24 August, 2014

Unhappy and Gay

"What hits me most is that they believe sexual orientation can change and I'm being blamed for not compromising."

Statements like these feel like a dagger in my heart. A dear friend of mine shared this Al-Jazeera article on his Facebook timeline and I can’t thank him enough for that.

Since, the past few days I felt the world was trying to tell me something when I heard stories about people who couldn’t be themselves because of cultural or societal pressures.





This story is about how “Indian gay men’s wives are trapped in marriages”. But who said it’s only the wives who are trapped? One of the interviewees in the article explicitly states

 "In our society, even if you have a great job, you are considered a failure if you are not married with kids"

Why is it necessary to be defined by such beliefs? Don’t we all know of unhappy loveless marriages where people just end up being together because they don’t want to upset societal harmony?

What if happiness to me is being able to provide to for my loved ones and having a roof over my head? What if happiness to me is having the liberty to pack my bags at any given point of time and set shop in a country I barely know?

I say all this not because I’m a vocal supporter of gay rights. I say this because I believe in happiness and individuality. We are entitled with the freedom to decide what makes us happy and what doesn’t.

"Most parents tell the men to produce children and be gay in secret," says Anjali Gopalan, the executive director of Naz Foundation in India, an NGO which is actively fighting to decriminalize gay sex in India. Our parents told us to do a lot of things as we grew up. They told us not to have too much ice cream. They told us not to ever touch alcohol. They told us not to talk to strange people. But we did all of that anyway, didn’t we? Then why blame them for asking us to take drastic measures like procreating when we clearly don’t want to?

Maybe, I’m not gay and that’s why I can’t comprehend how it is to be on the other side of the fence. But hiding under the pretext of model behaviour when clearly we don’t always strictly abide by society’s code of conduct is disappointing. Sometimes, all you need is a pair of balls (Excuse me for the sexist language).

What are we so afraid of? They’ll talk behind your back. They’ll ridicule you. They’ll treat you as an outcast. Maybe, yes. They will but if you suffocate who you are in the process of pleasing someone else’s idea of perfection, then you’ll never flourish. It’s a mental suicide. I’d rather live with my heart wide open than bury myself under a false identity.

"Gay sex is not natural and we cannot support something which is unnatural," said Rajnath Singh, Home Minister of India.

There are over 2.5 million gay men in India according to a census conducted by the Government of India. I’m more than certain that the actual number is even higher, Mr. Singh. How can it be unnatural when millions of people across the globe know it to be the most natural way to be?

It’s hard to change how you are perceived by the people around you. But if you are comfortable in your skin, then they will look at you with envy and awe. They’ll secretly wish in their hearts that they could be more like you.

Be who you are. Society will find a way to assimilate you. And if they don’t, do your own thing.

Whatever you do, ask yourself first – Are you happy?
Whatever you do, ask yourself – is this your decision or theirs?


We can never be perfect. But we can always be the best of what we can be.


04 August, 2014

A Friendship's Day Story

I’m scared. My bones are shivering even as I type this. You think that this would never happen to anyone you know. You think that the world is a perfect, bright and happy place. But people just bury the ugly stories in order to keep this myth alive. I have a story today which I need to tell the world because something needs to be done, my hands are tied and this is the only thing that I can do as a woman who wants to stand up for another woman.

They were in love. He used to sit in one corner, away from the world and sketch his thoughts and ideas. She looked at him and felt a magnetic pull towards him. Within a few months, he became her world. With friends and family, they shared their love and made memories. He learned everything about her that he possibly could. She couldn’t get enough of what he offered.

A few more months down the line, he started becoming distant. She was worried.

“Why is he always on the phone?”

“Why doesn’t he allow me to touch his phone?”

“What is he trying to hide?”

She tried to rationalize it with her friends. Some said that maybe it is a new friendship that he can’t let go. Maybe, it’s nothing and she’s just imagining all these things. She tried to calm herself down but women are blessed with this thing called “intuition”. She couldn’t let it go.

One day she found pictures and messages which she couldn’t comprehend.

“How can these things mean nothing? Am I a retard?”

“You are overreacting,” he said.

He started lying and deceiving her. He said that he won’t talk to her. But talk he did under a pseudonym that she could possibly never guess.

Misunderstandings led them away from each other. Her friends told her to stay away from him.

“He’s a cheater, a liar and a manipulator. Stay away from him,” they said.

She tried to but she loved him too much and didn’t know a world where he wasn’t a part of it.

“Can we be friends, at least?” he asked her.



He crept his way back into her life. This time her friends left her to make her own choices. The heart wants what the heart wants, one could conclude. They found each other again. He became her world again until one day… she picked up his phone and saw messages from the same woman he thought was just a friend.

She asked him, “What is all this about? Would you care to explain?”

“You fucking whore! How dare you touch my phone?!”

He charged towards her and slapped her with all his might. He was consumed with an adrenaline pumped fit of anger. He slapped her again and again. He pushed her against the table. She cried in pain. Her already sensitive back was further hurt in the battle of fists and feet. He kicked her in the stomach. She cried out more profanities and he hurled her with abuses, both verbal and physical.

“You slut!” he exclaimed and tried choking her in his rage.

Somehow she broke free and rushed to a place she could consider safe. Her parents saw the swollen cheeks and bruises. The taxing episode drained her of all strength. She was administered IV and a lot of love.

She didn’t know what to do next. She didn’t know why he did what he did. She wanted answers but that boy had all his defences up and ready. She told his mother but blinded by her love for her son and manipulated by his act of innocence she gave no heed.She told her friends and they asked her parents to approach the police.

“We don’t want to get into a mess with the police,” they said.

Her friends wanted to beat that boy black and blue. They found out that he had done the same to his ex-girlfriend but he found a way to protect himself against any kind of charges. Smart people know how to manipulate the system.

I was told that they want to break a few bones to teach him a lesson. But we all knew that this is a violent vicious cycle that can lead to no good. One of the friends suggested that let’s make his act public and push a campaign against him in social media.

But I got scared. I was worried they’ll charge me or them with a case of slander. We can’t go to the police. The parents of the girl are too ashamed and scared to take concrete action. They want to save their girl’s integrity. The mother of the boy is blinded by her love. The friends can’t do much because they will get stuck in a cycle of blame games that will get their lives into trouble.

That boy will be free… out in this world with the reassuring belief that he got away with it and will get away with it again. He’ll have a ton of other girlfriends who he’ll cheat and abuse and no one can do anything about it. Because according to him and the public perception he has built, he’s an angel.

I can’t take names because I’m scared.



This girl has been a victim of domestic violence before this too and in her warped view of the world, that’s how all boyfriends of hers will be, now.

The girl lives in agony with wounds that will never heal. In every possible scenario that we thought in our heads, the system supported him and not the girl.

Domestic violence is real. And all of us are cowards. We women justify it to ourselves that maybe we deserved it or maybe, we pushed them too far. This comes from a woman who has been a victim of domestic violence herself. What did I do when this happened to me? Nothing. I did nothing. I lived with it. When I told my friends, what did they do? They wanted to break windows and bones. But what could they do? Nothing. They could do nothing.

What is this girl going to do? Nothing. The only person who could’ve possibly changed things does not see that she is a woman first, mother later. There is nothing in this world that can justify a man hitting a woman, especially in a conflict.

Our hands are tied and we want to change things. 

Will they change? Can we change it? Or does another soul bite the dust in the injustice of it all?

You tell me.






23 June, 2014

Fly baby, Fly


We are fantastic the way we are and sometimes we need to be reminded about that. There is nothing that I have to say except a few idealistic statements and realizations that I know to be true.

The big bad world out there is ugly and heartless, that’s absolutely true for most parts. But in the bitterness of our harsh realities we often forget how there are small pockets of happiness and pure-hearted goodness that are going to warm our hearts amidst this drought. We forget that much like us there are others who are suffering in their silence hiding behind the unbreakable shield of their smiles.

And maybe, they are distrustful of everything just as you are because it seems unfair. If we all get stuck in that cycle of distrust and loathing, can we blame anyone for the eerie sensation of hostility when we thrust ourselves into the open? 

Have a little faith. Go in blind. Leave it to the Universe. Hang your boots in the air and surrender. Let go of your expectations. Don’t follow the script. Make your own story. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

You see what you want to see. I chose to see beauty, wonder and awe. And I find it in places that I never thought I could. I chose to see the smiles and not the frowns. I chose to look straight in the eyes and see their souls and not cast my eyes away out of embarrassment. I chose to dream and hope for unachievable aims knowing very well that it would break my heart if they wouldn’t happen.



I dream and dream unabashedly. And as the globe spins to take us from night to the day, I know that I’ll get there even if it’s at an infinitesimal speed.

Fly baby, Fly.





30 March, 2014

Butch.

Following up on an article i wrote a couple of weeks ago, i found another human being who was addressing the same issue in a different vein. A San-Francisco based photography project called "Butch" spearheaded by Meg Allen highlights the "identity and presentation of female masculinity as it stands in 2013-14". 

According to Meg Allen's website the project is about : "It is a celebration of those who choose to exist and identify outside of the binary; who still get he’d and she’d differently throughout the day; who get called-out in bathrooms and eyed suspiciously at the airport; who have invented names for themselves as parents because “Mom” nor “Dad” feels quite right; and who will generally expect that stare from the gender police trying to figure out if they are “a boy or a girl”. It is an homage to the bull-daggers and female husbands before me, and to the young studs, gender queers, and bois who continue to bloom into the present."

I'll admit that i do that too. I look at people and try to box them into stereotypes which i've developed in my head. It helps me understand them better in an odd way because i think i have them figured out. We all do that. And this has got nothing to do with your upbringing, nationality, sexuality, race etc. We build those stereotypes irrespective of these factors because we want to know people and understand what they mean or stand for at a subconscious level. So, don't beat yourself up if you are guilty of forming or adhering to preconceived notions. 

However, i don't want to be confined with those limitations about people. Everyone is different. We keep evolving as a species everyday and if you don't open your mind to make room for these changes in perceptions and behaviours then you are leaving yourself out of this whole cycle of evolution. 

I don't know. Maybe, i'm getting a but ahead of myself but i strongly believe that it's the outliers who shape the future of any generation. Embrace anomalies. Embrace change. Forge ahead into the future.

Take a close look (Butch). They are beautiful.




Sources : http://www.buzzfeed.com/skarlan/photographing-the-butch-women-of-san-francisco

08 March, 2014

Introverted

I should be writing about women because it was International Women’s Day but no, I’m going to give that a pass. As you can very clearly see through my blog posts, I celebrate womanhood almost every single day to the point where I feel like “we run the world” (to quote the famous Queen B).

Today, I have a different cause to talk about. There is an on-going secret underground movement which has started gaining momentum over the past couple of years. There are dedicated blogs, websites, YouTube videos, books, research studies, trolls, Reddit threads etc. which further exemplify this movement. It’s called Introversion.

In a largely extroverted world, how do introverts survive?

Introversion is not an affliction. It’s not something one can choose to be. It is how you are. You don’t have a choice in the matter. What you do have a choice about is how you deal and cope with it to adjust with your external environment. Introverts are constantly being nudged and prodded by the world around to “cure” themselves. But much like, how homosexuality is not a disease that can be cured nor can introversion.








There are tons of preposterous myths surrounding this concept or state of being. Obviously the funniest one was about how an introvert can become an extrovert. The other one that drives me nuts is “Introverts are crazy people (read perennially depressed and survive on happy pills)”. That’s not true. I feel like shouting from the rooftops and busting every myth there exists but a lot of my other introvert friends are already doing that job for me, take a look at this link:


 When introverts see how effortlessly others can mingle with their social circles it makes them uncomfortable and question themselves. You start wondering if something is wrong with you and a lot of us fellow introverts have to go through this terrible social trauma during our teenage years, those critical years where you are developing your self-esteem. If you don’t navigate yourself well around it, you are left feeling handicapped. 

I went through that. I questioned myself a lot. I loved being with myself so much that I never needed anyone to be with me and I still have a major tendency to be like that. If you ask me one person who I absolutely unabashedly love to death (yes, Benedict Cumberbatch comes pretty close) then it would probably be, Me. I’ve invested that kind of time in me, probably that’s why. But I had to fight this. Man is a social animal. No matter how comfortable you are in your skin, you need others to survive and make a wilful existence for yourself.

I stopped fighting my internal battle of how I’m being perceived in a very Elsa kind of a moment.




I embraced myself for who I was. One day, I looked at myself and decided a few things.

I am not going to be bothered by what people think about me.
- I will make myself heard
- I will say exactly what I think
- I will laugh a lot more often
- I will act out all the things that I think in my head instead of daydreaming about them.

It wasn’t a one day process. It took me years to get this right and everyday I’m still practicing. It’s like I am that person who used to stammer as a kid but learnt to get over it. You practice, practice, practice and one day you’ll get it right. In your head, you know that you are still a stutterer but you can work around it.

I love being around people. I genuinely do but I have to take a step back sometimes and I’m okay with that. I’m trying to walk the tight rope. But at least, I’m trying.

A lot of others just give up on it. That’s what I have a problem with.

“Maybe, I should talk to her. Na.. it’s okay. She doesn’t care.”
“Oh the professor got that sum wrong! Someone else will point it out to him.”
“He completely ignored me. I feel hurt. He should apologise. It’s cool. I don’t want to deal with that shit.”

These are some of the internal struggles that we as Introverts go through. There is a gap between thought and action. We need that extra push of energy and will to do the next step and more often than not, we don’t do it. My question is Why?







We miss out on so many oppurtunities because of this one drawback. I’m not saying that we should convert ourselves into Extroverts. No sire! But we need to go that extra mile and force ourselves to action our thoughts. The world needs to see the awesomeness (I can’t believe I just used that word) that we are. They need our critical thinking abilities. They need our insights. They need our observation skills. They need people who are perceptive of almost imperceptive changes and details.

We need to make sure that we are nor bull-dozered by the Extroverts of the World. Not because we are in a competition or a race but because we can do a much better job sometimes, thanks to all the books that we’ve been reading. All those hours you spent in making inconsequential connections and drawing patterns are the need of the hour in most businesses today. All those notes you scribbled at the back of your notebook about random facts and figures has turned into a well-established industry today. The Arts have always celebrated the creativity and eccentricity of talented Introverts, the other are catching up.

If you want to stand out on a public platform in the age of virulent social media, you need to have substance. Anyone can talk but can you be heard? You need to have concrete matter to be of significant consequence in any sphere. People are smarter today than they were yesterday. Showmanship alone can no longer grab the increasingly shortened attention span of the masses.

This is your chance. Step out of your shell and see the light of the day. The awkwardness is only momentary, let it pass. No one needs to know if you are an Extrovert or an Introvert. What they do need to know is - You.

Links you might want to have a look at:-