Asking for it.

Posted: January 4, 2017 by Arushi in Thoughts
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Until last night, I used to think I was a fairly liberal person. That I would never fall for the usual, that I knew what was right and what was wrong. That I understood the concept of consent, that I understood what was okay and what was not. I knew that no one asks for it.

And then yesterday happened.

On new year’s eve, at a party, a man kissed me. A man I did not want to kiss. I did not fight, I did not say no, I was so surprised and it was over before I even realized what was going on.

I walked out of that room and straight to my partner. But he was busy and I could not be alone. So I went to my friends who held me. Who told me it was okay. To ignore it all and not let it get to me.

Later that night, I did tell my partner.

Two days ago, we had that conversation again. He said he’d forgotten I told him anything of the sort. So I told him again. I answered what he asked. He said he’d talk to his friend ‘in his own way’.

Yesterday he did. The friend called me. Called us both, repeatedly. Said he was scared, he did not want to lose his friendship with my partner. That my partner was taking this ‘too seriously’, that it was nothing, that I had asked him for it.

I don’t know what happened to the person I thought I was at that time. I didn’t know what to say. I agreed I had teased him, I had said things, but those were outside, sitting with him on separate couches. I had never asked for it.

But I did not want to be the one to cause a rift in their friendship. The only refrain in my head was Yoko Ono. Again and again, that is all I heard. I did not want to be the one who became a reason for a friendship to end.

I felt terrible for telling my partner. I felt terrible in general.

He kept saying he had no ‘intention’ behind it. He kept saying I had asked for it. That I had said ‘it’s just a kiss’ in the conversation outside – something which I did not remember saying. My partner said there was a world of difference between ‘its just a kiss’ and ‘kiss me’. I didn’t say anything, so lost in my own misery at being put in this particular spotlight. My partner became so frustrated with me. “What do you want from me?” he asked when I kept saying I didn’t wanna be the reason their friendship ended.

I kept feeling guilty. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to just curl up under a blanket and for the whole world to go away. But that is not how things go. I was in office. There was work to be done. Afterwards, I just could not go home. So I went to my brother instead.

And as I parked my car, I realized what I was doing. I was blaming myself.

I was doing exactly to myself what I have been completely against others doing to anyone. It did not matter what I had said. Because if he was doing what I had asked, he should have done it when I had asked it. Why would he wait till I entered another, dark room where he happened to be. Instead of constantly claiming that I ‘had asked for it’ or that he had not had any wrong ‘intention’ he should have apologized.

I do not want to blame him. In fact, I actually don’t blame him. Maybe he did think I had asked him. Maybe his intentions were the purest they can be during such a situation. It did only last a few seconds. He hadn’t forced me in anyway, because well, he didn’t need to. By the time I had even realized what was happening, it was over.

Even now, it is so deeply ingrained in me that I am giving him the best of the benefit of the doubt, even when I showed myself no such mercy.

Yet, finally it has started to sink in. I read something that summed it up for me:

My delayed reaction had put the validity of my sentiment in question. I tried explaining that one can’t immediately confront a situation for which one is unprepared. One doesn’t want to be hasty; one has to be sure one isn’t misinterpreting things. And yet, every time a woman is harassed, physically, emotionally, or sexually, it comes up – If it is true, what took you so long?

I do not think I was harassed. I do not think I was abused. But I know something was not right.

Because I know, no matter what anyone said to me, ever, I would not do the same thing to them.

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I didn’t know what to say, how to react. How do you react to something like this?
I could only feel. My heart was pounding, my breathing was starting to become erratic. This had to stop. I laid a hand on the center of his chest. I could feel his diaphragm expanding as he breathed me in. That was it, and I knew I was lost.

I took a step forward and he smiled. That smile that Nickelback wrote about in Rockstar – ‘They’ll get you anything With that evil smile ’.

And then he slipped away, ephemeral, a dream, an imagination.

But he was there, I could see him still. I moved forward again, the smile became wicked, I was in his arms but he had sucked his lips in. There would be no kisses for me. That was okay. My lips were painted red. We would have ended up looking like clowns. I held him tight, and he held me. I felt so safe and oh so warm inside.

With another smile he let me go, and I walked away.

Smiling at my dream, buoyed by the idea of a man who may not exist, but was terribly real in that one moment.

 

Am I the crazy one?

Posted: November 30, 2016 by Arushi in Thoughts
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So, usually when everyone is going in the opposite direction as you, it tends to mean you are driving in the wrong lane. But is it that simple for life as well?

Are you sure I am the one in the wrong just because everyone is disagreeing with me? After all, is that not how the world changed, evolved? By people questioning standard practices? By people who did what they wanted to and ignored the rest of the planet and its opposing views?

My issues are not so big, not world changing. Then again, don’t you fill an ocean drop by drop?

I have a problem with people who say a woman is impure because she is on her period. If you are pro-birth (which you have to be unless you are interested in the extinction of humans – not an entirely bad idea) then what gives you the right to turn up your nose at the process that is proof a person can have children. And aren’t these usually the same people who think a woman is incomplete unless she has a child (or more) of her own?

I have a problem with people who say they have ‘given’ me freedom. I don’t understand. I was never yours to free. I am my own person. If I was a minor, there could be something you can give me permission for, especially if you were footing my bills. But I am not. Not a minor and not financially dependent on you. Who gave you the right to free me? I was born free, thank you very much. I am a citizen of a free country, and we did win Independencce in 1947. I don’t need your permission to be free.

I have issues with people who think its okay to tell me how to live my life. Its mine. My parents taught me to be me, not anyone’s shadow, not even theirs. They helped me take decisions, but never took them for me. Did you know, I named myself. I did. And they tell the story of how their three-year-old changed her name to her liking with pride.

I do not like people who think they can take away things from me because they think I should learn to go without. I can just earn them on my own. I never needed you to get them for me because I could not, I only asked because it would have made me happy that you put in an effort. Now I know better than to ask.

I do not tell people when I really like something they did for me. I thank them, but the depth of emotion I used to share – no more – except for a few very close friends. I learned the hard way that when you tell people you like something, you give them the power to take it away from you. I do not want to give people the power to hurt me. It is unfair to so many people who would never even think of hurting me this way, but better safe than sorry, right?

I do not fit the box so people try really really hard to push me into it. I am a woman but I don’t define myself that way. I am me, first and foremost. I don’t see people as their gender. They are a lot of things first – kind, loyal, rude, nice, mean, cruel – the things that matter. Gender really does not play that big a role into it for me. Now I have had to learn that its only me.

The first problem was so broad in scope and the last is so minuscule. To me though, they all matter a lot. Maybe not equally, but then again, is there any real equality available any where?

Maybe I am the crazy one. Maybe I am the one in the wrong lane. But I do not want to change. I do not want something as unilateral as gender to decide how I see people. I do not want to be pushed into a box – just to make other people comfortable. I do not want to use labels. I want to be me and I am okay with other people being themselves. I don’t need them to fit in a box either.

Maybe I am the crazy one. But I’d rather be crazy.

Love me

Posted: November 24, 2016 by Arushi in Thoughts
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What is it about love that we crave it with such fierceness? That all acts committed under its name elicit at least a second, more forgiving, glance. Why is a crime of passion different from a cold blooded one. Why do we want it, and why do we change so much because of it when no other force would have moved us?

Why do we love? The hormones, the chemicals… why have they not been ‘evolved’ out of our system yet? Why do they exist?

Who besides poets and writers has ever appreciated it? What good does it do? Love, or the romantic notion of love, does it even exist?

There is no true love. Then why do we still look for it?

Why do we feel incomplete without it?

Why do we want it?

And how do I live without it?

 

Picture Perfect

Posted: November 18, 2016 by Arushi in Thoughts
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All of us (anyone who is reading this, for sure) are leading a life on social media as well as ‘living our real life’. There are check-ins, reviews, photographs, quotes, status-updates, snapchats, instagram posts, tweets and many other ways in which we project our ‘real’ life onto our social media.

Our social media platforms are supposedly a mirror of our lives, the parts we want to share with friends and family, without actually sharing and the parts that we want to be public. Our opinions, our likes, our dislikes, our friends, the pictures of that party or feelings about that person, all out there in black and white for the audience selected by us to see. After all, this post is also a mirror of my thoughts at this moment about something. Would you like to know?

This mirroring of our lives is fake. I love social media. But. My friends only know what I choose to share. My family only sees what I choose for them to see. With one click I can restrict anyone and they would simply think me very reticent. Not only am I selecting the audience I am also tailoring the material, editing it.

We all lead such glamorous (comparatively) lives on facebook and instagram. We are always dressed up, always pretty (what else is the Beauty setting in cameras for) and always smiling. There is no inkling of what is behind that smile.

If I trust facebook, all my friends are happy, content, eating out at posh places, travelling, reading books, going out, getting married, having kids, dancing, drinking, loving and living the utopian human lives. But they are not. Not the ones I am actually in touch with. The ones I speak to in real life – have real lives apart from all of this. In fact, this is only a small part of their lives. They never mention how hard it was to smile for a particular picture in the comments, but they do tell me on the phone.

But what I see on facebook (because that is the only one I am really active on) is what I end up projecting onto it. A friend (an amazing friend) recently told me that she had thought I was happy, that everything was great, because of what she saw on facebook. Then we talked and now she knows how wrong everything is. She also knows better than to trust facebook now, especially when it comes to me. So she texts. She calls. She emails. She makes sure she knows what is going on.

How many of us would put in that much effort? I am not sure I would. For a while, yes. But for months she has supported me. Been my rock. Months.

It is not just this distortion. I feel like I must be doing something wrong. After all, I am the only one unhappy. Everyone else looks spectacular, fabulously happy and are having the time of their lives. Right?

Somedays I wonder if they are hiding their own share of problems. They probably are. There is no utopia. But on really bad days, I hope that this is all there is to them. That there are no problems. That at least someone out there is happy, is having the time of his/her life, is partying, travelling, reading, laughing, getting trashed, dancing madly, loving like a fool but not becoming one.

Hope.

 

 

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The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series has been one of my favorite paranormal series’. When I started reading, there were probably 16 books out and I binge read them all. Ever since then, I expectantly waited for each new book. I never had an issue with the twists LKH brought in, the number of men in Anita’s life, the elaborate and really long sex scenes or basically anything that happened – coz most things took the plot or the characters forward.

I know I read the last book, but I do not remember it now. I read Narcissus in Chains almost a decade ago and can narrate the entire story. The last book was forgettable. But I think there was a plot and there was character growth. Because I did not feel the disappointment that I feel now.

I usually do not write bad reviews. I give bad ratings on GoodReads, but if I already feel my time was not well utilized on the book – I am not interested in spending more time cribbing about it. This time, however, I feel I need to do it, hoping that LKH might see this, or at least her editors do.

There are spoilers ahead.

Crimson Death starts off with Damien. He is having trouble and Anita goes to talk to him. Made sense. Cardinale had an issue with everything because she is a paranoid and super jealous girlfriend. Made sense. The utter frustration felt in the situation made sense. This was LKH’s job. She did just fine. But it was the job of her editors to shorten it – make the whole thing crisp. To take the frustration and instead of letting it spill over so many pages, sharpen it to knife’s edge – make it cut, and then move on. I ended up feeling just as frustrated as Damien.

I like the details that LKH puts in. I like how she gives us names of the guards. I like how Anita thinks that she should know the names of the people who might give up their life for her. I don’t get why we still see the dumb guards who are too sexist for their own good. And even if they are, they lack the professionalism to keep it under wraps especially when in front of their boss. And if they are so unprofessional – they should not be doing security at a place like Danse Macabre. What if they are unprofessional to a customer? What then? After 25 books Anita has to deal with people like Ricky. Why? Cut them out. We have seen a thousand versions of the same scene – we do not need another one. If it needs to be mentioned – then he leered and Echo met Anita’s gaze and Anita understood Echo would take care of it. See? Done.

Anita is supposed to be having a serious date. She goes, has her date, comes back and the plan is to sleep with Damien. Just sleep. The situation is awkward. But it does not need to become a therapy session. I am glad everyone is going to therapy. God knows they need it. But these things cannot take so long. This is not real life where everything does take forever and still never gets truly sorted. This is a book and these people only have a limited number of pages to get their story across.

This is just the very beginning of the book.

Every single person has been described in painstaking detail in the book. Their looks, their backstory, their fears, desires, preferences and their relationship with Anita. All of that is needed – but to a much shorter extent. Yes, I do want to know where Dev and Anita stand in their relationship at the moment. But, I do not want to know what he looks like anymore. I know already. If I did not even know what the main characters looked like, I would not pick up the 25th book in the series. It is LKH’s job to put in this information – to make sure she links everything together. It is the job of her editors to tell her that this is verbatim what she has in the previous books and to cut it out. To tell her that we all know Nicky is blonde, tall built and with one eye missing. Reading about his mannerisms was interesting initially, now we know exactly what they are and can picture them better when not weighed down by a 1000 words on the issue.

Nicky, Jean-Claude, Asher, Nathaniel – all are described way too much. The stillness of the vamps – we have been doing that since book 1. Don’t explain. Asher’s scars – no I do not again need to know about the Inquisition. I know. Tell me about him and Kane. Not about the scars. I know Jean Claude has black hair. I know Anita has curls. I know their hair is really long. I did not know Micah needed prescription glasses – that was interesting. But I did not need to be told again that a ‘really bad man’ had made him stay in animal form too long. I know about Chimera. I read Narcissus in Chains. And even if I had not, it has been mentioned more than enough times since then. These people do not need to be introduced, not in any way.

I know otherwise I have no business picking up the 25th Anita Blake book. So why did not her editors know all this and cut it? If they could not cut it, why did they not tell LKH at least?

Then there are the conversations. Almost everyone is going for therapy. I am actually really curious about this therapist (or if it is more than one?) because you have to be AMAZING to deal with people with such issues. Plus there is the problem of how strong most of them are. What if they lost control and hurt the therapist? How does the therapist know he/she is safe? How do you do your job when faced by powerful vamps who might roll you? Or shifters who might break you?

So, that kind of stuff would be cool. The challenges faced by a therapist of the supernatural? Imagine being a therapist for the Harlequin. How do you handle that? And how does the therapist keep all the secrets? Has anyone ever tried to break in and learn abt the personal lives of these famous people?

Instead of anything interesting coming in – we have every conversation being dragged to its death, and then its body being dragged some more. I know these people are all going for therapy and they have worked very hard to be this open and this accepting of themselves and others. But, there are times for such conversations and not all conversations can be like this.

The time in the plane – while traveling to Ireland – best place for these conversations because there is nothing else to do.

While in the van with Nolan present – No. And Nolan sharing with these guys so much – NO. We have just met this guy. He’s a badass – think Edward at the start. He should act like Edward then. Not to mention, Edward should act like Edward. Him being treated like a ‘normal man’ in this book is so disconcerting. He is Edward.

And then there are so many things that never get explained, sorted or solved. What did Edward do in all his time in Ireland? Did he catch He caught no one? He found no vamps? This is Edward. And I never even saw why he needed Anita to come by. It’s a vamp plague – sure. But nothing beyond that. Why would he need her? I never learned how the Irish cops had pissed him off that the Ted mask kept slipping. The Irish are so nice it is annoying – so then how did he get so angry at them? Them calling for Anita I can understand. Him being desperate to include her? No way.

Every place has fools but why is every fool Anita meets a misogynist? Her reputation precedes her. Then do they simply ignore the kill count and focus on her wedding? How do the Irish even know the rumors? The Americans do, but then they are all part of the same law enforcement. Are the rumors about her sex life on the internet? I thought that would not happen considering she is marrying only Jean-Claude and that is all that the press would know.

Then come the later bits. The fey could have been so much more – but they become a footnote. And then we have Nathaniel – finally growing into a man – who has to sightsee and take bodyguards away from Anita. He’s smarter than that. Yet, it was good to see a facet of him that suited his age.

Of course, Jean Claude was too weak to be left alone with Asher. This is Jean Claude. He has fought and clawed his way to where he is. He is not weak. Anything but weak. Why the sudden twist in personality?

Then we have the ending. It is chapter 73 by the time the real plot starts. Sure, the stuff before was the precursor – but then they do not actually try to solve anything. Looking at crime scene photos and then saying what you see is fine. But nothing else happens. No actual crime solving. Are the entirety of Irish police so incompetent or so against violence that they cannot do their jobs? They may not kill vamps – but they have not used any info Edward gave them to do anything else?

Anita is kidnapped. Again. Cannot contact anyone Metaphysically, again. Rolls someone who gets her out. Again. What is the new bit?

The vamp whose very name other vamps do not say, dies without a whimper. Where was the fight for survival? Sure Anita is weak – but hunger has left her just as weak throughout half the book. Where was the crime solving, the hunting bad guys part? Where did we get any actual info on Nolan’s team except their names? SWAT has always been given more respect. These guys were amateurs – especially Brennan – who was not even pulled off duty and sent back to guard Anita and her lot. Socrates stayed at the compound – so she wasted one of her best guards for no reason but to train people? Training could have happened later – how was guarding his queen taking a backseat?

And then there is an ending. One large vamp shows up, Damien says he has always been more of a beast, and voila one major issue solved. It was never shifters but this vamp who was killing off people that brutally. Okay. But if he was also making new vamps, then how was it? Coz we are told Moroven had trouble with it too. So how did a minion do it so well? Why was magic dying in Dublin? That is never explained and without that, the vamps rising would have been impossible. So, a major plot point is completely ignored, not just left unresolved.

The ‘fixing’ of the marrying a tiger situation is solved so easily. I was not even sure the tiger in question was dead until much later. What happened to explaining what was going on? The position of everyone on the bed, their hands, their clothes, their preferences and even their positions are always described in excruciating detail (every time, mind you) – and yet something that important is just treated as an after thought.

The end is too blah, for lack of a better word. It’s liek someone describing a movie they watched with amazing graphics, that are just not translating into words. Except I know LKH can do it. She has done it before, many many times.

I think the end of it is, I am severely disappointed. Will I read the next book in the series? Probably. Will I expect better? Yes.

I know LKH is an amazing storyteller. I have read a lot of books which are proof of this. But the bare bones of a plot filled out into a flat summation type description along with wordy conversations and other descriptions do not a novel make.

The Indian Constitution guarantees six fundamental rights to Indian citizens as follows:
(i) right to equality,
(ii) right to freedom,
(iii) right against exploitation,
(iv) right to freedom of religion,
(v) cultural and educational rights, and
(vi) right to constitutional remedies

Please note that these rights are for ALL Indian citizens. Gender, race, religion and even age, do not make a difference when it comes to these rights. They are the FUNDAMENTAL rights of all Indian Citizens.

The reason I am repeating it over and over again is because some people seemed to have forgotten this recently and might need to reacquaint themselves with the basic core of the Indian Constitution.

When broken down to the basics, the Constitutions treats all citizens as the same. Every aspect of it that in any way makes a distinction among these citizens is not because the Constitution sees them as different, but because they are the ones who are different from each other and the Constitution is trying to give them fair and equal treatment under the law.

Please note, that these fundamental rights include the right to an education. Everyone and anyone who prevents that, by word or deed, is unconstitutional. It can be the people banning girls from studying, the people who employ children and prevent them from going to school – I am sure everyone can think of at least one example of this. Did you know that a few centuries ago it was thought that the more a woman read, the less her husband’s age would be? And this was a belief held by many Hindus. It’s a surprise men aren’t dying out like flies after a HIT spray these days, considering how many have highly educated wives.

I digress. Back to the point in hand, we are all equal as per Indian law. In fact, there is a whole section devoted to ensuring basic human rights to ‘aliens’ as in foreigners while they are on Indian soil. So, the Constitution even ensures that ‘aliens’ are treated as humans. If actual aliens ever show up, we are prepared. And I am not kidding when I say this.

We are lucky to have a Constitution, no matter how lengthy, which tries to cover everything under the sun. It is a living document – with the use of the judgments of the courts, especially the Supreme Court and the Amendments made by the Parliament – it has done its best to stay up to date with the times. We are lucky, and if we do not use it well, then that is on us, not the Constitution or even the Judiciary.

All of this leads to my main point. Since we all equal under the law, and since there is a surprising amount of homogeneity that we have come to expect from the law when it comes to our dealings with it – why should we think it should not extend to personal law?

If there is a property dispute and the people belong to different faiths, they expect to be treated equally. Same if there is a breach of contract. Then why should women (or men) who want a divorce be treated differently just because of their religion? Everyone has heard of how easy it is for Muslim men to divorce their wives, but do you have any idea just how difficult it is for the wife to get rid of a bad husband? And, if she wants to re-marry her husband, she has to first marry another man, sleep with him (consummate the marriage in nicer terms – but why sugarcoat reality) and then divorce him. Only then can she remarry her husband.

Then, of course, there is the Hindu Act. A marriage is a ‘sacred bond’ as per Hinduism which lasts for seven ‘lifetimes’. So the laws governing divorce are really stringent – no matter the reasons for said divorce. But, did anyone give the memo of ‘sacred bond’ to the husband and his family? The Supreme Court recently had to pass a judgment that a daughter-in-law could not be treated like a maid by her in-laws. They had to pass a judgment about this because that is how sad the condition of this ‘sacred bond’ is in our country.

How about equality – if a wife has to live with her in-laws because that is a ‘pious bond between son and parents’ – yet leave her own family for her husband – let’s make marriage illegal? After all, a daughter is the same as a son right? And what of people who only have a daughter(s)? Their daughters leaving them for a husband should definitely be illegal. After all, all offspring should be held liable towards taking care of their family – not just the one gender. And what if that daughter, who is an only child, does not earn? Should it not be mandatory then for her husband to financially take care of her parents? In fact, it should be mandatory for him to treat them as he does (would) his own parents.

Or you know maybe we could have communal housing with the families of the bride and the groom living together. No? If he cannot live with her parents, he has no right to ask her to live with his, especially when they treat her like ‘in laws’ and not a member of the family.

You remember all those movies where the heroine says ‘Is ghar me meri doli aayi thi aur yahan se meri arthi hi jaayegi’. But frankly, why should one die rather than leave? Life is the most precious thing on this planet. Is a husband mightier than life? In that case, why are there no stories of a husband granting life to his wife? All the stories are about the wife saving the husband – just look at our mythology – every fast possible – a woman keeps for the long life of her husband. Let me know if there is even one time that a husband has to stay hungry for the long life of his wife.

I digress, again. I think the point is that we finally have things going in the right direction. We have people raising questions and not getting killed for it (for the most part). We have people trying to bring about a change. We have a judiciary that is standing up for the people. Let us make full use of it, just in case we lose this chance. Let’s speak up, let us make people hurry, let us help them open the road – one that will eventually lead to us all to possess our fundamental rights in actuality.