How would you know, you’re so dark

Growing up with grandparents, I must say is something everyone must have the luxury of experiencing. It’s a 24×7 learning experience with them around. You learn why they think in a certain way, why they do things in only that particular manner and why almost everything you do, say or even think is not right in their rule book.

I’ve had the pleasure of living with my grandparents, both maternal and fraternal for a generous time and I can safely say that even though they belong to the same school of thought, each one is a different person altogether with varied views on the same topic.

I wont get into details about each of them and their perspectives, but there’s one thing that’s been on my mind for a long time. Something that distinctively puts forth the generation gap that we so often talk about.

As South Indians, you’re least expected to be fair skinned, and by any chance if you are with a lighter skin tone, you’re surely mistaken for someone from elsewhere. Highly atypically, literally everyone in our immediate family is fair skinned; in fact, some can easily be mistaken for a nonnative.

Since I was a little girl, I used to be told to not touch this, not to eat that, not to play here, not to go there, only fearing the fact that I might grow to end up with darker skin or play with kids who aren’t fair skinned. My granny, like most hypochondriacs, is constantly worrying about being fair skinned and call it unfortunate or whatever, she even thinks fair skinned people should mingle with the same types, marry the light skin, have light skinned babies so on and so forth…

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Now in normal terms one would call this racism, but can you call one of your own a racist? Yeah exactly. But then I see this new cult that’s catch up pace amongst most of us thanks to the idiot box that makes you feel like shit with every advertisement wanting you to break the rules of basic biology and become fairer. And then I just have to ask, if I’m not fair skinned does that mean I’m less of a human or someone with a smaller brain?; Someone who doesn’t deserve the same respect and luxuries as say someone with whiter skin? Our historic obsession with colour is so contagious we don’t spare harmless cats either.

I recently watched the Oscar nominated 12 Years a Slave and after, I sat up all night reading about slavery and apartheid and believe you me, I’ve had sleepless nights ever since. You might think I’m exaggerating, but absolutely nothing about being woken up in middle of the night to be brutally raped by your owner/master and pretend like nothing happened the next morning only because you’re black, can be pleasing.

We talk about racism openly today; you even read about people getting sued for making racist remarks, and to be honest, the world we live in is quite predatory where anyone seems provoked to break boundaries to cause discomfort to another. Quite the opposite of Live and Let Live right?

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Why I mentioned growing up with grandparents in a write up about being discriminating; you learn from your seniors throughout your growing years, be it your parents, older siblings, college seniors or professors and something as sensitive as this can evolve into brutal behaviour.

I’m no preacher, I’m no Gandhi. But may be you don’t need to be one to know that you’re no different than another human. Oh well! May be I am. Why? What why? I’m fairer than you, can’t you see?

Where the soil speaks

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve shifted base and I can’t help but feel out of place, still.

This is where I grew up, this is where I am supposed to feel at home, these are the people who I should be able to connect with; but I guess the pieces aren’t exactly fitting in its puzzle.

Well, for starters, I’m moving back to this place after about a decade now and needless to say that it’s nothing like what I remember it to be like.
It’s more crowded, shallow to the core, intolerant of the ‘other person’, expensive to no limit, and I can go on and on and on but again, every new place feels the same for an outsider.

Some say that the reason I find things difficult to accept here, is because I shifted with half a heart. Now you can call me patriotic or a fool, but there’s absolutely no way that you can leave your home, your country and your people to go and live elsewhere where you have no rights as a resident. Can you?

So then I thought of those who have lived away from their towns for ages trying to make a home away from home. Yes they’ve made a life for themselves, more money than they expected to make and continue to do so. And I have only one question for them, ‘Are you happy living away in another country?’

My point here is that why can’t you use your talents and knowledge where it’s more required? Why does our nose go sniffing money after we’re out of college? Why are we running behind travel agents and passport offices the minute our final results are out? When did this trend occur? And why isn’t it fading?

Do we have responsibilities towards our country or are these just words put together to frame a sentence that doesn’t mean anything?
What do you think? I’d like to know…

Picture courtesy: http://faithatthebeach.com/2013/04/23/feeling-out-of-place/

Books bring a story with them

This thing I like to do often.. Look at huge shelves with books that are thick, small, fat, glossy, paperback, hardcover, Indian, foreign, and all such kinds, and count the ones I’ve read. Just makes me feel good and intelligent, and smart, and intellectual also. ;)

So back in 2011, on one such smarty pants-on-the-lookout-for-books-walk, I picked up this book because the name was just exquisite, and the young girl in an abayaa on the cover looked so elegant and delicate.

Here I must confess, I read plenty of books on women, education, patriarchal-matriarchal clashes, mother-child relationships, etc… So I had to pick this one out to read the gist at the back.

I then find out that the author belongs to the same city as me! Now how could I have not bought it?

I put it in my basket along with the other books, rushed home to store them all on the bookshelf made them look pretty and organised and completely and very conveniently forgot about it.

About a few weeks back, my aunt borrowed books from me and I happened to find this one in the shelf; I asked her to read it and let me know if it read well.

So, she called me a few days later and sounded so excited about the book that I had to stop her and tell her I haven’t read it yet so don’t blurt it out.

Little did I know that this book was practically written in the same city as I live in, and the instances in it happend right outside my mom’s house!! Isn’t it amazing to hear and read about those historic places you pass through almost everyday?

The author starts his narration at a house with people. Where? He doesn’t tell us. When? He doesn’t tell us. How many people? He doesn’t tell us. But of course, the main character of the book, Rosha, is described to perfection and your mind just knows that’s what she would look like.

What has mesmerized me so much to write about it, is the fact that he has written about instances that happened in my neighborhood. Now there’s nothing to be excited about a book that talks about a love triangle or a super hot single call centre employee, mind you. This was something beyond imagination.

Rosha is a young, courageous, simple, intelligent, smart, vivacious, beautiful and well-spoken Afghan girl who made a living for herself after having spent a horrific life under her Arab master in a rich Gulf country. She was then taken to the U.K by an English Royal family to start over and gain some education. To complete her education with a thesis she travels to India and visits different cities and finally embarks upon the city of Poona.

Unfortunately, the author is sent with his team to raid her house and deport her to her home in Kabul as she is said to be an illegal immigrant and has over stayed her visit. Kabul, where her father was murdered for promoting education and liberalism. Kabul, where her mother was stoned to death for being the wife of a traitor. Kabul, which took advantage of her brothers and sister and killed them.

Photo credit:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Hazrat_ Babajan_Dargah,_Babajan_Chowk,_Pune_Camp_by_Faizan_Ansari.JPG

Photo credit:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Hazrat_ Babajan_Dargah,_Babajan_Chowk,_Pune_Camp_by_Faizan_Ansari.JPG

The story of this brave girl touched me even more when I realized that she came to Poona to learn about a sufi-saint. This was not just any sufi-saint. This was the only Woman sufi-saint-Hazrat Babajan. I cross Hazrat Babajan’s tomb everyday and never did I think of the tomb to have so much historical importance that she would attract people from around the world to come and learn about her.

On Rosha’s arrival in Kabul, she was shot to death by the Talibs for belonging to a family of traitors. She was just 22.

Now, when I cross the street, it will be different. I will look beyond the traffic, the noise, the food carts and the cows on the road. It will be different.

Censor this Shit

I’ve never been much of an abuser and even if I did, say.. once in 10 months, it’d be within closed doors whispered under my breath and I’d feel stupid about it. There have been times when I’d abuse and those around me would be like ‘Whoa! She just said the F word’.
It’s not that I think it’s wrong to abuse or unethical or any thing of that sort, I just think abusing is a way of relieving yourself from some kind of pent up angst for which you can’t find a solution.
But this don’t mean that I dislike those who use abusive language often, each person has their unique way of dealing with anger and disagreements and that’s good in a way.
We hear abusive language around us a little too much these days.. Don’t you think? T.V, Twitter, Songs be it Hindi English or even Tamil for that matter, no one shys from flooding their lyrics with abuses.
Again, it’s a trend and it’s okay. It’s picking up pace, and if you call your best bud ‘That bloody Fucker’, what’s some more abuses in catchy songs? Ahh! No biggie.
But what I find ridiculously foolish and insanely annoying is censoring these words in the English context.
We had songs like Radha likes to move that *beeep* Radha body.
And off late it’s Mauka hai kiss my *beeep* Main ghar nahi Jana.
(Guess the beeep- 5 marks)
These might not exactly be abuses, but you get the drill…
But at the same time, no one’s beeping words like Kaminey, Halkat, Harami, and the likes.
What’s the difference? Don’t they all mean the same thing? Aren’t they demeaning words too?
Half our English speaking society watches English sit coms and tell me which one of us thinks those dialogues make complete sense with a 100 *beeeps* in 20mins?
I know we’ve hit rock bottom when I see words like ‘sleep’ Pants’ ‘wet’ getting *beeeped* oh lord!! What is going on!?!
I don’t know what the ideal thing to be done is, but I know that the mind lives its own life, away from the one the rest of the body lives. You might blind fold your eyes and kill your ear drums to stay away from evil, but you can’t shut your mind.

It was my first weekender

I first heard about this year’s nh7 on Twitter (where I find out about practically everything else in the world); read up on the bands (to see if it was worth spending an entire day in Magarpatta); saw Alien Chutney was listed (Oh My Gawwwd!! I love Vir Das); got my tickets (nh7!! Here I come); heard Vir Das fell ill (cried lyk nething); went for nh7 anyway, saw Vir Das on stage (screamed lyk nething).

Papon performing with his troupe at nh7 Pune

Papon performing with his troupe at nh7 Pune

It’s been 2 days since nh7 got done with and trust me when I say this, my brains are still exhausted. I got back home, slept for 24hrs straight and woke up to my entire body throbbing with sweet pain.
I sometimes catch myself head banging to music still playing in my head.

Vir Das' Alien Chutney

Vir Das’ Alien Chutney

I finally saw what this whole cult is about and why it’s all people talk about at this time of the year. I’ve not been a huge fan of the indie music scene and neither do I follow it, but I rest my case now. I’m surprised as to how much I’m missing out on.
I remember watching Pentagram in its initial days, and who knew these guys were going to one day become heroes of Indian rock bands.

People dressed like pretty angels and those men on magazine covers… everyone was there for a bucketful of fun, love and passion for music.
I danced, jumped, sang, laughed and felt the joy of the people around me and left the lawns with a smile, aching legs and a sore throat. But I’m not complaining.

A constant search for purpose

Maybe it's not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it's about starting over and creating something better.

Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve felt strongly about something to write about which explains the absence. But off late, I’ve received some great responses regarding some of the stuff I wrote which feels great considering that’s what I do, or at least that’s what I am doing right now.

It’s been a strange few weeks with so much and so little happening at the same time. From wanting to quit my job to getting an unexpected (delayed) (meager) raise, to wanting to move to another city and making long lists of travel plans, there’s plenty of procrastination on my plate right now. Phew! I’m just so busy you see.. :P

You know that feeling right, where you wake up one morning and want to dig yourself back into your bed not wanting to go to work or do anything even remotely close to work? No? Okay, if you say so.
So what do you do when you’re in a phase where you are contemplating switching professions, thinking about ‘What else am I good at apart from editing shitting Marathi written in English’; or considering your third sabbatical in 2 years so you could devote all your time to buying shoes?

Tough question right? No? Okay, if you say so.

Not a movie review

Before I go watch a movie, I generally consult a couple of movie buffs I know, But considering the amount of hype this film’s been making since its inception, I didn’t quite think twice and dragged mum along.

I wish I could say I loved the movie, but sadly I can’t.

No. Farhan Akhtar is good. Better than excellent if exists. The story jumps but still comprehend-able. The side actors did their job well brought out the right emotions.

But thanks to the 300-odd people sitting in the theater with us, I have to say I couldn’t help but wait for the movie to finish and storm out.

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As a nation, we’ve recently overcome certain unfortunate incidences and we’re as a progressive country developing the courage to talk openly about issues involving sex.
But I am made to feel that these same minds are the ones making ridiculously shameful comments when a semi nude couple is shown on screen doing nothing – may be just holding hands for crying out loud.

I wish; I wish from the bottom of my heart that I could do more than give the guy sitting behind me a dirty look- which if some of you don’t get what it means signals ‘Shut The Fuck Up or Get Out Of the Screen Now’, and send a stinker to the guy near me giggling with his girlfriend about how apparently the nick name ‘Milkhu’ is shitty and so no one in the world should have a loving family, clearly the giggly guy doesn’t.

Didn’t these recent protests have men fighting for women and their rights and safety and god knows what not? I knew something sounded strange about that; and now I know.
All the giggling and hateful comments and sexist “jokes” said.. no sorry.. yelled out during the movie were all by men only.

I’m sorry. No matter how great a movie is, I refuse go watch it in the first three weeks of its release in the presence of hooligans.