself, fall in love with myself before expecting that from anyone else.

You, Zindagi, taught me the true meaning of love. To love unconditionally is a heart breaking yet surreal experience. I think everyone should try it at least once. You taught me that love need not always have a fairytale ending. It can be very different from what you were expecting and yet be love all the same.

Gradually, I discovered your myriad hues. Each experience you offered taught me a little more about you. It made me realize that we are never in the place to judge anyone, for their reality might be way different from ours. To judge someone, we need to run a mile in their shoes. I'm grateful to you, Zindagi, for you evoked in me enough compassion to attempt seeing beyond the masks people wear, to try listening beyond the words they speak. In the process, I discovered hearts of gold beneath many steel armours and malevolent intentions behind the sweetest of smiles. You snapped me out of my childish delusions and planned a rendezvous with reality. I hated you then for snatching away my rose tinted glasses. But thinking back, I'm so glad you smashed them. You helped me grow up. And although we all would love to be kids forever, I learned that growing up was inevitable. Gradually, I realised it wasn't all that bad. As I stared awestruck at your various nuances, you made me realise how I'd never be able to comprehend you fully, that some questions were best unanswered, some things were best undiscussed. I couldn't understand then but I realise now that it did work out for the best. It almost always does...

Even today, I can count on you to believe in me when the chips are down...even when everyone else leaves my side. It's true you make me stumble at times. I have even fallen flat face-down a couple of times, but it is only because of you that I have learned to pick myself up, brush away the humiliation, hold my head held high and continue walking.

I am faced with challenges every day. And everyday, I fight, I survive, I triumph the odds. You have taught me to believe in myself, to value my strength and confront my weaknesses. At times, you break down my defenses, and I give in to you. I trust you to show me the way, and you trust me enough to know I'd not let you down. There are times I can't help feel frustrated at your antics and want to let go. But you, in your own stubborn little way, make me realize how fragile you really are. In my career as a doctor, there have been several incidents that have made me value you more than I ever had. I have witnessed patients struggle for a breath of air while their loved ones watch helplessly, watching them suffer. They make me aware of the times I take you for granted; be it wrong food, stress, a lethargic lifestyle, the truth is I am guilty of cheating on you. Every time they look at me, that pleading look in their eyes, I see you there, dear Zindagi...gasping, hurting, groaning, compromising, and yet putting up a brave face for me. When a patient leaves the hospital premises in good health. I feel you beaming with joy. But when I fail, I find it impossible to confront you. These are times I try to  block you out by scribbling furiously in my journal in an attempt to stonewall the disappointment I feel. However, writing is a contemplative and introspective task and you manage to find your way out through my words.

You inspire me to write, Zindagi. And for that, I am eternally indebted. Even today, you continue to be my greatest muse. Words fall short to capture your true essence. But I'm not giving up...neither on you nor on writing. We are stuck together for good.

You have taught me when to hang on and when to let go. And that is a lesson I hold very dear. You have made me understand the difference between strength and wisdom, integrity and courage. Every day, you make me open up to the unparalleled beauty in the world---stars wrapped in the blanket of a clear sky, a breathtaking view of the setting sun, the sound of babies gurgling, the musical quality of a flowing brook, the natural fragrance of wild flowers. I find poetry all around me. I find it within me too.

You have watched me dream and crumble. You've witnessed me sprint and crawl. You've seen me soar and crash. It has been one hell of a journey. But every step of the way has been an adventure in it's own sense.

Come to think of it, hasn't ours always been a queer relationship? I do not believe in definite beginnings or strong endings. And I believe neither do you. (You are my mirror after all.) All we can be sure of is a worthwhile middle. We might not have had a great start, and I have no idea how we are going to end. But I feel strongly about this transition period of learning. And I have learned from you never to give up on something you feel so strongly about.

So let's make the best of this symbiotic relationship. Let's show the world how strong a team we really make. No cribbing, no complaining, no mud-slinging. Just loads of gratitude for what was, what is, and what will be...because every moment can impart us with wisdom, knowledge, or experience if only we allow it to.

So here's to making more memories...
Here's to you, me, and tomorrow...

Thank you, Zindagi!

Yours truly,
Me.
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November 10, 2016

When the bubble bursts...

It is amusingly heart-breaking when you realise how something you considered unique is so very common. Be it a new dress that you purchased at the newest shopping outlet, or a talent that you thought only you possessed, or the fine nuances of a relationship that you once prided in. Not even the questions and doubts that arise in your mind are exclusive; someone has surely felt them before.
Every thought, idea, emotion, gesture going on in your mind and life has run its complete course before, traveled similar journeys through the minds and lives of others before you embraced it as your own.
So next time you feel special about something, stop!
Life has nothing to feel privileged about. It's all a temporary state of mind. Our joys are common. So are our perils. Our happiness, pain, struggle, love, grief is all so common that in the grand scheme of things, it won't even matter. We'd then realise how our journeys had been almost clones of each other, our paths so familiar, our choices so similar. We'd laugh then (with the conviction we now lack) at how foolish we were to assume we were the only one experiencing something almost everyone else was.

Yes, I believe what we need is an after-life...because life is way too mainstream!

November 01, 2016

Star-crossed


We are both drifters, you and me
Amongst a million other things
Our affection in constant motion
On tender gossamer wings

We lean and float in trust and hope
And live on love and dreams
But come morning, we may realise
Life is nothing what it seems.

For we are both drifters, you and me
We will drift apart some day,
And the finders and the keepers
Will have only this to say;
"We were so sure it'd happen,
They were drifters from the start
Theirs was but a 'butterfly-love'
And it had to fall apart!"

But they do not know, the silly fools,
Short lived though it might be
We drifters live in thoughts and words
And each other's memory.

We may fleet in and out of love
Together or apart,
But will always live where it matters most
In spirit and in heart!

October 27, 2016

T for 'Travel-trums'


New places free you of obligations. You don't feel constrained by the exigencies of circumstances...people...work...life. The loss of familiarity is comforting in more ways than one.

That's the best part about wanderlust; it disconnects you from the life you have been leading...the regularities, the monotonies, the humdrum of your otherwise frenzied existence. Living amidst strangers, traveling amongst people you have never seen or met before provides a strange solace that there is so much more to this world than your banal problems, milk-and-water issues that you have been fretting over. It widens the scope of possibilities. It broadens your vision. It triggers off a pluralistic view on the slideshow playing before you, the slideshow called life.

However, like every vacation, this one ends too, and you have to pack your bags and leave for familiar territory once again. You don't wish to say goodbye. But you know you have to...before this place becomes familiar as well. You need to carry memories of the 'here and now' in your heart and leave before they change into putrid chunks of the defunct existence that you were running away from in the first place. So that somewhere in the deepest recesses of your mind, there is this place that you can time travel to every now and then, a dream stay-cation that allows you to slip into a skin that is not your own.  A secret Narnia--an adventure destination where you don't belong, and yet in a strange sort of way, belongs only to you...when home seems too hard to handle.

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T for 'Travel-trums'  is the twentieth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

October 19, 2016

Shooting star



Romancing with the moon
Albeit afraid of the night,
Reigning in his magic
She'd always twinkle bright

But alas! She had no 'forever'
Her love was brought to end
And when the world got down to question
There was nothing to defend

That day her glory ended
And the skies-they mocked her plight
She burnt out all her passion
And went missing-out of sight

Breaking into smithereens
With a ferocity intense
She sparked up like fire
Until it all made perfect sense

Reduced to rock and lava
Compelled to leave the sky
Transforming into a meteorite
She bid her final goodbye.


October 14, 2016

S for 'Stray thoughts'

There is something about mornings. My life, thoughts, feelings make so much sense then. The first rays of the sun falling on my face through an open window are almost cathartic.
As a matter of fact, some of the best decisions of my life have been made early morning. That's when the patina of confusion that has been forming over my thoughts begins to dissipate, and the light comes shining through.
Perhaps this also has much to do with the fact that this is the only time I can enjoy some solitude and complete me-time, with not much disturbing my chain of thoughts, except, ironically, more thoughts calling fire from all corners of my brain.
However, this break of dawn just after the twilight zone is as imperstive as is poetic. As crucial as is romantic. As introspective as is depressing (sometimes). I wouldn't call it insomnia, that, to me, has a negative ring to it. I'd rather call it a state of prolonged wakefulness that my internal clock has got attuned to over time and habit.

Late nights and early mornings, I sometimes wonder how I manage with so little sleep. I'm sure, on some deeper invisible level, it must be taking a toll on my health and life (with sleep hours being nowhere near the much needed 5-8, I can't exmuch much, can I?). But life is not over until it's over, right? So until then, let me put in some extra hours to write some poetry, enjoy some music, get swept away in good literature, and think about the colossal mess my universe is in.

But as the hours tick by and the sun gets brighter, life reminds me that I need to get back on track. This kind of derailment is not helping. I feel my morning clarity slowly disappear, acquiring murky shades of confusion, guilt, and regret once again. The day has its ways of befuddling me with its nuances.

Ever heard the riddle of the snake who attempting to reach the village well that climbed up three steps everyday and slipped back two? (Or something like that) . I have faint memories of hearing it as a child. Could never fathom the answer then mainly because it was a complex mathematical problem for a kid my age, and also because the thought of a snake climbing stairs would amuse me and I'd burst into giggles.
But thinking about it, I'm still not sure how many days it would take him to reach that well. But I empathise with him now. Maybe the whole riddle was just a metaphor for existential crisis. Maybe the entire point was not to focus on the question but rather to try and understand how the snake might be feeling. Or maybe I just cracked a really sad joke and realised you might not even be laughing.

Yeah, that's the story for now...

Until we meet again,
Cheers!

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S for 'Stray thoughts' is the nineteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

August 14, 2016

Review: The story of a suicide




When I first saw the video trailer of the novel, a chill ran down my spine. For the uninitiated, the trailer is an eerie depiction of a frenzied youngster trying to end his life. The voice in his head rolling  out as whispers in the backdrop makes it even more grim and scary, and is an apt representation of the inner turmoil a lot of young adults experience. The camera then freezes on a disturbing image of an almost dead goldfish struggling outside its bowl, helplessly flapping its fins. This is followed by a sequence of haunting frames that include a silent scream by a perturbed youth kicking and crashing stuff in his room, a calm ripple of water, flickering lights, softer tones, only to culminate with violent images of the youngster self flagellating and considering various methods to end his troubled life. The stoned expression on his face is one of depression and confusion, of pain and frustration, of helplessness and despair. And finally, he succumbs. There is a suicide.

This trailer was a depiction of a brutal reality staring stark naked at me. For a moment, I was stunned by the bold approach. For a very long time, depression, in our country, was a hushed up affair---a social stigma people did not want to acknowledge or talk about. It is only recently that things are changing---we are slowly becoming increasingly aware of this monster called depression;  the more aware we are, the more we'd be able to help ourselves and others around us. Celebrity actress Deepika Padukone recently came out in the open about her long affair with depression. Television actress Pratyusha Banerjee's tragic death was allegedly a suicide. Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Tony Scott, Amy Winehouse are a few names who left the world before their time was due, leaving a hole in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. 


I am living with one such crater in my heart. A friend of mine ended his life from over dosage a couple of years back. We never saw it coming, until it did its final victory dance in front of us. There was no suicide note, no final goodbye message, no parting words. We'd had a conversation a few days before it happened. Most of us were aware of his troubled state of mind. He was tired of the unreasonable demands that society made from him. But we had no idea it would lead him to take such a drastic step. His influential family, however, eventually dismissed his death as a case of accidental poisoning. We watched helplessly. Even in death, our friend was supposed to conform to their wishes. All his life, he lived as they wanted. But it was never enough. They wanted to ensure even his death wouldn't prove to be an embarrassment. 

Since then, the topic of suicide has always been awkward for me to discuss. Swept by his nebulous memories, I often wonder how things would have been had it gone differently, had his parents been more accepting of his choices, had society not been so demeaning. That one incident made me realize how we shouldn’t take anyone for granted. Although suicide is a topic that is normally brushed under the carpet, it might just be lurking around the corner.  
Cut to present day. The trailer made me wonder how difficult his last moments must have been like, what his frame of mind might have been, and more importantly, what we could have done to help him? I needed to put these thoughts at rest. Besides, the promotional song by Vedanth Bharatwaj and the befitting illustrations by Ghana only added to my intrigue. It was almost 11.30 in the night that I started reading it here

'The story of a suicide' is a simple yet powerful story that gets complicated. It revolves around the lives of four characters; Sam, Mani, Charu, and Hari who come in contact with each other at KIT Bangalore.
All of them are a portrayal of relatively calm and balanced exteriors, but each of them is facing an internal struggle, fighting the demons of their past....until one incident changes everything. One hate post on a social network sets the ball rolling. The four grapple with their identity, heart break, sexuality, and betrayal. Just as they try to come to terms with their own conscience and society, there is a diabolical twist. The plot thickens and an innocent lover becomes a victim once again.

Have you ever noticed how two people can react differently in similar situations? We can never judge the reaction of one person on the basis of another. Each one of us is different, not just in our outlook but also in the way we are wired emotionally. Batman and Joker are the best examples to explain this theory. Both faced situations of adversity, both battled with an ugly past. But look how they turned out developing juxtaposed personalities! Fiction is never that far from reality. We all have a Batman or Joker deep inside us. Sometimes they make an appearance. Often times they don't until it is too late. Sriram Aiyer has dragged these matters into the forefront---where they should rightfully stand, looking at society in the eye, questioning it for its double standards and hypocrisies.
Having worked as a resident in Psychiatry, I have had the chance to explore various sides of the human personality and deal with varied facets of the human psyche. And I think the novel has beautifully captured the conflicting plight of vulnerable men and women searching for an anchor to depend upon.
Having been witness to similar situations, I could relate to each of these characters and their conflicting state of mind. There is a bit of us in each of these characters, in their everyday struggle with society, addictions, love, popularity, and themselves. Below I have drawn some instances in the story that show us how similar situations can elicit different reactions in different people.  It just goes to prove that you can either let the problem take control or you can take control of the problem.
  • Heart break/ Rejection: This theme forms the main crux of the novel and is dealt in a very realistic and embittering way. Youngsters when heart-broken/rejected often react in one of the two ways; revenge (like Sam who wants to make Charu pay the price for dumping and shaming him) that often results in disastrous consequences, or depression (like Mani who tries to end his life at the beginning of the story because he feels he cannot fit in.) The former is the reason behind so many rapes, kidnapping, acid attacks, cyber crimes occurring in our country, while the latter is responsible for the suicides committed in college campuses, hostels etc.
  • Technology and our vulnerability towards it. In today's age and time, being present at parties, weddings and other social events is not as important as being active on social media. Sam's obsessive compulsive Twitter addiction is evident of that. Also Charu's tendency to post intimate details of her life on FaceBook is also a streak not unfamiliar among us, techno-savvy netizens. Her mood getting instantly pepped up on seeing likes and comments is something we all have experienced. So again, there are two ways technology can be employed. 1)  Good use—eg. The 'tiger preservation' Youtube video uploaded by nature activists and animal rights can be viewed by all those wanting to fight for the cause. 2) Misuse---eg. Geeky Sam misusing the Trojan virus to invade into Charu's phone and publicize her intimate moments, which subsequently becomes the cause of the suicide (Somewhat proving the ‘Butterfly Effect’ theory right.) Besides, the influence that technology has on our mood and life is intimidating. How many times have you checked your phone while reading this post? Switched to FaceBook or Twitter to see who has 'liked' your photo? Our moods nowadays depend largely on the number of likes and comments we get on social networks. We see a hut burning. Instead of finding a pail of water to douse the fire, we'd first Instagram the picture. The last times there was an earthquake, everyone made sure they updated their status before rushing out of the building. Charu and Sam are addicted to social networks too, and like most of us, depend on reader's reactions to be happy or proud of their achievements. 
  • Mani and Hari, both, have had a traumatic childhood. While Mani is haunted by the physical abuse from his father, Hari has had to deal with sexual abuse by a maternal uncle. This has caused both their personalities to become shrivelled and withdrawn. Although Mani is relatively more open in talking about his struggles. Hari is more sensitive and is still not able to cope with the pressure of relationships. His plea for help during childhood was ignored, a fact which reinforces his belief that nobody would understand him and his choices. Come to think of it, don't we all feel that way at times? Often we do not bother explaining ourselves to even those we love most, out of fear that we will not be understood. We give up a little too early. Hari's character left me feeling sad. It also made me think about Article 377 and the Government's rabid response against decriminalizing homosexuality. I strongly believe that love has no limits or boundaries. Who are we to impose rules on the LGBT community? Who are we to say what is right and wrong, normal and abnormal? No form of consensual love needs to follow pre-fixed rules. Love makes its own rules. Love rules.
  • Stereotypical response/herd mentality---There are several instances where the stereotype of Indian mentality has been scoffed at by deliberate representation. The author has not just made his protagonists rebel against the stereotype with the brilliantly executed ‘Caezer meets Draupadi’ act, Charu's 'Vagina and penis' post etc but has also done a fine job by representing societal hypocrisy through the demeaning and caustic remarks of the students gossiping and commenting on social networks. Our orthodox Indian society finds it very difficult to accept change. Had we not made a brouhaha about a whole lot of things, we'd be having more people coming out of the closet. We'd have less cases of divorce, suicide, depression. But no! We want to live in a 'normal' world, no? However fucked up that might be...
  • The novel is generously peppered with psychedelic dreams, each representing the subject’s state of mind. Whether it is Mr Narender's 'dance of death' dream about his son, or Charu's dream of Sam prising her heart out, or Hari's dream of 'free falling', each one has a secret connotation. It made me want to go back and read Sigmund Freud's interpretation of dreams (the consciousness, the preconscious, and the unconscious) Delving into the unconscious is not just a brilliant method in psychoanalysis, but also works as an amazing literary tool, subtly guiding the reader's mind in the required direction.
  • Another important influencing factor among the youth of today is 'peer pressure'. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But sometimes it is our friends that stab us in the back. So blind we are to their deceit, that even if they punch us in the face, we'd believe there has to be a very good reason behind it. Lucky are those who choose the right kind of friends, for they enter your mind without consent and leave a part of them behind even when they go. Aditya is a terrible influence on Sam. It is his constant goading that sows the seed of vendetta (in Sam's mind) against Charu. It is in his confidence that Sam misuses his knowledge and intelligence for obnoxious purposes. On the one hand, Charu's camaraderie with Hari and Mani is an excellent example of unconditional friendship, while on the other, Aditya is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  That just goes to show how friends can be--they can either ruin you or turn you into gold. 
  • Bullying should be criminalized. An unkind word can not only mar the fragile ego, but is also responsible for the most irreversible consequences on a person's personality. It can cause permanent bruising to the sensitive soul. A senseless act of ragging, eve teasing, mocking someone with a harsh nickname; all these might not seem like a big deal but can eventually drive a person to hate the world, and still worse, himself. Hari's colleagues are sensitive to the torture endured by the poached tiger, but they fail to understand the trauma that Hari is undergoing. They are ruthless in their comments, mocking in their tone, and insulting in their demeanour. They do not once stop to think the kind of pressure he'd be facing, the fear of being labelled queer, the pain of living with a childhood secret that nobody would believe, a sexual identity that not many would understand, and the terrible betrayal of trust by the one person who did. In a way it was his classmates, his family, the society, who are  responsible for his plight. And then again, it is ironical how realization always comes a little too late. 
Having said all the above, I also know that roadblocks are an inevitable part of life. But we can take a detour around it. We can work our way around the stressors, adopt the 'Batman' approach instead of the 'Joker' attitude. The journey is not going to be smooth. Growing up is a colossal mess that goes on forever. We might need to fight for what we believe in, stand up for our rights. Bending but not allowing ourselves to break, we must keep reminding ourselves that we are strong. Life is a learning process and one has got to keep making notes. Sometimes, we encounter the same situation twice. That is when the notes come handy. They make up that one thing no school can ever teach you---Experience


Here are a few hacks I learned from experience.  
  • Heart break and rejection are never permanent. True love is the one that helps you grow up, and be a better person. Your relationship might not last forever. But be happy if you learned something from it. Yes, sure it hurts. But cry a river, build a bridge and get over it. Distract yourself with a hobby. Write, sing, bake. Do what makes you happy. Remember that ten years down the line, the guy/girl who dumped you won't even matter. Fifteen years ahead, you might not even remember the names of the colleagues and friends who mocked you. Anger and misery are just not worth your time.
  • Don't let social media decide whether you are 'like'able or not. It's a photoshopped reality out there. The stud you seem to be chatting with might be a serial killer in search of his next victim. The woman with the big boobs that you are so enamored by might be a seventy year old male with a sagging beer belly, laughing at your expense. Do not become slave to technology. Treat social media for what it actually is…just a virtual way to keep in touch. Do not depend on anyone (especially those who know zilch about your life and situation) to give you the right advice. 140 characters or a FaceBook meme cannot explain your life. The 'Likes', 'Shares' and 'ReTweets' do not translate as those who care. Go take a long walk. Smell the coffee. Meet your friends. Bond with family. Communicating with them is going to help. 
  • Childhood abuse is a horrendous experience and the perpetrators are depraved criminals who deserve to be punished. Most cases of childhood abuse and sexual harassment are hushed down out of fear from embarrassment. Teenage girls are groped in public buses, adolescent boys are sodomized, and none of this is ever reported. Our children need to be made aware about this issue. They should feel comfortable enough talking about it to parents. They should be taught to distinguish a 'wrong' touch. Nobody (be it relative, uncle or friend) should be outside the radar of caution. Also just because someone loves differently than you, does not mean there is anything unnatural or abnormal about it. Love is the purest of all emotions. Be empathetic with those different from you. Don't be quick to judge. We have no clue what battle they are fighting. They might be victims of deep seated trauma they are themselves trying to come to terms with. 
  •  Never let someone influence you so much that you merely become a puppet in their hands. Think with a calm mind. Do let any emotion, love, anger, jealousy, or hatred get the better of you. Never make a decision when you are angry. If you do, you are definitely going to regret it later. Surround yourself by sensible and optimistic people, whose strength of character will send of positive vibes your way. Stay away from fine-weather friends. They are like those mythical creatures who will vanish at the first sign of danger. Do not trust anyone with your secrets unless you know that it is safe with them.  

  • Last but not the least, always remember that every problem has a solution. You just have to focus in the right direction. Communication, courage, and consistency will provide answers to most of life's problems. Reach out. Ask your trusted ones for help. Look yourself in the mirror. See how far you have come. Drive away all negative vibes from your mind. Have a power nap. And wake up feeling refreshed. If you ever find yourself in a scary place, unable to decide whether you can handle it or not, just remind yourself that you can. Majority of suicides occur because there was no one or nothing that could distract them off that final moment. Control the urge. If you succeed in triumphing over that moment, know that life has won. You have won!

Another fact I found particularly impressive about ‘The story of a suicide’ is the sensitivity with which the project is dealt. Every chapter is accompanied with life hacks on how to handle situations in times of personal crises, be it relationships, education, jobs, sexuality, bullying or abuse. You can also listen to the audio book by clicking the play button on the upper right corner. 'The story of a suicide' is a powerful story of love, passion, betrayal, and revenge that aims to reach out to young people and help them understand and cope with life in a more effective manner. And that is the need of the hour.
I finished reading the book in one shot. It is engaging and emotional and makes up for a very promising (and needless to mention, noble) project. My only grouse is that it entered the scene a couple of years too late. Had it been in circulation back then, it might have made a difference.  I might not have lost my friend.
 
I can only hope this book manages to reach out to all those who need it most!

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The above review is written as part of IndiChange, as a tribute to the wonderful project by Sriram Ayer and NalandaWayFoundation in collaboration with Indiblogger.

If you like what you read, you can vote for the post here

August 08, 2016

In-sight



His eyes talk of stories untold,
Relegated memories-dark and cold...

Storms faced and battles fought
Facades revealed and lessons taught
Truths confessed and lies forbidden
Goodbyes that often left him guilt-ridden
Pain harsh and unaccounted.
Hurdles met and those surmounted
Bridges burnt, and roads once traveled
Love affairs left half unraveled.

Threatened by tears they cannot hold,
His eyes talk of stories untold...

July 24, 2016

R for 'Red'

There was a time when ‘Red’ was synonymous with love. 

Heart shaped balloons you bought for your sweetheart on her birthday, the touch of vermilion adorning the forehead of a newly wed woman, the ruby ring that he slipped onto your finger when he proposed, the first crayon your child proudly identified at play school, the evening sky with the setting sun, gorgeous patterns of henna on the fair palms of beautiful brides at weddings, the auspicious crimson border of the traditional Kolkata Sari that must constitute the wardrobe of every Bengali woman, Ganesh ji's favorite hibiscus flower--a must have at every Ganesh puja, red bangles that stand out amidst the alternate white ones in the wedding chura, the color of your favorite wine, 'red medicine' or Mercurochrome---a fond memory from every childhood; school sports leading to grazed knees et al, the deep reddish brown of scrumptious Gulab jamuns--a deep fried sweetmeat and renowned Indian dessert, red roses that are quintessential for every 'Valentine's Day' celebration, your bridal sari in rich zardosi silk that is carefully wrapped in butter paper after being laundered and dry-cleaned taking care that the color does not run off, those lip smacking 'Rooh Afza' memories reminiscent of an era gone by.

There was a time when 'Red' was synonymous with love. But not anymore! 

Today, 'Red' has changed meaning. It has become polluted, putrid, rabid. It now reminds us of danger, carnage, blood spilled, lives lost. Everyday, there are headlines screaming of terror attacks, mass shootings, wars, communal conflicts and disharmony. Senseless attacks at Orlando, Dhaka, Nice, Munich, Afghanistan etc, horrific cases of females like Swathi and Qandil being hacked to death, the atrocities committed on Dalits in India, gang rapes, ruthless murders spreading hostility and viciousness with every attack, thus ensuring that the circle never ends.
'Red' no longer possesses that same sweet scent of love, that music of unity, that warmth of nostalgia we once enjoyed. Instead it now reeks of anger, hatred, disgust and disappointment.
Is this temporary insanity making us see the same color differently? Is it a type of contagious madness spreading like the plague, making us take notice what we once ignored and forcing us to ignore what we once cherished? Or is this the first sign of an impending doom---the beginning of the end?
There was a time when 'Red' was synonymous with love. But everything seems different now.
 
Oh, how do we go back to the 'Red' of old? How do we go back to that 'Red' of gold? 
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R for 'Red' is the eighteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

July 04, 2016

Q for 'Quotes I love'

There are days when I love to google up famous (or at times, not so famous) words of wise people. pearls of wisdom they have left behind for us to delve upon, bask in, appreciate, and benefit from.

Favorite quotes, don't we all have them? Someone says something, and you wonder how it can fit so perfectly, how do they know exactly what you are feeling. There is an invincible truth, a certain sadness, an utter joy you experience all at once. And you realize those words will never leave you...at least not until you can help it.

Below are ten of my favorite quotes (in no particular order of preference).

1) "There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice." ~ F Scott Fitzgerald.

2) "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ " 
 ~~Jack Kerouac

3) "We are as forlorn as children lost in the wood. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful?” ~~~Franz Kafka

4) "Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart." ---Salman Rushdie

5)  "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 6) "I like dead end signs. I think they're kind. They at least have the decency to let you know you're going nowhere." ~ Bugs Bunny

7) "If there's just one piece of advice I can give you, it's this – when there's something you really want, fight for it – don't give up no matter how hopeless it seems. And when you've lost hope...ask yourself in 10 years from now...you're gonna wish you gave it just one more shot. Because the best things in life, they don't come free." ~ Meredith Grey ('Grey's Anatomy')

8) "Without an appreciation for grace and beauty, there's no pleasure in creating things and no pleasure in having them." ~ Calvin ('Calvin and Hobbes')

9) "Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten." ~ Neil Gaiman

10) "You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." ~ Robin Williams

I could go on endlessly. Choosing quotes is like picking jewels from the treasure chest of the universe. They are never enough. And people keep coming up with wonderfully smart, witty, and intelligent things to say and impress you with.

So go right ahead. Feel free and add to the list. Embellish my world with your favorite words. I am waiting! :)

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Q for 'Quotes I love' is the seventeenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

June 22, 2016

My happy place


I have always been a gypsy. My family tells me, as a kid, I'd find it difficult to sit still. They'd try to tempt me with chocolates and toys. But no amount of bribing or coddling would ensure my immobility (unless I was asleep of course, the only time my family could catch some much deserved rest).
So there I was, a curious little brat, stopping in the middle of the street to watch couples fight, peeping over tables at restaurants and solemnly pointing out to food stuck in between teeth of the diners, peering at kids my age get excited over toy trucks and doll houses, and keeping my folks on their toes with my suspicious silence and sneaky disappearances.
Nothing could hold my attention from wavering for long though. I'd soon want to move on to some other thrill. Perhaps it was a keen sense of learning, an unquenchable thirst of adventure that propelled me forward, or perhaps I was just born that way, a curious cat searching for new possibilities in everything she saw and in everyone she met.

Growing up didn't help much either. Of course, I had my share of fun like all other children my age. But I was still distracted. The constant search for something else...something more...something different was on. There were days I wanted to slip away from the harsh wrath of reality into a cushy zone that could truly make me happy. A private space that would give me the comfort of home, and yet satiate my hunger for adventure, rejuvenate my spirit, and set the world in magical motion. Some place I'd leave with the silent promise of returning as soon as possible, and wait and want to go back again.

In hindsight, perhaps the quest for such a thrilling adventure land would have started and ended in my overactive imagination if it wasn't for my older sibling. It was she who got my interest piqued, and much to my chagrin, proved to be my 'Pole star' guiding me into the 'Narnia' of my imaginings, a wonderland that actually existed outside my dreams and made me instantly fall in love with it.

My happy place was right there---in my very own house. How exciting, I thought. It had a special login system. I could enter it from literally anywhere in the world. I felt like a happy snail, content in carrying it's home on its back. My 'happy place', full of surprises, would be furnished differently every time. The moment I entered, I'd be subjected to beautiful revelations, scintillating surprises, and needless to mention, oodles of adventure waiting for me.

I would never tire out here. My intrigue and interest would soar with every visit, and I'd come back for more every single time, just like I'd imagined. This was exactly the kind of happiness that I'd imagined, and I'd finally found a place that warranted it for keeps.

Since there, I've always been visiting. I spend hours at a stretch there. Sometimes, the entire day. At times, the whole night. The interior keeps changing, but that gives me the opportunity to live a million lives. Perhaps that is the secret---the provision of a chance to break off from the drudgery of a mundane reality and experience life in another persons shoes, if only for a while.
As a child, I loved eating alphabet soup. I remember sieving the noodle-letters and eating them first. The enthusiasm for the vegetable broth would eventually fade, and I'd try to find reasons to skip finishing my dinner. But during that brief period of strain-sieve-swallow, I'd be happily lost in the jumble of words formed from the alphabets in my soup.

Years later, words still brings me the same kind of joy I'd experience as a child. As the popular maxim goes, 'Old habits die hard'. I open my bag and fish out my current read. A small voice from between the pages beckons me, causing my heart to flutter and fly.

It's time for the snail to disappear into its cocoon. It's time for me to slink into my happy place.

A temporary panacea



Shopping malls are mystical places
With retail stores and coffee houses
Convincing people they are prettier than they look
And less lonelier than they feel.

There's a map giving directions
For the already misdirected
Loaded with shopping bags
And a light(er) wallet,
Victims of mirrors that lie
Making all seem beautiful
Inside illusive designer stores.
Come home, and
The spell is broken,
You want your money back.
But alas! There's a no-return policy
You had been warned!

You stumble upon a friend from work,
Talk a while, grab a bite
Behind glass facades with 'mermaid' logos
Over ice-cold coffee and sizzling-hot company;
A hole in your pocket,
Although chemistry worth a million bucks,
Both of which are here to stay
While the adrenaline lasts.
Until next morning,
When back at work,
You see her laugh
With another man.
The spell is broken,
You want your heart back.
But alas! There's a no-return policy
You had been warned!

Shopping malls are mystical places
With retail stores and coffee houses
Convincing people they are prettier than they look
And less lonelier than they feel.

May 30, 2016

P for 'Pause-Rewind-Play'


I was whiling away my time at a nearby park, looking at a bunch of kids at play. It was a treat to watch their innocence. The way they charged at each other, bumped, collided, toppled over, giggling happily, straightening up a little once they got tired only to eventually brush off the weariness like the mud on their sleeves and jump at each other again.

The scene unfolding in front of me transported me back in time to an age when I too was unaffected by worldly norms and societal rules, where one only got hurt if they grazed their knee or skinned their elbow, where forgiveness was granted with a simple 'sorry' and all bitterness was forgotten thereafter. The ways of the world had not caught up with us. Life was uncomplicated...simple...happy.

And that made me wish for these kids never to grow up, at least not before they had to.
Just sitting there on that park bench surrounded by a group of these mischievous minions had set my world in motion once again. The spark of curiosity glittered in their eyes. The effervescence of enthusiasm gurgled in their voices.
Their exuberance was infectious. It had been ages since I experienced that kind of warmth around me---the non-judgemental attitude of those who believed that the world was still a good place.


As I got up to leave, I wondered if I could take a bit of that much needed belief along. But something stopped me right then-as I gazed at the setting sun in the distance, I realised it was getting late. Perhaps, a little too late.


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 P for 'Pause-Rewind-Play'  is the sixteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

May 26, 2016

There are cracks in everything


NEWSFLASH: A bit of relationship-gyaan (that you all know yet need to be reminded of) from my side.
Going by a lot of recent case studies involving my friends, enemies, and people I see around, I have derived a very important law of relationships.

PERFECTION = 1/PROXIMITY

Proximity and perfection share an inverse relationship. You must have noticed this around you---two people madly in love think the world of one another. Time flies and the relationship gets stale older. Slowly but surely, you see the enthusiasm they share die a silent death. The couple that could once not get their hands off each other have started squabbling on petty things. The best friend gets to hear complaints and sulks of how the spouse just doesn't care anymore. The once perfect spouse/partner has turned into a bundle of flaws. The closer you get, the less perfect you realize he/she is. You get the drift, don't you? Happens with the best of us.
It's just a matter of time before we discover the deficits in something or someone we once thought the world of. That is the problem with proximity. It brings us closer, close enough to notice the things we did not intend to see. That is when we start missing what we now think should have been present all along. We start craving for perfection in others, instead of trying to attain it in ourselves. We wish for words that have not been uttered. We long for things beyond our reach. We set our imagination to work, and eventually end up feeling miserable.

It is a known fact that expectations in life, inadvertently, lead to disappointment. It is also equally true that love (in any form or degree of severity) eventually results in expectations. It is then that we start nit-picking. We magnify the arguments, blow the misunderstandings out of proportion, and ignore the memories. We end up blaming each other, not realizing that it is a game that nobody wins. Mud slinging can only worsen your emotional conflict.
If you cannot talk it out without pulling at each other's hair, then take some time off and think. Rash decisions never helped anyone. Introspection, however, has!

Introspection is an innate quality that all humans possess but seldom use. Maybe we are afraid. After all, not everybody can handle the truth that soul-searching introspection often tends to reveal. Questioning ourselves and assessing our feelings urges us to examine the faults within ourselves in a more objective way, in a way that we are made to realize that the flaws we see in others are an extension of our own deficits.


We sit back and smile. Who can we blame but ourselves?
We now begin to view 'perfection' in a different light; nothing is absolute. There are cracks in everything.

May 25, 2016

O for 'Off-beat musings'

She is the hope that needs no promise, the kind that makes you content with her subtle presence in your heart, treading carefully with muffled footsteps, making sure you never lose or gain complete control of her nimble self.
At times, you feel your heart shriveling up, searching in all its corners for that seductive glimmer, that first ray of dawn, that refreshing wave of optimism; positive signs that permit you to carry on dreaming. But alas, you see none.
The night seems endless, and the shroud of light you once saw has faded into a small dot in the distance. Hope, like the palace of illusions, has fooled you once again. The minstrel with her musical anklets was just a mirage you ought not have trusted.

The relentless heart, however, is no quitter. Despite the emptiness you feel inside, you know for sure that when the time comes and you hear the tinkling bells again, your heart will expand to accommodate her merry dance. And you will sway to her merry tune, once more.

For she might be the hope that needs no promise, but you are the love that knows no bounds.


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 O for 'Off-beat musings'  is the fifteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

May 20, 2016

N for 'Nosy neighbors'


Mine is a creative neighborhood
Of well-acquainted strangers,
With faces lit with Cheshire-cat grins
That instantly transform
Into wrinkles and frowns,
And pleasantries to groans and grimaces,
Snapping congeniality at the blink of an eye
Into sharp indifference and oblivion
When someone approaches them
For a helping hand.

Glass-window panes tightly shut down,
Doors lock and peepholes open,
As my neighborhood lurks into troubled homes,
Hoping nobody will catch the bluff
They'd manufacture at the gossip mill
Where they work tirelessly day in and out,
Not knowing that inside every adjacent house,
Behind every curtain shade,
Is another eye watching them spy;
Another mind cooking another story.


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N for 'Nosy neighbors'  is the fourteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

May 19, 2016

It's complicated

Goodbyes are painful. It doesn't really matter how you say it, or when you are going to say it. You might choose the perfect way to part ways, a sentimental card, a kind word, a heart warming hug, a farewell kiss, but nothing in the world can make the ache from a loved one's 'Goodbye' go away.

It is somewhat of an oxymoron, isn't it? How can there ever be any 'Good' in 'Goodbye'? I often wonder how we can be so sure that this is the end. Yet there are those tearful separations that coerce us into cutting our losses. We cross the bridge, reach the other side, and then burn it down so that we are never tempted into looking back.

Honestly speaking, the goodbyes that are left explained are the worst of all. You are left hanging on to an abyss. You wonder how someone could just leave from your life, all of a sudden. You keep searching for answers. You try to connect, and keep getting disappointed. It's like banging your head against a wall. Eventually you get numb to the pain.

I know the feeling. I have lost a few close friends that way, sans parting words. No emotional drama. No commitment. No promises. Relationships of pure convenience. When I think about them today, I wonder if their silent farewell was a gift of eternal hope--a pregnant pause filled with hope that we might just meet again and get things back in order, or was it an abrupt halt--an awkward exclamation mark to bring forth a harsh finality to an incomplete story.
Every unsaid goodbye makes our heart a little tougher.  It strengthens it with security armors--of hope, of courage, of resilience. Hope that is needed to sustain an endless wait, courage needed to bear the pain of the back stab, and resilience to bounce back despite the broken heart.


If we were never to see each other again, what would you prefer---a teary farewell, or a hopeful silence?

April 17, 2016

A small note...

...to tell you, my almost non-existent readers (including the ones who run away without commenting), that I am still alive!
Until then, save the love (only for me) and read the book.

March 16, 2016

M for 'Maybe'


We met somewhere
Along a common road
That connected our paths
Although for only a while
Until I moved forward
Befriending the wind
Beckoning the stars
Towards my destination
While you stayed behind
To enjoy the view.

Today, I am far ahead
On a different road
Still running, still in a hurry
To get somewhere
Yet wondering at times
How slowing down would have felt
With you by my side.


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M for 'Maybe' is the thirteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 11, 2016

#ShareTheLoad: Start now

I recently watched the Ariel's latest TV commercial and was very impressed with the sensitivity and brilliance with which they dealt with gender prejudice, an issue prevailing in all sections of our chauvinistic society. Since time immemorial, we Indians have been brought up on the notion that women are supposed to be the care givers and men the breadwinners. Later down the line, women's liberation fought for the right for education, equality , and emancipation. But how much of this have we really achieved? 
With building awareness and literacy, women are now allowed to study and work out of the house. However, not at the cost of cutting them some slack at the home front. With their capacity challenged, and stress doubled, women are now expected to manage home and work in tandem, and any kind of lackadaisical behavior is taken as proof of incompetence. The typical Indian male, however, is expected to work a nine to five job, after which he comes home and plops on the sofa in front of the TV while his poor wife continues to run odd chores around the house. She carries his briefcase inside, serves him tea, sets out the night clothes, feeds the screaming toddler, cooks dinner, prepares for an office presentation, and even answers the doorbell a couple of times in between all this chaos. All this while, the husband is watching his favorite game, not moving a finger except to change channels during commercials. This is the common scenario in most Indian households. Seems unfair, isn't it?

Well, this gender prejudice is a topic that is casually brushed under the carpet or  nervously laughed upon in most families. While we are often guilty of succumbing to it, what we fail to acknowledge is the face that it is the main reason for the skewed gender bias prevalent in our country. We have seen so much of it happening everywhere, that we have learned to accept it as a way of life.

As a child, I remember playing with Barbie dolls. For most children my age, including me, Barbie then would pose as not just a play thing but as a sort of role model. Besides the beautiful blonde hair, pretty dresses, and glamorous looks that we were so much in awe with, it was mainly the various roles the doll was available in, that really mesmerized our young impressionable minds, setting her apart from all the other dolls. Barbie could be anything she wanted. There was Doctor Barbie, Beauty queen Barbie, Homemaker Barbie, Traditional Barbie, Sports Barbie; the list was endless. Owing to its increasing fascination among young girls the world over, the makers of Barbie eventually introduced her boyfriend Ken and sister Skipper in the market. But they could never beat the popularity Barbie managed to create. 
Thinking back, we, even as little girls, had been fed this idea of a complete woman. Barbie was this multifaceted personality who was not just an independent, enterprising woman but also one who managed to look graceful at all times. Indian doll makers went the whole extra mile by manufacturing Bridal Barbie and Traditional Barbie. 
Knowing my stupid fascination for Barbie and her world, every relative would gift me a Barbie doll or the accompanying accessories as gifts. So by the time I was twelve, I had the entire Barbie collection. I remember conjuring up imaginary situations with my play friends, situations in which Barbie would eventually save the day. She'd either cook a spread, or provide first aid to an injured doll, or do some other remarkably ridiculous thing. In short, she was meant to be Barbie, but she was actually super-woman. Ken, being the typical male doll, was hardly ever brought to the forefront. We were too busy dressing up an overworked Barbie for office, parties, festivals etc. The only time Ken was brought into the picture was during the imaginary dates Barbie used to spend hours dressing up for and eventually end up looking like a diva..

While Barbie played multiple roles, trying to balance both personal and professional life, Ken with his rippling muscles and limited accessories only featured as her significant other on occasions he needed to be seen. (Yea, to think we grew up calling them an ideal couple!). However, what we did not realize then was that with every play scenario we concocted, somewhere we secretly wished and hoped we'd grow up to be like this multi-talented, omnipotent, glam doll.

Cut to present day, we have outgrown Barbie. But the influence she managed to create on our childhood still remains. There are days when we still wish we could have that size zero body image. We still strive to fit perfectly into the multiple boxes society has carved out for us---a doting mother, a caring wife, a dutiful daughter-in-law, an independent professional from 9 to 5, and a loving home maker after that. 
Since when did we go from being our Daddy's little princess to being Invincible Superwoman? 

In a way, maybe we are ourselves responsible for this prejudice. For a very long time, I confess I too mentally labelled all men who helped in household chores as 'wuss'  or 'sissy'. I'd laugh at the thought of my better half helping me cook or do the laundry. The stereotypical image of Indian 'Mard' was so ingrained in my mind, that it refused to acknowledge that division of tasks was not fixed. However, this delusion shattered when I realized how people can take advantage of this submissive mindset, how despite being 'Superwoman' you are never enough, how the expectations from a woman never end---it's like a bottomless bag that demands to be continuously filled. 

I recently read about a survey that AC Nielson conducted for Ariel. Statistics revealed that 78% of Indian girls agree that they should learn laundry as they'd require to do it in later life, 2 out of every 3 children think that washing clothes is a woman's job, 81% of married men agree that their daughters must learn household chores as that would only make their life easier after marriage.
However, what I always find surprising is that, boys or men are hardly expected to help in household activities or learn to carry out household tasks. Even in a modern day generation like ours, the children in the house are brought up relying on their mother alone (and never on their father) for their neatly pressed uniforms, systematically packed tiffins, freshly cooked meals, and clean washed laundry. The husband too, unaware of the strenous responsibilities on his wife continues to pile on his own set of errands on her. This goes on and on as the entire family depends on the woman for all their needs, not once stopping to think whether she could do with a break. 
And hence the need---the need to end this gender prejudice, the need to remind the men to share the load.

Some tips that can be followed in this direction: Let's begin by starting at home.

  1. Share responsibility of at least one meal a day. This means the male of the house should fix at least one meal of the day. Maybe he can fix a simple breakfast of OJ and sandwiches, or a light dinner. Whatever it might be, this will ensure that the children in the house grow up seeing cooking as a joint activity. Your son will know that there is nothing shameful about a man cooking, and your daughter will realize that its not wrong to expect her man to help her in the kitchen.
  2. The man of the house should help with the laundry. This would really help relieve a big load off the woman. Offer to load and unload the clothes into and from the washing machine. Learn how much detergent goes in the washing. Now with Ariel, you can get the laundry done within minutes. It's easy as pie, and the sparkling white clothes will leave her with no reason to complain. Besides, you will be a good role model for not just your children, but also for the other husbands in your wife's extended family, because she is sure to talk about what a darling you are.
  3. Every once in a while, fix your own cup of evening tea. Don't forget to ask your wife how her day has been. Chances are she has not had a moment's rest. Surprise her pleasantly with a gentle neck massage or warm back rub. Treat her like a queen, for she deserves to be treated as one. If not, at least treat her as an equal.
  4. This is for the women of the house. Stop orthodox practices like eating only after Pati Parmeshwar has eaten, keeping fasts every third day as a sign to show your love, pressing your mother-in-law's feet and other forms of seva. Our daily soaps might have inspired these. I don't see men keeping fasts, or staying hungry until their wives return from work. Putting an end to these orthodox practices would keep the expectations realistic and equal. Don't be a door mat. Act sensible. Your daughters are looking.
  5. Do not bring up your girls on false ideals. Instead, teach them how to recognize when they are not treated right. Explain to them the limits of adjustment and compromises, when to stay in and when to walk out.
  6. Alternate doing the dishes. Just like the laundry, you can help with the dishes too.
  7. Do not bring up your sons on false hopes. Do not pamper him or treat him special just because he is a boy. The loser will end up expecting the same from his wife. Instead, teach him to help you with the groceries. Ask him to run a few household errands. Don't raise a boy, raise a man!
  8. Stop that ridiculous game of 'House-house' that most Indian children mostly play. This is where the skewed idea of responsibilities stem from. Instead, insist that your daughter plays student-teacher, shopkeeper-customer, doctor-patient, or even chor-police for that matter. Do not box her in the role of a domesticated pretend-housewife making pretend-tea in pretend-teacups for a chauvinistic pretend-husband reading the newspaper. If being children, they still insist on playing 'House', then make sure you patiently break the stereotype in their mind and ask them to divide the role equally, because that is what responsible married couples do. They share the load.
  9.  If you haven't created a very good example yet, now is the time. Be the man you'd want your daughter to marry. Show her what she deserves to expect from her significant other. Convince her not to settle for anything less. Your princess will only realize her worth when she sees her father treating her mother like a queen.


Ours is a progressive country. We have a long way. But a progressive country needs not just to understand but also to respect the role of women in society. It needs to realize that it is not just liberation that is important, but also a sense of equality that begins at home. Only then, we can call ourselves a truly liberated nation.

Last but not the least, all men should understand one very important thing---Your wife, like you, is only human. There will be days when she will be vulnerable, upset, or even mad. Such times, you might have to bear the brunt of her misdirected anger. It might be something at the work place, or something at home. Times like these, lend her a patient ear. Show her some love. Take her out to dinner. Do not worsen the situation by slamming doors or yelling and screaming. There is huge mental load in every woman's mind. Overburdened by the burden of the expectations from society as well as from herself, there might be instances when she cannot express the way she feels.

Understand the weight that is weighing her down. Share the load.

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 I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.