Thursday, 24 September 2015

Beneath Every Strong, Independent Woman Lies A Broken Little Girl?

A few days back, I came across this on my Facebook feed. I was alarmed that it was posted by someone quite dear to me.

At the time that I started writing this, this post had 17582 likes and 24283 shares. For anyone keen to check out the current stats, here’s the url:  Source

It got me thinking that there is a huge number of fierce, strong, successful & independent women out there who are still feeling like broken little girls (and maybe guys are part of this population too), who got up on their own and cannot depend on anybody.

This is the truth which all of these lovely ladies believe about themselves and I found it disturbing and grave.

I am making this assumption because, honestly, if you like or share a post on Social Media, it is because something in it resonates with you – especially posts which have an emotional connect – at least my internal reaction is something like ‘Yes, that’s me!’ followed by a like/share.

If this is indeed the belief that one believes about themselves, I have to wonder whether no matter how wonderfully life must be treating them on the outside, no matter how much they earn, how much they spend, how good their partner is, how amazing their kids are, how much their life simply rocks now – are all of these strong ladies are possibly feeling alone on the inside?

In that case, I can imagine, that they would also have, a possibly bitter view towards other people and perhaps the world in general. I can imagine in their minds, thoughts relating to the its every man for himself mindset which may not be the healthiest. 

Life throws a lot of us in terms of challenges, obstacles as well as opportunities. I am sure that every one of these self-made ladies must have endured a lot and also risen above all circumstances.

I am sure these wonderful ladies have many diverse achievements to celebrate. It may be success in the workplace or being able to pursue a personal dream. It may be successfully raising children at home against all odds or may be successfully fighting a disability. All the accolades that are coming to them right now are well deserved rewards of their struggles. 

But I want these strong, beautiful women to question themselves – are you really broken little girls on the inside? Or are you actually triumphant warriors who can smile at the challenges life threw at you, which you overcame?

It’s true that there are times when everything in life feels hopeless. There are times when you feel alone – so alone. You may feel that there is no one who can understand your pain, your struggle, this war that life is waging on you. 

When I think of these situations, I think of another quote:

The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg – Unknown

When we face difficult situations in life, I hope we can use them to soften us, discover love, rather than them making us hard headed and bitter.

So all of you lovely ladies out there, who are broken little girls inside, think carefully - was there really no one you could depend on? 

I am sure you got up on your own for most of the part you got up on your own. But could you really depend on NO ONE?

Even if your mom couldn't take away your work related problems, maybe she worried about you and gave you a hug when you needed it most.

Even if your dad or siblings or spouse couldn't shoulder all the burden of what you were going through, maybe they gave you a kind shoulder to lean on, listened to all your fears, apprehensions and tears, gave you much needed encouragement when you were faltering and did whatever effort they could to lessen your suffering.

Even if your friends couldn't support you directly, maybe they called you up now and then to ensure that you were OK. Didn't it make the getting up after a knockout part just that much easier?

Did you say yes to anything of the above?  Then I hope you realize that you have many reasons to smile!

I always feel one should be mindful of what one consumes through social media; else we could end up having the most bizarre beliefs about ourselves. I also believe that one should look deeply into whatever experience they are going through, there are so many things one can learn by being observant.

Yes there will still be pain, frustration, loneliness but there will also be love, joy and things to be thankful for.

At the end of the day, I would gladly be the soft potato than the hard egg!

(And even the egg is not so bad actually, because it’s still yummy on the inside!)

Note: I apologize if I have hurt anybody. These views are strictly my own. I do not own any of the images used in this post.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Being Human – Of Small Balls and a BIG Heart

I vaguely remember the first couple of times I saw people wearing T-shirts with the message ‘Being Human’ in bold, capital letters. The words were so heavy and the message was like a loud plea on a busy street, the wearer seemingly carrying the burden of the whole existence on his shoulders.

I later found out that it was a popular catch phrase associated with a certain Mr. S. Khan and of course, Mr. S. Khan is only human.

After all, it is only human to get shit drunk (a witness had reported that the honorable Mr. S. Khan had been so drunk that he staggered to a fall and had to get up again upon alighting the car post the hit) and party into the wee hours of the night when you belong to the cream of society, its only human to make a mistake like drinking and driving, everyone does it once in a while (it’s another matter that there is a law against it), it’s only human to overlook those petty laws, who follows all those rules anyway. And when your car veers out of control and runs over other humans it’s only human to lose your shit and get the hell out of there.

Yes, it’s only human to lose the imaginary balls you so proudly flaunt in the movies.

Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen please understand that it’s completely human to pray that you don’t get convicted after a boo-boo which accidentally killed one and disabled some others. Yes, it’s human to utilize every single ounce of power, wealth and loopholes in an already putrefied legal system (which is also a result of being human and accepting money under the table, over the table etc. ) to save your sorry ass, small balls and your BIG heart.

Oh yes, it is so wonderfully human to have an awesome, BIG heart, overflowing with gold and warmth and all that is heavenly, especially since it makes up for those tiny balls. I mean, it’s human to lose oneself in fear and turn a complete blind eye to the plight of a young, righteous police officer who stood his ground right till the end, whom you brought to utter ruin. It will be covered by that BIG heart, surely 600 plus children saved and massive donations (I haven’t bothered to check the number) are more than enough to make up for a couple of measly lives.

As for the fellow supporters, they are also being human! I mean it’s human to feel pain and sadness when your friend, good co-actor, good samaritan (who is also involved currently in some projects valued over Rs. 200 crore, which are likely to suffer in case the guy is ever jailed), their own kind and kin is going to suffer through the unimaginable, hellish torture of living in a jail cell all because of some unintentional mistake long back. The fans rooting for him are also human. It’s only human to feel so much love for that BIG heart and charisma and hope that just because of a couple of relatively small wrongs, the poor guy doesn't suffer much. 1-2 years max sounds Ok but anything more is too much.

After all, he has suffered for 13 years! Albeit in a different manner than the honest police officer, who was shunned by society, was forced to become a near beggar, was shrunk to 1/4th of his original healthy body and faced a near isolated, premature death from tuberculosis.

But it’s only human that the B’town and all the supporters of our BIG hearted hit and run chocolate boy want us to understand that Mr. S. Khan has also suffered, probably while shooting every scene of Dabangg and every episode of Big Boss. Oh how he has suffered, how his heart has bled, we should all just stop bothering him already.

After understanding such implications of being human I mildly contemplated starting something along the lines of ‘Being Alien’ but that’s a discussion for another time.

For now, even you and I are very much human and it does encompass a much broader meaning than we can ever imagine or what I have listed above.

So what can we do as part of being human? It’s funny recollecting it now but there was a time when I was an avid fan of Mr. S. Khan. The last movie I watched was ‘Hello Brother’ (I was in the tenth standard then) with Mr. S. Khan and Rani Mukherjee. I remember feeling hurt and betrayed by someone I once adored when the whole accident incident actually happened. But somehow I was no longer able to admire Mr. S. Khan as a person and haven’t been able to watch any movies by him ever since.

Maybe the next time Dabangg 4 or 5 releases in theaters with a big bang, we can give it a quiet miss. Maybe we can think twice before gluing our eyes to the screen for the next episode of Big Boss. Maybe we can even think carefully about the stars we worship. Why do we adore the ones we adore? Why do we respect the ones we respect? Is B’town really full of such fantastic Gods and Goddesses that we are crazed for them, so elated if we so much as happen to catch a glimpse of them on the street?

It’s not that I am discounting the charitable acts done by this person. I am sure there are many and I am it has created its own well deserved good karma. I however do not believe that it absolves him of the implications of a deed done. At the very least, this I hope that this big hearted, generous person is able to feel a semblance compassion for the all the direct and indirect victims of his action, beneath the layers of power, fear, arrogance and lies.

I am also sure that there are many stars worthy of all the love that we bestow on them but there may be some whom we have placed on pedestals just for the sake of glamour, hysteria and whatnot, and who are not worthy of the same.

At the end of the day it’s very real – the fact that a hero on screen is not necessarily a hero in real life, he may be well far from it. At the very least, I hope that you and I, as part of being human or being whatever, we choose our superheroes more carefully.

Note: I apologize for the language and I apologize if I have hurt anybody. These views are strictly my own.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Why blame the Porn Star?

I had a less than pleasant Friday night this weekend. After a hectic week, the one thing we all look forward to, for those of us blessed with an off on Sat, is the weekend that begins after work on Friday.

But it was marred by a message I received from one of my sisters. It was a WhatsApp forward about some lawyer making ill natured remarks on women when asked about defending one of Nirbhaya’s rapists. Radiocity was encouraging us to send an sms to ‘56060’ saying ‘CITY NO’ to gather support (I was riled up enough and did send that sms). Apparently with enough such sms responses this lawyer is going to ‘take his comments back’ (how does this even make a difference anyway? Does him ‘taking his comments back’ mean he is going to reform all his views and become a changed man?) It led to me and my sister having a lengthy discussion on the general lawlessness, hopelessness, lack of safety and the grim future of the society that we live in.

It also struck me with some thoughts. As a collective society what are we doing to make this world a better, safer place for us, our loved ones and the future generations? Is it enough to get riled up, send sms’es and pray that the justice is done by a judiciary system infamous for their less than robust delivery of judgment?

I am sure you are wondering what this article has to do with the Porn Star.

Before we move on to that, I want to talk about one of the most revolutionary shows to take the entertainment world by storm; most of you must be familiar with Game of Thrones.

Highly recommended by many, I watched the first season. The sets were larger than life, the drama very gripping, the sheer gore and brutality in nearly every episode left my stomach churned. There is also a lot of nudity in the show. A few male friends have assured me that it is not the reason why they watch it, I believe them as well (however I fail to understand how an average healthy male will not feel turned on from the display of full breasts and round behinds and wanton women spreading their legs or offering aforementioned behinds here and there).

There was a scene at a princess’s (the Khaleesi’s) wedding where a woman is fucked in the same manner we can see dogs making love on the street. There are more such instances where women are shown in questionable ways but it’s all more or less a bold and commendable step in the entertainment world. It’s also a depiction of a bloody history which has roots in reality etc. Now the show is four seasons old (I did not make it past season one) and the world just can’t seem to get enough of it. We are all waiting with bated breath for season five.

Why am I talking about Game of Thrones? Because while we want nothing less for our entertainment, I wonder if we also realize that this is the food we are feeding our mind and soul.

Venerable monk Thay said that there are many seeds that are in our minds - understanding, wisdom, and forgiveness; as well as seeds of ignorance, anger, fear, and hatred. Depending on the seed that we water, it will bloom in our consciousness and manifest in our thoughts, our beliefs and our actions. So when we watch violence, gore, nudity or the ‘Item number’, or coming back to the title of our discussion, the Porn Star, what seeds are we watering in our consciousness?

If you have been blessed with a nourishing upbringing with care from loving parents, a decent education, a stable roof over your head and a healthy source of living that makes you feel secure then a seed watered by feeding such food to your mind may still have harmless consequences. Even if you do water the seed of desire, you will likely take no harmful action. If your body does experience some lust, you may seek your beloved or a consenting partner, relive yourself on your own, or may ignore it altogether.

On the other hand, the effect of watching the same item number, the same Porn Star will have different results for somebody devoid of a nourishing upbringing, who struggled for his daily bread and is used to stealing, who has been exposed to abuse on himself and violence on women around him and in whom humanity is nearly deadened in the first place.

The same content which you enjoyed in a harmless manner will instead reinforce his view that women are nothing but objects for his physical pleasure. As an action, he may eve tease a woman passing by with lewd remarks or song lyrics, he may grope a woman when opportunity present itself, like on a crowded railway platform. In the worst case scenario he is the rapist and murderer with no road of return to humanity.

Please understand that I am not sympathizing with one who has committed a crime. Each cause has an effect and along with you I pray that justice is delivered. But I do wish to encourage you to introspect.

There was a message in another WhatsApp forward that India is a country where a Porn Star is worshiped as a celebrity but a rape victim is not even considered a human being.

But why blame the Porn Star?

Just as the butcher exists because meat is being demanded, the Porn Star is here because we want her flesh. The item number is highly paid in the industry because we enjoy it. It is somewhat like alcohol. One person drinking it may enjoy it in a light manner while another may go home and beat his wife. But the reason why it is sold is because both of them demanded it. The responsibility becomes collective.

Today we are more likely to be well informed about a Paris Hilton, the latest updates from Google or Microsoft, or those on love affairs between celebs or the latest trend we should be following with respect to our clothes, hair, bags and lipsticks.

 But we may not be so well informed about the gentle monk Thay now at a ripe old age, a teacher of love and compassion and a peace activist beyond compare.

It may be absurd to say that crimes in society will stop or even curtail just because people stop consuming violence and content depicting women in a lesser light. But if on an individual level if we practice discretion, if we think about how is our entertainment affecting us, does it encourage us to live better, does it give us hope, laughter or does it merely titillate? It might just make the world a little more wholesome for you, your loved ones and your born or yet to be born children.

If we cannot detach from or regulate our own temptations, then how do we expect a change for the better in humanity in general? We are not separate from one another.

Can we start thinking about the meaning of collective responsibility?

Note: I apologize for the language and I apologize if I have hurt anybody. These views are strictly my own.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Sound of music - Tibetan singing bowls and more

So recently I stumbled upon Tibetan singing bowls.

They are addictive! Thankfully there are many videos on YouTube with Tibetan singing bowls. As of now, I don’t understand the significance of the different types. They are spread across 7 chakras or more generally the music is for sleep, healing, meditation etc but for me more or less all are the same, I just like some more than the others.

Instead of meditation (so far I fail with it, classic case of the chaotic mind), I run them in the background when working (I listen to sleep music when making reports!) or when unwinding at home after a long day. It works wonders to reduce the mental chatter.

I have also been listening to some mild anime soundtracks. For those of you who don’t know anime, a small introduction would be they are Japanese animated series, aimed for a general audience instead of just children (Google Naruto) and they have some of the best music ever (most of it is Japanese).

One of my all time favorites when it comes to anime ost is the soundtrack of Mushishi.

It’s hard to describe it in words. To best some it up, I’ll say its music that seeps inside me, it is absorbed in my bloodstream and flows with it. 

I have also been exploring the soundtrack of Inuyasha. I was all teary eyed after listening to something like this, again when making reports! And my colleague was like - o_o why-you-crying? 

All in all, lately I have moved from songs to music without words. Of course I still listen to songs but this another dimension of music which I hadn't explored before. I don’t know how many around me listen to wordless music but it brings in something new altogether. Sheer sound, even without language, evokes a powerful emotion.

I have been reading works by Osho lately, and he had mentioned that sound is fundamental to man - if we listen to something pleasant then we feel good and if we listen to the rants of a madman, we also feel like we are going mad. I couldn't agree more.

There are so many things that we listen to externally, the background noise and I wonder how it affects our psyche. The random commercials, some annoying, some not so annoying, each telling you to buy this or do that, because you are worth it, because you deserve it, because it’s ‘in’, or more commonly because it’ll get you that girl/guy and what not.

Then there is the din of everyday life. I am sure those travelling in Mumbai locals would relate to the cat fights/dog fights we end up hearing, sometimes even when earphones are plugged in! There is random music in pubs, malls, discs or at times even in a taxi/auto. Sad songs, happy songs, love songs, old songs, item numbers all of them filter through your head without your consent. 

It has become tricky business to steal a moment of peaceful silence. Silence is supposed to be the most golden of them all, it might be a good thing to build a relationship with it early on. Or so I am trying. As with everything, it’s a long way to go. But lazy weekend afternoons with particularly no aim and nothing to do are giving me a start (it often ends in a nap but let’s not get into that).

For now I’ll leave you with another of my favorite tracks from Mushishi. The tracks are by Toshio Masuda, he has given tracks for a lot of shows including first season of Naruto.

The sounds seem to be from another world. I bow down to all these composers and their talent!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Does Magic Exist?

It starts with what is magic?

Magic was, in all probability, the core of your childhood and mine as well. Cinderella and her fairy God Mother, Aladdin and his magic lamp; spells, enchantments, witches, fairies and superpowers - it is a very curious world indeed. One which is and isn't at the same time. But the child is ever so eager to believe.

So what happens when we grow up? Magic somehow seems to fade away from the being. Today you and I are more likely to disprove any inkling of magic that may dare surface and why not? We know the tricks. How a bunny can be pulled from a hat and many more. We are now smarter and educated. With us we have tools of science, math, logic and reasoning. There has to be an explanation. Even if it hasn't been found yet, sooner or later it will be and then it will all make sense. Let’s face it, we are not kids anymore!

Did the magic really disappear though?

Did it leave you and me? Or this world that we were born in? What was that funny tingle that you felt when your eyes met your crush or beloved? Or the radiance in the eyes of a stray pup that you picked and held in your arms (you must have smiled or tried goofy faces). A warm hug from mom which somehow seems to melt away all worries of the day, if just for a few moments or a melody which takes you to another world when you plug in your earphones, (somebody created that combination of notes and beats and God knows what else and now you are experiencing bliss or a tug at your heart).

Even though it doesn't come close to the dictionary meaning, even if we are all grown up into fine adults, even though we know that there are footsteps on the moon, even though we can come up with an explanation for almost anything maybe somewhere, the child in us knows something more.

I hope there is some magic coming your way!