Feminism: Have we lost the plot?

Colourmekitsch.

We’re sure most of you caught the recent (and not so recent) campaigns promoting equality for women. Being four women of a tumultuous age, we count our blessings for the support of friends and family who have always had our backs. We pick our battles and we definitely speak out when the situation calls for it, and this is one such example. #freethenipple, Vogue’s #mychoice and Rupi Kaur’s menstrual photos on Instagram have created much controversy and instead of uplifting women, they are being coined as campaigns for female supremacy and have raised many red flags (no pun intended) among the audiences. We have our concerns and we’d like to share them. We hope that our diverse yet united voice will draw attention to what went wrong and help shift focus back to the point!

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The menstrual photos on instagram

Last week, Instagram was under fire for removing self-portrait photos of artist Rupi Kaur that showed period…

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Until the next time we meet…

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Recently, the Landmark bookstore in Chennai, India finally issued a notice stating their intentions to close down the shutters after almost 30 years in the business. Although I have no connection whatsoever with that particular store, having never lived in Chennai myself, the news about any bookstore closing down leaves me feeling quite nostalgic about my own little book havens that I have found in every city/state/country/continent that I happened to be in. For me, books have always been a form of escape. They help distract me from my loneliness during nights when I’m away from my closest people; they serve as places I can go to to curb my boredom; they also serve a larger purpose in my life which I can’t quite put my finger on yet. They’re a part of my world which always travels with me in a sense, because all bookstores manage to evoke the same sense of comfort and warmth and a feeling of being “my own” no matter where in the world it is. I can start off by perusing through the stacks of second hand books that line the streets of Connaught Place in Delhi and quite comfortably continue my book hunt in the Kinokuniya bookstore in the malls at Singapore. The top floor of the Illini Union bookstore in my college at Champaign smells exactly the same as any one of those multiple bookstores that are squished together in Park Street, Calcutta that have been there probably since the colonial times.

I like to imagine that all the book stores in the world know each other- there is definitely a sense of camaraderie there and if ever, in the figment of my imagination of course, they were to meet one another it would be like old friends, having shared similar experiences- be it providing the very first Enid Blytons to young, excited readers or having the Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys flying off their shelves for the pre-teen crowd. They must have all experienced the thrill of those long long queues outside their doors at midnight for the latest Harry Potter book release of the year. All the book signings and excerpt readings from established authors must have taken place in their little reading rooms. They must have all participated in the birth of new and upcoming artists and devoured the creative energy emanating from all new releases. On the flip side, they have also all had to progress with the changing times and witness the introduction of electronic reading stations in their inner reading rooms, along with the advent of an electronic filing system which made it easier to find what the customer was looking for but simultaneously robbed them of the chance to stumble upon new authors and exciting novels while hunting through the stacks by oneself. And now, in the day of the Kindle and the iPad they must have all had to witness the slow demise of their city’s reading culture. Sure, there is still a trickle of the old crowd who come in for a taste of the good old days, but there are fewer children in their midsts now. The ones who do happen to come in are looking for textbooks and reading material assigned by their schools. Gone are the days of reading for pleasure as the kids learn to work their way around technology. And this leads to the drawing down of shutters such was the case with Landmark. That definitely wasn’t the first bookstore to shut down and it won’t be the last. But hopefully, there will come a day when I am walking down the streets of a new city and I turn a corner and find a small friendly bookstore tucked away in between cafes and malls and it will be like picking up from where I left off.. Now, was it the Park Street bookshop or Walden, Hyderabad? I doubt it will matter. It never does. 

 

 

Fragments of a broken heart

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I dreamt of Him the other night. I don’t remember why, or even what His role was in the unusual pantomime that was my reverie, but He just was. Maybe we had a simple conversation, maybe we left a lot unsaid but He was there. For me to look at; to speak with; to touch, if only I could just reach out my hand and stroke His face, now it’s just an inch away, oh!….

I woke up with a start at 5 in the morning with my heart racing and my head a whirlwind of broken images, the last few snatches of memory from an unfinished dream. I could sense something was wrong somewhere. How I knew, I could not tell you. It was one of those things that just was.

A lot has changed over the past 3 years but once again I find myself writing about Him on a notepad- albeit, electronic this time- trying to get it all down so I may relive it at a later time and try to make sense of it all later still. Why am I still so drawn to Him? Why do I continue to lie for the one who hurt me? Why do I continue to hurt for the one who doesn’t care? Why do I care for someone whose heart beats for someone else? Then again, why does my heart still beat for Him?

I can write a lot to explain my feelings, explain those emotions, makes sense of the heartbeats and the cold sweats. But the answer is simple. I miss Him. He was I. I was He. And I will never know how else to be.

How strange life is, for tonight I sleep in my boyfriend’s oblivious arms, while He is soon to be married. In this lifetime, we were never meant to be. We shall never be.

Maybe it’s love

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“I wandered around and finally found someone who could make me be true.
I’ll even be glad, just to be sad while thinking of you.”

– Scribbled on the last page of a notepad by a 16 year old girl who believed whole heartedly and passionately that she was truly, madly and deeply besotted in love. Today she’s 20 and still believes whole heartedly and passionately that she is truly, madly and deeply besotted in love. Maybe she’s a fool, maybe she’s a dreamer and maybe there’s a rude shock in store for her somewhere in the future. But maybe, just maybe, she was right all along. Maybe dreams do come true. Maybe it really is love. Maybe all you need is faith.

On being a Bong :p

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Things people should not assume about me simply because “oh, im a bengali!” –

1.I do NOT.. i repeat, DO NOT.. like fish and rice irrespective of the fact that that happens to be the staple diet of my ancestors. Sorry but I’ve discovered butter chicken and naan which tastes a TAD bit better don’t you think??!

2. I do not know how to sing/ dance/ paint/ etc. although I would gladly demonstrate if you do not wish to believe me.

3. No, sadly I am not related to any one of the huge brigade of bong actresses that populate bollywood so quit asking.

4. No, I do not want any “roshogollas” and since I don’t see you carrying around a tin full of them anyway I advise you to stop asking me and breaking my heart cos I actually happen to love those sweets!

5. I will not be impressed if a random stranger comes up to me and says “aami tomake bhalo bashi” (I love you), so just stop! It sounds fancy to you but it really isn’t to us and gets kinda irritating after a while and makes me want to sue you for “roadside romeo” type of harassment. So if you really wish to sound knowledgeable- learn some new phrases please.

6. I do NOT know why we don’t have a bengali word for “drink” and I honestly don’t care. That does not mean we give you the liberty to ask us why we “eat our milk”. That joke lost its charm 200 years ago so I suggest you learn some new punchlines as well.

7. Please do not try to compliment me by saying that I have typical bengali looks. We all wish to be unique and telling me I look just like a million others is a slight bit offensive.

8. Yes, we love our books but that does not mean that we carry one to every social event does it? and neither do we break out in verse at the mere sight of nature. With all due respect to Tagore- you really made our life hell didn’t you?!

9. My big eyes are a gift from God and my Beautiful mum/grandmom/aunt. There’s no pool of these available for sale only to people with the bengali passport (if that even exists!) Love the compliments but hate the following, ‘oh you’re a Bengali, no wonder!’

10. I know we have way too many bandhs (curfews) but it’s just one empty-headed politician responsible for them. Does NOT make the whole clan of us lazy and irresponsible. (I agree I may have symptoms of both but that’s just me 😛 I don’t see anyone putting Tagore and SC Bose in this category!) Laziness has nothing to do with caste/color/creed/ethnicity; I personally blame technology 😉

I can’t think of more but I’ll keep adding as and when I meet someone who starts his conversation with, “Oh ur a bengali!! then you must…”

“Quotation”

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
— Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Dear God,

Please enable me to imbibe such lovely thoughts in my mind and ensure that it stays there for a good while; at least until I come across another amazing teaching such as this one. I tend to admire great thoughts but forget to apply them in real life.

Thank you.

Amen.

Outlet for extra thoughts.

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I just happened to ‘bump into’ my wordpress page this morning, en route to my Facebook, and realized that I haven’t really gotten around to posting anything in over a month.  I can’t imagine why that may be so. It’s not because I don’t have enough thoughts, because I do! Definitely way too many of them to constrain within the small framework of my mind. Yet, I never put them down on paper… err …electronic print.

It’s not because I have a mundane life and have had nothing remotely interesting enough to write about. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth! I just recently shifted back to college after a three-month long break back home in India, and my emotions have been shooting back and forth ever since, touching dire extremities within a span of mere moments. Just now for instance, I woke up from a beautiful dream feeling happy, secure and content with myself and thanked God for blessing my life with a bunch of amazing people. Then I reached under my pillow for my precious iphone so I could check my mail and discovered one from a Professor stating something was wrong with my schedule and I was required to do a million things to rectify it before I was allowed to take his class. On reading this the emotional meter just made this drastic fall from super happy to super frustrated, mad and rationally upset since I had specially made room on my calendar for this course. Anyway, I vented for quite a while and then moved my attention to another mail, this time from my Dad, who had written a poem expressing his relationship with his daughter (AKA me) and once again, the emotional meter made a 180º turn from super bugged to dramatically nostalgic and homesick. Oh, how I miss home right now! *sigh* It’s at times like these that I sincerely wish I could be like Ronald Weasley and average the “emotional range of a teaspoon” as Hermione puts it.

I guess I still haven’t figured out why it took me so long to update my blog but it feels nice to have these particular musings written down here right in front of me. It enables me to go back to them at leisure and ponder over each individually without having to fight my way through the clutter of extra thoughts that usually inhabit my mind at any given time of the day. Maybe that’s why people rely on blogs so much. It’s kind of like an external hard disk for your thoughts.

Just another Love Note…

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It’s been 3 years since that day we finally acknowledged to each other, and to ourselves, that this relationship wasn’t just restricted to friendship. We’ve been each others everything and in fits of anger we’ve also tried convincing ourselves that we mean nothing, but I guess by now we’ve both accepted the fact that even though it won’t always be easy, will almost never be fair, it may not always be everything we wanted, it’s definitely nothing we ever expected but somehow, for some reason it’s still something very special; something worth holding on to. You were right baby, we don’t need a name for it; we can just live blissfully with the fact that it is … and we have … and we are…

Smell of Rain

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Original caption: (...) the rain can be incred...

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“It’s the simple things in life which make it worth living; it’s the simple things which make any memory worth remembering.”

While walking silently down an unfamiliar gravel road in a foreign country you are suddenly blessed with a whiff of the comforting fragrance of wet earth, bringing along with it the promise of onsetting rain. The familiar scent plays the role of a time turner and you find yourself reminiscing about that moment when, back home as a kid, you smelt the same sweet fragrance, heard a distant roar of thunder and you spread out your hands and looked up at the sky, eagerly awaiting the first drop of rain which kisses your face and assures you that monsoons are finally here to stay.

Those carefree childhood days spent idling with friends on those beatified rainy afternoons, after school was out, splashing gleefully in tiny mud puddles unheeding to any parental reprimanding whatsoever. Oh, the joys of waking up in the mornings to a dark horizon and water-logged streets, realizing that school will be closed and rushing out to float those crude, handmade paper boats in the little rivulets that form by the sidewalks, unaware albeit apathetic to the angry glares coming from the adults stuck in morning traffic. In your minds eye you can see the sullen faces of office-goers cooking up excuses to dish out to their bosses to cover up their tardiness, the grumpy investment bankers cursing the rain-gods for the unprecedented delay in todays money-making plans, dark-eyed doctors heading out to cover another 48-hour shift with minimal rest, maybe a politician or two frantically crunching numbers on their cellphones trying to get in touch with established “contacts” in order to be immediately transported out of the water-bogged traffic without having to wait it out like the common man.

You suddenly stop walking as you find yourself focussing on those people in your memory. How did you manage to become one of those adults, fretting over menial matters? Where did the carefree days of kite flying and paper boats disappear? Why didn’t you halt and enjoy them while they lasted? Why were you always in a hurry to grow up and be the adult? It’s true that the grass is always green on the other side. As children we’re all in a hurry to become the adult, to give the orders and watch them being carried out by young ‘uns such as ourselves; finally being the boss of us and others as well. In the rush towards adulthood we forget to truly enjoy and cherish the joys which come with childhood– those carefree days, which we later learn, can never be redeemed.

Stop walking for a while and take in your surroundings, relish in the moment while time stands still for you and truly live in the present. Memories are sweeter when you know you’ve lived them fully and wholeheartedly, enjoying every moment of the past, then present. To create a revered memory worth remembering in the future learn to revel in the present with largesse while being thankful of the past which is now tucked away fondly only to be revoked on another monsoon day when the reminiscent, comforting smell of rain transports you to another time and place.

The Deception.

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“The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived”, said Oscar Wilde and indeed he quite hit the nail on the head. The world is a formidable place and an individual is but a pawn in the bigger picture. It’s strange how Life, the one thing that truly and wholly belongs to us is the one we have such little command over and rarely any say in. It’s true we make decisions, chalk out plans and goals and list out paths to achieve the same but the reigns to steer our Lives in that direction are never really handed over to us. All we can do is strategize and pray to Heavens that there’s no rude shock awaiting us round the corner. Never make the fatal mistake of demeaning Life- you won’t even realize what hit you when you fall. Life is not an ally and definitely not your minion; Life is not entirely relentless nor wholeheartedly rewarding; Life does not forgive foolishness and rarely grants second chances. Life is holding the reigns and it’s you who’s being steered. For good or for bad, better or for worse.