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I want to be with my baby all the time, but I want to continue working at my well paying and extremely interesting career, one that has defined me for so long. What do I do?
I have either been studying or working almost all my life and now I am at the crossroads of deciding whether I should continue with my career, or just pause and savour this moment of being a new mother.
I bet a lot of new mothers go through this dilemma at some point in their lives. For me, the time has come now when my son is a year old, and with a high pressure job I am finding it really hard to juggle between the two worlds.
This is a complete surprise to myself as I always have been good at handling high pressure situations. During my PhD years things would get really challenging, and I had the resilience to move forward; that kind of challenge motivated me even more. But now, I increasingly find myself asking: is it really worth it to cling on to a job which is constantly throwing challenges at me, and I’m unable to focus on the job, as my mind is half pre-occupied with my son?
On one side, I want to give up my job and spend time with my son without worrying about my next meeting, or thinking of checking emails or meeting deadlines. At the same time, I feel: is it really right to give up a 6-figure salaried job at a very good company which helps me define my identity as an intellectual? What is the right thing to do?
I have been reading various articles, talking to people and I wish someone or something would just make that decision for me. Unfortunately, I am the one who has to make the decision, and also learn to live with the consequences.
It is scary to give up my job as I feel so many women are balancing it, why can’t I? I also feel I am not confident that I can handle myself without a structured life, and I don’t know how I can qualify my own worth without the 6-figure salary or a job title? I fantasize of not worrying about meetings, checking mails or rushing to work in the morning, but I also question myself, will I be bored to death by filling my day with daily chores?
A part of me says, YES, stay at home to enjoy time with your son, as this time will never come again, he WILL grow up. Another part of me says, don’t ignore your intellectual side, you have worked very hard, earned your degree in spite of the naysayers, and only now are you enjoying the benefits of this lifelong work. Why would you want to give up? It isn’t like you are ignoring your son – in fact, you spend quality time with him in the evenings and he is fine with you being away for a few hours every day, he IS coping well.
I am not sure which of these two thoughts will finally sway me to its side. For now, all I can say, watch this space for more revelation.
Image source: unsplash
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Making paper thin dosa is an art, and I tried many times until I hit upon the right recipe. Make your own crispy restaurant style dosa, and enjoy. Yum!
My family loves dosas; who doesn’t, for that matter? We just love them a lot more, to the extent that we can call ourselves converted south Indians.
After a lot of trials of various combinations of batter, cooking method, a lot many errors I have finally arrived at the correct mode of making crispy, paper thin dosa from homemade batter.
So here is my precise method.
At first I tried using pre-greased, hot but regular tawa. The first few dosas were always a real struggle to separate from the tawa though subsequent ones turned out okish to some extent. Non-stick tawa was my next option. The dosa did not stick as much here, but it was still thick, which is why the taste wasn’t as great. The non-stick coating also spoiled easily making it unhealthy for everyday cooking.
Recently, I have started using the marble tawa – ones that have sparkle, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the dosas now. They come out paper thin, crispy and with very, very little amount of oil.
This combination was shared by my very close Kannadiga friend. Try it.
Ingredients for paper thin dosa
1 bowl of split urad dal
2 bowls of par-boiled rice
1 tsp of methi
Yes, you don’t need soda, so it’s 100% chemical free. Though you need to ensure that you use par boiled rice or thick variety of rice which is dark-yellowish/light-brown in colour.
Method for making paper thin dosa
Rinse all the ingredients with water, just once, and let them soak fully in sufficient water for 6 hours. Don’t put the lid on the bowl, so that the mixture does not start fermenting. Cover it with a jaali.
Now grind this mixture into a smooth paste; its consistency should be similar to that of your shampoo. Not very liquid-y.
Add salt to taste and stir well. Cover the bowl fully with the lid and let the batter ferment overnight, approx. 8-10 hours. The batter ferments quicker during summer months than winters. Your batter will be risen upto 2 times its volume once ready.
Here are a few tips that will help you get the right thickness for your dosa.
Tip #1: To make paper thin dosa, stir the batter and add a small amount of water so that the batter spreads thinly on the marble tawa. If the batter is thick, it will not spread much, leading to a thick and soft dosa.
Tip #2: Keep the flame low when you start spreading the batter. This way, you will get some time to spread out the batter evenly. On high flame, the batter will start drying up fast, making it difficult to spread it.
Tip #3: Once the batter has been spread, keep it on high flame. Add the desired amount of ghee or refined oil – more oil will obviously give you extra crispiness and taste.
Tip #4: When cooking with less oil, I toss the dosa, so that its well done on both sides.
Tip #5: If you try to separate the dosa from the tawa too soon, it will tend to crumble. So let the dosa cook, then it will come off very easily.
Tip #6: I have also bought a silicone palta, which makes it quite easy to work with the dosa. And it does not spoit the marble tawa.
Your paper thin dosa is ready. Fill it up with cheese or chutney powder if you don’t know how to, or don’t want to take the effort of making the aloo-masala, and serve with coconut chutney. My kids love this paper thin dosa so much that it makes it to their breakfast table almost 4 times a week.
Frankly, I love homemade dosas as they are 100% chemical free, made with less oil; and fermented foods are rich sources of probiotics – good for building immunity.
I hope you found it useful. I would love to read your comments.
Images credit: the author
Header image source: YouTube
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A must read book for any young person above 12, Like A Girl by Aparna Jain is a treasure house of the stories of the great women of India.
I am the least religious person you would find, yet, every single morning the past 15 years has started the same way for me. I get up and switch on Vaalmiki Ramayana’s Sundara Kaandam. In case you feel lost, Sundara Kaandam is the part of Ramayana from the point Hanuman jumps from the tip India to Lanka and comes back to India with news of Sita. I have it on my phone and I play it the first thing in the morning. Though it is a 2.5 hour recording, all I really listen to is timeline 18 minutes – 20 minutes.
Yes, this is still a book review of Like A Girl by Aparna Jain. Please stay with me and I will soon connect the dots.
When Hanuman jumps across the ocean he is confronted by many obstacles and finally lands firmly on Lanka and the 2 minutes I listen to ends with,
“When a person is on a mission, he is faced with 4 kinds of obstacles. Self doubt, distraction and/or discouragement from family and well meaning friends, your enemies working against you, being tested by a higher power. Only the person who perseveres through all the above can be successful.”
This right here is my mantra for the day and for life in general. And every single day I hear this recording, I think, ‘Hanuman is a man and he faced only 4 kinds of obstacles, if he had been a woman he probably would have faced 400 different kinds of obstacles!’
Like A Girl by Aparna Jain is the story of a select set of Indian women who have faced many different kinds of obstacles and have persevered!
In the preface, Aparna makes it no secret that this book is inspired by Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I was hooked on to the book right from the honest, from-the-heart preface, where she outlines the challenges she faced right from shortlisting the people she wanted to write about and what she wanted to write about them. The result is a book, with many layers and with content that is suitable for a target audience, slightly older than the age group Goodnight Rebel Girls targeted.
You have stories of people like Indira Gandhi and Jayalalitha, neither were firsts in terms of the world’s first woman prime minister nor India’s first woman chief minister, but both were formidable women in their own right. Aparna’s narration is simple, matter of fact and outlines their rise to power as well as their abuse of power, ending with their conflicted legacies without taking a moral high ground.
We read stories of historical figures like Sultan Razia and Chand Bibi who gave up gender specific clothing in order to shift the world’s focus away from their gender and to their actions. On the other hand we read stories of people like Amrita Sher Gill and Homai Vyarawalla, who made a statement by dressing up in sarees so that they stand out in a male dominated profession.
I didn’t know Savitribai Phule was from the shudra community. As human beings we have no control of the nationality, the social-economic class and gender we are born into, but it automatically becomes a factor in our success. Though comparing the struggles of a woman born in a progressive family, like for instance Rukmani Devi Arundale, to that of a woman like Savitribai Phule, is like comparing apples and oranges, one has to admit that a woman born in a shudra community already has a few things working against her. And it makes it exponentially difficult for her to stand her ground and not give up her ideal. A simple sentence like,
“…as young Savitribai walked to school, people would throw cow dung and mud at her. They were angry that she was teaching young girls from the lower castes… [so]Savitribai started carrying an extra sari to change into when she reached school.”
speaks volumes of the struggles and steadfastness of Savitribai Phule.
I didn’t know of some phenomenal women like Devika Rani, Rukhmabai Raut, Homai Vyarawalla, Birubala Rabha etc and it was delight to read about them. And it was equally wonderful to read about the people I knew, the bond Captain Lakshmi Seghal and Mirnalini Sarabhai shared, Leila Seth choosing to study law because it was the only stream that allowed the then young mother the least attendance, the sweet romance between Asha Bhosle and R.D.Burman and total goosebumps when I read about how Kishori Amonkar briefly lost her voice and coped up with it!
There are stories like that of Shah Bano Begum’s. These are stories I grew up listening to on the DoorDarshan news, but it was just news to me then. Presently one reads so much about triple talaq, and the story of Shah Bano Begum, drove home the point why what she fought for was so monumental! Bhanwari Devi’s story is also one such story that I have know of, but reading it in Like A Girl was eye opening!
Which brings to my mind the question, what is that, that made these women to single-mindedly pursue the one thing that mattered to them the most? People like Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla were pushed into activism due to circumstances. While Aruna Roy had the kind of environment that shaped her into the person she is now. People like Barkha Dutt had a strong role model in the family to look up to. But in the end what makes these extraordinary women to fight so hard for what they believe in? What makes Medha Patkar to see a life time of work not leading to the ideal they have fought so hard for, and yet go on with so much energy and hope?
Since I cannot possibly talk about all the 51 women featured, I am just going to say that diligent work has gone into curating the content with utmost care to include people from all walks of life and from different time frames.
If at all I missed something, it is the date of birth of these women. Being aware of the rough timelines as I read the book would have definitely added to my perspective.
The book is supported by art work from 27 artists, each with their own style and potential make the book come alive. Rae Zachariah’s stood out to me and I am sure every person who reads the book will have their own favourites. Having a favourite does not reduce the importance of the work of the other artists. Each work, unique in its own way, sharing the same platform and touching people in different ways, that is the beauty of art isn’t it?
While Goodnight Stories leaves you exhilarated, Like A Girl leaves you with a sigh, a heavy heart, but with a lot of hope.
If you’d like to pick up Like A Girl by Aparna Jain, use our affiliate links: at Flipkart, at Amazon India, and at Amazon US.
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Top image via YouTube/ Wikicommons, and book cover via Amazon
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“People forget that older women are full persons who have their own hopes, wants and desires. You keep telling us that what we are doing is extraordinary, but to us this is routine. We don’t know how else to be.”
Our Muse of the Month series this year focus on stories that pass the Bechdel test, and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month. This month, the prompt was “Just Living Is Not Enough…”, and the story should pass the Bechdel Test, that is, it should have at least two well crafted, named women characters (we differ here slightly from the classic Bechdel test, in that we require these characters to be named),
The third winner of our August 2018 Muse of the Month contest is Vijayalakshmi Harish.
Meera’s eyes flew open with a sense of urgency that the rest of her body did not share. It took a couple of seconds for her drowsy mind to compute that she was in a tent, that it was pitch dark outside and that the sound that had intruded her sleep was her satellite phone.
“Hello,” she croaked
“Hello. This is Dr Anushree calling from Shlok Hospital. Am I speaking to Ms. Meera Vaidya?”
“Meera, I’m sorry I have to tell you this over the phone, but I regret to inform you that Ms. Kaveri Krishnan is no more. She took a really bad fall and was brought to the hospital earlier today. There was some trauma to the brain and we did our best to try and save her but she did not survive.”
Meera wondered if this was a nightmare. Was she still asleep? But her sleep had gone. Every inch of her body was now suffused with the perverse alertness that sorrow brings. With one hand, she massaged her chest, which felt sore.
“Meera…are you still there?”
“Ye..yes. I’m here.”
“Ms. Krishnan has you listed as her next of kin. She has pledged her organs for donation, but we need your consent too. Can you come over to the hospital to sign the papers?”
“I’m not in Mumbai right now. I’m in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala. It’ll take me a while to get there.”
“We have her on ventilator. Do try to get here as soon as possible.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Terminating the call, Meera stepped out into the vast, crisp night. Though everything looked the same as it had a few hours ago, it now felt stirred up; disturbed. The wind was weighed down with memories, happy and sad. The tears on her cheeks reflected starlight—tiny drops of brightness, inconsistent with the literal and metaphorical dark place.
Her first thought, irrationally enough, was that she wished she had got this call when she was doing something special. That would have been a fitting tribute to the extraordinary woman who had taught her to live without boundaries. But then, as Kaveri aunty would say, life is made of ordinary moments that have to be made exceptional.
Come to think of it, the moment when she first met Kaveri aunty could not have been more commonplace, but that meeting had changed the course of her life. She had just started her career with the Times of India and had moved into a rental apartment in Thane. She had gone to the terrace one evening to read. Kaveri aunty was there at the same time to gather up some vadams that she had left to dry in the sun. They had shared a smile and some small talk, which soon turned into an invitation to tea.
It had surprised her then that this conventional looking septuagenarian was not the conservative, unremarkable person she had assumed her to be. Over cups of tea, she discovered that Kaveri aunty had been a scientist at BARC, was an artist in her spare time, and that at the age of 72, she still ran marathons and organized tree-plantation drives.
“Oh my God! Aunty, you are such a rockstar!” she had exclaimed.
“Pshaw. Not at all. I’m just an ordinary woman. There are so many like me. You should come to my book club,” Kaveri aunty had chirped enthusiastically, and that is how Meera had ended up meeting what she had later dubbed the “league of ordinary women.”
The League met once every month at a Naana-Naani park near the apartment complex, and consisted of five other women: Aditi Shah, a fifty-six year old school teacher; Anindita Chauhan, a sixty eight year old retired surgeon; Nafisa Ahmed, a sixty year old entrepreneur who ran a catering service from home; Meeta Banerji, a fifty seven year old banker; and Lizzy George, a fifty three year old lawyer. Aditi, Nafisa and Lizzy were married and had children; Kaveri aunty was widowed and had never had children; Meeta was divorced, Anindita had never married. Meera soon realized that this was no run-of-the-mill book club. These women not only read and discussed books, but also took up various social projects such as blood donation drives, sponsoring education for unprivileged children, counselling for domestic workers etc.
One evening, at one of the meetings, Meera had expressed her admiration for these women. “You are all so brilliant. I never imagined that a group of older women could be so driven!”
Anindita chuckled. “Meera, imagine if you didn’t know us at all and you saw this group of older women sitting around talking. What would you think then? The assumption usually is that we are gossiping about our health, our family, or others. People forget that older women are full persons who have their own hopes, wants and desires. You keep telling us that what we are doing is extraordinary, but to us this is routine. We don’t know how else to be.”
“Exactly, Anu didi,” quipped Nafisa, adjusting her dupatta. “Frankly, I doubt my own children know who I truly am. They are good kids –helpful and kind, but it’s as if they have an image of me in their heads that isn’t real. Anwar was asking me the other day that when his brother and he himself are earning well now, why I am still going through the drudgery of running the catering company. I don’t know how to explain to him that the company is like another child to me. That just as I can never abandon him and Wasim, I can’t abandon my work.”
“It’s not just the children, no. Even people my own age ask me why I travel so much. You have become old, do your bhajan-kirtan and stay at home. Why these extra ambitions in your old age? These are the sort of ridiculous things I have to listen to,” ranted Anindita.
“That’s the thing isn’t it? Women become so inured to their aspirations being ignored and sidelined that at some point we take ourselves for granted. So many women I know, who have sacrificed every moment of their life for their family, and who have now resigned themselves to being old women. We become the stereotype of an aunty,” Meeta said, curling her fingers into air quotes.
“And as far as our social projects go, honestly, how can anyone look at all the things in society that are wrong and not do anything about it? Earlier in life we had family responsibilities and careers that took up our time and energy. But now our children are grown, we finally have enough time to think about and act on things we have always wanted to do. ” Aditi said.
“Shall I tell you what motivates me, Meera?” asked Kaveri aunty. “The Universe as we know it was created 13.82 billion years ago. If we compress that 13.82 billion years into a calendar year, and consider that the Big Bang happened on the 1stof Jan, then humans first appeared on Earth in the last hour of 31stof December and our greatest achievements as a species have all happened in the last few seconds of the year! What I’m trying to say is, life is a very special and a very short gift—shorter than we realize. I think I can speak for these friends of mine, when I say that for us, just living is not enough. Life must have meaning and purpose. Look at the soil on the lawn. You will find small worms there. Even those worms have a purpose to life—they turn the soil, fertilize it and give something back to nature. We are supposedly the most evolved species. Isn’t our responsibility to everything around us that much more then?”
“Well said, Kaveri!” exclaimed Lizzy, “in my line of work, I see more than I want to of all the negativity that humans are capable of. I do what I can to shine some light, to create something good. That is precisely why Kaveri and I first started this club –we shared this passion. Eventually we met the others, and now we find an understanding and companionship in each other. It’s nice to have a younger person like you too, Meera. Age is hardly a barrier to friendship, is it? ”
Meera felt an intense desire to talk to her mother. She felt guilty. Although she had been really close to her mother and shared everything with her, she felt now as if she had neglected to really pay attention to her. So many times she had spoken to her mother about her own dreams and ambitions, but she had never asked what her mother dreamt of, if she had any unfulfilled wishes. However, her mother had passed away last year, and now she could not do anything about it. She burst out into tears.
Kaveri aunty had comforted her then, and helped her to deal with her regrets. With time, she grew close to all the members of the League, but was especially drawn to Kaveri aunty. For Kaveri aunty too, Meera’s presence was a pleasure. Meera gave up her apartment and moved in with Kaveri aunty. Outsiders assumed that they were mother and daughter, and while they never disabused them of this assumption, for Meera and Kaveri aunty, it wasn’t such a relationship. They were friends and equals, in spite of the huge age difference between them.
Inspired by the League (which kept growing and adding more members) and egged on by Kaveri aunty, Meera explored her interests. To her as well, just living was no longer sufficient. She realized that her work as a photojournalist could help her do more. She began getting involved with wildlife conservation projects that took her around the world. But she always came back home to Kaveri aunty.
And now, Kaveri aunty was no more. The world felt unbearably huge. Swaying on her feet, as the grief burst from her skin, Meera felt that she was no longer affected by gravity. That at any moment, a gust of wind would blow her away.
Despite the sense of loss that engulfed her, looking up at the star-studded firmament above her gave her a modicum of peace. It reminded her that Kaveri aunty had earned her place in the cosmic calendar.
Slowly, she began wrapping up her things. She had a long journey ahead. The League would be waiting to celebrate the life of their friend, Kaveri.
Vijayalakshmi Harish wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2018. Congratulations!
Image source: a still from the movie Nil Battey Sannata
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Weekends are to give you a break, let you relax and get ready for the next week. But the author’s weekend for different all together.
I was looking forward for an exciting weekend as I was going to my favorite Khadi exhibition called Dastkaar, then to a colleague’s daughter’s birthday party, walkathon and zumba in my building. Yes it all sounded good. But then I realized that I would have to clean my house after work so that it wouldn’t be on my list for the weekend.
I am like Monica from Friends TV Show where I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I like things to be clean and organized. I don’t trust maids with my antiques and collectibles from around the world. The clothes would have to be washed, the ironing guy needed a day to get them ironed and my son’s homeworks needed completion. He was tired of having daily Independence Day dance practices. Imagine after an entire day of school, instead of playing with your friends, you have to go for dance practice everyday for one whole hour.
I am sorry but the teachers don’t understand that a 7 year old also has a life and needs time alone to develop his imagination and play. I am also strict with my son as I know he has the capabilities to do well in studies and I ensure he does his homework everyday. I don’t expect him to be a topper but I know he is intelligent and 30 minutes of studies everyday would help him a lot. The birthday party was important as it was going to be the first time my bosses would meet my husband and my son. I had to make a good impression. Yes it seems silly but it was important.
Anyway as I rambled on, I did my laundry and cleaned my house after office for a few days. It was tiring but I was looking forward for the weekend. Then bang and boom. My son had two tough tests on Monday and Tuesday. The science chapters looked very difficult. The scrapbook activities looked equally tiring. But I was determined. I would coax my son, scold him, plead him until after many short spans of revisions, he learnt the science chapters and the spellings.
Yes I had succeeded. but then my son started complaining about his lunch and snack and he wanted something very different. Usually I plan tiffin and lunch for my son during the weekend. Now my son wanted something very different like maggi instead of paratha for lunch and apples instead of cake for snacks. I was shocked but I said yes, I would change his menu. Every step in the weekend, I would coax him to carry out the next activity.
This entailed waking up early on a Sunday morning to go for a 4 km walkathon with my neighbours. Initially it was exciting. I was up and walking. We did the warm ups and then we did the Zumba. I walk daily but these exercises were tough. Every muscle in my body was aching. I never knew I had so many muscles that had not moved for such a long time. I am a 37 year old woman. I was in pain.
Then as I came home, my husband complained about how last week because of my work pressure, he was tired of eating maggi along with chicken curry. I am a feminist and I asked him why didn’t he cooked something else for himself. But then he does not know how to make chappatis but he is a good chef. I just did not want to give up. I came back and cooked rice, chappati, dal, aloo curry and chicken curry.
I also mopped and sweeped the floors. I ensured my son finished his homework that he forgot to tell me. Thanks to School Whatsup Group where they alert me about homeworks and tests. My husband was organizing the walkathon, so he was busy downstairs. But thanks to woman power, I managed to finish all my tasks.
Then I just collapsed in the afternoon. I went off to sleep for an hour and that was heavenly bliss. My ankles were paining. I was in pain. But my weekend pictures looked great. Yes I love taking pictures and posting them on Facebook. I don’t care what others say. I work hard and I love to dress up and show the same on Facebook.
This whole week I had been wondering about what to write about in Women’s Web. I am addicted to this website as I feel each of their articles are different and thought provoking. I usually look up to my experiences to write on. I mix with a varied group of people irrespective of their caste etc. I am not popular. I just value everyone’s individuality.
Now I am sitting and writing about my crazy weekend. I just sent my son to another birthday party and the grocery is yet to be purchased. But all I am thinking that as a woman we never get a break from life. There is always so much to do in spite of your ankle paining. Life never gives you a break. I may be tired but at least I got to pen down my thoughts about my life. Why is it that we women never get to relax. Even the trip to the exhibition was not a relaxing one as my son would rather have popcorns and candy floss than letting me browse through khadi products that people have made with a lot of effort.
Today one of my friend who has some very powerful contacts is going to the police commissioner and the chief minister to get her divorce and that seems more important to her; while we middle class women toil and work hard to keep our family happy. And I look at the pictures of the flooding in Kerala and feel bad for the people who lost their homes and loved ones. At least I have my home and my family. I am blessed but still a part of me is thinking that I am so tired in pleasing my family. I am tired. Why cant my son do his homework on his own for once or why can’t my husband just be quiet.
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India is known for its diversity and harmonious existence of many cultures. But that is being threatened by many schools these days.
Yesterday I was chit-chatting with one of my neighbors about the holidays that are coming up this week. I was telling her that for Eid my son’s school would be getting a holiday. She replied saying that her son’s school does not celebrate Muslim festivals by giving holidays; instead it would be a holiday for Varalakshmi as it is a Hindu festival. Her son goes to a school that promotes Hinduism.
My son on the other hand, goes to a Christian convent school where they encourage all Hindu, Christian and Muslim cultures. School children are expected to celebrate all holidays and mingle with everyone.
My neighbor went on to say that in her son’s school they won’t even give holidays for Christmas and New Year. I asked what was wrong with New Year? She said that it is an English holiday and not the Indian New Year. I was shocked.
How can you, being in today’s progressive era, promote such views to our future generation? What are we teaching our kids? Are we teaching them that other cultures are inferior? How will these kids in the future work in India or abroad? Will they ever find an office where everyone is a Hindu? What has happened to our India known for its diversity? Have you forgotten about multiculturalism?
India is a country which is an amalgamation of thousands of distinct cultures, co-existing for thousands of years. We share similar interests in dance, music, food, history, movies etc. Mahatma Gandhi, The Father Of Our Nation, had promoted Ahimsa (non-violence); with which he brought all religions together. Today we are forgetting all that, and retreating towards separating India into different religions. Won’t this break our beautiful country?
It seems like instead of moving forward we are moving backwards. Let’s stop and think. This is very wrong. We shouldn’t do this to our rich and diverse country that prides on keeping people from different cultures together.
As women let’s stand up and stop this discrimination. Please don’t teach your children to promote only one culture.
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#DearCosmicMistake is a series of poems I wrote on heartbreak, love, loss and unsaid goodbyes. It is about all the love stories that go unsung.
When I first asked around for love stories from strangers for my book, people freaked out.
Not because they were afraid of being written in a book (anonymity was promised), but because they had more than one story to share. Every story that masqueraded as, “not mine dude, my friend’s”, was actually theirs and it was not that much of a secret when the real tears were shed at the goodbye part of the story.
Love. Comes in all beautiful colours, shapes and sizes. But for most people, love comes in all the wrong times (timezones!), situations and places. Some of the best love stories end in sighs and tears and not one of these stories, deserve to go unheard, un-celebrated just because they did not end as they could have ended.
Initially, I meant this book to be an anthology of love stories, collected from various people across the globes. But as life took me around, from Thailand to Malaysia, from Singapore to Colombo, the vibrancy of culture, the colourfulness of life burst so much through my writing and all my words, without even intending to, only flowed as poetry.
As a collection of poetic letters (unsent, unedited and fully unapologetic) to the mistake that was conjured by the universe when it decided to bring two people together as one, to only yank them away, with their hearts, tears and lives strewn all over the place, Dear Cosmic Mistake is not one person, it is the fault in our stars, it is the one that got away, it is a wildness in your bones that you never thought even existed, it is you, it is me, it is all of us.
The Dear Cosmic Mistake series, has seen its fair share of Facebook exposure under the hashtag #Dearcosmicmistake and has also been read at many a slam poetry readings. It has brought tears, laughter and most importantly, a tug in the heartstrings for all the love that has gone unsung.
Dear Cosmic Mistake has seen the writer in me, evolve as a person, as a poet, as a hero in myself. I truly believe in the fact that love and only love can change the world, one poem at a time and my breath catches in my throat each time I find how even the vast finitude of a writer’s pen fails to capture the wild infinitude of this magical, beautiful thing called love.
You could buy the entire book on amazon.
Here’s an excerpt:
Dear Cosmic Mistake,
My words unbridle your heartstrings, I know.
All the waves my words brewed, shook your soul, I know.
You said you wanted to look me in the eye and talk.
Talk of what? I thought.
Haven’t we exhausted our lifetime of words already?
When you said you wanted to talk, I wanted to imagine,
That you meant strewing winter fleece words, nectar-dipped and bitter sweet,
Under the inky blue moon less skies;
Your finger inexpertly tracing lost stars,
Guiding my shaky index across the celestial canvases,
Letting me be the past, the present and the future (even if it were for a flickering moment),
Of stories untold, songs sung, galaxies traversed and worlds lost.
I imagine possibilities.
Possibilities that we both know are futile hoping for.
Possibilities that’d ruin our already ruined, thunder-struck bodies for good.
What’s your body ruined with, Dear Cosmic Mistake?
I want to imagine, with mine;
With the mistakes of my sin-stained hands and love-thirsty lips.
My words are all lost,
My heart wells, as I throw up, metaphor after metaphor,
Of pure untinged hope.
Hope that ties my body down in chains,
Hopes of forevers under moonless skies and thunderstorm nights.
Hopes of your taste on my lips and filigreed whorls of your dreams, underneath my tongue.
Hopes between falling, rising, swell of our pulses combined and the smell of rusting cast iron of your heart.
I want to imagine entwined fingers and moonlight-glazed eyes,
I want to imagine warm bodies and warmer hearts.
I want to be the thunder in your bones as you shudder awake each morning,
The lightning in your eyes, as you spearhead memories of us, across dreamscape dartboards of your soul.
Baby I want to slowly, softly, surely feel your reverberating heart,
Against the caged contours of mine and see if that’s the closest we can get, to painful goodbyes.
I want to be one with the night, to be one with each whispered light of dawn.
I want for once, for you to want me too,
And be the pure shot of raw undiluted wild-as-fuck-love in your soul.
You said you wanted to make love to me.
Blunt. Steel-cold. Raw.
Throwing me off balance,
From the deck of designed realities you wove for me.
The vibrant truth in your voice, shivering fresh,
Fluid shots of adrenaline down my spine.
I want to imagine you.
Your rough wood-bark hands.
Your summer washed skin.
Your silver sweet lips.
Your hurricane brewing eyes.
Dear cosmic mistake, take my hand, take my heart,
And until we part,
Be my song,
Be my poetry,
Be the life in my veins,
Be all that I am.
Poet. Published Writer. Spoken Word Artist. Entrepreneur. Avid Reader. Amateur Boxer. Wannabe Motivational Speaker. Dog
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So many trolls and memes surround Anushka Sharma all the time. Why do you think it is so? Why can’t people just leave Anusha Sharma alone?
Whatever might be happening in the country or the world, these days it seems like people just can’t leave Anushka Sharma alone. Whether it is Imran Khan’s swearing-in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan or a major flood submerging the entire state of Kerala, they have to constantly troll her and have a hearty laugh at her using brand new memes.
It’s ridiculous to constantly see social media gushing with demeaning content against one one particular actress. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, it becomes a trending topic upon which millions comment or criticize.
Here are 5 instances where Anushka Sharma was under major scrutiny across all the social media platforms.
Instead of appreciating all the efforts and hard work that has gone into the film, one particular scene where Anushka is in happy tears is on fire. There are hundreds of different memes making the rounds based on this scene. Such catchy phrases and hilarious comments, why can’t all this creativity be put into better use elsewhere?
Anushka was recently posing for a photo with Team India at the High Commission of India, London. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared the picture on its Twitter account and this officially opened the crest gates large and wide for all the comments that prevailed for days to come.
In India when it comes to cricket and cinema, people often think they completely own these two entities and talk about them all that they want. Often Virat and Anushka representing those respectively, are at the receiving end of all the ‘excess love’ from people.
A video was put out where Anushka told a man in a luxurious car, throwing a plastic bottle on the road, to not do such a thing. This was yet another instance where every other person had something or the other to say about Anushka’s actions. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram felt like battlefields full of arguments and counter arguments. With the coming of social media everybody wants to tell the world what their opinions are – nobody wants to stay quiet and keep it to themselves.
This began for the first time in the year 2015 during the Australian World Cup, after the semi-finals match between India and Australia. Anushka had flown all the way but Virat, in such a crucial match, got out by scoring just one run. Patriotism, nationalism…everything played its role in making the trolls against Anushka highly insensitive.
The trend of blaming her continued for many other series that followed. But it intensified yet again during the poor showing of RCB in IPL 2018.
This is probably the first time Anushka experienced a huge backlash in the social media. It was in 2014 when she got a lip job done for a role in the movie Bombay Velvet. It was considered a disaster and people made a lot of fun of her back then.
I seriously wonder why it has to always be Anushka Sharma! There are so many other male and female actors, and yes, many do get trolled but none like her. Varun Dhawan also looks comical with his getup for the film Sui Dhaaga, but there are not many memes on him. Also Virat Kohli was the one capturing the video when Anushka was giving her cleanliness lecture on the road, but he didn’t receive as much backlash as she did.
Maybe like everywhere else gender plays a role here. Women become easier targets and victims of social retaliation. Every time Anushka is ridiculed, Virat usually puts up a post showing his strong support for her and often gets applauded for the same by many. But why is it necessary? Why isn’t it alright when Anushka stands up for herself?
In a recent interview Anushka has said that she doesn’t react to trolls. In a way it is good as one shouldn’t waste precious time proving yourself to others. But looking at it differently, the pressure from outside is so much that she is forced to keep mum. This story seems to be no different from that of any other ordinary women who suffer due to societal pressures.
How much can Anushka fight against the world? There are so many, way too many trolls and memes. Even if the wants, she won’t be able to do much or react to all of them. Is it time we gave her a break instead?
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Dreams do come true with determination. She was standing in one of the most famous streets in the world today ‘Hanging Pride Street’ which was once an infamous abandoned street. World media, NGOs and many admirers have gathered today to appreciate and acknowledge her efforts. Rita and her team of 20 superwomen were the celebrities of the day.
An overwhelming feeling of nostalgia engulfed her when a reporter asked her about her journey of success, and she started telling her story, going back to that day.
Her maid Kanta had got very late that day, and anger was burning through Rita. When the doorbell rang, she just started shouting at her. Rita’s loud words broke Kanta into tears, and hesitatingly, she told Rita that she had a reason to get late, but she was not able to gather the courage to speak up.
Rita gave her a glass of water and calmed her down. Kanta had reservations about what she was about to say, but she decided to tell Rita everything anyway. Kanta told Rita that her sister’s husband abandoned her and her kids, and like many other women of her village she was forced into prostitution. Kanta started crying and asked Rita, “Is there is anything you and I can do for these women and their miserable life?”
Rita comforted her, “Come what may but we will turn their life around, and won’t let them go through these miseries.”
They decided to visit all those women. When they were entering the street Kanta asked Rita to cover her face as she was a nice woman and what if somebody would spot her here? It would bring shame to her and her family. Rita refused, “Firstly I don’t care if people judge me and secondly, mark my words, one day we will be proudly standing here in this street and all of the women here will be an inspiration for the whole world.”
They met and discussed many aspects of life and future together. The biggest concern was to bring in some business for the women here for revenue generation. Many of them were not educated enough to do jobs and also because of the social taboos jobs were not the ideal solution for them. Rita proposed to them the idea of doing laundry and dry cleaning. Everybody agreed. Rita took up the job of marketing this new venture. Earlier she faced so many judgements and criticism but she was determined. Also, there were people who came out and wholeheartedly supported her mission. They got connected with many NGOs and corporate houses. They then started supporting other women in need too. Their journey became the epitome of self-help and self-growth. Their business engagements increased from laundry to dress designing. They started schools and classes for vocational training of women and opened the platform for many jobs and training. Many business school students were engaged in doing research on their business module.
Everybody hugged her and it was such a fulfilling moment for them when in the end Rita told the reporter that she is really proud of her superwomen team and no doubt that they really made it big but still, the laundry clothes hanging in the street were their proudest achievement.
First published here.
Image via Pixabay
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Are you constantly feeling the need to be perfect? Do you find yourself stretching all the time? Stop: You need to read this.
I have always thought that I am a calm and fairly placid person until I became a mother. Motherhood has made me realise that I fare poorly when it comes to being patient or even calm when my home constantly looks like it has been hit by a tornado all the time.
I have realised that I can actually scream at a cute looking little baby and interestingly, also be manipulated by the way she melts my heart. Motherhood is a constant roller coaster ride where a woman goes from achingly heart-melting and loving emotions to the very extreme of being tested for patience. This added with the need to keep calm, look presentable, manage the house and also keep a steady face at work is something that is hard to perfect.
Then there are those moments when you feel that you really need to complete that painting, finish reading that book or catch up on yourself. I seemed to be stretching myself in all directions and still not getting anywhere. I wanted to perfect the art of being everything.
One day when I was enjoying my much needed me-time with a friend at her home, she asked me conversationally – ‘But why do you want to perfect being everything? You are doing your best, is not that enough?’
She then told me her story. As a youngster she has always looked for approval. Maybe it was her strict upbringing or whatever, she always doubted herself unless people told her otherwise. She grew up like that always looking for approval even when her heart said that what she has to offer is good enough.
I remember one day, when we were invited over for dinner at her place and she had made home-made pizza for the children. It was the healthiest and most flavourful pizza that I had ever tasted. One of the guests did not like jalapenos and respectfully removed those from her slices. No offence intended! This led her to believe that she was not good enough. She failed to see what she was worth because someone was allergic to jalapenos. This was ridiculous!
She went on through most of her adult life like this and one say she found that she was stretching herself all over far too much. In the process of perfecting her act as an artist, a mother, a wife, a cook, a teacher, and whatever other role that she had played she was stressing herself out too much. Her mind since it was tuned to look for approval constantly judged her to the point when she actually could not take it anymore. This led to a depression and the wise realisation that it is not necessary to perfect the act of whatever you do. Do the best that you can and then let go!
Sometimes in life it is important to accept the mess, she told me. Some mess are meant to be lived in.
After her realisation, one day she looked at her house. Her three children were playing football inside the house while her precious Ming vase that stood in the countertop looked seriously threatened. There was water on the floor because one child had dropped a glass of water. Her husband interestingly was playing the goal keeper standing by the sofa! All of them were cheering and radiating happiness. Their happiness proved that she provided them a comfortable home where they can be themselves without fear. Yes, the lessons on cleanliness can wait. The dishes in the sink can wait. But this moment should not be interrupted. Her thoughts were broken when her eldest child said ‘Momma Catch! and threw the ball towards her. Her youngest baby however came over and held the Ming vase saying – ‘No, wait this is momma’s favourite vase.’ She looked at her youngest with a surprised appreciation while catching the ball and throwing it back.
Sometimes we need to loosen the reins not only on others but also on ourselves. It is not wise to constantly worry about the house that is not clean. There are children, it is natural there will be a mess sometimes. Do not be so worked out on deadlines, manage them when you can and if you cannot, explain, she told me. I am sure your boss would understand.
Lastly do not stretch yourself all over. You are doing the best that you can and that is enough. Perfection is something that is unattainable because there will always be someone better than you. Love yourself the way you are and hold your head high because you are you.
A Social Media Content Writer by profession. A writer by heart. A genuine foodie. Simple
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