Category: Musings

Dear Pandemic co-travellers,

It’s difficult to wrap my head around what we are experiencing today. Just a month ago it was life as I had always known it. Stepping outside of the door was never accompanied by a jolt of fear or doubt. It was just something you did unthinkingly as you set out and about.

Today, I worry about my car as its stands unused like the others in the car park. The cars are all washed regularly. They gleam and glint like showpieces but the tyres are slowly losing air.

The park has a huge padlock at the gate. It looks verdant, peaceful and alive. Not a single human is visible but birds are reclaiming their territory with evident delight.

The air is filled with bird song and eerie quiet. There is no honking. No traffic sound. No chatter of people. No motorbikes driving through noisily without their silencers. No lovers hidden in the folds of the lanes. No fitness obsessed people jogging with single minded intent. No flights roaring overhead.

The outdoors are calm. Deserted. Surreal. And yet they seem to be in a state of regeneration. The buildings, on the other hand, pulse with hidden energy. You expect them to explode with all that suppressed fear they are holding within them. Each apartment brimming with people 24/7. Reined in. Restricted. Locked down.

Where am I? What is this place? How did we get here? There is a feeling of inevitability to the life we are all suddenly leading. That breathless, endless surge of people through the cities, rocking back and forth between home and work has ceased. Completely. We have been forced to retract, retrace. To pull back and stop. The machines have ground to a halt. The malls have shut.

And yet the world has come alive. Were it not for the lonely deaths and the rapidly spreading contagion, the pressure on the medical teams and the local governments, the absolute halt of the economy … I swear, you could hear an underlying strain of melody. There’s a faint tremor to the note but it’s pure and sharp. And it’s fighting its way through. I can feel the world straining to rise like a phoenix from the ashes … and when it does … what an enthralling sight it will be.

Till then … stay safe.

#MeToo

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I tried writing this blog from the POV of a sexual predator but I gave up after a few attempts. I couldn’t get myself to think like an entitled imbecile who throws himself at women and believes that their gratitude for this attention should be paid by servility and sexual compliance.

This grey zone of sexual harassment is a judgmental space. It’s a zone of judgement and opinions. Men and women both get summarily dismissed by colleagues and observers for the ways they behaved or failed to behave at work.  From allowing a hand on the thigh to drinking with a male colleague to being someone’s favourite at work to consistently dipping into the office pool to hone their marksmanship… the list is nuanced and long. The enforced bonding on projects and long hours at work have made the workplace a hotbed (pun intended) of potential exploitation in this desire for power and possession.

However, what constitutes sexual harassment? In my considered opinion, it is anything that involves :

  • Stalking
  • Preying
  • Luring
  • Baiting
  • Using aggression, blackmail, power, promise of retribution, fear, undermining someone’s spirit … All for sexual dominance.

So, to clarify …. Gentlemen predators,

  • If you believe that you own the women who work for you or with you …
  • If you believe that women are basically dumb props and have made themselves available because they stepped out of their home to earn a living
  • If you believe that women exist for your pleasure
  • If you believe that women cannot achieve their goals without your proprietorial hand on their ass
  • If you believe that your female colleagues need sex education
  • If you believe that you are populating your personal harem while employing young, fresh ’talent’ then …

You are about to have your mask ripped off. And the world will see you for the self-entitled oaf you are. Because your Time is Up and you had it coming.

This applies to predators across the board, irrespective of gender or their leaning. 

To Love or Not to Love,

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Bright curious eyes. Expectant. Childlike. Alight with dreams.

Reality. Insidious, unpredictable, dramatic, inexplicable.

Two parallel lines of dreams and reality rarely ever destined to meet.

Simi was forced to accept reality. To swallow the bitter pill. To learn anew the walkway between illusion and fact. To question her dreams. To doubt her gut.

She learnt that love can be a lie that trips smoothly off a tongue. That promises are made to be broken. That avowals of love can be made to more than one. That love can be a string of beautiful beads. That the string can snap in two and the beads scatter across the floor in different directions to never come together in the same magical way they once had. That love can mock. That love can be a facade. That hate can be love. That causing pain can be love. That love can hurt. That feeling is illogical. That, sometimes, you just don’t have the stomach for it. Or the heart for it. Because you dread the emptiness it may leave behind. That love can be a one way street. That words are not love. That retaliation can be love. That love cannot be hidden. That love can let you down. That you can let love down. That love makes you vulnerable and powerless.

Simi’s eyes remain bright. Curious. Expectant. Hopeful. But there is a wariness now. Doubt.

Till love comes along again. Wearing a different costume.

And she holds on fast for the ride but this time, she keeps her eyes open.

 

Dear Sexual Predator,

You stealthy, hungry, compulsive groper, you! ‘Kaate nahi katati yeh din yeh raat, jab tak nahin rakhta hoon tum pe haath…’

Running empires, having the world at your beck and call but unable to control your primal impulse. How does that make you feel?

When you reach out to grope someone’s ass or push someone into a corner using your position of authority, does it make you feel good?

Does it make you feel good to enter a party knowing that a room full of people dislike you for having ‘submitted’ to you but haven’t found the courage to kick you where it hurts, yet?

 

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Does it make you feel good to know that men and women alike talk about you in hushed whispers and no … it’s not about your sexual prowess.

When you fall from grace and people call you out for the creep you are … does that still make you feel good?

This ripple effect thing has really got the ‘house of cards’ in a free fall and its fascinating to watch the wide variety of so called respected leaders and influencers (as of now, the entertainment industry in LA plus one ex-president of the USA) being stripped naked. As more and more people realise that it’s safe to speak up, that their voices will not be dismissed with a chuckle, that they will not be made to feel smaller than they already do … the ripple effect will continue outwards … it may even infect the Indian sub-continent with this rampant virus of ‘Baja bajaana’.

Eventually, you may end up feeling not so good … but then you have it coming. You ‘asked’ for it and as is the norm … what goes around …. eventually, comes around.

Adios Amigo,

Contemptuously,

Mother of the woman who had the courage to stand up and speak before the world. Judgement be damned.

Dear Friendship,

We learn cuss words. The best ones. From friends. We speak freely without censure and judgement. Come to think of it … almost anything and everything is without judgement.

The pranks. The madness. The wild cackle of laughter. The passionate debates. The lunacy. The impulsive travel. The movie marathons. The whirling dervishes we transform into. The gluttony. The wisdom and the sage advice. The falling over and picking each other up. The celebration and the tears. The sharing of fears.

The circle is tight.

High Five!

Member of the tribe

Dear 2017,

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Hope is the word that drenches every new year wish. Desperate, urgent, heartfelt hope that the world will be a better place, all lunacy aside.

These are 10 hopeful, anxious requests to the year 2017.

1. May we never again have to deal with whimsical people hijacking our hard earned money only to dole it out to us in rationed amounts.

2. May we find the voice to counter fiction with fact … it’s that little detail that checks out consistently across time and documents.

3. For the love of God, may the Air Traffic Control at airports get their spatial assessment right … each and every time.

4. May news channels discover a conscience and give the people a fight worth cheering for, a truth worth aspiring to and an idealism that inspires the nation.

5. May the underprivileged stand up and demand their rights, leave fatalism to the past and broker a brand new future for themselves.

6. May we, the citizens of India, not have to pay for silly statues and the lavish lifestyles of our illiterate … uhh … hard working netas … until each and every citizen gets to experience the basic human dignity of living.

7. May we acquire special powers that can stop the flow of stupidity from the mouth of leaders.

8. May we find the cure to chronic ailments so that hospitals are no longer the sought after destination hubs.

9. May people allow themselves to be better, more compassionate, kinder and more generous souls.

10. May new item numbers flood the market and fill the world with joie de vivre. The nation needs to be inspired to sing and dance and laugh and love.

Yours hopefully,

A speck in the vast humanity

Dear Grief,

Hello. You have become a more predictable friend now. I met you when I was suddenly introduced to loss. The sharp, sick taste of loss. Metallic, angry, harsh, incomprehensible and gut wrenchingly sad. There was no formal introduction. You just entered and settled down like a blanket. You enveloped me for a long time, so much so, that I didn’t realise you had become my second skin.

And one day, I recognised you clearly in my daily routine and my comfort food and my weight gain and I felt strangely relieved. At least now I knew. From that point on, you would drop in from time to time, but when I least expected you. In the middle of a hearty laugh or a brilliant book or a formal dinner, you’d deliver a sucker punch in my solar plexus and I’d double up in pain. Gasping. Screaming silently. Reeling from the hit. And then you’d disappear again and I’d go back to life that would stop by regularly asking me to hop on and get a move on.

So, I alternated for a while between grief and life. I learnt that as you grow older the losses pile up and the wheel turns again. And again.

Now you come and go, as and when you please. I learn to ride your crests and troughs. I learn to embrace life and treasure the love I have.

Still warily,
Your host.