‘Problems’

My last blog post, written after a year and a half of what seemed like the longest sabbatical I had ever taken from blog writing, was written a month ago. It alarms me that it took me a whole month to write another blog after my grand return to arty heart, what with all the free time I find myself with (owing to my delayed final exam results). I wonder what the 18-year-old me would have said about this, that version of me that wrote a new blog every Monday night and would apologise to her readers in the event of her not being able to do so, or would punish herself with guilty thoughts over the catastrophic situation of writing on, say, a Wednesday night and not a Monday night! Well, those were the days.

Alright, I am only 21(nearly) and the previous sentence makes me sound rather old. Also, I have realised that I need to stop ranting and be a tad quicker with approaching the subject that this blog promises in its title—problems. Since this blog is more like a toned-down version of my personal diary, I am choosing to speak about my problems today. The problems that have made life a little difficult for me since the past week.

The end of the week before last week began with my smartphone falling to the ground flat on its face( I mean its display/screen). The moment was quick, and it happened even before I could blink. The next thing I knew was a cracked screen and the instrument blacking out to any instruction I gave it to switch on. But inspite of this, I was confident that nothing much had really happened and hoped that my phone would be back in action two days later. This is probably why my heart sank when the service center in-charge told me that a change of display would cost me 7500 rupees. Now, we are certainly not devoid of monetary resources, but more than 7000 rupees for what happened in a silly, clumsy split second did burn a hole in my heart ( and was likely to do so in my father’s wallet). The worst part was that all this wasn’t even my doing. I had been outside to meet some friends and during the end of the meet, they dropped it in an excited hurry, while taking a selfie of all of us. Today, more than a week later, my broken phone lies on my desk—no service center we called could arrange for a display for my phone, which belonged to a not-so-common brand(one plus) that does not have cheaper or duplicate displays, and more unfortunately, enough authorised service centers in town. The one center that had given some hope, returned my phone saying they couldn’t do the needful and back I walked home, in the chilling monsoon winds, from what was the fourth visit to this center.

On the day of the ill-fated selfie, I had also made the mistake of consuming a cold beverage. The consequences? A sore throat that transformed into a cold that worsened into a fever that deteriorated into a flu. That’s all. Also, four days of patience with the flu only rewarded me with some excruciating pain in the right side of my jaw. My wisdom teeth had found this very time of my life to attack me. So what if they were nothing but two tiny pieces of calcium and I was an adult, medium-sized human being? They had to make their existence known to me and this was to be done in the most painful manner imaginable. I was not one to back out either and answered them with a gruesome extraction with a gentle, yet smart dentist very well-acquainted with the likes of these. As they lay in front of me in a tray, I couldn’t help finding them cute. Cute little @#$@#$*@#*@#$.

But they had their revenge dear reader. You see, the aftermath of a gruesome tooth extraction isn’t quite pleasant. My right cheek stands swollen. I cannot use my right jaw at all. Speaking has been reduced to mumbling and I am consuming more medicines and painkillers than food at the moment.

If you have been wondering if the absence of my phone has done me any good, it hasn’t. I haven’t had the life-changing digital detox which one would usually expect in such situations. My final exam results can come out anytime soon and so, I need to have the quick information that the smartphone provides through the likes of Whatsapp. Also, the terrible fear of missing out brings me to the walls of Facebook more often than ever, through my mother’s tablet. Aside of these, just three days ago, I switched on Whatsapp through a spare old cellphone father used to use. My comeback after a week was…pathetic. I waited eagerly for texts. Notifications. I checked the old black nokia from time to time looking up whatsapp and facebook messenger to see who had replied, and who hadn’t. To see if someone cared about my big and small problems.

Well, if you have read till this point, you are blessed with a lot of patience. And probably, even compassion. Compassion, to be able to listen to some of my problems of the past week, inspite of being burdened with some of your own. To be able to listen to some minor inconveniences of my privileged life being called ‘problems’ when there are so many real problems plaguing this world and its other inhabitants in greater degree, with greater force. It’s funny how I say I have made you listen, when you have actually been reading. In any case, reader, you have listened enough and we must both leave.

 

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5 things that scared me as a child. 

Fear, says my dictionary, is a reaction to actual or perceived danger. Well, what a dry, boring definition. I think fear is so much more. It is that lump in your stomach when you anticipate the one thing that is most unpleasant or painful to you. It is the uncertainty and insecurity that surrounds you when you encounter a situation which is rather alien or new to you. The fact that you cannot determine the outcome of your actions in such a situation strips you of your confidence! It can be an instinctual reaction or one that has been cultivated since a long time. It is the state when your heart beats wildly in panic, when both mind and body are benumbed.

Well, there are so many things I fear today as a 20-year-old. Failure, humiliation, loneliness, diseases, fights, the unknown—these are some of them. It’s funny how they are all mostly abstract concepts or social situations! This makes me believe that as we grow into adults, our abstract, social or personal fears take precedence over the relatively simpler ones that we had as children. But of late, since I am being surrounded by (young) adult fears too often, an inexplicable wish has risen in me–to look back at some things that my child mind feared and explore why I feared them. So, here are five things that scared me as a child:

1) Snakes 

Maybe it was the way they look—their long, writhing, boneless bodies. The swiftness with which they slither, the curvy movements of that stealthy slithering that creates patterns on the ground or, their slow, silent hisses. The fact that they have relatively calmer, intelligent-looking ways of killing (good lord, yes!). The fact that they are venomous. All this creeped me as a child, that is actually, till the first 13 years of my life. As I grew older, I read more about them. I watched videos about them. Also, I actually saw two small garden snakes on two different occasions, resulting in what I could call, a puncturing of the great hype of fear revolving around them (for which I give full credit to Indian movies and myths!). Today, they scare me only a little, because, as I grew up, I started fearing humans more than anything else. And guess what? Snakes have more reasons to fear humans (leather-makers will know).
2) Mathleen ma’am 

Me when I was 7, when Mathleen ma’am used to harass me. 

She was a teacher who taught me in second grade. A tall woman (everybody looked tall to me back then!) with a pink-looking horse-face and a long, sharp nose affixed in its center. A bindi on the forehead, hair combed back into a half-pony and the churidar, every average school-teacher’s attire in India. If your picture of her is complete, let me give you one last detail—she had strong, hairy arms that beat up 7-year-olds. She also had a demeanour and style of interrogation that could intimidate the faeces out of full-grown adults. Once, I didn’t take my computer text-book to school. To hide this grave crime, I decided to take out another textbook and pretend to be studying from it. But I was found out in no time and my little mouth was squeezed, my jaw held captive by a couple of hard fingers hanging from those hairy hands. And before I knew it, one tight slap followed another. My body shivered from the impact of the blows and as she rained her shouts on me, all eyes in the class widened towards my direction, in horror and with a strange sense of understanding and empathy towards my humiliation. Mathleen ma’am didn’t stop at this though. Several times after this incident, she bullied and picked on me on different occasions that year. I kid you not, one day, she said quietly to me in front of everyone—“Roll no. 41, beware”. What a creep. She also told me I would be sent to jail if I didn’t do well in my tests. Did I believe that? Your guess is as good as mine. For many days, I tried to avoid school to avoid her, till one day, my parents found out everything and raised a hue and cry with the principal. But this brute of a teacher still continued to scare and ‘punish’ students. Besides, what could complaining to the Principal do? Damage once done is irreversible ma’am. Well, even if she hadn’t done these things to me, I would have never liked her—her name began with math. 

3) Poverty 


When I was, say, 7 or 8, I saw a movie in which a happy and prosperous family was reduced to utter penury; they went from living in a nice, sprawling apartment to begging in the streets and covering themselves with tarpaulin sheets in the rain. It was a silly b-grade bollywood movie, but had a lasting impact on me. That night, I asked my father if such a thing would ever happen to us. “If you don’t cut down on your daily diet of cheeseballs, yes” said my father, with a solemn face. From that day, I was determined to save every penny I could to save my family from destitution. Denying myself vadapav or dhabeli in the school canteen, trying to learn as much as I could about budgets and saving, and of course, scolding all and sundry in the family about overspending. For the little me, poverty was the worst, and only when my parents sat me down and told me that there are very few chances of us getting poor because of my actions, did I stop my rigorous anti-poverty drive.

4) Oceans 


Oceans and other large water bodies always produced a wonderment and fear of a different kind in me—it stemmed from the fact that one could never fathom the lengths and breadths of these vast spaces of water on the planet. When I looked at an ocean, it seemed like an unending blue that drowned anyone who ventured too deep in its waters. It made me feel powerless and insignificant, like a tiny little drop. Also, the ocean was a symbol of mystery to me. I believed, that no matter how much I learnt about it, I would never really know or understand fully, the large parallel kingdom of god that resided beneath it. My capacities were limited to its endless depths. An ocean during the night gives me the chills even now—the absence of sunlight just compounds the great mystery of what the ocean conceals. I would rather prefer the cool, sparkling and transparent waters of the shallow streams that reveal your feet standing on golden pebbles surrounded by tiny tadpoles (which you know are not turning into frogs immediately!)

5) Math


A lot of my friends and followers will empathise with me here. Till 15 years of age, I was in morbid dread of this subject in school. For most, it was just math, another subject. But for me it was a reminder of my slowness and dullness to everybody’s quickness and sharpness. It was a confidence-crushing juggernaut that charged at me with special, almost supernatural force! Even if I studied or practiced it, I would always find myself lost and helpless in its many problems. A right answer once in a while would be like an oasis in a desert. And the day before a math exam was nothing short of nightmare. And the Indian educational culture only aggravated my phobia of math, for god forbid, if one was slow or lagged behind, he/she would be hollered at or humiliated. Oh, and imagine, just be in my child shoes and imagine, how I felt when my teachers called me out to solve problems on the board, in front of everyone. They didn’t even allow us the privacy to hate and fear this subject, everybody  had to know how bad you were at it.

So these were five of my greatest fears as a child. They have not entirely left me, but as I said earlier, new fears have manifested themselves in my being and pushed these to the periphery of my consciousness.

Did this list make you think of your own childhood fears? Yes? No? Well, go ahead, share your own fears here, for my comments’ section eagerly awaits you.  This is my first blog in a year and a half, and I shall welcome your comments and views warmly—they will only encourage me to keep writing!

Writing down memories!

I had been going through my previous blog posts off-late. I must say that I was left dumbfounded, by the sheer difference in the contents of my blog in the very beginning (when I had started it) and my later articles (when I was just a year older). My posts in the beginning used to be school-girlish enthusiastic, unbelievably cheerful and full of curiosity. If my life then was punctuation, it would be a string of question marks and exclamation marks. But as I grew from eighteen to nineteen, none of the little things that used to matter to me earlier, mattered to me anymore. At least that’s what my writing told me. I wondered what happened. I wondered and kept wondering till the answer decided to force its way into my head. I had, like every other person, seen the big bad world, tumbled, fallen, hurt myself and blah blah blah…So that accounts for some of my oh-so-intense, sigh-heaving articles with all their mature, curt full stops.

I was dumbfounded, yes. But positively. I loved how I could see the very many changes in my life—my obsessions and fears, my heartbreaks, my hormone-induced nonsense and at times, the ridiculous dispositions I find myself in, through a simple blog. And then it struck me that writing performs a unique role in life. Writing preserves the earlier, more or less wise version of you on a page, tucked away into the safe confines of a book (or wordpress, in this electronic era). J.K Rowling used this concept beautifully in her second Harry Potter novel ( remember Tom Riddle’s diary ?). Indeed, writing preserves our memories.

Talking of memories, let me gently remind you dear reader that we do not have pensieves like in Rowling’s beautiful world. We poor muggles have only two devices to store our memories. The first is common, our soul. Unlike popular perception, it is not the mind that remembers and stores memories. According to me, it is our soul. Occurrences, information and incidents are plain, and the mind stores them alright; but memories my friend, are times of our lives which blatantly or reluctantly we have enjoyed genuinely. And the most genuine happiness can only be cherished by our soul, for it makes the soul warm in times when it is frozen hard in a frostbite. But alas! The human soul is, I believe, very weak. It changes greatly with time. Just like the human body, disease and desire can greatly alter the the human soul and make us forget who we are. Our souls can therefore, not be trusted in the task of keeping safe our most personal, happy and special memories.

But what can be trusted though is a book (or blog!). It will never deceive you. If people write down their happy moments, their intelligent and silly thoughts or even little conquests of daily living, they end up preserving their memories. They immortalize themselves. And so, writing is the second device to store our memories. Why, if you have inferred anything from the first paragraph of this blog post, you must have found out that writing also allows us to know who we used to be and who we have become. And what caused the changes.

Well, many congratulations to you for making it to the end of this 19-year-old’s self-indulgent post. All I wish to say in conclusion, is that though writing gives me many creative and intellectual pleasures, its best function is to store my memories. And even as I write this, clad in black homely harems and my favourite pink T-shirt, I am actually typing down a memory .Oh look ! There she flutters away, my memory, my butterfly. I am actually in the process of trapping that little colourful butterfly, down to this very word.

DISCLAIMER: The blogger cares for animal..err insect rights and no butterflies were harmed during the event of this blog being typed. Also, the usage of the butterfly metaphor is strictly for creative expression and not any hidden sadistic intentions/passion for trapping harmless butterflies.

 

 

 

Frustration.

Will is one beautiful thing. The lack of it can make the extraordinary be content with the ordinary, and the presence of it can make the ordinary achieve extraordinary feats, with each passing day. Oh! I forgot to add, the lack of will can also make me neglect my blog for two months.

Good evening all. I am back. And no, I am not back with a bang. My year did not start the way everyone thinks it should. Actually, I hate this part of the year. The memories, madness and sheer melodrama of my life in the previous year gone, I feel a vague, emotional lacuna tearing apart my being . This is the time when the December vacations and their revelry end and I have to wake up every day to a life, which in my aunt’s words, is “limping back to normalcy”.

The day college officially started, I was bombarded with a slew of impending deadlines, and several academic notes waiting to be completed. Also, on my jiggly shoulders, was the responsibility of getting myself a railway concession form. Okay. Let me assume that you are ignorant about my situation. So a railway concession form is a form issued to students by the Indian railways via their colleges so that they can avail a concession on their railway passes. Cool. But here is the ugly bit. One has to brave a really, really long queue to get the precious concession form in my college. And dear reader, I waited for two goddamned hours to get mine.

But hang on, that’s not the only waiting I did . I also had to wait for my vice-principal to sign my form ( it is unfairly mandatory for students travelling by my route). And I kid you not, I waited for four hours. That makes it a total of six hours. When she finally signed it, my heart wept tears of joy. It was over. This seasonal ritual, this dark and trying time was gone. All I had to do was buy a first class pass with the concession. But fate had other plans. My overburdened-with-demands brain forgot that the form expires within three days. And so, when I went to take a pass today morning, I was refused concession.

But optimistic as ever, I paid a fine in college and got the date changed. I returned from college completely exhausted from the second class journey of a Mumbai local train. My readers should know that I, like many girls, am in morbid dread of the ladies’ second class compartment of the train. This is because, you get subjected to a humongous, furious crowd of women who push, grab, pull with the agility and expertise of an Olympic medalist. These women are working women of the lower income groups of the city and are very different from the refined, delicate darlings of the first class compartment. They elbow away hoards of people ( in that tiny box of a compartment) with brute force and can quarrel with fellow passengers with the ear-piercing timbers that their voices are cursed with. They are frustrated women. God alone knows what they face in their homes and workplaces (and he forbid, we never know). They fight to survive. They have killer will. And boy, they are terror.

So I was back from a ride with these women. I was back from a ride where I had stood in awkward positions in the crowd (why, I had had my face right under the armpit of a tall woman!) for hours, been squished badly by all the pressure, had my nose in the sweaty stench of the ill-ventilated train…and well…had been mentally exhausted as well. I hurried to the ticket window to make myself a first class pass as soon as I reached my station. And then the woman at the window told me that I needed yet another signature from the vice principal, for having altered the date.

Another day..yet another day…another wait for the vice-principal…another day with the ladies.But will really is one beautiful thing. It made me survive this day and I am sure it will make me survive another. And another. Still, I seriously wished I could go to the Himalayas and perform a severe penance and gain the favour of lord Shiva. I decided that when he would ask me what I want for my unparalleled devotion and discipline, I would request him for his marvellous third eye. And quite positively, I would burn the human civilization and it’s superfluous, time-consuming and utterly ridiculous ways. That, would be my frustration.

 

 

 

 

5 most annoying human habits.

Hello all! Today I make my list-post debut . Human habits are many. And I must say, some of them have been consistent in their efforts to vex me well enough to make my blood reach it’s boiling point. So do read on, as I list five of them, which have elbowed their way from many other habits, to make it to my exclusive list of the most annoying habits of human beings.

  1. EXPECTING OTHERS TO BE MIND-READERS:

We can speak.We can hear.We can see.These are our only natural ways of communication.If we use these tools effectively, then we can communicate well without misunderstandings.Unfortunately, some people complicate this process of communication by expecting others to understand exactly what they expect/desire/like/dislike/love/hate/want/not want without the use of simple conversations.They expect you to know these things without being told or expressed in any clear way. Also, their words belie their thoughts. For example:

A asks B, ” I am making myself some ramen, should I make some for you too?”

B replies ” No! Please don’t bother! ” But B expects A to make some ramen for him too. And when A does not take the invisible cue, B forms an opinion on A.

Now this is a very simple, basic example. But imagine this happening on a larger scale, with more seriousness and intensity. Imagine how relationships break in life because people want to be understood without expressing with words, their thoughts. Imagine relationships breaking, because people want to be understood without expressing at all.

mindreaders

2. INCESSANT COMPARISONS :

A and B are trying out a food joint. A thinks the pav-bhaji is delicious and even says so cheerfully to B. But B just grimly says, ” Oh! But this is nothing in comparison to the pav-bhaji I had had in XXXX place this one time in Kolhapur. ” A looks on as B continues with his rant on the other food joint, while stuffing himself with extra helpings of the pav-bhaji of the current food joint they are in . A sighs deeply, because this is not the first time this has happened.

The above example, is an attempt to articulate, this habit. Champions of this habit, are always in ” that one time” , “that one place”, ” those good old days” or in life, “that particular phase”. They live in every moment, situation, event or place, but the present. They keep comparing the present to these, and end up destroying it for themselves as well as others. Like I have said in one of my previous blogs, living in the past is a dangerous activity.

3. NOT RESPECTING A SPEAKER/PERFORMER:

This, I most particularly despise. That’s because I often take part in speaking contests and even speak for class presentations. Now let me say, that my complaint is not against people who yawn occasionally or get fidgety when someone is speaking or performing , but against those, who make it a point to poke fun at the speaker/performer by exchanging glances, constantly chattering with others, or passing judgement after judgement —- as if it is required at all. No one is really perfect and it would be better if people quietly acknowledged that someone had the courage to step on a stage, when they themselves did not.

bad habits 1

4. PEDANTRY:

A did not really want to study with C. That’s because C spends most of  the time asking the silliest, most trivial and unimportant doubts! 

A pedantic person is one who is obsessed with minor details or rules. He/she fawns and fusses over the slightest “mistake” and wastes valuable time to perfect them when there are issues of more significance screaming to be addressed within a limited time frame. People who resort to pedantry are highly irritating, especially when they work in a group, as they make it difficult for the others with their fastidious ways.

5. SMARTPHONES:

I have very little to say about this because a lot has already been said about it. The picture will say it all !

smartphone

Source of all images: google images

So here I end my little list. Agree with me? Disagree with me? Let me know. I would like to have discussions on my comment section, which is rather desolate. 😦 😛

How I have been raised in a feminist household.

Before I begin with this, I would like to make a confession. I, my friends, have never studied feminism in any way. I know about feminism only through popular campaigns, media, outrages and documentaries. Therefore, I write this from the perspective of a 19-year-old girl who has, after accepting and rejecting different versions of it from various sources, found her idea of feminism. All I wish to tell you is, how I found feminism; feminism inside my home.

feminist

Let me begin, by reproducing here, some of my fondest memories. Memories of kindergarten, when my father used to feed me my cornflakes before school. The memories are just flashes—of my father’s big hands feeding spoonfuls of soggy cornflakes in warm milk. I also remember how he used to give me and my brother head baths on Saturdays and Sundays and then make us sit and dry them while he told us crazy stories he had created. My father’s hands were large, hard and manly—a stark contrast to my mother’s dainty, soft ones. But apart from the physical differences in those hands, I could never tell which ones had nurtured me and my brother more— because really, my parents were equals. They have both had an equal share in raising us! My father used to help my mother in ways such as getting us children ready for school, feeding us breakfast, and several other household chores. In this time, my mother used to cook, wash and perform other duties after he was gone for work. She used to lovingly tell us bed time stories at night ,answer our doubts ,patience-testing uncomfortable questions and baby talk us to sleep.

My father helped my mother because he considered it a responsibility to help his wife, he did not want my mother to be the only one struggling with daily responsibilities, a dream of pursuing higher studies and of course, two children. And so, they struggled, but struggled together. They shared their worries, tensions, joys , responsibilities, problems, fears and decision-making ,working as equals. And so, I remember both my parents as nurturers. Many of you might think all this is rather trivial .  But I mention this, because all my life, others have found this preposterous, the idea of a man helping his wife at home. When people used to find out that my father helped at home, they used to express shock,disbelief and even disgust at times. It was to them, unbelievable, that it is the help that men provide to women, that allows them to grow.

marilyn monroe

A couple of years after kindergarten, life changed for me and my brother. My  mother started working. She had taken a break from her teaching job so that she could dedicate time to us. But now that we were older, she decided to have a career after having sacrificed it for 9 years. Earlier, it used to be such that she would be back home before we even returned from school. But it is when  she started working full time, that we became sensitive to her. Her needs and even father’s. He was already helping her a lot, but my working parents could not manage just by themselves. They sat us down and explained to us, this fact. And so, me and my brother decided to be more resourceful at home; simply, by behaving ourselves when she was not around, not complaining, studying well, performing small household chores and being self-sufficient children. This, again, seems trivial. But trust me, it means a lot to a working mother. And as children, we realised our responsibilities towards our working mother. She was a human being. She could not discharge all her duties without the help of other family members. She was no goddess.

emma watson

And this became a routine. Today, my mother has successfully established a teaching career for herself ( cheers!) . My high school experiences led me to arts at the undergraduate level and am currently enjoying myself. In all these years of growing up, not once, have I faced discrimination as a girl. My family cares for me as much as my brother is cared for. My thoughts, dreams, career and choices matter to them as much as his. They allow me to have opinions, even if they are foolish. They love me as much as they love my brother. They have honoured their daughter ( read Malala Yousafzai ).

Today, in our home, we live together with understanding, patience, tolerance and respect for each other. We do fight, we do have shortcomings, we are all vulnerable. But we share our struggles and make compromises for each other. For each one us acknowledges that no one is superior by virtue of sex. We acknowledge that as men and women, we are just part of the same family. We take this attitude to wherever we go, because everyone is equal, everyone is human.

For us, like Emma Watson said, It is not the word that is important. It is the idea and ambition behind it.

Never say always, because you are human.

I am always inspired to write. This is what I had declared in one of my previous blog posts.But today I am least inspired or creative enough to write a good blog. I will always oil my hair before going to bed, this is what I had told myself when I had just cut my hair some months back. It’s been some days since I’ve oiled it and it looks like Einstein’s, the only difference being that mine is black. I will always have a fixed schedule all my life, I had decided. But well…! I will always hit the gym and transform myself into a good looking human being whose arms don’t look like a shapeless mass of wobbly flesh hanging to some bones. But I couldn’t continue with gym and just yesterday, I squealed with disgust at a photograph, of me feeding somebody some cake. My arms were far from toned, they were in fact…okay, I wont criticise them further as they are the ones typing this blog.

I will always keep this secret, I had thought to myself when I had heard something that I was to not tell anyone. But I realised that I couldn’t. I will always maintain a great performance in my exams, I had promised. But I am beginning to realise how difficult that is. I will always sleep on time,and get atleast 6 hours of rest, I had planned. But here I am, blogging well past 10:30 ( it’s 12:56). Also, I had believed that I should always be able to do my best. But now, I think otherwise.

We cant do our best always. The sooner we accept this, the better it is for us. Always is a word that stands for permanence, and permanence is not for transient human life. So, always trying is the phrase for us, for failing, falling and trying to better ourselves is the real human struggle!