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Nirvana

Catharsis is Nirvana.

Cave drawings. Parchments heavy with emotion. Journals soaked in pale ink and vivid memories. An envelope braving the world in search of another. Splashes of paint rebelling against grey walls.

Black letters on a white screen spilling from my fingertips.

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Posted in Musings

Only An Environmentalist?

Another morning spent binge-watching YouTube led me to this post. I came across (or rather, was led/coerced by cyber giants to watch) one of those posts about zero waste generation. A woman explained how she had taken on the challenge and was currently in her 11th month with only a tiny jar of stickers and paper strands to show of her garbage footprint. You may find her blog A Dream Lived Greener here.

Something she mentioned in the video, about how she was trying to align her values with her actions, struck me. I’m someone who finds herself constantly at odds with myself for this very reason.

I grew up in a village in Kerala, surrounded by trees and plants, with one of my earliest after-school chores being watering all our potted plants every day. My father has a small tropical plant nursery that serves as a source of auxiliary income. My favourite childhood superhero was Captain Planet. So all in all, it’s not a wonder that I grew up to think of myself as an environmentalist. But sometimes I worry that what I am is nothing more than the most literal sense of that word – an environmentalist. I think about the environment. But do I do anything about it? Do I even attempt to?

Of course, I try to do my bit. I learnt how to make dustbin liners out of old newspapers and use those at home. I carry steel cutlery with me. I switched to menstrual cups. I stash carry bags in every purse and case so that I can refuse new ones offered by grocery stores and street vendors. I use Ecosia for browsing.

But sometimes I forget to make the liners. Or forget the cloth bag at home. Or accept the plastic straw when offered. And every time I do, I feel like a hypocrite, and guilty.

There are two main reasons why I end up feeling this way. One is obviously my own fault – I am not always ready for the commitment it takes to align myself with my values, like she mentions. And secondly it’s easy to go with the flow. It’s so, so difficult to do what you want to do when others, ranging from close friends to shop owners to the government, do not seem to give ANY thought to this. Feeling like the only person who seems to worry about littering and plastics can be quite depressing and demotivating. Especially when you know you tend to falter too, and hence lack the authority to advise others, maybe?

All I know is I’m not accustomed to the bemused glances I receive and I’m certainly too self-conscious to whip out steel straws when ordering fruit juices with friends. I do not want people thinking of me as the weird one.

But I suppose all I can do is stick to what I can, and perhaps increase it incrementally. Perhaps I get to inspire at least a few of my friends along the way. Perhaps at least some of them would stop laughing at me. Perhaps it would stop being a struggle at some point.

And perhaps some day, I would finally be the normal kind and the others would be the weird ones.

Augustine was not a believer in a personal god who would listen to your prayers. Even less did he believe that you could pray for someone else. And to have a third party, a disinterested third party, offering intercessory prayers on behalf of people they did not know, seemed outrageous to him. After all, these Masses were subdivided into thousands, since perpetual Mass cards were sold at almost every church in the world and by the minute. There would never be enough priests for even a hundredth of a Mass per soul, and the idea of asking the powers that be to consider minuscule fractions of benefit accruing to the dead seemed far more ridiculous than any other dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Jerry Pinto

(Em and the Big Hoom)

Snippet #15

Posted in Musings

Losing Faith

“I lost my faith as an hourglass loses sand

The snippet from Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto resonates with me. I look up from the screen and stare ahead, letting the words slowly trickle into my conscience. Nine simple words, and yet how poignant.

I see me struggle as the hourglass.

In the beginning it is fear clouding me as I sense myself losing grip on all the lores and tales and myths that I grew up listening to, and which offered comfort in times of distress. And then it moulds itself into anger and confusion about why I alone seemed to have a hole in me while others stood steadfast. I strain to hold myself together. Everything I had trusted and believed in slips away, excruciatingly slow, a grain at a time. There are moments when the flow remains stuck for a moment, but before I can heave a sigh of relief, I feel the thoughts untangling and draining out of me yet again.

And then comes the tipping point.

As more and more of it clears out of me, I sense that what is happening inside me is not the creation of a void but a vacuum – one that has the possibility of sucking in anything and everything I would want to have for myself. All the doubts that I suppressed over the years get a voice, and new hope for resolution.

As more and more of the sand disappears, I marvel at how transparent the glass really is. How I can finally see across it. How thoughts and perspectives of others can travel through to me without resistance, flow in me without being crushed by the harsh edges of prejudice and move out of me without being scarred by hatred.

I lost my faith as an hourglass loses sand, terrified of being empty.

I lost my faith as an hourglass loses sand, filling myself with potential.

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P.S. Although I started this reminiscence in terms of my coming-of-age experiences with respect to religion, I realise it extends far beyond that.. to realms of cultural divide, ethnic prejudice and even ideological differences. In a world where words like xenophobia, fundamentalism and supremacist are thrown about with abandon, why not be ready to let go of some parts of ourselves to let in some of others’…

Posted in Musings

Cave-Girl Cookin’

You know the all-familiar feminist rhetoric? The one that all “modern” women with a life keep rapping about, how society decides their worth based on age-old patriarchal sexism and overlooks every other achievement. So jaded, right?

Wrong.

That’s exactly what this post is about too, so if it ain’t your cuppa tea, well, it is what it is. (Been watching a lot of OITNB, so I’ve taken to talking like Taystee now. More on that later.)

So get this. Those who have read a previous post of mine on my pre-exam eccentricities might remember that I’m currently discovering my culinary capabilities. After treating the kitchen like a war zone all my life, I’m suddenly following multiple cooking channels on YouTube and meting out new dishes for a bewildered spouse.

And just like any other narcissistic adult who professes insoucience but craves validation, I post pictures of the same as my WhatsApp status. Obviously, the comments poured in.

All good so far.

The problem started when I realised just how proud everyone was of me. Sure, I was proud myself of being in a position to successfully survive a post-apocalyptic no-dine-out scenario. But the irritating revelation was how no one seemed this proud when I landed a seat in medicine. Or a post graduate course.

Why?

Because unlike those situations, I had for once done justice to my cave-girl instincts and learnt the basics to tending a family.

Because, finally I had succeeded in proving my worth as a woman. (Well, almost. Everyone knows having a baby is needed to seal the deal.)

Because sexism is always, always, in fashion.

And maybe that’s why the ‘feminazi types’ like myself refuse to shut up about it.

P.S. If I do have kids ever, I’m gonna make sure my son does a hell lot of cooking around here.

Posted in Musings

Paradigm Shift

TR and I were having an informal chat about the brouhaha surrounding the societal-induced need for generation of posterity when he mentioned that his longterm girlfriend and he had unanimously decided not to have children. Reasons ranged from cost-cutting and preservation of sanity to in-depth research on how 90% of childless elderly stand by their decision to let resting wombs be.

Adoption was still on the cards though, if ever they felt the need.

“But only girls, mind you”, said he, “there is no way I’d want a boy.”

I was surprised. Daddy’s little girl and all that aside, has our nation really turned its back on the overwhelming need for a male child?

“Don’t you read the newspapers?”, he continued. “There is a rape happening every day. There is no way I’d want to father a potential rapist!!”

I laughed and laughed, caught off-guard by his deranged line of thought. This has got to be a first, when someone decided the preferred gender of their offspring based on crime rates in the community.

Or was it?

I realised what was deranged about him was not so much the line of thought as how it culminated. In a society that feared having its daughters raped, he feared raising his son wrong.

Isn’t this the very paradigm shift that we need today? As I read somewhere once, why not let the girls roam free after midnight and lock in all the boys instead? Why not spare the women lectures on modesty and safety, and teach men how to behave instead? Why not stop fearing for your daughter’s morals and save your son’s instead?

Is that really too much to ask for?

Conversations with Em could be like wandering in a town you had never seen before, where every path you took might change course midway and take you with it. You had to keep finding your way back to the main street in order to get anywhere.

Jerry Pinto

(Em and The Big Hoom)

Snippet #13

Posted in Musings

The Climb

I cut off my ties with Netflix about an year ago when I realised that my usage oscillated between binge-watching series (followed by deep seated regret about time wasted) and periods of absolute non-usage (followed by deep seated regret about money wasted). But last month, when a friend started a free trial with his email id, I decided it couldn’t hurt to check out what was new.

Turns out, many things tend to be new when you are eons behind in following TV shows. I watched the first episode of Stranger Things out of curiosity and immediately fell into the vortex again, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up bleary-eyed and hungover a week later after triumphantly completing three seasons. I swore not to touch another serial till the day I died, and the next instant my eyes were drawn to a poster filled with pictures of a woman with wild curly red hair – Russian Doll. The description talked about the protagonist dying and reliving her 36th birthday over and over. Interesting premise.

Oh no, I told myself.

Oh yes!, myself replied.

I supposed I could safely check it out, because, come on, watching the same day again and again has GOT to be boring and definitely not binge-worthy.

I was wrong and right.

I was wrong, because I expected it to be boring and it was anything but. The writing was so, so clever. Nadia Vulvokov blew me off my feet and before I knew it, I was falling in love with every bit of her. The weird accent, the fuck-all attitude, and the crazy zest for life – a winner all the way.

I was right, because I did not end up binge-watching the show. Instead I relished each and every bit of it, rolling the quotes over on my tongue, tasting the flavours, the tangy bits. I was not ravenous, not hungry for the plot and hurriedly stuffing everything into my brain quickly to get to the end; I was savouring each good bit and taking my time with it.

And as I switched my phone off after the last episode a couple of weeks later, there was weirdly no regret, either time or money wise. I had spent precisely the same amount of time as a season of any other show, but this didn’t seem wrong. It felt amazing. And for once, I realised the problem was not really with Netflix.

It all boils down to moderation, knowing how to rein in indulgence, that feeling of purpose and self-control that you yearn to possess, and the fulfilment you receive when you know you’ve been enriched by something. It doesn’t matter if it is a book, a movie or dear old life.., it’s the moments that matter. The words, not the story. The steps, not the pilgrimage. The days, not the decade. Like Miley Cyrus puts it, it’s all about the climb. And you can’t blame the mountain if you choose to pant and sweat and make a mess of it.