Thursday, October 16, 2014

Momentary rhapsodies

Dear world,

I would like to take a moment to rhapsodize over my new pairs of trousers. Because they're just that amazing.

They're stretchy and comfortable and fit perfectly (and in fact feel a little loose despite being my size so that makes me feel even better) and they were so cheap in the outlet mall I found them in that I bought two pairs - one black, one maroon. And I've owned them less than two days but I feel like I could alternate between the two of them for the rest of my life and be happy because they're just that amazing.

I heart Ann Taylor.

That's all folks.

Toodles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where I swear a lot because I don't know what else to say

A few weeks ago, a friend said he didn't want to go see Mardaani because he was tired of women's issues being rammed at him all the time. He's sure it's a serious problem, but you know, he feels like everyone's talking about it all the time. And he's so tired of hearing about it. Or words to that effect.

And I stared at him speechlessly.

A few days after that conversation, Jon Stewart did a piece on racism and the situation on Ferguson. And in that segment, he said a line which I wish I had said to my friend and which I'm going to appropriate and repeat everytime someone tells me how tired they are of hearing about women's issues.
"You're tired of hearing about it?... Imagine how fucking exhausting it is *living* it."
Let's recap the things that have happened since then, yes?

Last week, Deepika Padukone chose to speak up when the most despicable newspaper in India tweeted a video solely for the reason that her cleavage was visible in it. Said newspaper chose to sink to new depths of despicability and take offense to her speaking up because you know, if you pose for photo shoots that happen to show your cleavage, why the fuck would you object when we post photos that do the same even if those photos were taken without your knowledge or consent and then focus on them rather than anything else. Which is an argument someone on twitter tried with me too, and to which I say fuck that shit. Because no. As several other people** have pointed out, there's a very small jump from that argument to you asked to be raped because you dressed, behaved, spoke, drank, whatever the fuck else, the way you did. And as I very eloquently responded on twitter, just... no.

Then, just a few days ago, Emma Watson made an incredibly brilliant and true speech at the UN headquarters. Which got shared all over Facebook by women proudly proclaiming how they don't consider themselves feminists in the modern sense of the word but they totally agree with this speech. Like, I don't even know what the fuck that means.

But then, the next day, I saw posts on Facebook about threats that were sent the actress' way because of her speech. I haven't read the details, because I don't want to, but really? Really?

And then today, less than an hour back, the straw that broke the camel's back and brought about this post, I saw this article.

What the fuck? No really, tell me. What the fuck kind of world are we living in where anyone - anyone - thinks this is okay, funny, witty, acceptable, true?

Fuck this shit.

_____________________________


**I haven't read too many of those articles, because I can't, anymore, but I did read this piece by Deepanjana Pal, and it might be worth your time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sorry, not sorry.

I don't, in general, get too influenced by articles I read or videos I watch. Well, that's not true. I do, but not when the article or video is clearly intent on influencing you. "36 things successful people do" and "6 animals you must hug to be a happy person" won't do much for me. Sneaky and subtle works better on me.

In the last month or two, however, there have been two pieces that made an impact on me.

One was this article I read on how a password changed the author's life. Apparently, every time he changed his password, he chose a tiny (or no so tiny) goal, and keying in that password every day helped him internalize those goals and his life went from meh to whoa. Which, if you think about it, is a pretty simply yet profound way to achieve your goals. The biggest obstacle for me achieving my goals is that I really don't internalize them. I think, dude I should do that, and then forget all about it.

So I decided to try this trick. I have to change my password every few months at work, and as it happened, I had to change it soon after I read this article. So I chose a password that would remind me of something I wanted to do everyday.

In the six weeks since I've had this password, I haven't done this activity once. Not. once.

Here's the thing. It's my password at work. I never use it once I get home, and that's where I should be doing this activity. I could change all my personal passwords to something similar, but... meh.

So no, this hasn't worked so well for me.

The other piece that had an impact on me was this video Pantene came out with a while back on how women tend to say sorry for everything. I saw it, and shrugged, and went about my day. And then an hour later, I was sending someone an email asking them to clarify what they meant, and started it with "I'm sorry, but...". And I caught myself, and deleted that part of the email, and went about my day. A while later, I was emailing someone with a request for more data, and I started it with "I'm sorry, but..." And I had to again make myself delete that line from the email.

And I've caught myself doing it over and over again, the last time being an email I sent just 15 minutes back. I'm not sure why i do it. I don't know if it's my gender, my cultural context, my personality, or what. Saying women do this seems too easy an explanation, but maybe it's true. But I had never realized I do it so often till I saw this video. And I'm trying to stop.

So unlike a blog post I wrote a month or so back, I'm not ending this one with "sorry, you guys".

Because why should I be?


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Where we live up to this blog's name

A.k.a., thoughts that meander, a.k.a., thoughts I've wanted to tweet, but didn't, because they were too long/awkward/I forgot.

The more places I go, the more people I meet (or, you know, observe/eavesdrop on), the more I agree with Miss Marple. Human nature really is the same everywhere.

If you're livetweeting how much fun you're having, I feel like you're doing it wrong.

David and Madras Cafe are both albums I will never pull up to listen to by themselves, but I will also never delete because I love their songs when they pop up on shuffle.

Do y'all ever look into the rearview mirror while driving and suddenly see no cars at all and wonder if an abyss opened up and swallowed all the cars that were there minutes ago?

I hope I never lose the thrill I always get when I look out of the window of an airplane. I hope I never get that jaded with air travel. I hope that when I'm 60, a six-year-old sits next to me and asks if she can have my window seat, and just as I did at 24, I look at her and say no. Because I love window seats.

There seems to be a very high correlation between someone moving to Amreeka (or anywhere phoren, really) and the number of photos they post on FB going up dramatically. Did I do that too?

Meeting people I went to high school with is weird. I don't know why I do it. (Except the two of you who read this thing. I heart you two.)

People watching is so much fun. It's a little more fun when it's South Asian people, because I (usually) have more context to what they're doing and saying, but honestly it's fun no matter who I'm watching (because see thought #1 above).

There are some parts of your life you can't share with anyone. Do y'all have those? Not even with your closest friends. Because sharing them accurately means sharing a whole load of context and history, all of which is not always yours to share. And not sharing them accurately means you just get a whole lot of eye rolls. And the one, maybe two, people you could share them accurately with have either heard it too many times, or are caught between a rock and a hard place, and in either case, can't really help.

There were more, but I forgot.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On my obsession with earrings

A friend recently told me she's never seen me wear the same pair of earrings twice. This seemed strange to me at first, because I have certain favourites that I repeat all the time, but also entirely possible once I thought about it, because I do have a needlessly enormous collection of earrings.

My mother claims she's never seen me without earrings - when I was born, they took me away to bathe me etc., but before bringing me back, they brought a tray of earrings that my mother was expected to choose a pair from in her groggy state, pierced my less than an hour old ears, and so the first time I was ever put in my mother's arms, I was wearing earrings.

Earrings were a source of great trauma during my childhood, because I had an allergy where if I wore certain kind of metals, my ears would get ghaav - and I have no idea how to say that in English - and start bleeding, etc. A lot of Betnovate and Soframycin has been applied to my ears over the years. My ears have also been pierced several times over the ears, because the ghaav would cause the holes to close and we would have to get them repierced. This is probably why when, during the high school and college years, all my friends were getting their second and third piercings, I was shaking my head and saying "never again".

My fascination for earrings began just before high school ended, though. My mother and I were going through her saris and jewelry to decide what I would wear to my school farewell, when she suddenly pulled out a box full of old dangling earrings (including Exhibit A - to the right here) that I had never seen before, and asked if I'd like to wear any of them.

Umm, yes? Hell yes.

I learned that this was her collection from her college days - bought from a certain shop in New Market Kolkata with whatever money she had left over from the tuitions she used to give. But finding those earrings meant I started my college years with a gorgeous collection, one that would only grow over the years. Dilli Haat, Silofer in GK-I, sundry trips to Jaipur, gifts from friends once my penchant was noticed - all these became sources of earrings.

My collection's rather eclectic too - I have the danglers with stones, in almost every colour so I can be matching-matching with whatever clothes I wear, the silver balis that go with everything else, and the smaller, supposedly more professional ones that I wear maybe once a month. I have short danglers, long danglers, medium danglers. The medium ones, in case you were wondering, are the most fun to wear because of the way they, well, dangle when you're shaking your head to music - and certain songs make this more fun than others (Beera from Raavan, for example).

Five years after my fascination for earrings started, Mamma and I went to Kolkata to celebrate my being done with grad school. On that trip, finally, she was able to locate the shop she used to buy her earrings from all those years ago. I walked out of that first visit to that shop flat broke - all my savings from the tuitions I gave during college were gone. And ever since, I've never gone to Kolkata without a visit to New Market and at least two new pairs of earrings.

Then, last year, when I was in London, my aunt, who used to be my mother's chief shopping partner, saw the earrings I wear and decided to give me her entire collection. She doesn't wear them anymore and was trying to downsize her house, my cousin has no interest in them, and they were too damn gorgeous for me to even pretend to be polite and say no. So my collection exploded again. And since I've found certain stores in Amreeka where the earrings are usually both gorgeous and somewhat affordable and extremely hard to resist, it only keeps growing.

Over the years, my earrings collection was distributed between chocolate boxes and pouches, categorized by colour, size, type, and how much I liked them (or didn't). When I left for Amreeka, the one packing exercise I took most seriously was deciding which earrings to bring with me and which to leave behind (I think I left 4-5 pairs, none of which I'd ever actually worn), and how to organize them.

Then, earlier this year, I finally caved and bought a earring organizing thingummy (Exhibit B - to the left here), only to realize when it arrived that it would accommodate only about half my collection. A second one was subsequently bought and put to use,and so now not only is my entire collection sorted beautifully, but I also have space for more.

Except that my friend's comments were followed by my new boss telling me this morning how I wear such different and lovely earrings. Which makes me think maybe I should cut down the buying any more part.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Of women, outrage, and the news

There is nothing wrong with creating ads that show empowered women. The problem is the people making these ads aren't capable of thinking an issue all the way through, and therefore you end up with a hash that shows how far women have come professionally, and at the same time manage to do an excellent job of showing how far they still have to go personally.

If I had any faith in Airtel's (a brand whose ads I have often loved in the past, incidentally) ability to be ironical and/or sarcastic, I'd actually be impressed with the ad in question.

There is nothing wrong with outrage. Outrage is good, and often deserved. Ads like the one in question do deserve to be called out, because unless you do, the fact that women still have a long way to go won't drummed into the heads of people who, quite simply, don't get it. The problem is when you have people on a website having the freedom to outrage about anything and everything, the value of their outrage gets diluted. And becomes something to mock rather than take seriously.

There is, in my view, something wrong with the world when "news" sites seem to think it is mandatory to write articles based on what's trending on Twitter. Having said that, if you are going to do it, do it properly. If you're going to write an article about how Twitter outraged about an ad, and collate tweets about said outrage, let those tweets be actual outrage. Don't just pull together the "top tweets" on the topic, which is usually just the comic writers on twitter being funny and therefore getting the most retweets.

There's a difference between "top tweets" and actual outrage, Scroll.

For those still wondering (and/or living under a rock), this is the article in question. And this is the ad in question.


I seem to be on a blogging roll this month. Sorry, you guys.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The deal with my life


Every night, before going to bed, I look around my apartment, and think: I need to get my act together. Well, truth be told, I phrase it in a slightly more colourful manner, but my mother reads this blog.
Every morning, before leaving for work, I glance around again, and think: wow, I really need to get my act together.
Every evening, I get back home, go for a swim (okay, this may not happen *every* evening), come back, take a shower, and then watch TV for the next few hours.
Rinse. Repeat.

I turn 30 in some months, y'know? And much like a few years ago, when I was hitting another milestone-y age, I'm getting into panic mode. 30 just seems so... old.

When I bring up my anxiety around turning 30, people rush to assure me now it's not that bad, how I'm not that old, how plenty of people meet their life partners well into their 30s, how I can have kids all the way upto 40.

Pfffffffft.

Who cares about all that? Getting married and having kids have nothing to do with my panic around the big 3-O. My bigger concern is why I don't have my act together. Shouldn't I be more... capable at taking care of myself by now? Shouldn't my apartment look less hurricane-struck, and the food I cook taste less bland? I'm never going to have one of those straight-out-of-a-coffee-book homes, but shouldn't I at least not have piles of documents and envelopes and bills on every uncovered surface in the place?

So what is the deal with my life? Because, really, I need to get my act together.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Where I try not to judge you, but do anyway

I have a feeling this post is going to come out as utterly obnoxious and condescending and judgmental and all sorts of things, and I'm going try to articulate my thoughts in a way that isn't, but you have been warned anyway. And now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let's try to articulate those thoughts.

I'm not - I'd like to believe - one of those people who put up posts or photos of everything that's happening to me on Facebook; that's what Twitter and Instagram are for, for me. My posts, more often than not, are about things that irritate me, or articles I find and read and think are interesting, or, as someone pointed out recently, when it rains. What can I say, I love baarish.

It's not that I don't post photos either on Facebook - I posted photos from a friend's wedding less than a month ago. And I do take a lot of photos with the intention of posting them, especially when I travel, but the whole process of uploading them into an album is so tedious that I usually end up not doing it.

But. I got a haircut yesterday. And I posted "before" and "after" photos on Facebook. And in the twelve-ish hours between posting them and starting to write this post, they've become one of my most "liked" posts on FB. Possibly only after my graduation photo from last year, and I think it has now beaten the post about my parents' 30th anniversary.

And it makes me wonder, is this what people want to see? What I look like before and after I chop off ten inches of hair to send to Locks of Love? So all the articles about women and politics and puppies that I post, which get a couple of "likes" (if any) - people just roll their eyes and scroll past them? Even the puppies?

Don't get me wrong, I'm as compulsive a liker as anyone. I like posts - all the time. But I feel (hope) I do balance out the cute baby photos and the articles, because hello, they mean something.

And it's not like I need validation or a gazillion likes to continue posting. I see it on others' posts too - the obnoxious ones whining about the whims of vegan friends, or the ones humble-bragging about how blessed they are to have a free weekend after working SO hard all week that their client gushed with praise will get a lot more response than some of the really brilliant articles that get shared by others.

And at the risk of sounding utterly judgmental, as you were warned, it makes me feel like Louis CK has a point when he calls us the crappiest generation ever.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Parental conversations

Conversations with and about my parents over the past few months.

The mother: Why are you coming now if I can visit you in a few months?
Me: Umm, you do realize you're not the only reason I like to come to India?
*offended silence*
Me: There are other people and places in my life, you know...
The mother: I got it after the first line, you know.

************

Me: So I renewed my lease for a year.
The mother: But... what if you finally meet someone?
The father: One of them can always sublease or something.

************

Me: It's really sad how awful my Hindi and Bengali is. Even the brother speaks better Hindi than me now.
The father: All of that may be true, but you have the best understanding of lyrics to Bollywood songs out of anyone in this family.

I felt so proud and validated.

************

The brother: What are you getting Baba for his birthday?
Me: He sent me his usual email of what he wants.
The brother: I didn't get this. What was on it? Was it for everyone?
Me: No, I get one every time I visit home. Things to work on - my health, my temperament, my ambition, the way I talk to people...
The brother: Oh. Are you doing any of that yet?

************

The father: You've been silent these past few days.
Me: Umm no, I Skyped with your wife almost every night.
The father: Oh. I wasn't informed.
[less than an hour later]
The mother: You can call your father, but not reply to my whatsapp message?

Competition nahi hain, bhai.

************

The father: So my eye surgery's on the 14th...
Me: Oh good, you finally got around to scheduling it.
The father: Yeah... but I need to talk to the doctor if it makes sense.
Me: If what makes sense?
The father: If I should have eye surgery after I've been up all night watching the World Cup final.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Triggers

An overheard conversation.

A conversation that made you smile. A conversation that made you furious. A conversation that made you wonder.

Something you saw on the drive to work. A movie you saw. An article you read.

A tweet. A Facebook post. A song on the radio.

Memories. Hopes. Questions you want to ask. Questions you want to answer.

Things you want to say. Things you have to say.

What makes you think? What makes you write?