That Delhi girl died.
I don’t know if I should even be saying anything. In the time between when she was assaulted and when she passed away, I was having a good time. Lots of friends and acquaintances coming in to town, and I end up coming home at hours that would be considered unreasonable back home. I often come back home by myself, unescorted. What’s more, I do everything by myself. Initially in this city, it wasn’t much of a choice – I hardly knew anyone. If I had to rely on company, I’d've never discovered half the spots I intimately love here, wouldn’t be doing improv, wouldn’t have gone for writing classes, wouldn’t go for random Reddit meetups, wouldn’t furnish my home, wouldn’t…. do anything!
My behaviour and demeanor would be termed ayyashi in an Indian city.
Enough has been said about the mentality of Indian men and the government and patriarchy, and I guess I needn’t repeat all of that, given others have said it better than I could have. All I know is how not being constrained by my gender set me free.
I’ve always been the good kid who walked the straight narrow path. I don’t like to take risks. I just like to be left alone to do my own thing. I don’t like to fight the system. I’m not the rebel sorts. I hate having to fight for what I need; I prefer negotiating. I’m the meek nerdy girl you don’t really notice. That said, having a father and mother like mine means you end up with interests in random things your friends usually don’t share interests in. And you know what? That combination makes life hard!
You don’t want to stay out beyond your curfew, but you really want to go for Toastmasters which holds meetings late in the evening. You don’t want to go out with a crowd that has only boys, but that’s probably the only way you can attend that concert you’ve been dreaming of since forever. It’s hard to make friends because they all live so far away and they hang out late after class and you need to leave because you don’t want to get home too late. You want to take pictures of the sunrise, but you aren’t supposed to be out that early. You want to exercise in the sun, but it’s weird to do so on the terrace because the neighbours have lechy sons.
And so on. These seem very much like problems of the privileged, I know. I’m lucky to be able to go away from home for higher studies. I’m lucky my parents save money for my MS and not for my Mrs. But the sort of roadblocks in my way are roadblocks too.
You are advised against taking Mechanical because it’s not a woman-friendly field. You want to do a project with one professor but he is a creep you don’t ever want to be left alone with. You correct a lecturer in class and he casts aspersions on your character (this really happened to me). While your mostly-male team is trying to negotiate with a professor, you are asked to step in and ‘turn on your feminine charms’. Some girls you know wear jackets in 35 degree heat because a colleague stares at their chests and the people above him won’t take their complaints seriously. You hear of a much-loved former colleague being fired for sexually harassing the office looker, and though you are shaken, you are hurt even more by your friends accusing her of doing all this just for a fat settlement (mostly because they are numb with disbelief), and you wonder what would happen if you were to blow the whistle on someone who troubles you… would these same friends who hold you so dear turn against you?
When I joined gradschool in the US, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of don’t-care I faced. No one cared I was a girl. No one looked at me weird if I stood my ground about a technical point and was proved wrong; it was expected I do that. No one cared if a researcher was a man or a woman. I couldn’t anymore rage about being discriminated against; I had to contribute equally. I could stay at lab past 2am, and I’d get escorted back by the cops. And I didn’t need that, really… I could walk back and it would be perfectly safe. No one talked down to me because I was a girl. No one made me uncomfortable with their eyes or touch. The world was telling me ‘Here, you have all the opportunity and none of the constraints, now you have no excuse for not kicking ass’. It was sort of scary because I was never used to feeling that.
When I finally had free time on my hands in New York, my mind and body initially protested greatly at my resolution to never come home before 9pm on any given day. It wasn’t safe, my mind and body yelled. There’s some catch, they screamed. I kept myself away from staying home with my entire self kicking and screaming. Soon, I was comfortable talking to strange people, going to places that I wouldn’t have dreamt of going to, and my only gripe when I stay out late is that I lose out on a few hours of sleep, or that the Q train doesn’t run express. I see me blossoming as a person, without the constant worry that someone is staring at my bosom or looking to grope me. I feel less helpless. I see myself finally get that sense of entitlement and innocence I’ve longed for for so long. Somehow it felt like I’d lost that with constantly preparing for the worst in India. There are no strangers judging me for my choices here and wondering aloud if my mother did a good job raising me. I feel free.
I’ve had shady creepy experiences, but I’ve always been comforted by the fact that things can’t get too bad, there are cameras everywhere. And that even if something happened, the perpetrators would be brought to justice. The confidence that if I called 911, the cops wouldn’t say creepy shit and get away with it.
The confidence that the rule of law was in effect in New York City.
Yes, we can go on blaming the general attitude of the people, of Indian men, of Indian parents, society and everything for what happened to so many women in India. But in my opinion, that’s not it. Strict laws and their strict enforcement can go a long way in changing how society thinks. There are plenty in New York City as well who’d be too glad to do it the Delhi way, but there are cameras everywhere, the laws are strict, the courts are strict, citizen groups won’t let go of any such case easily. There certainly are flaws in this system, and perpetrators do get away occasionally. But the fear is enough to deter a lot of people from committing crimes. Not just rapes. Mugging and murder too.
If the streets are safe, people no longer have an excuse to lock their daughters up. If the legal system is secure, rapists don’t get away scot-free. Parents of girls start chilling a bit, let their daughters go to a larger variety of places. The presence of a larger proportion of women changes the social dynamics of any place. Boys grow up seeing more and more girls in their activities, and the whole idea of the difference between the genders stops being so stark in their heads. Sure, to see change in the society and its mindset, it’ll take at the very least another generation, but as an immediate effect we can see the number of crimes go down, and that is not a small thing.
And that’s why we shouldn’t lose sight of legislating on stronger laws, police reform, judiciary reform, and electing officials who toe our line on these things.
Oh yay, Marissa Mayer is the CEO of Yahoo! now and what a victory for women in tech worldwide is that!
Actually…. I am hovering somewhere between ‘Oh!’ and ‘Meh..’ on that. Let me elaborate.
I’m a girl in computer science. The ‘girl’ part has been mostly irrelevant except when it came to how intimidated and unconfident I felt at various points, and how I was angry at myself for being unconfident when I knew way more than overconfident men (and women, but mostly men) and accepted their wrong answers as gospel truth and didn’t talk as much as I should have. But those are my personal demons for the most part. I don’t have to deal with those as much now in the industry with a really awesome boss, as much as I had to deal with those in academia where the extent of my unknowing was way larger and the people around me more intimidating.
As for the computer science bit, I’ve always wanted to deal with more and more ‘pure’ and ‘nontrivial’ bits of computer science. I don’t know why I caught on to this sort of elitism. It’s possibly from the sort of machine learning work that went on at UCI. Very mathematical, very generic and theoretical. Work that can be applied to various different applications in so many interesting ways. And try not to get the specificity of the domain the data is from in order to accomplish a certain task. I adored the wide applications of the stuff my advisor worked on, and was very impressed by the diversity of the work that cited his papers. And the diversity of the data he worked on. Way too many people apply this or that classifier to some sort of data and call it their life’s work. Nothing wrong with that; we need that as well, but the big-picture sort of work was more attractive to me.
So yeah, for me, hardcore is good, multidisciplinary isn’t as much. Application-oriented was best avoided. Of course, you apply a different standard when you are working on specific products in the industry, but till date, the sort of stuff that impresses me is the development of concepts that are used widely. Like, I’d much rather prefer tweaking the affinity propagation algorithm for natural language data than find which algorithm best classifies some random dataset and calling it machine learning.
I don’t know why this is. Maybe it’s the difficulty of thinking in abstract terms that fascinates me. Maybe it’s the impact of said work. Maybe it’s more creative, while also being precise and not woolly. But I trust it’s some of my rather convoluted thinking that says these skills are more valuable because there are fewer people who do this, and there’s always going to be a high demand for people who are more adaptable, so the combination makes sure that I get good jobs, where I can have more leverage.
The problem with this ooh-look-we-have-more-ladies-in-our-office bit is, I find most women are in those areas which require less abstraction, are less ‘pure’ in the way I described before, and are more just worker-ant sort of cookie-cutter jobs. Or, they have very little to do with computer science or even coding. You’ll find more women in Testing than in Development given any software company. And all the interacting-with-people sort of jobs, like requirement-gathering or ‘product management’ *cough*Marissa Mayer*cough*.
Most female researchers turn out to be working on User Experience or Human-Computer Interaction. Fields which I find rather woolly. I find the sort of projects they take up very fascinating, and they have a real impact on the world, but the ratio of actual output/impact to time spent by each researcher is rather low, in my opinion.
Of course, my way of looking at things is not gospel, and is likely biased in a lot of ways. But why this sort of correlation, is what I wonder.
That’s why it pisses off a small part of my brain when all these women in computing are so highly hailed as examples of women in technology. By these women, I don’t mean Daphne Koller (PhD at age 22, long high-impact research/teaching career at Stanford) or Grace Hopper. I don’t get the veneration of Carol Bartz or Meg Whitman or Sheryl Sandberg or even Marissa Meyer as ‘women in technology’. They just happen to be women who work in administrative roles in the technology domain. I’m not saying that’s an easy position to attain, but it’s not exactly the same career path as Yishan Wong’s or Mark Zuckerberg’s or Sergey-and-Larry’s. In other words, where is their nerd cred?
They are not playing with the big boys there. They seem to just be the waterboy to the big boys’ league.
And why do I have a problem with that? It’s because girls like me have so few role models already, and suddenly we are asked to follow the words and career paths of these women who’ve never written a line of code in years. And why is that a problem for me? It’s because everyone from my father to my colleague expects me to go down that line because that’s the way – possibly the only way – women in technology get big. ‘Do an MBA, it is good for girls’ is something I’ve grown tired of hearing.
Whenever I’ve attended any panel discussion on ‘Women in Computer Science’, I feel such a disconnect with the panelists because they are never like me. They might be danah boyd also, but that’s not the career path I want to go down, so I don’t empathize with a lot of their concerns, and they’ve probably never wondered about mine. When Sheryl Sandberg talks about women and their career paths, her concerns seem trivial to me, and I wonder if she’s ever thought of all the concerns I have.
And what exactly are my concerns? I want to know how to keep going. How to network with nerdy guys who constantly keep getting intimidated by random things I say or do which makes me overcompensate by pulling back more than I should. How not to be intimidated. How to keep asking questions. How to become good at my work without getting discouraged. How not to be reticent. Instead, all they talk about is work-life balance. I agree that’s important, but for someone who has put ‘life’ on hold at gradschool in order to get the ‘work’ part in order, that was all totally not helpful. I don’t want to worry about how to balance my feminity with my work ethic, as if those are either-or options. And harassment is a far-off concern to me, because those sort of obstacles have concrete solutions, quite unlike wrestling with not getting results for five months straight and beating myself up about it… especially given no one anymore has the guts to try harassing anyone, and both gradschool and where I work now are as politically correct as you can get.
The problem with all these successful women is they assume every other woman is already the best at what she does, and the only problem she has is with presenting herself. Nope, not my story. If anything, the best advice I’ve received is from my totally intimidating male friends and my father who understands what being the underdog in your lab/office means. Or from my advisor who brought his infant son to a doctoral defense. These ladies don’t feel real enough to me. They don’t have any insecurities work-wise or any stories about how they dealt with the crippling uncertainty that comes with doing research. If I had a choice, I’d rather spend an hour with Yishan Wong than Sheryl Sandberg because Yishan gets my concerns better, only unlike Sheryl, there are no panels where he is asked to talk about it.
Everyone is concerned about not enough women being enrolled in computer science courses. Then suddenly a ton of them switch over from Psychology to Human-Computer Interaction and they think problem solved and don’t bother about the computer architecture lab with its lone female. No one is concerned that the guys working on graphical models assume by default that the girls they meet in gradschool work in UX research.
The question all these people working overtime to get girls to enroll in computer science should ask themselves is, what do they want these girls to do in the field? More and more girls keep getting into the same low-impact (technology-wise) and low-tech jobs, is that their ideal? They want more and more women in the higher echelons of tech management, but why do they keep showing us only one sort of career path? Every media story about Sergey-and-Larry always talk about how they still code, but does anyone talk about Marissa Mayer’s fun coding projects instead of her family life?
Maybe it’s just that the media is staffed by people who are not from traditional techie backgrounds and they just don’t get what ‘technology’ is, and are blind to real high-impact high-tech jobs and the women who hold those, because heck, you have a few tech company CEOs who are women, so that’s all you need, right? More so if these women are blonde. And if they happen to be mothers, icing on the cake. These people see the female product manager doing the media presentation and assume she’s the woman-in-tech for their story, and don’t bother looking beyond for, say, the female tech lead who actually worked on the details. It’s the same reason Jobs is a bigger deal than Woz, so we can credit the media for being consistent on that. It pisses off girls like me who wouldn’t mind a role model or two who are in the same career path as us, because soon enough we’ll have to answer to our high-expectations Asian parents about why we aren’t doing things that get girls like that Marissa fame and instead are busting our fanny doing some vague research no one hears about.
All said and done, enough of Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg. Next time you want a women-in-technology quote, ask Daphne Koller, Rina Dechter, Hannah Wallach, Jennifer Vaughan, Anima Anandkumar… or so many others. They are probably more media-shy, but heck, their perspectives are also worth hearing, especially given the sort of impact their work has.
Everybody acts like angry-angry these days. Everytime I open the shoshal medias minns, some hajaar ‘rage’ links I am the finding. The Kongas will rage minns everyone is monkey-see-monkey-doing, with all the stick-figure comics itsimms. Even small child in nursery school is drawing better. That too such stuppid-stuppid jokes – if the Brahmin is doing the koffings also one comic will come off for that. Wateveritis pa. Who is this Krish Ashok fello, I say? He is the Krish Srikkanth’s brether or the cousins or what?
If peepals are lazy to draw comics minns, they are writing blogs with byaaaaad Ingleesh like this one and this one. Madofellows. That also just chumma, they wantedly write bad longvage. All these rich-rich chilrans with costly-costly laptops and studied in caarment schools will sit and think and use the google and the yahoo and the bing to write in butler ingleesh. I am thinking, this will become off meme in twellaars time and all these fellows who want to study in the forin will write a proper-inglish-to-butler-inglish translator so that they will become off famous and can jamba-hachkofy on their resyooms.
Ok, once minns funny, twice minns funny, but thrice, frice, fice? Madofellows. Again-again same wordings, again-again not finding new butler words because you never speaking in the butler inglish since 2nd standar, your caarment-school Dingo Inglish-miss is slapping you if you are murdering her Queen’s longvage, and even your PT Master in your caarment school is speaking Inglish like Britisher because when small, his fother was watchman in Britisher’s bangla. And so you are trying to do the direct translation from the mother tongue longvage to ingleesh. But that is not the butleringleesh at all. No, Not, Never.
I am asking to this peepal, why your mummy-daddy send you to caarment? For your learning the good-english and speaking in tass-puss accent only no? From when you are child, your Basavappa unckal and Jagadamba aunty will come minns your mummy will say ‘beta, talk in English and show to uncle-aunty’ and then feeling proudly when they are giving you the fivestars and dairy milk no? When you are settle in forin minns, what you will show off your chilrans to your frands? “Oh my Chintu, he speaks so awesomely in Butler-English ya”, like that you will say-va? I know, I know all about you – you will say also like that, and you will record it also and put it on Youtube also, the dog’s tail is always curved.
This is a funny world, no? So many chilrans who are studying in the Vernacular-medium schools in Controlment-area will try to speak like all tass-puss, even when their frands are teasing them saying “Ey this Vijetha ya, she is sooo tass-puss, something and all long-long words she uses ya”, and they will go also to Prakruthi Banwasi’s Spoken English Coaching. But for you peepal, it is jokey to speak like this, it is a break from speaking all tass-puss in real life, and doing even more tass-puss when you have anyone who is looking forin. My frand also one fellow he used to do like this for some cute girl he is thinking she is Chainis girl, but then she is Mizo and is loffing. My one more frand, she is having the skin-problem so she is looking like the Britisher, and is beautier than Miss India only, she is always daily coming and telling, “Ei Priya, this fellow in bus ya, trying to talk in American-bhaashe to me”. If you see one Gowramma-type girl minns you will go talk to her in butler english-va?
In Mahanadi fillam, after the Sriranga Ranganatha song that scene is there no, where that girl is speaking one English essay and Kamalagaasan’s frand is videoing it, if Kamalagaasan had Internet and Youtube, he would put his daater’s inglish-speaking video there. But you with Youtube and internet will put off your chilran’s butler-Inglish video there.
I am also in forin only. I am also speaking the good Inglish, even in 4th standar, my teacher is saying “See the Priya talking the Inglish, all you should learn like her only”. My mummy-daddy will feel Aiyo what we have done, if they read this post, but they feel Aiyo what we have done for most things I do anyway. But when I am in the deep talkings with my sister and cousins and all, we are all the talking like this only. It is not jokey for us, it is mamool only, it is our comfortzone. But all you caarment type peepals, for you all this is joke, this is museum piece, this is like the zoo-visiting. Even in your sleep you are speaking in tass-puss accent, like that jana you are. You have none of the rights to make fun of our bhaashe, our culture. What, you are going to the African-American man and making the grape soda jokings uh?
PS 1: I just hope this doesn’t spawn more butler-english posts. I’m sure it won’t, but just indulge me in my grand delusions of being able to affect public opinion, will ya?
PS 2: Here’s to the post with the most number of squiggly red underlines ever.
PS 3: I hereby dedicate this post to the PT Master at my school, Jagannath Sir, whose voice has been dictating this post in my head. And also to all PT Masters, including the one in my sister’s school who said “Once minns ok, twice minns ok, but thrice, frice, fice?”. They are the true guardians of Butler English.
PS 4: Prakruthi Banwasi, in case you get to read this, jnaapka idiya, sir? And, for the uninitiated, Prakruthi Banwasi conducts awesome spoken English classes in Bangalore.
PS 5: You ain’t butlering englishing unless and until you’ve been through this guide.
I’ve been in a foreign country for a year-and-a-half now. The hardest part is not adjusting to the weather or food or the people. Even the accent is not hard, given we’ve all been listening to the American accent right from the advent of cable TV and Star Plus. The hard bit has been to avoid referring to people by their place of origin.
You can’t say someone’s a Jap, it’s racist. You can’t say ‘that pretty Black woman there’. You need to say ‘His accent sounds urban’, not the other thing. Which is hard given I say ‘You sound like a Gult’ or ‘TYPICAL Bong you are’ and pepper my speech liberally with Amit and Isha and Dig and Tam and whatnot when I’m talking to (Indian) friends.
Also, when you ask a Mr. Nguyen where he’s from, and he says ‘San Francisco’, you need to learn to control your impulse to ask ‘Oh.. but where are you really from?’.
Add to this plenty of Op-Eds written about ‘We Indians are so racist ya’. But instinctively, I feel you just can’t compare being called Macaca with being called Bong. I wonder why, exactly…
If anything, NITK has made me more regionalist than I was before. But not in the ‘Slap her, she’s Mallu’ way. To be frank, NITK just confirmed whatever regional stereotypes I was trying to dismiss in mind. While at the same time getting to know the people behind the stereotypes. If anything, it just made the stereotypes more complex and complicated in my head.
The reason the Western world condemns these sort of things as ‘racism’, is because classifying and referring to someone by their place of origin there in the last century or so was borne out of xenophobia and misunderstanding. And a feeling of superiority/inferiority. Whereas, for us, it is not so. There are enough Madrasis in Delhi and there are enough Amits in Chennai that calling someone a Madrasi or an Amit is just a way of referral, not something derogatory. And people from other parts of India in any given Indian city don’t ghettoize and mingle only with ‘their own people’, that anyone would see someone else as only a Bong or Bawa or Dig, or have no idea about anything else about the community than just the stereotypes.
Regional stereotypes in India don’t mean anything. My cousin calls her neighbour Nair-maami, just like she calls her upstairs neighbour maadi-veetu-Usha-maami (Usha-aunty from upstairs). It doesn’t mean anything more. And who the heck takes these stereotypes seriously? No one seriously believes all Tambrahms are paavam vegetarian silent people and no one expects every Bong to have yellow nicotine-stained fingers along with a craze for football and Dada and adda.
If anything, taking the name of your place of origin can only be seen as a celebration of our diversity. Because, heck, we are all minorities and are all so spread out over the country that you can’t say it is better to be a Reddy than to be a Gowda or that you won’t rent your house out to someone with a Maharashtrian surname, the way they do in the Western world. There is not that stark a difference between different communities in India as there is abroad, that highlighting your place of origin means much. To call all this racism in the Indian context would be incredibly shortsighted, and absolutely unnecessary. There’s no point looking at our own culture through the prism of someone else’s culture, take everything out of context to the point that everything appears absolutely wrong.
This is just like a westerner seeing Arab men holding hands in public and assuming that everyone has deep-wrought homoerotic tendencies brought about by sex segregation everywhere.
With one exception, though. I don’t like referring to folks from the Northeast as ‘Chinki’. If we keep doing that, like someone on Twitter said, let’s give up all claim to Arunachal next.
And for the party-sharty crap that infests NITK, the sooner it dies a painful death, the better.
And don’t even get me started on Fair-and-Lovely. But if you do, please don’t call it ‘racism’. ‘Skin fetishism’ is a more appropriate term
Anyone who’s done a decent amount of reading, especially when young, fancies themselves a novelist. I am no exception.
I didn’t get to do much writing at school. Whatever little I did get to do, I revelled in it. Most of it was boring essays on pertinent social issues, and that didn’t seem to require much creativity, just repeating of oft-repeated catchphrases, themes and ideas. No one, simply no one asked us to write stories, much less grade us on its creativity or whatever.
It’s not like my peers wrote wonderful fiction. I knew one girl who wrote Poetry in her neat, slanting hand. It was about beauty, nature and all that was right and wrong with the world, all that was innocent and pure. She was rather serious about it; she even maintained a separate notebook for her poetry. And dozens of us wrote verse, which sometimes verged on cats on mats or dogs gnawing logs. Then there were those debate award winners who wrote serious stuff about the state of teaching, value-based education, banning of tobacco and alcohol and plastic bags.
But no one I knew wrote good fiction which I really enjoyed.
Well, there was one guy who wrote a really nice, funny story which won him a ton of awards and got published widely, but he was, and still is just someone on the periphery of my perception and memory, and always the sort who set lofty goals unachievable by the rest of us, so he doesn’t much count.
No one I knew back then wrote nice, cute, funny stuff. The few who tried would come up with rude references that we giggled at and muttered to each other, but it wasn’t universally funny. But then, that’s too much to expect of schoolchildren.
Or was it? All the children’s magazines I subscribed to had exactly such stories, experiences and other things by kids my age. I found them wonderful, wished I knew them personally, wished they were my cousins or classmates or some such thing. Nope. [Aside: There was this much-older girl called Gayathri Chandrasekharan who used to regularly have her stories or experiences or opinion pieces published in Gokulam. She wrote rather well, and I think I idolized her writing when I was in middle school. Imagine my grin of recognition when, many years later, I came across her name in the list of editors of Tinkle!]
So there I was, reading a lot of stories written by people my age, and whatever little enthusiasm I had to write anything original that wasn’t sapped away by the lack of opportunity in schoolwork was taken away by reject letters from Anant Pai and the editor of Gokulam.
I somehow never tried writing any sort of fiction. It doesn’t come to me at all.
The only attempts have been first vaguely and then strongly autobiographical. But there’s only so much you can fictionalize before it starts seeming extremely sad. And as time has passed, I’ve seen a lot that’d make for a much better blockbuster than the latest in Hollywood or the Indian film industry, but rules of propriety and privacy have also caught up, and I wouldn’t be caught dead fictionalizing any episode from anyone’s life.
And that brings me to where I am now. NaNoWriMo is on, and I have no decent story ideas. I wasn’t even thinking of 50k words, just one of those short stories that people all seem to dish out like Ganesh Darshan dishes out dosas. I sit and think and nothing comes to me. Glimpses of narrative structures flit through my mind, but don’t crystallize into anything tangible. I can’t even put my finger on what the narrative structure that makes me feel so excited is. Occasionally, a scene stays in my mind long enough, but I start to overthink it and kill it even before it’s born.
Oh, and plotline. What do I write about? Stick to what you know is all fine, but what do I write about, Tambrahmness? I’m not so Tambrahm, and frankly if I were to write stories where very sentence ended with a Maami or Vasudeva-Krishna-Eeshwara, I’d myself not read it. And, oh, well, I’m darned proud of my way of life and all that, but I’d rather not make a fetching virtue of where I come from or a caricature. Corporate life is a colossal no-no for reasons that are so no-no to talk about. And grad life…. meh. There’s a lot that can be exciting, but all those involve little anecdotes like your labmate from a culture with a majorleague work ethic who gets stumped when you ask them what they do in their spare time. And the rest involve technology, which everyone is allergic to.
Basically no one finds the stuff I find interesting interesting. As for common themes like friendship, love, conflict, tragedy, it seems like no coherent plot can be woven about them.
And when I do get a plot, which comes after a dozen ‘inspirations’ from twice as many sources, I CAN’T SEEM TO WRITE IT DOWN! I can’t write dialogue for nuts, nothing I write sounds like actual people talking. Maybe I’m far too removed from reality to write anything that doesn’t sound like it’s out of a Wikipedia article.
The worst part, I haven’t done any real fiction reading in a long, long while it seems like, and it really tells on me.
I don’t much know what to do. I can possibly bruteforce it, try to sit down 9-to-5 and come up with something, but I have real work to do. It might work, because I know 80% of the blockade is in the mind, and telling myself to ‘just do it’ might just help.But then, real work stands in the way.
So what can I do?
I think I’ll deal with this in the same way I dealt with the times when I wanted to work on something cool, but couldn’t get any motivation going – I turned it into coursework.
Cue the screenwriting course at my university. Next quarter. Undergrad-level course. The syllabus involves watching atleast one movie a week, and plenty of reading, and a hands-on writing project that involves a script in three acts.
Let’s hope I have enough time to sit in on that class. Even if I’m not doing all the activities, atleast the knowledge and peer group might help.
Or so I hope.
There is this type of women or girls I keep running into from time to time. I call them Ms. Feather-light. This species is almost always camouflaged as the strong-confident-career types who can take the world with the tip of their swords. To the rest of the world. Some of them are pretty impressive looking, which is a very easy way to spot them.
I have this innate ability to get tangled with all the Ms.Feather-lights around. I do not give them attention and sing their glory. I do not like to let them decide when or what or how I’m spoken to, if according to their eyes I’m even good enough. Basically, I don’t give a damn! This apparently riles them.
These insecure females, need someone to blow them up and keep them floating. Someone to sing their tunes and blindly support everytime they do or say something ridiculous, just so they don’t realize how empty they are. Now I cannot decide if these are parasitic or the loony followers are, who cannot see these women for what they are.
My problem is this. All Ms. Feather-lights take it upon themselves or so I would like to think, that it is their responsibility to bring me to my knees and fall at their feet. They try every way, influencing my friends on how much head-weight I have, or even stick their leg out and make me trip and fall in academics or activities which I care about. Why do they want to pick on me everytime? And more importantly why do I get tangled with them time and again?
(Title from this pic).
So I wake up this morning to my mother firing the maid. It wasn’t pretty.When the young woman put forth her best “What did I do wrong?” face, my mother systematically listed out her set of faults, but none more than her unprofessionalism – mentioning she’ll be gone for only a day, and then not turning up for a week, and not answering her phone when she called to find out if anything was wrong. Consistently. And yet drawing her full salary for the month. What, money grows on trees? And the uncertainty of waiting for you to sweep and swab the house is too much for me; I’d rather just sweep and swab myself, which I can plan out better when I know for sure you won’t be coming. Good luck with everything in the future.
And over the past few months, a few friends and I have been going back and forth over this article in The Hindu about maids ‘slogging and slaving’, yet “getting a pittance”.
Now, I’ve been raised to consider everyone as an equal, including household help. Which for my family, meant that they would have to work as hard and smart as we do if they wanted to have a life like ours. No pity, no “aiyo paavam”. My mother’s aunt, a former schoolteacher, is responsible for many a literate housemaid and housemaid’s kids. My grandfather badgered many a housemaid to have small savings in the post office. And so on and so forth. Household help is not weak people to be helped. They are people to be empowered.
I don’t know where the hell the whole ‘helpless household help’ idea stems from. The maids who I’ve seen… both in my house as well as in many others – have been anything but. An extreme case was this lady who asked my grandfather for a hefty loan, and when he refused, said “Your children are all successful, you have enough for your retirement. And yet you say you don’t have money to give me? How cheap of you!”. Most of the rest, while not having as much of a sense of entitlement, have managed to educate their kids rather well, buy land and houses, and in another extreme case, made enough to buy a house that she lets out for Kannada film shootings. They’ve also managed to graduate to nanny positions [The reason I say 'graduate' is because you need to have a set of extremely good recos of being clean, trustworthy and professional before anyone entrusts their offspring in your hands, even if they are going to be around watching you like a hawk], or get permanent employment in schools as ayahs.
And how did they get there? They made best use of the middle-class environment they worked in. They had little to worry about their children [no necessity of finding a daycare when their kids were too young to go to school], as they could bring their kids to work with only positive consequences. Their employers were the sorts who give a lot of importance to education, and ensured that their kids stayed in school, and sometimes even received help with their studies. And working in houses meant all your work was over by afternoon, after which you could manage to have a family life. Unlike slogging for hours together in a garment factory.
They made sure they got to work on time, didn’t take inordinately long leaves to visit their hometown, and ensuring they got in a reliable replacement whenever they did go for their sister’s wedding. They weren’t completely unsloppy – if you’re swabbing a dozen houses every single day, it’s hard to be consistent, especially when the home you’re cleaning is not yours – but they were less sloppier than the rest of the competition.
They ensured that they put away money in banks, away from the hands of drunk husbands or greedy relatives. They didn’t stand around and gossip or fester family intrigues, even if they worked in Malashree’s house (where the temptation to gossip would be insanely high). They made sure they didn’t blow away all their earnings on a visit to their hometown. They made sure they didn’t have too many debts.
They made sure their behaviour was in line with middle-class morality. After all, who wants to employ a woman who has three children with different fathers, one of whom she is not sure of? (true story). And they didn’t steal…. who’d want to hire a maid whose presence makes your best innerwear, trinkets and cutlery go missing?
It’s certainly not an easy task to do all of this. But then what is? The jobs my parents do isn’t easy for them either. Why, even the job(s) I have held haven’t been easy. There are software engineers who’ve spent exactly one week in a year with their folks back home. There are single mothers who sacrifice sleep to ensure they are a good employee as well as a good mother. There are nurses who disregard their own health to take care of their patients. There are women who put their marriages and kids on hold just so that they can educate their younger siblings. [All true stories]. So why should the life of a maidservant be any different?
Especially since if you are in the unskilled services business, where supply exceeds demand. Qualifications required to join the business are minimal. There is a deluge of people doing this as either a primary or secondary source of income. The only way you can distinguish yourself is through your performance. And the only way is to move upwards to the middle class is by doing those things that have helped the middle class become what they are – saving, living frugally, budgeting and emphasizing education.
And heck, you don’t even have any exclusive knowledge about your work. The women you work for know your job better than you do. Their roving eyes will spot any speck of dirt you have missed. They don’t hire you for status or because they don’t know to do the dishes or cook – who in the middle class can afford to blow a few hundred rupees on household help just like that. They hire you because they have day jobs, or because their hands are too full with children, or because they are too frequently unwell to do the sweeping and swabbing and cooking and cleaning themselves. Heck, they’d prefer it if they did all those jobs themselves; it’s too painful to keep yelling at someone else to do things the way you want them to be done.
The world is not divided into ‘Fortunates’ and ‘Unfortunates’. The more and more we view household help as people to be helped, the more and more we are hurting them by keeping them in a state of wanting help, and not helping themselves. This Mai-Baap sort of attitude only serves to reaffirm their beliefs of themselves being illiterate and stupid and unprofessional. It is only fair to consider them as just people doing a job with dignity, and expect them to behave so, while giving them the respect they deserve.
Like a conversation at hostel – A: “Hey, tell me if that lady comes… I want to ask her to sweep and mop my room” B: “Why don’t you do it yourself?” A: “I would… but my mom’s coming and I want it done professionally”.
And…. for more cheerful takes on the maid scene, check out Cynic’s posts. Here and Here. And the rest of her blog too… this lady sure does have an interesting perspective on things, and writes so swell too.
Wrote this ages ago. I’m clearing up old drafts now. Deleting the ones that lead nowhere, and trying to publish the rest. Bear with me.
Like most normal people, there are a lot of things that put me off. Some things more than the others. I guess most of these are common. Just that, in me, these things cause chronic changes in facial expressions, tone of voice, and at the extreme, have me walking out of the place silently, and at another extreme, have me screaming the place down.
- Gender wars. I’ve had enough of these over the past one year. Quite thoroughly, too. While it might be a big use in breaking the ice with the opposite sex, the arguments are all stupid, easily refuted (unless you’re a stubborn, thickheaded doofus), and the next person who says “I can’t understand women”, or “All men are like that only” gets a socking from me. For God’s sake, it’s just your damn social ineptness, not any fundamental characteristic of either gender that prevents you from understanding a person of the opposite sex. And I really felt like smashing the TV a zillion times when Hum Tum was on. I watched just to see how much I could tolerate.
- Pseudo-Bangalorean-ness. I’ve lived in this city all my life. I like a lot of things about it. I hate a lot of things about it. But then, it’s home. It’s where my permanent address is, will be. It’s something I take for granted. So it sort of pisses me off when I read of “idlis as soft and white as a Mysore Mallige” or “Masala dosas so crisp, they would give the news in Indian Express a complex”. In nostalgic stream-of-consciousness-reminisces, fine. Not in food reviews. Gah. And the eternal question. “”Where have Bangalore’s sparrows gone?”. Probably the same place as the sparrows in other metros. It’s not a city-specific problem. And they would probably be more numerous in Bangalore if you and your ilk didn’t zip around in your Alto having the aforementioned idlis at Veena Idli Stores Malleshwaram for breakfast, the melt-in-mouth Bisi Bele Bath at MTR for lunch, the aforementioned Masala Dosa for a snack at Ganesh Darshan, Jayanagar, before topping it off with dinner and a tipple at Pecos. Just one more time I hear Swalpa Adjusht Maadi, I’ll probably try increasing your Kannada vocab by teaching you other phrases commonly heard outside spirit stores in the Kalasipalya area.
- Too many LOLs over IM. Honestly, if you laughed that much in real life, you’d beat Mr. YMN Murthy of Jayanagar Laughter Club fame. And he laughs for the therapeutic properties, like increasing circulation, clearing airways, increasing endorphin levels. Which typing LOL, ROFL, ROFLOL, ROFLMAO, LMAO won’t do.
- Star bloggers. Nothing personal. But doesn’t it feel weird getting a few dozen comments all saying “First!”? I generally find that the level of discussion at these blogs tends to be ke-rap. But then, you pander to the lowest common denominator, that’s what you get.
- Pseudosecularists. Needs no further elaboration if you read my blog.
- Dirty kitchens. I’m too used to my mother’s and her mother’s kitchens. Anything below that golden standard, and I feel like picking up some Vim, a scrub, some rags, a broom and a mop. This, coming from me who tries to run when Amma calls me to help in the kitchen.
- Negative people. There are some people I know who can NEVER say anything good about anyone. That girl who studies well almost always does well because she cheats. That goodlooking boy out there is always a Don Juan-ish swine. That artsy kid there comes from a depressing family, that’s why he draws… to get away from the pain. The girl holding her boyfriend close is always a protective witch who’s really insecure about her relationship. That divorcee is so successful because she charmed her way up. There’s absolutely nothing in the world that can’t be repeated in a mocking tone. There’s absolutely nothing that can’t be parodied to make it look like something the dog threw up. Everyone is against them because the world is insecure about such a smart/beautiful/brilliant person, and everyone is frickin’ jealous. Either that, or they are so radical, so full of novel thoughts, so rebellious that the world can’t stand them, the descendants of Galileo, the suffragettes, Ramanujacharya and who else.
There’s no point trying to change their world-view… they are ostriches with their heads stuck in the sand. Depressing. Keep away.
- “Modern” people. I knew of this girl who was considered by many to be fairly ‘modern’. She wore ‘modern’ clothes, her folks didn’t quite mind when she brought home rather ‘modern’ young men… the works. And she wasn’t allowed to play her musical instrument of choice at a place outside her religious spot of choice, under threat of it being separated from her forever. I’d rather be medieval. Or stone-age.
It amuses me to listen to people say “these conservative ideas about sex and things are taking us back to the stone age”. Uhh… you didn’t have to wear conservative clothes in stone age, nor did you have to worry about social mores when sleeping around… is it such a bad thing, according to your er… ‘modern’ self?
- Swine Flu hype. I’ve already woken up crying from two nightmares about dying of some fatal fever. Just quit the damn thing, will you? I knew people in my ex-workplace who caught the ‘flu, and were back at work within the week.
- Evolutionary psychology. We haven’t stayed unevolved for 50k years. I think I’m rather removed from being a cavewoman. Don’t blame your brutish behaviour on the fact that you evolved from cavemen. Bulk of the arguments for gender wars come from here. That’s why I hate it all the more now.
- Self-Help. I think they aren’t exactly in the real world. There’s an entire post in this. I’ll write it sometime soon.
- People who don’t disagree. “I’ll have what you’re having” is fine when you don’t know to read the menu and are too embarrassed to admit it. But not because I’ll be offended otherwise. There’s nothing that directly implies that you and I can’t be friends if our stands on, let’s say, the best sort of music in the world, gay rights, football-vs-cricket, or hell, even political parties, are different, even at loggerheads. Be a real person, for godsake.
That’s just some of my pet peeves. There are more, as you might already know, or will find out.
So, Google just gave me another reason, why I should hate them! With its web history … Yet another step to intrude my privacy.
You might say, why do you want to use google accounts? Use something else!
So, thats another reason. First they hook me on to them what with that brilliant seach engine. Then comes gmail, higher storage, cool chat, labels and yada. So, they have access to the whole of my personal life. Phew! I say, no one is reading this mail. But then their bot crawls over it and neatly places “relevant” ads besides it. Do they have an option for me to disable them? NO. But they every other inane options to change the colors of my labels, and personalized themes and the like.
No Thank you! Im not using more of their products. Yet they have reader. So thats fine? Now they know what all I read, and when I read and how much I read. So thats not eough for them to find out or give me “better” search results.
They bring out this web history thing. What with a whole packaging of personalized results for that. No it was not enough for them to keep a copy of all the words I searched for. But now they want to know which site I clicked after I searched for that elusive keyword. Oh! so, How many people know about it? Not many. Its just one of those little prices you pay for using their services. Oh you can set up what or how you want your web history to be stored. No thankyou, Im not even going near it.
So Im going to see if I can switch this whole brower history off? Nooo! Google wants me to go and delete every item if I dont want to use it. After all the heavy searches I do, this is the least I can help them out, nein?
Oh and they also have this whole list of stuff for Privacy and security for google accounts:
Someone changed you password? Keeping you account secure? Detecting suspicious activity in your account? Removing malware from my computer? Dont you think its just what google could do with all the information it has access to?
Third party access to your account information? Sharing your data with other sites? Isnt google already using it for more monopoly?
I suppose im being cynical about it. But all the over dependence is killing me.
Do tell me if youve figured out if there is a way to turn the damn thing off!
Quite, quite frequently, we get these mails or shares on Google Reader or random quote on some website which says that HORROR OF HORRORS, your computer keyboard has more germs on it than a HORROR OF HORRORS toilet seat.
Then everyone gasps and nervously wipes their keyboards, before forgetting all about it…. remembering only to quote it time to time.
Oh, why doesn’t anyone, ANYONE ask the difference in the lethality levels of the microbes found on a toilet seat and the ones on the keyboard? Or a banknote?
Or, for godsake, the human mouth?
There’s a difference, isn’t there, with the sort of movement the keyboard sees, and the sort of surfaces it comes in contact with? Much different from a toilet seat, isn’t there?
There’s a marked difference, isn’t there, between a strain of Botulinum and a dish full of cold viruses?
That apart, the last bit of Rakhi Ka Swayamvar is to be telecast tomorrow. I’m simply dying to watch. Oh, my, what’s happening to me, me who can’t watch a K-serial to save my life, now addicted to the pre-fixed saga of this girl living out her fantasies?
Still preoccupied with quite a few things. This post was just to stay sane. Just a few more days… and then I’ll probably be even more preoccupied. Oh, well, you know what they say…. The Reward for Hard Work Is Only More Hard Work.
I have half-a-dozen drafts very close to completion. I just can’t seem to find the patience to do that. They are on various topics – fairness creams, national integration, some of the stuff I had said in my innocent childhood which don’t sound as normal in the post-Article377Awareness world, Rakhi ka Swayamvar, the i-pill, movies I watched last week – Via Darjeeling and Nadodigal (both with very disappointing endings, though their premise and execution were rather good), why I like TV better than having to download movies and watch them, my general pissedOffness at the decentish Pammal K Sambandam being remade into something totally unwatchable (Kambakkth Ishhq) by even a hardcore Bollywood freak like SG.
But all I seem to be able to post are random one- and two-liners that should have been tweeted instead.
Either that or really long-drawn-out posts that ramble on and on without any focal point.
It’s been pretty long since I wrote a nice 1000-word long post which doesn’t diverge from its point too much. Hell, why this Intermittent Writer’s Block?
Maybe it’s because I’m a bit busy and distracted on various counts these days. Or maybe it’s just the moon which drives me loopy and dreamy beyond tolerable limits when it’s full.
Or maybe I just find it hard to articulate things well these days.
<Voice of Bill McNeal>Which is it? *superior chuckle* The world will never know.</Voice>
And now I’d better post this before the power snaps and this languishes in the account as yet another draft.
I promise I won’t end this by joining evening Law classes just so that I can sue people.
I wish I could begin this with a swashbuckling “THE END :)”, but that will have to wait a bit.
I see one recurring pattern in the story that is my life. Each time a phase seems to be reaching closure, I do a fixed set of things, which all have the same outcome. As to what set of things, I’ll probably blog about it twenty-five years hence. If the concept of blogging still exists, that is.
An overwhelmingly scary amount of people I know are exchanging/have exchanged vows. Maybe I know people all in the same age group or something, but it’s still a bit disconcerting to start off with a bunch of friends and colleagues for whom a wedding is something that happens to someone else, and end up with a circle full of married people, all in the span of a few months.
I amaze myself quite a bit these days. I keep my head in really edgy, nail-biting, emotion-sucking incidents, and lose it without fail over the little stuff. Makes people wonder what I’m smoking. And some of them say ‘Aha! Caught You!’ when they see me inhaling something deeply…. and promptly go down on their knees once I manage to convince them it’s just my inhaler.
When you go through life, it happens that you meet people who are Dementors in letter and spirit. JKR couldn’t have created more lifelike characters. It takes quite some time to realize what a Dementor’s Kiss really is, and even after you’re through, the memories -to use another Potteresque line- dog your steps.
It also happens that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. I’ve somehow never been able to do that. Atleast not very well… there was this one incident when this kid was bawling his lungs out when the doctor was attempting to bandage a pretty bad scrape, and I had to get out of the scene just because I couldn’t both hear the kid bawl and not scream “Please don’t hurt the little git!”.
And I’ve never been able to stand megalomaniacs. I know I’ve fallen into that category on more than one occasion, but it turns out that the people who are more in-tune with reality are the ones that are most successful. After suffering a big loss, you do tend to numb your pain by becoming mildly delusional…. but you need to take a lot of care to avoid the delusion becoming your perceived reality.
I’ve also been quite, quite pissed with adults who think they know all about ‘teenage’ and the pains it brings along with it. I’ve lived through the whole ‘You’re a teenager, where’s your acne?’, ‘You’re a teenager, list out your crushes’, ‘Oh, you’re a teenager, you’ll rebel like this only… it just has to do with age’ nonsense, and to see my teenaged sisters and brothers go through all this makes me want to fall on the floor laughing.
I’ve never understood the preoccupation with ‘teenage’ and ‘changes’… cmon, a period of seven-eight years is so long that changes are bound to happen. Don’t people change in the period from when they are twenty to when they are thirty? I’ve found people more inclined to experiment when they are between nineteen and twenty-five than when they are between thirteen and nineteen. I think it’s just a crutch used by people to explain away the fact that they’ve lost touch with their children. And I won’t even mention the word Hormones here because my sister is so tired of that word being used in context of her age group… whoops, sis, I just did! *evil grin*
I don’t know why, middle-aged people think all you need to do in order to ‘understand’ the ‘youth of today’ is to talk about romance and relationships. More than one teacher has begun a class with ‘And I also have something interesting for you guys today ‘ and proceeded to tell a borderline perv joke, or mention something about a love marriage… *sigh*, I certainly hope I don’t grow up to be like that.
Because it turns out that I’ve respected not the ‘cool’ people who ‘understood’ when I was apparently ‘checking out’ a nicelooking guy and who tried finding out if I have a little pink book where I write batshit insane Lord Byron-esque pieces, or those who thought nothing of swearing in front of fifteen-year-olds just to be ‘with it’, but those who’ve acted their age. Those who were dignified about everything they said or did. None of that cheap loose talk about relationships being absolutely necessary to prove you’re a teenager. Just the right doses of reality and advice. From adults who behave like adults and not people who are in their second teenage at age thirty-five. Nagesh Kukunoor seemed cool in Rockford being the chilledout gym teacher, but in real life, I’d find it really hard to respect someone who fibbed to my principal just to let me meet my romantic interest.
Hell, I don’t think it’s even worth it… school is not someplace for something serious to begin… from what I’ve seen, the cool people at school don’t turn out to be the cool people later on in life. All the folks I considered rockstars when I was fourteen aren’t my rockstars now. People take on such different paths in life from what they seem to be headed for in school. Or rather, what others make them out to be in school. Case in question: my mother was told by my class X teacher that I shouldn’t try for something ‘serious’ like engineering or medicine, but something more like a BSc after which I should probably be a housewife. Fate willed otherwise – with grades like mine, any degree college would have thrown my application out in a trice , thank god for the AIEEE which just ensures you’ve got enough in your XII. And housewife… just suggest that to the mother of any eligible bachelor and she’ll laugh.
Movies like Rock On!!! never fail to piss me off. Apart from the feel-good factor, they strike me as utter nonsense. Most people shy away from quitting their day job and trying to be a rockstar not because of any uncoolness within, but because… well, it’s risky, unstable, and you can be living off the streets… and how do you even know you’ve got what it takes to make it big? You might just end up wasting the best years of your life. Which sensible father will agree to spend his hard-earned money on something like that… and why should he? We only hear about the outliers, and not about the million others who died trying. Now I’m not saying we can all not aspire to be that one outlier, but you shouldn’t base your decision on misinformation.
And yeah, all of us have delusions about how we are all outliers, something special, someone inscrutable, someone very different from 99% of the population. Inclusive of me. There’s nothing anyone can do about it, because it would just break down all our self-confidence and urge to excel in this ratrace… so, oh, whatever, never mind.
And just as I write this, news reaches me of Michael Jackson’s death. I wasn’t so gaga about his dance moves, I was never very much in that line. But for people like me for whom DD was synonymous with television for a large portion of childhood, MJ was synonymous with western music for a very long time. Heal The World and We Are The World used to be staple diet at the innumerable socialCause events where someone would have to sing. I also vividly remember the time many years ago when he came to India (Mumbai, I think) when girls were simply flinging themselves at him (On TV), and people generally indulged in the ga-ga-ness hitherto unchronicled in India. But it was only at NITK that I actually (re)discovered Mr. Jackson. The voice…. the range… I was seriously amazed. Vocabulary fails me. Of course, I assumed he was forever and his discography could be covered in time while I went more slowly on The Beatles, Queen and The Bee Gees… but I guess death waits for none.
I meant that last line there in a very matter-of-fact way, not in a deep sort of way. Which brings me to… people always seem nicer in death than in life. But one incident wants me to put a caveat there. I don’t want to go into the incident, but I’ll say this – parents don’t think your death or maiming is too high a price for the humiliation and suffering you cause their kids.
And all that apart, there’s a lot to be said about doing away with state education boards and making Class X Board Exams optional, apart from Mr. Nilekani being made a cabinet minister…. but I’ll reserve those for another post.
So you have a system. All you want to do is judge how the individuality of the components compares to certain norms. You determine what contributes to achieving the particular goal that the system needs to. And then judge how well each individual rates with the particular yard stick.
Lets complicate this a bit more. You have a bunch of these which do similar things. Each has its own yard stick. Each does its own matriculation. But they are all similar. The average judgment is what you would say, okay.
Suppose you introduce a freak in one of the system. This freak fails, all the tests that the yard stick is for. But ultimately can reach the goal in a more effective, albeit different way.
Now you should know. These systems are not all that simple. Each have a bunch of tasks to do and all of them are similar. For each task, there is a freak, but maybe is not very standoutish.
This yardstick, seems to rationalize all the tasks together.
Now, should the system be more robust to account for the freakishness of the freak? If you do rationalize, dont you think you are killing the individuality? But if you dont, the freak remains a freak. And the effective and better way of reaching the goal is lost.
In the middle of all this what is the freak to do? Apart from dealing with the nametag?
There’s always something we want to change about ourselves or our lifestyles. But it’s not just any day when you decide to make a huge list of changes.
And that’s where I’m rather glad I live in India.
New Years are always the time for a fresh set of resolutions and for return of determination to try follow a set of rigid rules.
I celebrate three New Years at last count now – the Gregorian, the Lunar New Year on Ugadi and the Solar New Year on Vishu/Varsha Pirappu. That should ideally boost my resolve and all that…. but, well…..
You can see the state of my resolve to follow resolutions on my photoblog which hasn’t been updated in months now [I had resolved to upload one pic a day]. But it’s not entirely my fault… I’ve been caught up in so hectic a schedule that I leave home in a hurry and come back well after the streets are empty and devoid of subjects friendly enough to be photographed and when lighting conditions are at their most pathetic. And the time in-between is spent in a camera-free zone, don’t ask me more on that. Maybe I should use weekends, but gah! I had to follow the same schedule on weekends too!
Seriously, what do I do? I don’t feel good about shelving such a good initiative.
Maybe I should also begin to celebrate Gujarati New Year that occurs during Diwali? (Though I’d never celebrate New Year on Pongal day and play right into the hands of that cunning dictator Karunanidhi).
Here’s wishing everyone a very happy Varsha Pirappu: இனிய தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் (pardon my spelling, if it’s wrong…. I used Google Transliterate, and I have no clue about how to spell things correctly in தமிழ).
PS: In less than a month, this blog turns four, and this author twenty-two…. more occasions for resolutions?
To start off with, I hardly watch any hindi movies, save a few here and there. Hence maybe my ensemble is not large enough for the generalization.
So, Why is it that all heros know every damn skill under the sun. They can kick any badguys’ ass (irrespective of the badguy’s muscle strength, or the hero’s lack of training) , left right and centre, and end up without a scratch. How is it that, no one ever can pull a joke on him except may be the heroine. Even if they do, why is it that he can still or has to get back them right away and make them look foolish. How is it that he can sing awesome, whether on a moving train or maybe even as he is sitting on the wall of a really tall bridge. And at times even play an instrument or two, with out any prior practice? How is it that he always appears as the lead dancer in every group dance? How come he has the guts to go up the stage, when he is in the audience every single time. May be he could have stage fright. How does he get to wear meticulously ironed, and carefully chosen wardrobe (branded at times), in every single scene? How come ive never seen a hero riding, may be a Bajaj Chetak?
May be the crowd likes the God figure that they can admire, hence the movie makers cash on it. May be, its the eternal struggle to do or learn everything under the sun like some people, they draw inspiration from this. (What?). May be us, the crowd, we like to see whom we are supposed to empathise with always having the upper hand.
The “so, they lived happily ever after”, or ” Yeah! so what? in the end he came off with, erm… flying colors!”, ” May be in the end he died, but still look what he did! He saved lives in the universe around him and everything in general”. Afterall why would we want to pay that extra buck in the multiplexes along with the popcorn and the coke, if we had to come home depressed?
Why is it that ideal characters are preferred? No. Why do we like Happy Endings?
The reason this post is obscurish is because it deals with information which can’t for the hell of it be in public domain. Atleast not just yet.
The frustration levels are at an alltime high. And I’ve been crabby and complaining for quite some time now, as people who know me personally will attest. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have to keep sustaining myself with ‘This too shall pass”. I mean, I know it will.. but until then…
Then there’s the flow and ebb of hope every now and then. Highs and lows are to be expected, but heck, I can’t keep up with such wild swings of emotions all the time.
And then there’s the realization that I go through everything in life in expectation of something else, never really feeling I belong anywhere, or that I’m on the right track. Uncertainty and worry are my inseperable companions. It’s all the more worse that I’m by nature a happy-go-lucky person… I don’t like the uncertainty and worry, and would just like to sit back and enjoy life. Quite unlike others who get worried if they realize they have nothing to worry about, and who can never enjoy any experience in life, and always exude negativity. I’m not like that, not one bit.
There’s also the overanalysis and paranoia that cannot for once accept that it might be incompetence, and not conspiracy that’s behind every incident around me. Maybe it is conspiracy, but I’d live better if I didn’t assume that every single time anything happened…. the extra-large helpings of analysis do not aid in decision-making, and breed mostly irrational fears of failure.
When things get within reach, I don’t seem to reach out and bring them closer… I just seem to push them away, out of my reach….and then I rue about the ones that got away. Capital.
I just want a break, when I can get back to being organized and happy.
Funny…. I always seem to get mightily pissed this time of the year, every year…. maybe it’s to do with being in school for fourteen years of my life, when I’d be given a much-awaited break at this time of the year… this is when it all becomes too much to take and you just want a small break away from it all…. nah, doesn’t happen in the real world, apparently.
However… life’s not all getting pissed and venting frusts for me… there are also a lot of pleasant things happening, but sadly they fall into two categories: Classified Information and Stuff That Has No Place On This Blog, and hence you reading this wouldn’t get to hear about them here.
I’ll sign off with some of the best PJs I’ve cracked/heard in the past few weeks.
- James Bond slept through an earthquake. He was shaken, but not stirred.
- Q. What do you call it when there are two instances of MatLab running?
A. A pun
- Paro D: Dev D’s parody.
And then there were some that weren’t quite…
- I cracked one about Nero burning ROM… but damn, it turned out that the software was named Nero just because it burnt CD-ROMs. Damn.
- And I said something about poetry and going from bad to verse… but hell, it turned out that Bangalore Times put the same thing on their TShirt quotes section the same damn day. Now that is embarassing – to make the same puns as BgT, after they crack it! *Sigh* I guess going seven days without a pun makes one weak.
When someone’s having a hacking cough and a violent sneeze that’s dispersing droplets of phlegm, you don’t hesitate to tell them they need to visit a doctor. And it’s never seen as an insult, but as a piece of advice or a suggestion.
So when someone’s chronically depressed, or has trouble managing their feelings and emotions, why do people hesitate to see a doctor? And worse, why do people hesitate to tell others they need to see a doctor? And much worse, why do people take it as an insult to be told to consult a doctor for illnesses of the mind?
Oh, and why is there still a stigma attached to visiting a psychologist?
I have a little cousin who’s just started kindergarten. So everyone she meets gets a dose of Teaching. Nursery rhymes, the alphabet, folk songs… you know the drill. And oh yes, the disciplining. I need to sit quiet for five minutes before her patience gives out and she proclaims me a good girl. And if I speak out of turn, I earn her wrath and she pronounces me a bad girl.
One fine day, she noticed my fingernails. And immediately proclaimed me a bad girl and rapped me on the knuckles. For I have well-maintained, long, long nails. I had to tell her I lost my nailcutter at home and immediately she proceeded to search under my bed saying it would have fallen just here… or just there.. oh thank goodness for my camera; she let herself be distracted by it.
But I guess the image stuck. Soon everyone got the story of poor me having lost my nailcutter and hence having to remain a bad girl. The comments I got ranged from “You should trim it, really… in the interest of hygiene” (I have long nails only on my left hand) to “Hello Kitty!” (Nah, they aren’t retractable). I’m so inured to these that it didn’t make a difference to me.
Not very long ago, I had an overnight bus journey I had to make alone. A single seat, that was no problem. Nor was getting to sleep. The cold would have troubled me a bit, but I wrapped myself up like an Egyptian mummy, except for my hand holding the handrest to prevent myself from falling off.
In the wee hours, I suddenly felt my sister waking me. It took me a few minutes to come to my senses and realize my sister couldn’t be here. Alien hand on mine… I let out a yell which strangely no one seemed to hear, cursing the owner of that hand to eternal damnation and calling him, among other things, an illegitimate offspring, a lecher, and of suffering from the Oedipus Complex. And then I did the first thing that made sense to me. I wildly clawed that hand with all the energy I could muster. The hand retracted. I should have probably raised a hue and cry, but I just went back to sleep.Besides, it didn’t seem likely anyone would even bother to get up and beat the handOwner to pulp… I’d yelled abuses so loudly and still no one as much as stirred!
Later in the morning light, I saw I’d lost a nail and there was blood and flesh under the others. I certainly hoped I had touched something rusty the night before, so that there would be one new victim of lockjaw now.
I’ve quit expecting others to stand up for me. Though, I do stand up for others when they are being harassed. I try my best to be polite, but sometimes it’s simply not reasonable. Balls to goddamn ahimsa. Gandhi should have been a woman in Noakhali when he so ‘heroically’ toured the damn place after partition…. and THEN if he’d spoken of ahimsa and godforsaken Satyagraha, I might listen out of curiosity. In the past, I’ve threatened to break arms, call my brothers, call the police, and occasionally shouted for all I’m worth, slapped folks a few times… oh, what the bloody hell is this society that it makes a violent girl out of a normally calm one?
I know the alternative – to ignore, to not react. But for how long? I’d probably consider that alternative only when I’m alone and outnumbered. Oh, and there are other alternatives too – never go alone, always go to safe places, don’t stay out late. I am more than just ashamed of such a society that denies me these basic freedoms. And the prize alternative that is the pet of hostel authorities, maiden aunts and assorted other MCPs – dress conservatively.
So the shawl I had on wrapped around me provoked the handOwner somehow? Or the salwar-kameez with a neatly pinned dupatta the other day on my way home was provocative that someone had no choice but to pass sickening comments? Oh, shame not all of us wear burqas.
Oh, and to learn self-defence techniques. Effective, but aren’t we descending to the law of the jungle again, that might is right? And now I have to beat someone into submission before he respects my basic rights as a woman. How brilliant.
A few of my female friends are so inured to such harassment they’ve even stopped fighting back. So some jerk can pretend to lose his balance and fall all over them each time the bus jerks, and they won’t say a word. They’ll try moving more and more away from him, but they’ll ask me to calm down and not make a scene if I ask the damned dirty dog to rot in hell, or even if I politely say this is the ladies side of the bus and no matter how much he pays for the ticket he can’t hang around here.
They are being shamed into silence, what with the whole stigma of “She also must have done something… there is no smoke without fire”. What saddens me the most is that the ones who spout such lines are mostly women.
The ancients decreed that women be treated with love and care, for they are the ones who nurture new life, and woe be upon all of us if they all are hardened and embittered by the harshness of life so much that they lose faith in living and in society that they do not anymore want to bring or nurture new life into this cruel world. Considering what most of us have to put up with, the world must be turning into a sadder place with every passing second.
First they fool around with my GMail settings. Then they deny me (and so far it seems like only me… and Ego) GMail Themes.
Is it because I use all your products so much that you are scared of monopolizing my life?
Is it because you are concerned about the way I use my time?
Or do you want to spur me on to compete with you and then you’ll acquire whatever I create and leave me rich?
Or…. what? I just want to know.
Update: Themes work for me now Though the drama queen bit was fun while it lasted.