Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Something's the matter with us

I'm back to my ranting ways.

As always the internet has thrown up something, a small thing, an adjective that set off a whole range of reactions. And I'm pissed off. Actually, no, I'm just plain confused.

Why are women so quick to jump to conclusions about other women? And why the FUCK are women so eager to hate on other women?

A friend recently blogged about it, and every word she wrote resonated with sentiments I've had about this since I can remember.

In my previous post, I'd talked about being the kid who got teased. Do you want to know who teased me the most? Other girls. You want to know why? Because my curves busted out early and they thought it was fucking hilarious. To them, boobs and an ass were funny. Until said boobs and ass busted out on their bodies and suddenly the teasing went from "OMG BOOBS!" to "OMG BIG BOOBS, I HAVE THE PERFECT BOOBS, YOU HAVE BIG BOOBS, YOU BIG-BOOBED WEIRDO". There was a photograph that was taken at a class excursion. In it, my uniform dupatta (Chennai schools make their high schoolers wear ridiculous uniforms, let's not get into that, okay?) that was folded and worn in a v-shape had flown up and the kurta was clinging to my body in the wind. I had my arms interlinked with my so-called friends/classmates and it was a nice photo of a bunch of smiling teenage girls walking with their arms linked together. When the photos were printed and brought to class, this particular photograph elicited a LOT of laughs. Why? That clingy kurta? It made my boobs look, well, prominent and everyone was highly amused by the highlight. I thank god for my stoic face and my innate ability to put it on at will.

Anyway, that story serves as a minor highlight of the point I'm trying to make today.

Today I want to talk about why the heck we cannot respect each others choices.

For instance, the raging debate amongst the websites I frequent are two-fold - child v. childless, working v. stay-at-home. On this blog itself, I have ably contributed to the single v. married debate.

What it all boils down to is choice. That being said, I will not allow you to assume that the Vogue video with the black and white montage and beautiful aesthetic people resonated with me. It didn't.

If a woman chooses to remain single then why are married/in-a-relationship women so eager to either be jealous of her or wax eloquent about her relationship status? The reverse of single women shitting on one-half-of-a-couple women also makes no sense. Each of these women are in these respective lives of their owm accord. So why is it so damn important to make a big deal about why being single is awesome, or being in a couple is awesome? Sometimes, neither of those choices works out to said persons benefit. Sometimes those choices work out perfect for everyone involved. The "not everyone has the freedom to make some decisions" logic doesn't apply here, because the women I am addressing are women who are educated and independent and who are far more in control of this magic formula we call "free will". My heart goes out to those women who are the victims of patriarchy, but I cannot speak for them, because that's a reality I have never had to experience. I am aware of it, and I can feel for those women, but their world is so different from mine that I cannot even imagine offering to speak for them without taking the time to understand them better. I guess that makes me a shitty person, I truly hope it doesn't.

The next group are the mothers and the childless-by-choice - seriously what the fuck is this hate dynamic? Me and millions of others decided to subject our bodies to a certain physical, biological process, that doesn't make us idiots. You decided not to, that doesn't make you an idiot. Every woman from one set who makes a woman from the other set feel terrible about her choice is an asshole and doesn't deserve to bloody live on this planet and participate in anything except the singular activity of jumping off a cliff and dying! Why won't you leave each other the heck alone? And this is not strangers dissing each other - I'm talking about friends, relatives, parents who are clamping down your brain with their ridiculous opinions. Your uterus, your choice. It isn't like you're calling me when I have my period and offering to share my cramps, right? Then why is any other uterine activity, or lack thereof, of any significance to you? This particular series of conversations and debates are exhausting.

Speaking of exhausting. There's the working mothers v. stay-at-home-mothers (SAHMs). Okay, you had a baby, you decided to parent a certain way. And then suddenly, you acquired a moral high horse and sat on it and proceeded to be a bitch to the people who aren't parenting your way? Seriously? What gives you the right? Your career is important because you want your kids to have everything and more. Excelent! Does that, however, give you the right to trivialise a woman who stays at home to be a full-time parent? NO, IT DOESN'T. And you, who've decided to be a full-time parent, WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO CALL WORKING MOTHERS HATEFUL CREATURES? Let me hazard a wild guess, EXACTLY NO ONE. If these two groups can't/won't get along, I don't think there's much we can do, except sit back and roll our eyes and groan at the stupidity of it all.

Literally every example I've cited here are all women v. women. And do you know what all of this has in common? Every group I've identified is bickering with the other. Over what are these groups bickering? Each others choices. Yes, choices. Do you know what this bickering does? Contribute to stereotypes. What kind of stereotypes? The kinds that offer up sterling forwarded content like "If women ruled the world, we'd just be a group of countries that don't talk to each other."

Do you know the battles we have to fight? I mean, we're sharing our habitats with men. Those hairy, gross, weird creatures who have serious eyelash game WITHOUT MASCARA (I loathe this about men). Men are at the major players in every sector of everything that affects us and the lives we live, and rather than stand together and do something to change that, here we are bickering. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone just got along and decided that the sisterhood is far more important than anything else, and solidarity is what is going to get us to where we want to go?

We're talking about being able to live in a world where sleeveless kurtas won't be subject to scrutiny and slut-shaming will be a relic of the ridiculous past, but no, shaming each other is trendier than red lipstick. It's a sad day when something's trendier than red lipstick (okay, pink if that's your colour).

Let's get out of this rut and get along. The fights we have to fight not just for ourselves but for many many others are bigger than bickering over choices. Remember, once upon a time we were all uniformly choiceless. And today, we're hating on each other for being free to make a choice. If this continues, what next? I'm fairly certain that it won't be empowerment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Come, get to know me better!

The last time I posted here, I put up a to-do list of posts. I'm checking it off one-by-one, but in no particular order. (Getting my dad to pose with the washing machine doing laundry is a job, so, yes, that will have to wait!)

I'll start with Narayani's task of making a list of 20 Random things about me and nominate three other blogs and hope that it carries forward. Judging by the recent spate of barely blogging, I wonder if it will get passed on, though.

If you've been reading this blog for long enough, you know everything there is to know, but I aim to please and potentially use this content as my "About Me" at some point in time! Let us begin, shall we? Actually, to give some context, I've done something like this before.

(1) Once upon a time, I dreamt of being on stage, spouting lines and delivering performances that would be compared to fine art. It's been eight years since I've been on stage. I miss it. I really, really miss it.

(2) I have an immense dislike for beauty pageants. And yet, in 2013, I found myself participating in one. I felt like I'd had a lobotomy. The whole process hurt my feet, my back, my ass, my bones, my self-proclaimed intelligence, and everything I hold dear. To top it off, I did it just to fuck with people. That being said, the entire process gave me a rare insight into the lives of pageant mothers and children. I can't say I respect their life choices, but, it's a hella difficult life, kudos (I think) for participating in such a shitpit.

(3) I have this weird habit of cleaning in the night. I don't know why. I would have done nothing the whole day, and come 11pm, my hands get itchy and I'm dumping clothes on the floor, re-folding everything, re-organising. Of course, since getting married, I haven't been able to carry on this amazing tradition, but when my husband is away, the madness resurfaces.

(4) I have no response to people who tell me that they immensely dislike animals of all kinds. Okay, I get that domestic animals are a bit of a warzone for you, but, what the heck has a Tiger ever done to you for you to dislike it?

(5) Cooking is a bit of an iffy subject for me. I mean, most of the things I put together are manageably edible and don't cause food poisoning, but, man, it's a fucking chore!

(6) I simply lack the patience to deal with sulky people. Despite being a master sulker myself, I lack the patience to deal with it. The consequences of this impatience are going to manifest when my child is born and grows into a sulky toddler. It's already giving me nightmares. *shudder*

(7) Writing is and always will be my release. It's the only way I know how to be brutally honest. IRL, I'm less confrontational. But give me a blank page and all this suppressed angst just unleashes itself.

(8) I was the fat, ugly kid that got made fun of for being fat, for having allergies and colds, for having short hair because other kids thought I looked like a boy but knew I was a girl so did that make me an "ali" (code for hijra), for being my mum's daughter, for having all these imaginary boyfriends (who were assigned to me by these kids), for so many things I've lost count. And I'm rather proudly not in touch with a single one of these assholes. Trust me, if you were ever a kid who got teased this mercilessly in school, you'd understand why these fuckers aren't on my friend list, Facebook connectivity notwithstanding.

(9) I dislike people who fat-shame. I fail to understand why someone else's size is so important to people. How does it matter? It's someone else's extra inches, someone else's arteries that are clogged up, someone else's struggle, none of the pain of being a certain size belongs to the person pointing it out, so why point it out? The response usually is "because health problems, I'm being a good friend by telling them to lose weight and get healthy". Seriously, fuck off.

(10) I hate, HATE people who use "friends" as free shrinks. Getting together, eating, drinking, making merry, talking about stupid shit, talking about meaningful things, being there for each other through every high and low is what it's all about. However, there are some people who leech on the goodwill and use you as a sounding board for their problems. They then proceed to disappear until the next problem arises. You fall for it, thinking that they're a friend, so why not? But it's rinse-repeat with them. I did this once. Called my friend, aired out my problems with her, and then promptly disappeared when things got better. She was going through a difficult time herself, and then added to that was my shitty behaviour. Things are back to normal-ish with her. I hate that I did something like that. I hate that I let myself down and that I couldn't live up to the standards that I'm usually such a stickler for. But there it is. Even the so-called mighty fall.

(11)  I have the most ridiculous skin. Those rolling their eyes please stop. The ones who know me keep telling me how clear my skin is, and so on. But my skin is super sensitive. Aloe Vera soap gives me a rash. Go figure! Nothing but brown pears soap works on my skin. There's a very specific list of products and make up that work and ensure I don't break out in ridiculous, angry red rashes all over. Did you know, that my clothes, if washed in strong detergent like Ariel, also give me rashes? Yeah. That. Try living in my skin for a day. If you don't run screaming for the hills after scratching yourself like a dog, change my name!

(12) There is a reason I am excessively private about certain things. Every single time I open up about something that's diffcult or that's good news, something goes very wrong. And I wonder if it was worth sharing at all. Right from sharing feelings about a boy I like, or sharing thoughts about some life event that's important to me. Every single time I've done it, it's ended badly. So, no, sometimes sharing is not caring.

(13) I have this perpetual thing going that everyone's talking about me and literally no one I know is being straight with me. That when I leave the room they're either at it about how strange I am, or that I'm a total misfit in the cool gang but they put up with me because they need entertainment. It's a rather weird headspace to be in. I don't know how I get through social interactions with this playing in my mind. I do have a feeling this thought process is what leads to me saying some thoroughly ridiculous nonsense that may or may not be entirely appropriate.

(14) I love shoes. ADORE THEM! But you know what's shitty? I have big feet. Size 41. In most stores that's the biggest size they stock. Which means that finding a cute pair takes an age and finding high heels (which I love even more than regular shoes) is the quest for the proverbial needle. The first time I found pretty shoes in my size that also had more than a 2-inch heel was in Singapore. IN SINGAPORE! Who would have thought that a country full of mostly-dainty-feet would stock high heels in big sizes?

(15) There's this funny thing that happens when I'm on time. Everything gets delayed. Example? My cousin-in-law's engagement. The family had to get ready and go halfway across Delhi for the event. I went to the parlour, got my hair done, got dressed and made up and so on and was ready to leave at the appointed hour of 4.30pm. Next thing I know, my husband was running late from work, the younger girls didn't like their hair and makeup and went back to get it redone. One of the vehicles broke down. We got stuck in possibly the most insane traffic jam known to man and ended up being 2.5hours late! Another time, my husband told me that there was to be an official lunch. I got ready. Army and all, so I was dressed to go. On time. My husband drops by 1.5hours later and tells me that the lunch was cancelled and they had a small sendoff for the concerned officer in office. I was waiting, in my sari, for 90 whole minutes! FML, I guess, huh?/

(16) The converse of the aforementioned weirdness is that when I am even a nanosecond late, I look like I got ready in a hurry and ran a cross country race! Not a good look. Trust me.

(17) Books are my life, my world, my source of inspiration, my joy, my sanity, my madness, my everything! I remember when I'd read Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, I couldn't pick up a single book for months. Forget reading anything else, I was so emotionally affected by it. I couldn't explain those feelings to you adequately enough.

(18) I love sunshine. Rains, the winter season, they're mightily depressing and mightily annoying too. I dislike wearing anything more  than a single layer of clothes. Coming as I do from a coastal, sunshine-y city, the concept of misty mornings, overcast days, chills-to-the-bone cold is something I don't have the physical or mental tolerance for. I hate it.

(19) I have a serious case of bitchy resting face. Other humans think I'm super arrogant and that I think I'm some important person who needs to be worshiped in order to descend from my high horse and interact with people. That's factually incorrect. I might look like I'm judging you, but I'm not. And calling me names when I'm not around just because I chose to sit quietly with aforementioned face rather than communicate with you says more about your ego than it does about my personality.

(20) I care more about the lyrics and the tune they're put to. Everything else is trivia for a music nut. I'm not a music nut. I am just affected by beautiful words and their depths of meaning than I am by the name of the composer. That being said, I do appreciate an individual's work in making music (Amit Trivedi, my man, I am looking at you!). For instance, these lines from "Manchala" a song in "Hasee toh Phasee" - meri hai ajeeb adatein/kuch khudgarz chahatein/ har jazbaat phir bhi masoom hai. I love all the songs from that movie's soundtrack, but these lines in particular spoke to me. There's lots of cases where these minor things affect me. In summary, music and lyrics are a big deal. And the music in Indian cinema provides me the perfect kind of succour on a good day, a bad day, a shitty day, a sad day, a generic day.

So, that's me folks.

I would like to pass this one to

Aditi over at Monologue, Janani over at Ramblings of a Pretty Woman and Niyo at moonshine borealis

Carry on then.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

A to-do list

First let me just give you an update, okay?

We'll begin with my eternal life crisis - my ENT system. It's constantly malfunctioning and I'm constantly calling it names. Pregnancy means I can't medicate, so, I literally have to live out each episode and sometimes it lingers for longer than two weeks. It makes me so angry. After recovering from that, I fell ill again. This time it's my old friend nausea. I'm not on pills for that. And back to my highly regimented diet. Again, angry/irritable me. Sigh.

It's at times like this that the whole excitement of being pregnant takes a backseat.

But I have a lot to do.

#1 - Write that post Aditi nominated me for

#2 - Write  that post Narayani nominated me for

#3 - Publish that outrage piece on a now-no-longer-trending topic

#4 - Magically finish my magnum opus tomorrow and land a mega publishing contract the  day after that and live happily ever after!

I hope to wrap up 1 & 2 asap. The rest can take its time!