Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolutions and randoms

On December 19, 2009, I started this blog. I cannot believe that it’s been two years of me going on about my life and I haven’t once gone on a long sabbatical. That’s a big deal for me to be honest. I have this amazing habit of completely switching off and not writing for the longest time. It is this behavior which will ensure that I will never write a full-length book.

Not that I can’t do it. I can. But, I’m happy blogging, tweeting, spamming news feeds on Facebook, offering unsolicited commentary on my company’s blog (“unsolicited commentary” is my new go-to phrase). I am writing. I am saying things I want to say. I am laughing at too many inside jokes that no one knows about. Work-wise life’s good and fun. I’m not going to be over-ambitious and try to write a novel. I mean, no thanks. To sit and write some 100,000 words might actually end up with me having nothing left to say to the rest of the world. I cannot imagine a life like that.

That aside, I’m going to jump right into the mass movement called the year end celebrations, and make a new year’s resolution.

My resolution for 2012 – punctuality.

Punctuality is something I’ve struggled with forever. I suck at managing my time. I know I want to be on time. I try, but I never can. So, in 2012, I will do my very best to be on time as much as I humanly can. If I fail every once in a while, it’s not for want of trying.

On that note, I’m going to end this. I have two books to finish reading.

Happy 2012 my dear frands on the interwebs. I hope you have the most epic fun ushering in 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Books and others

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that 2011 is finally ending.

The year can be best described with the word – shitty. However, I don't want to be crass, so I will just say 2011 was a bad year for me.

There's a lot that happened that didn't get mentioned here. It was too emotionally demanding and mentally stressful for me to deal with, hence the silence. That being said, one good thing did happen this year, I fell in love with HarukiMurakami all over again, via 1Q84. I mean, there's something about the realm of the unreal that's appealing to me and to have that presented in such amazing words and sentence choreography, is to me, a sign of genius.

I've also been on a huge Flipkart buying spree. Cash on Delivery is a RAACCCKKKSSSTTAARRR feature means!

Thanks to Flipkart, I've read two more books by Devdutt Pattaknaik. He's amazing. Just, plain amazing. No other word describes what he does. What makes him that much more awesome is the fact that he is not all over the place about his contribution to the world of re-telling, quite unlike Ashok Banker. I'm a huge Ashok Banker fan, have been since 2003 when I first read The Ramayana Series. That being said, I have several issues with how he over-states his role as the storyteller. If he could tone it down a wee bit, I will find him more tolerable. But this is a highly personal viewpoint. I don't expect people to agree with me or even like it, I don't care.

While on the subject of books, there is one book I'm reading that has completely overwhelmed me. It's a non-fiction title – Indlish. Written by Jyoti Sanyal, this book is a searing look at the way Indian English-speaking people have made a huge mess of this thing called written communication. The problem lies with our education system. When English teachers don't know the difference between the words “wedding” and “marriage” what do you expect them to teach their students? When the English Department of the University of Madras encourages its students to study a particular set of questions before the finals, how do you expect people to think for themselves?

I don't know Mr.Sanyal, the future is bleak. There are no good English teachers left. The ones who do teach as best as they can, thump Wren & Martin at every given opportunity. Grammatical propriety is a must, I will not let anyone tell me otherwise. Because I cannot have “writing as one speaks” accommodating “cannot able to” as acceptable English communication. If it does, then I'm going to stop writing altogether.

There's wrong English (featuring misconstructed and grammatically incorrect language) and there's wrong English (featuring flawed sentence construction). If you are asking that we be rid of the latter, I will join the eradicate Indlish movement immediately. If this movement is, in any way or form, accommodative of the former (grammatically incorrect language), then please count me out. I'm happy in my world of verbiage.

Indlish is a must read. There's no two ways about it. If you're a writer, chances are you will experience a searing sense of shame at having written the way you have for years and years. As a reader, you will be armed with enough to send the editors of newspapers scathing letters pointing out the flaws in langauge. If you are that one writer who has been writing as Mr.Sanyal recommends you write, then you, dear anoynymous person, are eligible for a Nobel.

More from me, tomorrow...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

That thing they call modesty Pt2

First off, I want to group hug everyone at Chennai Hollaback! I just do. I don’t know how they got a hold of my previous post on this subject, but they did and they’ve passed the word around on Twitter and I’ve been getting a lot of positive shoutouts. My sincere gratitude. This blog’s sole intent is entirely and completely selfish. If it finds a resonance with people, then I’m all the happier to share my stories with the world. 

Let’s get to part 2 of this dialogue shall we?

The main reason for this faceless violation of my body was because some random man thought I had either “asked for it” by the way I dressed or by the fact that I had big boobs and a round ass. I honestly cannot attribute any other reason to this form of sexual violence except one’s physical appearance. There’s no other logical reasoning for something this pathetic. What else do you think could be their motivation? Sex-depravation? Uncontrollable impulse just like that suspicious twitch in the left eye some people have? A woman’s body is the only reason.

As a teenager, my breasts were the bane of my existence. They still are, but I like them better now and do a lot less to wish they’d disappear forever and leave me gloriously flat-chested…

 [If some shit-resembling man mentally thinks that women are never happy with what they have, I will find him and burn him alive in Anna Square bus stop.]

…The fact that my 14-year-old body ached from the weight of my breasts didn’t help my daily travels to school. I was in a pinafore, awkward as hell, and carried a school bag that was doing everything in its power to snap my neck. On that 17D to school, there was barely any room to stand, and yet, there were men who had the wherewithal to snake their arms around the throng and grab a boob, because, you know, boobs are the equivalent of a bus ticket and they need boobs like they need bus tickets.

I mean, the fact that I was wearing a school uniform had no bearing on the hand-snaking. Absolutely no bearing. It’s pathetic.

I’m not sure if this contributed in any way to my issues with my appearance or in my opinion of men. I have a feeling it has. I don’t see one single word in this blog post or the previous that in any way redeems men. And I will not take away this umbrella hatred because the How to Judge a Person handbook excludes the “nice, non-harassing guys”; you might not grab my boob, but you sure as hell have spent time wondering what they look/feel like and that puts you in the category too my nice, non-harassing friend.

Ever since I started working, I stopped taking the bus to where I had to go. This auto-taking has left me with zero savings, but having zero savings has never felt this liberating!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That thing they call modesty

"She had it coming."

Those are by far the four most disgusting words I've heard come out of a person's mouth.

Mostly used in the context of sexual violence, it makes these words all the more vile. A sort of moral commentary on a woman's body, that is uncalled for and completely unnecessary. Choices I make, or any woman makes, are not subject to the scrutiny of a man's moral and social compass.

These videos online about someone commenting on the morality of a bikini, on the morality of showing a woman's eyes/face/body are repulsive to say the very least. The very, very, least.

As a man, there are certain things one feels entitled to. The freedom to do and say just about anything is one of these things. And this freedom, as is the case with most things freely given, is exploited everyday. Take for instance, the random dude standing near a tea shop, smoking a cigarette, drinking a cup of tea. For starters, that tea shop is an illegal structure, built on a footpath that is supposed to serve pedestrians, however, legality notwithstanding, the corner tea shop is the scene of the seemingly innocuous scene of violence - commentary. [Carol Ann Duffy explains her response to this quite beautifully in a poem whose text I simply cannot find online or remember the title of. When I do, I will edit this post and link to that poem.]

Walking past a tea shop does not mean, I am game for some asshole's thoughts on my appearence, or any other woman's appearance for that matter. It only means the tea shop is an incidental location on my way to some place, not that every man standing there can, while drinking tea, wonder aloud at my breasts, ass, face, clothes. The fact that I choose not to confront them is a sign of assent, to let them talk freely and not allow myself the frustration of being a woman.

But assent brings with it a host of other problems, assent means I am giving a strange man the freedom to access my body in any way he should choose, whether it is by words, touch, or in any other way. Assent, however given, makes me a willing and consensual party in the process that is sexual crime. That knowledge is the most difficult thing to live with everyday. It colours just about everything I do. When I get into a bus, especially one that is crowded, I know that I will silently deal with some faceless, spineless, bastard who chooses to rub an erect penis across my back. Yes, it's true, it happens, and there are scores of women who silently deal with this everyday.

My question is - why is it a given that men are allowed to rub their crotches on women's backs and these same men go ahead and talk about the ownership and possession of their wives/girlfriends? Their bodies seem to be forcibly thrust onto silently unwilling women, so why do they feel the need for monogamy? Why do they get the freedom to access bodies other than those they have supposedly tied themselves to, and us women are expected to be virgins/monogamous and untouched/unsullied by other men.

To be perfectly honest, the two years on the local trains when I was studying at Madras University, were by far the best years of my life, public transport wise. I left early, 8.45am-9am, the trains were running mostly empty and I could sit anywhere, read a book, relax until my stop. The buses ran empty too, just feeling the sea breeze hit you while you made your commute helped me deal with the bullshittery that was travelling back home by bus after classes were over. The funny thing is, my toe rings, a supposed sign of "wedded bliss" seemed to not have an effect on these faceless, spineless, bastards. Apparently violating some other nameless, faceless man's "property" was an even bigger high.

[And another series begins.]

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let's talk about God Pt1

Some of my more "inspired" writing, comes from conversation.

As I type this out, there is a chat window open, with me talking about a subject that I'm a little afraid to broach generally, God/Religion/Faith.

There was a point in time, my late teens I think, when I was very clear that I believed in God and that I was a religious person. But somewhere down the line, something happened, and I seemed to have lost the plot? I don't know what happened, but I'm no longer under the religious label, that's for sure.

I have a few valid, at least what I think are valid, reasons for this - what I can't see, I cannot believe. When we were in the Chemistry lab in school doing flame tests to find out which salt we were "analysing" the flame turning green or red meant something tangible. It was evidence, it was something that I could understand and, more importantly, see for myself, which is why it was easy for me to enjoy Chemistry lab hour, there were things to do, things to see, and things to mess with. Things, real things. Things that made the smell emanating from the Cooum seem like floral bliss. So many things.

With religion, however, there are certain things that I have issues with.

Like knowing.

What are the references? Where have these people gathered their evidence from? On what basis am I expected to believe "knowledge" that was "discovered" so many millenia ago? I mean, why?

We're talking about texts that were not accessible to my people at one point in time because we weren't socially acceptable. Now that there is temple access, and available translations of religious texts, what am I expected to do with it? Assimilate everything and just accept it because some wise man said so?

Who is this wise man? Who or what made him wise? Why does everyone think he's wise? What sets him apart? Why does he want people to follow him and reuse his words? Why the propaganda? Why the staging of miracles? If he's really wise then why didn't some of these "godmen" not have the brains enough to not get caught?

I don't know if I've been able to articulate this properly and appropriately. There must be many loopholes here. Which serves to prove my point about my own personal issues with this entire thing. I don't know what it's about to begin with, and then to have it thrust on me just because everyone else believes in it, is pure and utter BULLSHIT.

There's more to say here, and I will. When I stop feeling like my brains have imploded in my skull and when the light doesn't seem to want to pierce my retinas and travel through my nervous system to destroy my head, I will talk, a little more clearly about... religion.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When friends are a letdown

Yes, it is possible that sometimes, despite what I keep harping on about, friends can completely and without a fucking care in the world, break you. No, wait. Make that destroy you.

See, the thing is, you get used to having friends around no matter what. To misappropriate one of The Huffington Post's headers I believe that "Boyfriends may come and go, but friends are forever" ("Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever" is the original). When even a friendship cannot withstand the flux that is life and circumstance, it is damn near impossible to believe that anything can be right with the universe. How can it be when the people you trust blindly are themselves incapable of courtesy?

It bothers me that the people you expect the most from are the last ones to live up to them. I mean, family, as I've said before on this blog, has it's own agenda. However, friends are people you assume a certain truth and honesty with, and when that openness is taken for granted, it seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong.

How is it that you can be selfish with a friend? Is it because you know that this person is not going to bring it up and confront you with it? Or is it that you have gotten away with far worse in life otherwise? Whatever it is, the reason and the reasoning are wrong.

I could keep going on and on, but it will all boil down to this, sometimes in life, you're the only person you can trust and expect highly from. The rest of the time, if the situation calls for it, it's best to keep a distance and STFU.