Posts Tagged ‘family’

Years ago, my father said ‘What you read is a definition of who you are or want to become.’ Then, when I would not show him my writings, he was amazed. After all, it was an accomplishment. But that was the thing – as a teenager in India writing romance stories online – I could in no way conceive of sharing those with the people who knew me in real life. But sharing my most intimate imagination with strangers was okay because they would only judge the stories, not me for writing them.

It took me years before I even admitted to my parents that I wrote romantic stories and fan-fiction online under a pseudonym. That I even had a semblance of a following.  They were proud of me. They truly did not care that I was writing romance – and romance from a teens point of view is a different matter entirely – they were just that happy that I was creative and had found a way to spread that creativity.

Since those were their reactions, without reserve, it can be said that they had not internalized it into me that writing romance was something I had to hide. In fact, throughout high school, I had regaled my grandmother and aunt with stories I read in Mills n Boons books. They had always listened patiently, never judging me or the women in those stories.

So what went wrong?

In the 1990s romance in Indian media was an obsessive thing. Men would fixate on a woman – usually for her beauty, sometimes for her spunk and many times for revenge – and then follow her until she gave in and ‘loved’ them back. Some women were wrong for loving a man while others were wrong when they refused. It all depended upon the story the filmmaker had chosen – and if the man in question was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The judgement, in truth, depended wholly upon the man despite it seemingly being the woman’s decision and her character that was being judged.

And every single time – parents opposed this love. It could be mild opposition, it could be extreme, or it could be comedic. But oppose they did. Love was taboo. And unless you were lucky, it did you wrong. It is in this world and with these role models that I started writing.

To me, a rape attempt was a perfectly usable plot device. But it could only be an attempt because ‘a heroine never gets raped’ and ‘the raped woman always dies’. This was a me who was still unsure of how sex worked – and thought she knew what she was talking about when men ripped a woman’s shirt. Sure, the shirt needs to be ripped to rape someone – after all, don’t the villains always grab the pallu in the films?

The intrinsic misogyny went deeper than this.  In my stories, when the man cooked, it was because he was taking care of the woman. He was the progressive and perfect man. It never occurred to me that every person should be capable of something as basic as feeding themselves. When a man fell in love with a woman – I found it acceptable to write that he scowled at all other men who even looked in her direction. But he was good because he did not tell her to change her clothes – he just glared at everyone else. I never understood that him having to glare at other men because they were ogling his girlfriend painted a fairly creepy society – one where only the protection of a man kept the woman safe.

In my stories, women have been abused, raped and hurt. There is emotional abuse as well as societal and familial pressures. All of these are things I had never faced or seen in real life. Yet, if I re-read my work, it is scary how accurate I was.  So how did I internalize all of this to the point that my stories rotated around women overcoming all these odds and the men who helped, supported or led them? How could romance mean learning martial arts so that you are never helpless and raped again to a sheltered teenager?

Because that is the world I was raised in. After all, familial attitudes are not the only thing that shape us. We are shaped by everything in our surroundings. From the films we watch, the songs we sing, the conversations we are a part of, or the ones we overhear.

When I grew up – I was influenced by stories and media that said rape was bad. Where the rape victim died and the ‘hero’ took revenge for her ‘izzat’. But rape was never shown, or truly described. It just had a man biting the neck of a woman – if even that. That was then.

Now, we are surrounded by news of rape. We are surrounded by mass media that propagates an internalized misogynist attitude. From lyrics to plotlines, there is objectification of women everywhere. And the children growing in this scenario are the ones who will be holding the reins a decade down the line. Some of them will not even wait that long to show the effects of this environment. For example, there was news on how a kindergartener had been raped using pencils by her classmates. This is now.

We cannot stop reporting on rape and sexual crimes. We cannot remove objectification of women from all media immediately. After all, the media is only a reflection of us. But we can try to change the narrative. It is not sufficient any more to give or even show your values to the people around you. It is important to discuss things. The children need to see and hear discussions about these things and understand that while they might be surrounded by sexualized media – that does not make it correct. That while a popular actor is dancing to extremely sexist lyrics, that does not make the reality of those lyrics okay or even acceptable.

It is easier said than done.

Everything is easier said than done.

But we have to start somewhere.

Let us start with teaching our children, boys and girls, what is okay and what is not. And let us keep telling them again and again until they internalize what we teach them, and not what the world is forcing them to learn.

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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.

Getting There

Posted: September 27, 2016 by Arushi in Thoughts
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I have talked about me multiple times on this blog. There is also a separate category for this – Thoughts. But I wonder if I have ever been bluntly honest. Usually I hide behind third person pronouns and rambling tags. It is so much harder to own up to my own mind than it is to pen my thoughts down.

I am halfway through Getting There by Manjula Padmanabhan. I think I got my courage and my inspiration to be so brutally honest from there.

I am not happy. I would say I am clinically depressed except I am not certain of the definition of clinically in this context. It just sounds more impersonal and more impressive than plain old depressed. I am having issues with my body image, with my sense of self. I am in a relationship – in a marriage – that has been rocky from before its inception. It is not that either of us is a bad person – but we are too different. In fact, somedays I feel we are as wrong for each other as it is possible to be. Somedays I love him more than life itself.

Our expectations, our ideologies, our attitudes towards gender roles – all of that is different. There is some deep level, where we have barely connected – except we did connect enough to still be together. I read a letter on a ‘psy-help’ website from a wife asking her husband – when will she be his first? As in, when, if ever, he will prioritize her – the way she has been prioritizing him from the moment they were engaged. She’s not sure he ever will. I am not sure he ever will, either. But then, I am not one of those who can keep on giving – asking for nothing in return. I am not that person. I do not think I could ever be.

To me, each relationship is a two-way street. So I gave up. That inner core of me which was happy – which loved him and just wanted his love, nothing else – has vanished somewhere.

Maybe I should try harder – maybe it is the ‘lot of women’ and someday my actions will make him understand what my words could never explain – but that is not who I am. So many people have tried to make me understand this. I do not. If you cannot put me first, I see no reason why I should do it – unless I still choose to. If you cannot love me how I love you, then you cannot complain when I change. What you cannot do for me or mine – you have no right to expect me to do for you or yours. If I do it – count your blessings – if I do not, then you better be fine with it.

I used to want the ‘whole package’ – husband, two kids – heck, I even wanted a white picket fence. Trying for that ‘perfect’ vision got me to understand that no matter how ‘perfect’ I try to be – I will never be good enough because I am just not wired that way and neither will anyone be able to meet my expectations from that pedestal. And being the person I am – I quit. It might have led to more rockiness in my relationships – but it did bring me closer to me. I studied closely what I wanted and what I had thought I wanted. That is one of the best things – for me – to come out of this whole thing. I no longer want kids. I do not even want a white picket fence – a house is so much harder to maintain – give me a spacious flat any day with a minimalistic decor. I now know I am happiest when I work – and I value my work over most other things in my life.

I have accepted that I am struggling with depression (and migraines – both existing in a symbiotic relationship) and no matter how much I want to blame others for it  – I too should have known not give anyone that kind of power over me. I know I will never make the same mistake again. There is no conclusion to this – because I am still here – still human in all my failings – with someone just as human who perhaps loves me too – otherwise why would he still be around?

In its unedited avatar – this post was too raw – one of the most honest things I have ever even thought of putting ‘out there’. Now it’s edited and still hitting that post button will be extremely hard for me. I am saying this here because where else would I say it?

This year I turned 25. It’s not that special, I know. Everyone does it. But, it was awesome and it was special. Not for some huge bash that I threw or some great adventure that I planned. I did not even have a bucket list that I fulfilled in the months leading up to the big day, and I could have, I was that aware of the number.

What made it truly special was that I had turned 25. Just that. No frills required.

Every day of our lives is a gift. I am blessed to have had 25 years worth of days among so many good people that I am humbled at the very thought.

I have a family who have always loved and supported me. A large, extended family where I know people I’m related to even if sometimes we’re not sure exactly how we’re related. Then of course there are the people I am closely related to and absolutely adore. They were my first friends when I was growing up and they still know exactly who I am, and will always accept me, no matter what I do.

I am lucky enough to have met people who live halfway across the world and we became the best of friends. I spent years halfway across the world from my home country and I found a second home there. We were completely different and yet, even after I moved back we’re still friends. There is nothing better than knowing that someone you have not met in years, who lives on the other side of the planet, considers you a  friend.

To have lived far away from home and yet still know that the people I love have my back no matter what. Friends who I can always count on, no matter how far apart we may be. Who’ve been at my side for over a decade and who aren’t going anywhere.  That was and is another blessing.

At first it was friends back home and friends at Uni but now, I have friends all over the world. We may not talk all that often, but I know there are times when they think of me, just like I think of them. It might be a long while before we talk, but I hope that we’ll be able to pick up where we left off when we do.

I always wanted to travel, to be a citizen of Earth and somehow, to an extent I managed that. And I know I will do more to make sure I stay that way.

Everything always clicked in a way, an internship that was one of the best things to ever happen to me, mostly because of the one person who sat next to me. I found the best offices to work in ever, something that was as good as family, whether it was when I worked for my university or when I got my first real job after the above mentioned internship.  I have colleagues I trust, who seamlessly made themselves great friends.

It was amazing how things came together at the right time. You never expect everything to fall into place for you, and it does not. But sometimes it does and that moment is worth all of the effort that goes into bringing it. I remember a day, around two years ago when I realized that in that one moment, that one day, I was perfectly content with my life. It was going in the direction I wanted, I knew what I was doing, where I was going and what I wanted. Its not a moment that lasted, because as I evolve I do change and so do my expectations from myself, yet I am blessed to have had that moment once in my life before I even lived for a quarter of a century.

This is not about the future, but this is a thank you to everyone who made the last 25 years of my life so very special by their very presence. Thank you guys!! You’re awesome!!!

The Great Big Indian Wedding!!

Posted: January 15, 2014 by Arushi in Uncategorized
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I have had the honor/pleasure of attending a wedding in each of the last two months, and my cousin is getting hitched on the 19th of this month. Indian weddings can be this huge affair that lasts a week, involves so many rituals and cultural quirks, and turns into an awesome and sometimes hilarious ensemble of characters that could beat any movie. I feel seriously lucky that people keep getting married these days, because I actually have been enjoying these weddings a lot. 

In November, it was one of my mom’s cousins who got married. So for a week, we visited them everyday and overall had a blast, because they have a HUGE family, spread all over the world, and EVERYONE came. I got to catch up with cousins I hadn’t met in over a year (last time was at another wedding) and made some very unlikely friends. Who knew I would get along famously well with a cousin who is 13 years younger to me. 

Then a family friend got married in December. Again, cue in his family coming in from all over the world. The fact that I am really good friends with his sister and she does not visit that often, considering she lives halfway across the planet, meant three to four days of non stop parties. Of course, they also had organized performances by friends and family, in the honor of the groom and bride, two days before the marriage ceremony. So I even got to perform on stage. The quality of the performance… well, I dunno but I had fun. 

Now, it is my cousin. He is getting married on the 19th, but the celebrations started from the 13th and will continue till the 20th. In this wedding too, I have to perform, and not once, but four times. I also get to hang out with cousins, and my baby nieces. Nothing makes your day like a five year old being happy just coz you are there. 

This being said, all of them have been and will be a big affair, that probably cost lots of money, time and effort. I read an opinion piece about how marriages can be a waste of money – an extravagance that is not worth it. People have a right to their opinion. I even agree to some extent. Randomly, unthinkingly, spending money on anything does not seem smart. But at the end of the day, marriages, at least the ones I have seen, have never been about the money spent, they have always been about the fun had, about the memories made and about giving one hell of a start to the new life of two people. 

Unlike what my title here implies, I also do not think Indians are the only ones crazy about marriages, but I do think that we tend to make them huge affairs, especially when it comes to how many people we invite. But then again, if you actually know and know well, people who are your fourth cousins, won’t you invite them? Trust me when I say, if you ever get a chance to attend an Indian wedding, do not miss it. It should be a bucket list thing, seriously. 

I think I went off topic. Anywho, the core of the matter is, weddings are fun and I am glad coz I have another one to attend right now. 

Changing Faces

Posted: October 27, 2013 by Arushi in Thoughts
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Yep the title sucks. I do so hate naming. This post is rambling and is has moved around from one thing to the next that has left me wondering just exactly how much I want to say, but I think I got most of it across, albeit laced with a bit of chaos.

Everyone has that one point of time, when they want to be alone. It might not be a long time, a few minutes to pull yourself together or to quietly celebrate or even time to just breathe. Sometimes we need more time, a few weeks, days or months when we want to be just ourselves. For a while we want to be free of the expectations, the hope and the responsibilities around us.

It is interesting that we are so good at being so many things and yet somehow we still manage to be ourselves. I have heard time and again that society makes us all wear masks and that eventually our real face vanishes.

Maybe. I do think we wear masks, but at the same time, its silly to think that our real face is just one face. After all, we might be at the top of the food chain due to opposable thumbs, but lets face it, there is more to our species than that.

I find it a bit silly to be honest that people (and quite a few of the ones I am talking about are brilliant in their own right) have such a one dimensional view of the human personality. Our ‘faces’ as so many like to say are used, reused and changed according to the situation and company. And almost all the times I have heard someone talk about this, they claim that this is a bad thing.

I am sure deceit is a bad thing. Not arguing with that. But why does a change in face means deceit always? Its almost the same as wearing clothes according to the occasion. Does it mean you are not sad if you dress properly for a funeral? Even if you did not know the person, even if you are ambivalent, is it deceit or respect if you manage to keep a sombre face? To some, especially someone who expects you to be sad, it might be deceit. But maybe to someone it might be respect shown to the dead the living who mourn.

There are so many of us who are honest, at times to the point of bluntness. Does that mean we have only one face? Hardly. I am different when I speak to a child, or to someone my age, older than me, different with my friends. Honestly, it has less to do with showing them different faces, and more to do with them bringing out different facets of my personality.

A twelve year old makes me talk endlessly about manga and a friend makes me do the same but regarding urban fantasy. Another friend and I talk about everything from clothes to biotechnology and while another tells me off when I am being an idiot. It just is.

There were many things that made me think about the honesty that is embedded even in our different faces and appreciate it. I would rather be adaptable, able to enjoy the company of those around me instead of being so stuck on one single image of myself that I ignore everything else. I would rather live, then get stuck on the idea of how to do it. I am trying and I will keep trying because there is no one point of success on this. It is something to always do, because life should not be allowed to pass us by. Especially not because we are burdened with what others think us to be or expect us to me.

Everyone has an opinion, I just can put mine out here.

Living life in FULL Color

Posted: April 12, 2013 by Arushi in Thoughts
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Sometimes things are sedate. You have time for almost everything and still you go to bed early. You have a set routine that works for you. You feel like you have come to plateau and life is just mellow and nice.

Then something happens and life throws you in a blender to make a smoothie. When you emerge everything is different and you are covered in war paint, still reeling from the experience yet unable to let go of the feelings of being intensely alive.

I have been back for five days and while everything is suddenly way bright than before, it still feels grey compared to the five days before that. My best friend just got married and believe you me, that was the most awesome wedding ever!!! From the 3rd to the 7th of April we were busy with ceremonies that spanned three cities. The final 3 days 2 night stay at the palatial Taj Gateway where she tied the knot… well, let me put it this way, I think I slept all of 9 hrs in 4 days.

The trip was too short to be wasted on mundane things like sleep and so by the time I got back to my own city – all I could do was drop and not get up for a few days. Not that I had the luxury to do so. My boss was nice enough to gimme a five day break – a break to recover from the break was so not in the cards.

Anywho, I made some amazing memories, some really really good friends who are staying in touch and I connected with my old friends who had shown up for the event.

Basically, there is nothing to tell about this, and yet there is so much to share. Life has gained color and I have happily kicked sedate out of the window. Not to mention the connecting and reconnecting haven’t left me with any time to be anything but hyper. Sedate – pshht! What was I thinking!