Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Words are meant to be used

First of all; I hear a lot of things. I don't always listen in, but most things said around me somehow remain in my mind.

Today, on my way home from work, it was raining and dark. Which meant that I couldn't read and all I could do was whatsapp a friend. So I was sitting there, in the middle of two ladies, who insisted on using their travel time to speak with their special someones. Now the lady on my left is happy with her man, so there was no issue there. But the lady on my right, a recent addition to the staff transport van was breaking up with her man. She had an issue with him, which she explained very well.

The issue
She felt the communication between them wasn't a two way communication. She complained tht she had to always call him, and he never started conversations with her.

My first thought was, "leave the man. If he can't be bothered to start a conversation, he's not worth it." Then I realized that I did the exact same thing. I never start conversations and rarely make an effort to continue conversations. And people have complained. So many of my friends have told me that I never say hello first. And my excuse was that if they cared enough, they would make the effort. Somehow they never threw that question at me. They mostly just gave up and left.

So there was this friend. And we used to talk a lot, on the phone. And I've called him only five times.
1st time was when there was a missed call from him.
2nd time was when he had promised to be there, and he was late.
3rd time was when we needed him, and he was MIA.
4th time was when he sent me a long message and I needed to reply.

So during our three month friendship I called him four times, whereas he called me at least twice a week.

Another friend left because I never bothered to send him any messages. So when he stopped bothering, our friendship died.

Recently, my communication issues became very obvious. I don't usually work on Saturdays, but I had to last week. Instead of coming back by bus, I asked my brother to pick me up, even though this meant I had to stay on at office for quite some time. Anyway, around seven he was still not there. So I called him only to learn he was on his way home(after hanging out with some friends) without me, thanks to an unclear message from me.

So communication has always been my weakness. I've never shown much interest in talking with people, and start conversations with maybe just two people.

Yet, when it comes to the various relationships we have, communication is key. We need to make an effort to talk to people. We need to say those first words. Often, we wait for the other to talk first, and so there are many missed opportunities in our life.

Recently, I decided to talk to a friend. To talk about everything so that I can let go of everything. Then I changed my mind, because I didn't want to bother him. Why disturb settled waters? But this is something I always do, I always avoid talking to people. And so often rely on my blogs or diaries or various online accounts to get my messages across.

However, we need to always talk to people. It may be difficult, it may push us out of our comfort zones, but without talking to people, we can never be ourselves. And so our unwillingness to make that first move, makes relationships difficult to maintain. Our silence ends relationships, and we end up not telling our story.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Activism, a change from within

The Nation Free

It is our responsibility and duty to promote change when there is a need for change. Many of us know of causes worth fighting for, and enjoy taking part in the process of making a change. When Obama said, “Yes, we can” emphasis was put on the word we. Look at the world, there are billions of people living on Earth. If you take a country, there are million there. A state or province has thousands. A town has hundreds. A neighborhood has tens and a house has a handful. And that handful is made of individuals.

Thus the world is a canvas with pin-point dots on it. The canvas may seem like one splash of paint, but if you start taking each of those points away, the canvas will soon be bare. Thus every one of us makes a difference even though sometimes, it doesn’t seem that way. We feel so insignificant, even though we aren’t.

This is why change demands the efforts of each individual. At first, no one spoke about homosexuality and people didn’t dare demand the recognition of homosexuals as human beings. Slowly, someone voiced his opinions and then another did. One by one, voices were heard and soon, entire communities stood up. People slowly began to accept that homosexuality wasn’t an abnormality, that who you loved didn’t make you less human and that these were human beings who should be treated like human beings. Today, certain states and countries have legalized gay marriage, and a fight for the legalization of both homosexuality and gay marriage is taking place worldwide.

Thus the changes we see today, the rights won, the recognition given, weren’t magically handed over to us. People fought for them, risking their lives. We were told to dream and fight for our dreams.

This is why activism is important. We all dream of a Utopia. This isn’t about a political Utopia, but a world where everyone is happy, where there is no injustice. A perfect world isn’t possible to create for various reasons, however we can change our image or idea of what perfection is.

However, it is one thing to fight for our dreams and another to fight against other people. Our freedom ends where another’s nose begins, the saying goes. Thus we must make sure our fights are passive and not aggressive. Many say Gandhi used a method of passive aggression. However, hunger strikes aren’t non-violent. You are inflicting pain on your self, and encouraging others to inflict pain on them selves too. Thus violent protests where a riot police is needed or hunger strikes aren’t answers to life’s many problems. This is why we must be careful about our method of fighting for our dreams.

You must be also cautious about what you fight for. Violence, hate and anger are not things that need to be promoted. Work towards a world of love, kindness and happiness. During a time when awareness campaigns are a many, you can have your pick of what cause to fight for. And no matter how small a donation or how quiet a voice you have, you matter. Your effort matters.

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph taken of Earth from six billion kilometers away by Voyager 1 in 1996. Carl Sagan, an astronomer, shared his views of the photograph and what it meant to him like this:

“Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Promises, we all make them, we all break them. I stopped making promises sometime back, when I realized that making a promise ties you to something. And when you fail to fulfill this promise, you feel like you have betrayed someone. You have betrayed your self. Then you feel guilty and ashamed. You can avoid all these emotions and feelings, if you stop making promises.

But people have promised me things. Even when I've told them not to.

The promise of love
Quite a few of my friends have promised to love me forever. It seems so easy I guess, to love someone. But to continue to love them, even when you really get to know that person, that's what's difficult. So none of these people kept to their promises. They promised me love and a forever. I got neither.

The promise of friendship
A friend promised me that he'll be my friend until death parts us. But what he actually seemed to have meant was that he'll be my friend until I tell him there's no place in my life for him. Truth be told, that space he once occupied, remains empty. But none of that matters. What matters is that broken promise. Now may be you think I'm being unreasonable, a typical girl. We push people away and then expect them to fight back, and prove they are worth it.

But I don't want all that. All I want is for him to at least remember that promise. He doesn't. And he never asked for a proper explanation, he just hit me with the hurtful truth. And then, he left. He left after I did, but he still did leave. Which I guess, was expected of him. But what about that promise? Why didn't he say something about it?

Because promises are meant to be broken. We make promises knowing we won't keep to them. "I promise..." has become as meaningless as "I love you". We rob words of their meanings, and yet, those very words we say come back to haunt us. So when he said, "I promise to be your friend" he actually meant that he'll be my friend until life, and not death, pulls us away from each other.

Our parents promise us so many thing. They promise us love, they promise to catch us when we fall. But they too know that soon enough they won't be there for us. Maybe because they can't. Or maybe because they shouldn't.

People do the same. "I promise to be there" and you look around after sometime, and they aren't there. Friends promise us love, comfort, happiness. But they fail to give us those things.

Isaac, in the Fault in Our Stars says, "Love is keeping the promise anyway." And even though I know promises are meant to be broken, some part of me still hopes those promises won't be broken. Maybe out of a sense of duty, maybe out of love. Either way, we keep hoping those promises will be fulfilled.

In the Zahir by Coelho, the protagonist goes on a long and exhausting journey in search of the woman he loves and in search of him self. It takes him two years, nine months, eleven days and eleven hours. But he gets there, because he made that promise, to him self. And this is what is expected of us when we make promises. A fight, a journey. No matter what the costs, we must, absolutely must fulfill our promises.

I smile to my self when people make me promise them things. I smile when they try to do that childish thing where you keep palm on palm and swear or promise. As if this bonds the two people forever. I refuse to make promises, and when people promise me things, I tell them not to. I'd rather continue to love them once they leave than hate them for that broken promise.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Romantic Movies and Prince Charming

Confession : I love romantic comedies. And romantic movies. And I always end up close to tears. *Walks away in shame*

Now that you know my dirty secret, here's my issue about such movies. (From now on they'll be known as RC for Romantic Comedies and RM for Romantic Movies.)

May include a bucket load of spoilers. You have been warned!

Friends with Benefits is amazing. It's lame, funny, cute and just, amazing. What happens is that there's a girl and a guy and they decide to be FWB because its fun, like playing tennis but there's no emotional attachment that a relationship forces on people. So they keep doing the deed but end up falling for each other. With a really cute ending, the two go on an actual date and admit they love each other.

Easy A is another cute RC. The girl pretends to have spent the weekend with a guy just to avoid her best friend's invitation to spend time with said friend's nudist parents. Soon the girl finds her self pretending to have slept with a friend just so he could dispell the rumors that he's gay (which are actually true). Soon enough everyone's calling her a slut, and she takes up that image but cracks, realizes no one actually wants to be with her. In the end, the boy who was always there, declares his love for her.

Pride and Prejudice. Girl likes guy. Guy loves girl. But guy is an idiot, so the girl ignores him. Slowly the girl sees this super nice side to the guy and realizes that she really does love him. They have a moment in the rain, they kiss, he asks for her hand in marriage, the girl's father approves and they run through a field of some sort.

So what these movies tell you is this. Things may not work out at first, but the end will be this big bang lovey dovey moment! But here's my question, what happens after that?

Jamie: why don't they ever a make a movie about what happens after they kiss?
Dylan: They do it's called porn
 (Friends with Benefits)

But I'm not talking about what happens rights after they kiss. What happens when the love dies down? When one person cheats on the other or they just don't get along and keep arguing and fighting? Or if one has a secret or some sort, and the other finds out?
Why don't movies show us what happens after that kiss? Or wedding? What about the rest of the Happily Ever After?

You know how, sometimes, you look at a person and there's this deep sadness in their eyes? That sadness is caused by heartbreak. By all the things movies don't tell us about. So we keep getting hurt, and keep waiting for our Prince Charming, only to face disappointment after disappointment.

There is a scene in Friends with Benefits, towards the end (I swear, I've watched this movie just too many times but I still don't know the names of the characters) where the girl talks with her mother, on this rock. And the mother tell the girl that a Prince Charming doesn't ride on this white horse. She tells her daughter to change her fairytale, or the image she has of her Prince Charming.

But movies make this so hard to do. We are shown this perfect man, with good looks, sense of style, knows his manners and is an amazing lover. He always says the right thing and gets you awesome gifts. So we wait for this perfect man and while waiting we tend to reject all these other guys, who don't fit the image of a perfect guy. And by doing so we let our Prince Charming go, just because he's not the Prince Charming of the fairy-tales. We don't realize that he's the Prince Charming of our fairytale.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Perspective and the Other

Yesterday I noticed the moon, it was a mere whisper. A loud whisper yes, but it wasn't the usual moon that boasted about her existence. She was humble. And much like the crescent moon and star found in Islam, the moon had company. Let me tell you, the sky didn't need to be black for it to be beautiful. With a not quite midnight blue color, the sky was beautiful. But most of all, the moon and that star. Slowly though I noticed another star. And then another. It had taken me sometime. More time that I wish to admit. Maybe, if I hadn't looked any longer, I wouldn't have seen those other stars. They would have gone unnoticed, by me.

People are like that. They go unnoticed, they remain in the background. They shouldn’t but they do. They can either shine as bright as those bigger stars or planets. Or like the moon, they can steal the light of another, or rather, share it. However, not everyone has it in them, to shine. Not all of us have that quality. And so others should grow dimmer. Everyone should be of the same brightness, so that all the stars are noticed.

The latter though, isn’t a solution. The world isn’t a place where selfishness or greed doesn’t exist. No one would step back just because another can’t step forward. We are always competing against each other, and against time. And our selves.

A recent IISuperwomanII video spoke about living our dreams, and how our dreams cannot be realized if we don’t work extremely hard for it. Yet, if we spend our lives trying to get to the top of the ladder, we will have no time to look up at the sky. Nor can we be like those brightly shining stars. Because money, wealth, titles and so on, don’t make you shine. The materialistic possessions you spend your days collecting will make you less easy to remember. Its love, kindness, selflessness that makes people shine brighter. This takes me to a certain someone.

A friend, if you could still call him that, always kept telling me to change my perspective on things. “Shailee, don’t look at the world from your own eyes. Change your perspective,” he would say things to that effect. And I kept telling him that I do that, but it doesn’t work. Recently, after it was too late, I admitted something, to my self. I didn’t know what he meant. I wanted to ask him, “What do you mean? How can I look through the eyes of another?”

Before I did anything silly and bothered my friend about my questions about life and perception and whatnot, help came to me. Well, kind of. I recently bought By the River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept by Paulo Coelho. The book is mentioned here because of one thing Pilar, the protagonist is told by her childhood friend. It’s about an exercise, where you look at your Other. Now the Other is in a sense our ego. Where you think twice about everything, you say no to adventure. In the Coelho’s book, a story is shared about the Other.

A man runs into an old friend who had somehow never been able to make it in life. “I should give him some money,” he thinks. But instead he learns that his old friend has grown rich and is actually seeking him out to repay the old debts he had run up over the years.

They go to a bar they used to frequent together, and the friend buys drinks for everyone there. When they ask him how he became so successful, he answers that until only a few days ago, he had been living the role of the “Other.”

“What is the Other?” they ask.

“The Other is the one who taught me what I should be like, but not what I am. The Other believes that it is our obligation to spend our entire life thinking about how to get our hands on as much money as possible so that we will not die of hunger when we are old. So we think so much about money and our plans for acquiring it that we discover we are alive only when our days on earth are practically done. And then it’s too late.”

“And you? Who are you?”

“I am just like everyone else who listens to their heart: a person who is enchanted by the mystery of life. Who is open to miracles, who experiences joy and enthusiasm for what they do. It’s just that the Other, afraid of disappointment, kept me from taking action.”

“But there if suffering in life,” one of the listeners said.

“And there are defeats. No one can avoid them. It’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for your dreams than to be defeated without ever even knowing what you’re fighting for.”

“That’s it?” another listener asked.

“Yes, that’s it. When I learned this, I resolved to become the person I had always wanted to be. The Other stood there in the corner of my room, watching me, but I will never let the Other into my self again – even though it has already tried to frighten me, warning me that it’s risky to not think about the future.

“From the moment I ousted the Other from my life, the Divine Energy began to perform its miracles.”

This Other is the perception most of us have of life. We study hard, we find a job that pays well, and we go on in life. Sometimes some of our dreams do come true. And yet, we always take small steps, we always think about tomorrow. We keep letting the Other make decisions for us.

In the end success doesn’t matter. The Other doesn’t matter. The fact that the Other is lying in a corner, screaming for attention doesn’t matter. Change your perspective and live your dreams. And this is how you can be one of those brightly shining stars.

We once had a psychology lecture in school. We were told about Autistic people. The fact that some of them draw so well is because they don’t first look at the point of focus or the subject of a scene. So they would first notice the background. They would notice all those details and then look at the subject. And so they notice more. They notice the stars that shine less brightly. They notice the wisps of clouds. And they notice the shades of the sky. They notice all this before they notice the moon, and the brighter stars.



Saturday, October 5, 2013

A rant about females

Have you ever wondered why god is male? Or why no religion was discovered by a female? If it because we are less intelligent? Or because the truth often leaves us befuddled? Is that why females are often in the background? Left to be seen but not heard.

If you think females belong in the kitchen, do you know what a still very hot and greasy spatula feels on your naked skin? In fact, this is why they say, females live longer. Because the kitchen is where the knives are.

some slightly sexist jokes for you to enjoy!

All joking aside though, females are yet to steal the show because of one reason. We are too busy keeping the world alive. Have you ever had to take care of your home during your mother’s absence? Let me tell you, its torture. Suddenly you realize the morning cup of coffee doesn’t magically make itself. Your breakfast needs preparing. Clothes need to be washed. You realize that when they say mothers should be treated like gods, they are underestimating the value of a mother.

What’s sad is that while we all make fun of the plight of women, we are actually talking about some serious issues. For one, a female is always treated as property. We go from being someone’s daughter, sibling, wife to mother. Our lives always depend on a man. I mean, it’s Mr and Mrs. The female rarely uses her maiden name. Why can’t the men change their surnames instead? Why can’t the kids get their mother’s surname? Is it because the children belong to the father? I wonder if those who answer yes to that question realize that most divorces result in the mother taking care of the children.

Anyway, this is not about females being better than men. Or that men are these disgusting vultures. I know some amazing men, and they are great examples that chivalry isn’t dead. And I’m not saying that all females are saints. Dear god! Some females are devils. I don’t deny that. Also, equal rights. While I think men and women should be able to do the same things, doesn’t mean they actually should do the same things. Now the upper bodies of men are rarely seen as anything sexual. That’s changing though, what with men spending more and more time on their abs. Anyway, just because men can still walk around topless doesn’t mean women should too. Likewise, just because women wear tiny butt shorts, doesn’t mean men should too.

My rant is about the general role females are given. We are the weak ones, the emotional mess. Now, have you ever asked for forgiveness from a female? If so, you’ll know that, generally, they say, “sure, all’s forgotten.” Ah! But females never forget. Because a female mind adds everything done against her, or her loved ones. A female never forgets. And sure we cry when we accidentally kill a mosquito. We cry when watching Wall-E or Titanic. We cry when reading a book. But hurt a female, and don’t you dare expect forgiveness. We aren’t emotionally weak people. You know how people tell you to respect your mother because she went through hell giving birth to you? Well, I’m yet to go through all that, but what females go through once a month is enough to be respected, at least a bit.

 “A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed. It won't stretch to make room for you.”
Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

My grandmother once wanted to be a journalist. Her boss, someone in the field, told her it wasn’t a job for a female. I now write for a newspaper and each day I’m reminded that it isn’t the best job for a girl. It’s not easy and when people tell me I need to give it my best, I want to scream at them, that I am. And it would be so much easier if people just stopped treating me specially, because I’m a female. If people stopped pitying me. When I go for interviews, they always manage to ask me what a girl, who went to a ‘Colombo 7’ school, is doing in a job like mine. Or they make it much more difficult to go on, they try to get the best of your innocence. You know how in movies, people whistle and look at a female’s body with just one thought in their minds? Ya? Being watched liked that isn’t fun. It’s insulting.

“Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”
Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

And here’s the thing. People don’t understand. You tell your male co-workers you are ‘sick’ and they tell you to stop pretending. You tell them you just can’t handle all that work, they tell you to grow up. You are tired, and you walk to some shop to buy lunch, men just sneer and make damn annoying comments. And being a woman isn’t easy. It’s a life of tumbles and beatings and one bad card after the other. I’m not saying being a man is easy. It isn’t. But men don’t always see how hard it is for us.

So before you hurt a female, in any way, think about your mother, your sister. Before you disrespect a female, before you act like a frustrated pervert, think about the daughter you want someday. Never ever forget that each tear you make a woman cry, you will pay for it.