Gully Boy Is A Brilliant Piece Of Art That Has You Rooting For The Underdog

Posted: February 17, 2019

With Gully Boy, Zoya Akhtar proves once again that she not just a good director but a skilled storyteller. This underdog, rags to riches story keeps you hooked.

I don’t write movie reviews, primarily because most of my movies comprise Disney animations (cute…yeah!) and the non-Disney movies that I end up watching are too few and far between.

So, I did not intend to write this one either; but there are some movies which enthral you with their sheer brilliance, which you unknowingly internalise, which you relate to at so many levels, and which surprise you with their honesty…Gully Boy is one such film.

With Gully Boy, Zoya Akhtar proves once again that she not just a good director but a skilled storyteller. Because let’s face it, at the end of the day it is an underdog story, a rags to riches story, a theme done to death in films. And yet I was riveted to the seat till the last moment.

Both Zoya and Reema Kagti write a water-tight story, despite having a plethora of characters. There are multiple sub-plots and character stories but every time you feel the film is moving away from the main plot they bring you right back in. I was pleasantly surprised by the dialogues – they are just so right, they never go over the top; there are no monologues, or the usual dialogue-baazi and yet there is so much conveyed. Like when Murad’s Aunt tells him ‘Gaana hi gana toh ghazal ga leta’ (If you have to sing, why can’t it be ghazals?) or Safeena telling Murad that she loves him because he lets her be.

The film narrates Murad’s story in the most matter of fact way. So he lives in abject poverty, there is pain, tears, poverty, humiliation…but there is also love, friendship, care, hope. It’s not all dark, there are lighter moments, even humour, well woven into the story.

Add to this the cinematography; now I am no expert on it but usually, when you see films set in the streets or slums, it’s either just dark alleys or an attempt to light it all up; here, the surroundings remain real. The aerial shots of the fast running trains against the seemingly lifeless Dharavi slums eerily remind you that life goes on, as if juxtaposed with the simmering Murad murmuring ‘Apna Time Aayega’ as he waits in the carpark doing a night shift as a driver.

Even Ranveer’s entry in the film (probably the most un-hero like entry I have ever seen) is staged as he comes out from the shadows, walking slowly behind his friends…you hardly even notice him. Compare this scene to the one at the end as he confidently walks onto the stage gazing intently at the camera, and you know he has arrived.

Add to this some brilliant performances. Ranveer Singh is unbelievably brilliant. His Murad is soft, silent, conscientious. He channels his disappointments and anger into his poetry. There is so much angst and honesty in him when he tells his father ‘abhi koi aur batayega main kaun hai?’ (Will someone else tell me who I am?) or when he tells his father (and himself) that his songs do mean something. He produces one of his best performances till date, restrained, simmering…and his eyes, they pierce into your soul. His gaze changes as he goes from an underconfident, unsure boy, to someone who dares to dream.

Then there Alia’s feisty Safeena, she is a firecracker. I wonder if we have a better actress then her today. She is effortless in her portrayal of Safeena. The other actors (there are quite a few) are equally wonderful, Vijay Raaz as the short-tempered father, Amruta Subhash as Ranveer’s mother, who silently suffers yet defends her son’s dreams, Vijay Verma and Siddhant Chaturvedi as Moin and MC Sher who act as catalysts in Murad’s journey to stardom, are all worth a mention. Zoya truly knows how to work with an ensemble cast, doing complete justice to each character.

Last but definitely not the least, let’s talk about the music; after all, isn’t that the soul of the film? To begin with I wasn’t well versed with the underground rap scene of Mumbai. For me rap meant some nonsensical Honey Singh and Badshah songs which make great party songs, but would be cringeworthy if there was no music and no Alia Bhatts and Kareena Kapoors of the world adding glamour to them. But Gully Boy’s songs are powerful, courageous and hard-hitting, be it ‘Sher Aya’ or ‘Meri Gully Mein’ or ‘Doori’ and of course the ultimate ‘Apna time Aayega’ each of the songs makes a strong socioeconomic statement. Ranveer Singh raps to perfection and if you notice his diction in most of the songs, he raps with amazing clarity. Rapper Divine, whose life the film is partly based on has sung quite a few songs here and is he Good!

The film clocks a full three hours, but I am not complaining. Zoya makes sure you are invested in the film throughout. In the end, as Ranveer sings his way to success, finally coming into his own and getting into the soul of the song, you find yourself clapping and tapping your feet, rooting for him, celebrating him…celebrating passion, persistence, hope and telling yourself ‘Apna time Aayega’.

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Opportunity Will Knock The Door, Just Keep Your Head Held High!

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And believe me, no established boy would be ready to marry a girl with a physical disability. You should consider yourself lucky enough that this match came for you and they are ready to handle you.

Dhairya adjusted her dupatta and looked herself into the mirror for the last time, lost in her thoughts. A knock at the door broke her reverie. When she opened it, her Chachi entered into the room hurriedly. Chachi inspected Dhairya from top to bottom, cleared her throat and said, “Beta, why don’t you apply some red shade of lipstick? The existing one is not quite noticeable on your lips. And make that Kohl a little darker. That will make your eyes more prominent. And…(placing a pair of big round multicolour jhoomkas in front of her) and these jhoomkas will go better with your pink salwar kameez. In fact, it will be more attractive.”

Dhairya signalling with her hands, “Stop it, Chachi! Do you have any more suggestions left with you? Would you stop interfering in my looks?”

Least bothered, Chachi continued, “Yes, I think…”.

Dhairya cut short her Chachi and said, “Don’t you think I already look so pretty in my own skin? I’m beautiful in all aspects and let me make you clear that these cosmetics or any other superficial make-up is not going to cast a magic on someone. If it does, then that person won’t be a perfect match for me or for anyone else. And one more thing, I don’t want to draw anyone’s attention by a makeover.”

“It’s not about your looks Beta! We all know that you have been blessed with a fair skin. But the thing is…”, Chachi trying to console her.

Dhairya blurted out, “Better stop right there Chachi. First of all, beauty is something more than skin deep. It’s not just about being fair/dark complexion. And secondly, I know what you were going to say. Let me complete it for you. I’m physically disabled. I can’t walk by my own. I need the help of these wheel chairs to move on. Right!”

She paused and gasped for breath.

Chachi trying to make her points valid, uttered, “Why don’t you understand? Accept the fact that you need someone to assist you throughout your life. And believe me, no established boy would be ready to marry a girl with a physical disability. You should consider yourself lucky enough that this match came for you and they are ready to handle you. So, try to present yourself properly otherwise you are going to lose the opportunity. Does it make some sense?”

Dhairya in a shocked tone expressed her resentment, “OPPORTUNITY! A lucky chance to surrender myself for the entire life to someone who could merely judge me by the amount of kohl applied on my eyes or the shade of lipstick on my lips! Wow!” Slowly, she raised her pitch saying, ‘Thanks Chachi for the lecture. But NO. Keep it with you. Try to sell it to someone else. I may be physically disabled for you but not mentally. I’m mentally sound and stable. So, I’m not going to buy this. You asked me to accept the fact. Right! The fact is I may need walking stand as support to walk but don’t need anyone’s support to lift up my soul and hold my head straight, and right now I’m accepting this fact with grace. If marriages and relationships are just based on physical appearance/ability, I’m refraining from it and embracing myself the way I’m. My leg is broken; not my heart, my intellect, my confidence or my courage. Just because I need to bend my body for some assistance doesn’t mean I’m going to bow my head in front of others. Listen carefully, even my present is not going to bow in front of my own future. This head will be held high till my last breath is broken. Hope this makes some sense..Chachi!”

Chachi stood still there.

Dhairya continued, “Please convey the message to the prospective bridegroom or else I’ve to play a repeat telecast!”

Chachi was stunned by the fire in Dhairya’s eyes and the boldness in her voice. The red lipstick slipped from Chachi’s hands and fell down with a thud near Dhairya’s leg.

Years passed by. A party was hosted to mark the successful completion of a decade of the ‘Veera Enterprises’. Being an employee, I was also invited. This was the first chance for me to meet the CEO of the company. There she comes. She wore a bold red lipstick matching with her pretty red dress. But this time, it was not to please someone. Instead it reflected her inner shine and strength. She walked confidently(on her artificial limbs) with an elegance in her footsteps. All eyes were transfixed on her. Many wedding proposals lay scattered on her table. One more man approached her in the party for her hands and she smiled effortlessly saying, “Better luck next time!”

Image source: pixabay

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I Love My Baby Dearly, But My First Few Days As A New Mom Were A Nightmare For 9 Reasons

Posted: February 16, 2019

As a new mother, only my mom was my support, no-one else. Even my feelings were invalidated, almost making me invisible as a person. 

This may sound weird to you coming from a new mom. But “Why are these guys happy?” was my first thought when I looked at the happy faces of my family outside the operation theatre after my delivery.

After what I had gone through in the labour room, I didn’t see any reason to be happy, in spite of the fact that I just had a baby.

I wasn’t prepared, neither for the pregnancy, nor for the delivery

I got pregnant immediately after my marriage. It wasn’t planned, I wasn’t prepared. It took me months just to digest the fact that I was carrying.

On came a series of issues like dependency on others, bodily changes, health issues, lifestyle changes, lack of confidence in playing this new role, empathy from everyone including strangers etc. By the time I managed all these, I was already in the labour room.

After 12 hours of intense labour, my obstetrician thought it best to go ahead with C-section. And hence, I entered into the labour room but came out of the operation theatre.

And the answer to my initial question came after a month, when I came back to my original self after I overcame the baby blues. As the name suggests, baby blues is the sad feeling that takes over the new mother after the birth of the baby.

The antidote for it is family support, which I didn’t get

And the support I got was:

A husband asking me in the labor room, like a parent to a child in his classroom, “Is anyone else around screaming?”

A father-in-law who was in extreme distress because it was going to be a caesarian.

A mother-in-law who expected me to waltz out of the ICU, because someone else did.

A close relative who suggested epidural is of no good.

Amid many such bitter scenes, I found very little solace, that too in tears. My single mom was my only pillar to lean on. My blues went up and up before subsiding only after almost a month.

The reasons being:

One: “She couldn’t do it”

With family and friends dropping in to see the newly born, (yes, newly born and not me), a basic intro of “She couldn’t do it” about not having a ‘normal’ delivery was given.

There was no acknowledgement of the pain and trauma I have been through, instead, it was invalidated, nay nullified to ‘today’s girls’. I felt worthless.

Two: Free advice

Anything from taking care of the baby to my own food habits to improve breast milk, everyone had a advice ready with them. Well, not one was coinciding with others. I was confused.

Three: Lack of family support

You might have already got a glimpse of the support I received from my in-laws. And almost similar, mostly advice, was the support from my maternal end. Only my mother was running pillar to post to manage everything.

Poor mom, she did much more than her capacity taking care of my baby and me. I felt alone and helpless.

Four: Illogical superstitions

The initial days were an absolute nightmare! While some said do this, others said something else altogether. No one had any logical explanation for any of this advice;. no doctor had ever suggested them.

I was forced into following these. I blindly obliged.

Five: Loss of mental strength

I used the phrase ‘There’s no turning back’ earlier in my life with an enthusiastic attitude that suggested, ‘This should be done, NOW!’ But now the same phrase shows a loss of confidence, like ‘I am stuck, I have no option but to do this’.

I felt hopeless.

Six: I don’t exist for them; I’m just the mom

It’s all about the baby now. I am expected to eat, sleep, dress, travel, work as per the convenience of my baby without even considering my comfort. It appears as though my mere existence is just for the baby.

I love my baby more than anything in this world, but I love myself too. Seems, it is not the case with others. I felt unimportant.

Seven: Bodily changes

Everyone wanted a slim mother and a chubby baby. Their former expectation was met, as I dropped many kgs after my delivery. But my body is not the same, and I am overwhelmed by these changes. I am not the same.

Coming to the latter, they weren’t content, though the baby is healthy.

Eight: The expectation of a ‘motherly instinct’

I somehow believed that I was not being a mother good enough, a symptom of postpartum depression. No one ever said, “You’re doing your best”, which made me feel worse about it. My role as a mother felt more than a burden. I felt guilty.

Nine: Branded selfish for thinking about my career

Now that I am a mother, my career is at question, because the full responsibility of my baby is put on me. I understand that she is dependent on me initially, but later I would want to continue in my profession. For this thought, I was branded selfish.

How I coped with it

This post might seem negative, but I have gone through all that. And my blues go down just at the sight of the beautiful baby in my arms. It took me more than one month to be my usual self, and in the process of coping I have done /understood the following:

  • Read about child care so that every small thing won’t alarm me.
  • Involved my husband in the activities related to child care.
  • Had minimal expectations. If I am responsible, that means something is under my control and supervision. So, all the decisions are mine.
  • Though no one can replace my role, others in the family will eventually try to fill in some gaps. With love, grows responsibility.
  • I followed the suggestions of my pediatrician and of other parents. And sometimes I myself judged the situation well.
  • With time, my health recovered. Hence, I am able to manage stuff better than earlier.

Now, my baby is 5 months old and I feel stronger than ever. I am a freelancer and planning to take on a full-time work-from-home job soon.

Image source: maxpixel

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I Will Look At What Draupadi Would Do!

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But honestly I could not muster up the courage to tell you how your so-called uncle raped your mom. But I can’t bear this alone any more. That gnawing itch won’t let me live.

I was caressing Shakti’s forehead as she slept on my lap. This had been the longest day of her life. After drowning herself neck-deep in tears, her eyes finally gave in and I didn’t want to deprive my daughter of a few moments of peace.

Suddenly she lept out of bed hysterically. “Shakti, I am here. Go back to sleep please.” I tried to calm her.

“I don’t know when will I be able to sleep again Maa.” She replied bringing her hands to forehead. “Does dad know of that night?” She asked, restlessness obvious in her tone.

“You think I would not have told him? He was my only hope and solace. In who else could I go confide? Especially when it was his own brother who committed this heinous act of rape!” My response to her statement was quite impulse. In-spite of having happened an year back, it still invoked daunting reaction from me. Like it was just yesterday when the demon pounced upon me sucking the blood and life out of me. Leaving behind a permanent sting under my skin, which even at the slightest touch caused excruciating pain.

“What did dad say when you told him?” Shakti asked seemingly unperturbed. As if she was just assimilating information not knowing how to respond.

I forced a laugh. “He said what I had expected. That his brother being IPS officer is a man of resources and means. If we go fighting a court case against him, all our money will get washed out. We may be faced with numerous life threats. Shakti’s life will be endangered. On top of it, the setback to our reputation because of a rape case will be irreversible.” With a sinking voice I continued, “And then he implored me to change my mind. To hush my voice and bow down to destiny.”

Shakti was too lost to say much. How different could I expect a 17 year old listening to her mom’s rape story. Like every other girl so far she would too have believed that such stories belong only to the newspapers. I could see the pain that she was being put to by shattering her make-believe world.

“And you agreed with him?” She asked gazing somewhere with the unseeing eyes.

I heaved a sigh and kept quiet figuring an appropriate response. “A few nights after the incident, I had a dream. Draupadi was standing on the vast crimson land. Vultures hovering above in the sky. Her untied hair waving like slithering snakes. The vast ocean of human carcass and wails of women had brought her to a standstill. A sobbing women with a little girl approached her. Gesturing towards the blood soaked twisted bodies she asked, “Draupadi, what have you gained out of this?”

Draupadi’s stoned eyes met hers teary ones and she replied,”Nothing. Nothing for myself. Half of my life’s possessions – my dignity and self-respect were crushed before the war and rest half- my loved ones, I have lost to the war. I don’t have anything left.”

“Then why this deadly war of vengeance?” The woman grumbled.

“Because some wars are fought at a time but meant for the future. If I had let all this pass, with the humiliation and disgrace that I had been subject to, what message I would have sent across? Men will continue to take pride in their audacity. And women will feel too weak to fight back thinking that if a queen could do nothing of such an heinous insult then what can we ordinary women do. This war is for the future to see and learn.” Turning her gaze to the little girl Draupadi said “This war is for her.”‘

For a few minutes thence the silence prevailed before Shakti interrupted,”You didn’t answer my question. Did you agree with dad?”

The way Shakti questioned made me realize how a bitter truth had matured her beyond her age. How it just took a day for my teenage daughter to become a woman. But she was waiting for my answer. “The following morning after I had a discussion with your dad he came to garner my opinion. I asked him ‘Had it been Shakti in my place that night, would you still choose to say mum?'”

For the first time in years in a fit of rage he raised his hand to my face and stopped midway. Seething with anger he howled “How dare you drag my daughter in this. How cheap of you.”

“Now you understand. Just why my head’s not bowed.” I replied looking straight in his bloodshot eyes. “You can’t even imagine something wrong with your daughter. But if your brother can cross his limits in your absence, can you guarantee about him or his son or any of the men out there? When you can’t change the world for your daughter, at least teach her how to face it boldly. Our daughter needs two lessons for sure- one in self-defence and second in fighting back. Not to sulk throughout life and letting a perpetrator bask in his audacity and redo it whenever he wills or his son wills it. I can’t set a wrong example for my daughter and all the next generation of daughters and sons out there, by letting all this pass. As Shakti’s mother her opinion counts for me and if my daughter approves of my action, I am not resting back.”

“Since then I have been waiting to open up before you. But honestly I could not muster up the courage to tell you how your so-called uncle raped your mom. But I can’t bear this alone any more. That gnawing itch won’t let me live. I filled an F.I.R a day after the rape but the devil had much influences to hush up the matter and I had no one’s support to continue.”

Shakti was still in a trance. I touched her shoulder to attract her attention. She turned her face and said, “Maa if my support can give you the courage to fight, then I must tell you I will stand by you whatever be the consequences. And consequences are never one-sided. With this rape case on, he is bound to loose his job. So in a way his influences will also be marred. As for dad, you know he is where I am.” Shakti smiled faintly and so did I.

“Shakti, there are two things which give the purpose to my life- you and getting back my lost pride.” I pressed my palm against hers feeling a surge of energies. “There are consequences to everything. But someone has to hold the baton in hope for a better tomorrow. What if a soldier starts thinking about the consequences before the war, will we ever feel safe in a nation? Or if a doctor starts weighing the consequences before a critical operation, will he ever be able to gain trust of his patient?”

“I understand Maa.” Stating she hugged me tightly and that’s all I needed to take the plunge.

Nithya rape case file was reopened after an year. The already filled F.I.R gave us the initial edge. With my fears already conquered and my daughter and husband by my side, I am determined to put up a brave fight.

Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the Muse of the Month January 2019, but not one of the winners.

Image source: YouTube

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Pulwama: On The Day Of Love When Hatred Reared Its Ugly Head

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The Pulwana terror attack is to be condemned, but we need to do more than that, to support the families left behind by those who died, and to stop this cycle of violence somehow.

When the world celebrated love, 40 families lost their loved ones. In a gruesome and despicable attack, the men who believed in the power of hatred managed to slay more than 40 innocent custodians of our country.

The entire nation stands united in condemning this attack and in sympathizing with the families of the martyrs. Each political party had its own way of retaliating verbally to this attack, the US condemned it, the UN also offered its views, but is that enough?

The aftermath of the terror attacks

More than 40 coffins covered in the tricolor will reach their hometowns to a grieving mother, to a widowed wife or to an orphaned child. There will be outrage by the media, there will be political blame game, there will be multiple tweets, Whatsapp posts and forwards and probably a counter attack where hopefully many more terrorists lose their lives.

After this revenge, the terrorists will want to kill more people and they will hit back in a much more gruesome way and the hatred will continue, innocent lives will be lost and the entire nation will be grieving for them all over again. There may never be an end to this cycle of death. Like I read in a Whatsapp forward, the terrorists have nothing to lose. They are trained to die, they fight to die and their families have lost them anyway. There is nothing appalling about the terrorists dying as they are brainwashed into it.

But spare a thought about the families of those 40 martyrs and there are so many things that come to my mind. It is so easy and convenient for us to condemn the attack, forward some messages, add some tweets; many of us could never go beyond that.

I’m not sure how many people would give a thought to the survival of those families that have been left behind. I doubt if the jobs that these martyrs have been in, offers the privilege of a respectful salary and perks thereof which the families can brag about. So there may never be a question of people of their cadre living off a fortune that has been left behind. Furthermore, I wonder if even the pension that these families get will be enough for them to take care of their essential needs.

The actual help that needs to be offered

It is indeed heartwarming to see the nation come together and condemn the act. No matter what is done, nobody can ever make up the losses of these families. What these families need is not a series of Whatsapp forwards or tweets, they probably need jobs to sustain their families, they probably need financial aid to educate their children and take care of the elderly members therein.

As an individual and not connected with the armed forces in any way, it is very difficult for me to connect to a genuine organization that supports the families of these martyrs. It is assumed that their own organizations, i.e. the Services would probably be doing the needful for them. But the fact remains that beyond a certain measure I assume that their own organizations cannot do much for them because of their own limitations.

It would be a great initiative if the celebrities and the erstwhile industrialists could use their connections and promote genuine organizations, or come up with new organizations that can work for the support and benefit of these families. I presume that these families need and deserve more than just homage. Their loved ones died in the service of the nation and such a nation can definitely do better than just tweet and message in solidarity.

I cannot even imagine the plight of those who witnessed this inhuman act and watched their comrades die. No matter how much a soldier is prepared for this day, it seems so traumatic to handle the coffins of the very people that you lived with, day in and day out. Not 1, not 2 but more than 40 of them.

Their sacrifice will be avenged for sure, as it has been in the past. I shudder to think this, but the hate will continue. The question is when will all this end and where will it all lead to? The answers are unknown, but devastation is assured. Only time will tell whether it is more of my countrymen who will see the end or it will be the inhuman carriers of hatred.

For now, let us pray that peace prevails and we cease to lose innocent lives.

Image source: YouTube

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Education Is One Thing No One Can Take Away From You

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Do you even know that a lot of times, girls staying/living in urban or semi urban cities or rural parts are being forced to leave school because their periods have started and now it’s time for them to start doing the household work?

Education is one thing no one can take away from you. – Elin Nordegren

Nowadays in our country most of the population is literate and a very few number of people are illiterate. When it comes to the ratio on the basis of the gender male/female (and of course the third gender now is legal! Yay!) – the ratio of male and female is still 60 % (Male) and 40% (Female).How many of the women’s are literate in our country? Or even if literate how many are being allowed to pursue their careers as per their will?

Literacy rate: Here’s the comparison of the literacy rates of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal

Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have stolen a march over India in quality of school education. Data from new research on female literacy shows that India’s school education system is under-performing in terms of quality when compared to its neighbours, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The research studies changes in female literacy over a number of schooling years.
The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48 per cent, much less than 92 percent in Nepal, 74 per cent in Pakistan and 54 per cent in Bangladesh.

Do you even know that a lot of times, girls staying/living in urban or semi urban cities or rural parts are being forced to leave school because their periods have started and now it’s time for them to start doing the household work? The responsibility of doing household work completely gets transferred to the girl.

The other scenario in this situation is that she has been born and brought up with the words:

“Beti tujhe toh badhe hokar ghar he sambhalna hai toh school maat ja”

“tu nah aisa kar ki tu ghar ka kam he sambhal le tera bhai he school jayega kal se”

“beti mei nah kam pe jati hun toh peche se sara kam nah reh jate hai toh tu aake khana bna liya kar tere papa nah gussa karte hai fir..”

(You’d better stay at home and take care of the work, your brother can go to school. Or, I need to go out, you take care of the household work or else Papa will be angry…)

Why is it that only the womanhas to compromise? Why?

We are living in the 21st century and still, it’s the women who have to compromise with their studies, health, education, and most importantly the social obligations they face all their lives whether they are married or unmarried.

Even our mothers & grandmothers have sacrificed their opinions, thoughts and their way of looking towards the situations just because the society won’t accept their having a say in major decisions, specifically when it comes to their own daughters’ lives.

But on the other hand, if you have a son, then everything is sorted out for him.

No one stops him from going out of the town and studying…

No one asks where he is studying…

How much is his college fees?

On the contrary, if a girl is studying her parents will count her expenses from the day she is born andthen save the money for her marriage and will collect lots of articles for her to give in so-called dowry.

She would be always asked about her salary in the family meet-up.

She would be judged over the profession she has chosen for herself.

If she is in her late 20s, there will always be questions coming up about her being still single.

And then if she finally decides to marry someone then again lots of questionnaire sessions are held with her over her decision of continuing the job or will she leave the job after marriage.

Again as I said, household works have to be performed by her only so somewhere she has to compromise with her job and sit back and do household work.

In my opinion, we have to work together irrespective of what roles the society has defined for a specific gender. It is we who have to change our thoughts about women being anti-men, which I hear generally in normal conversations. Being a feminist doesn’t mean we are against men, we simply want gender equality.

“We have a lot of to do, but we can get there if we work together” – Beyonce Knowles- Carter

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Wriggling In Our Society: Stereotypes

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We always have certain fixed notions of woman, man, mother, teacher, student and so on. These “fixed” ideas are stereotypes.

Hey Ladies, I hope you all are fine, enjoying your life and fighting against the unfairness. I know we all face distinct kinds of issues everyday, a stumbling block at every step in the path of life. We all here at this platform share, define, converse, transform  and re-create new meanings of life. Undoubtedly this platform is steeped in the aura of “Feminism”.

But “feminism” is not only bound to women only, it includes men also. As soon as feminists discuss about the essentialism of being “woman” it becomes a men’s issue also. If this culture teaches a woman to ‘be’ woman it does the same in the case of men also. We always have certain fixed notions of woman, man, mother, teacher, student and so on. These “fixed” ideas are stereotypes. They are the demons of the ultra modern age which we are living – from a car to human being, from nail to sandal, everything has a static  boundary which some people don’t see and other don’t want to see. Jeans = Levi’s, Woman=Delicate, Man=Stud, Car=Audi and so on.

Feminism has always rejected this boundary of stereotypes. However, many people attach some stereotypes to feminism also. A true feminist should be this, that, s/he should be independent, bold, outspoken, and so on. But they don’t know they are unconsciously creating an even more dangerous evil for society.

I think it’s best that if I share some incidents.

When feminism began in the Western world it was only for white American women. Later on, African-American women criticised them for their “essentialist” view of women and including only white women. After some time, lesbians as a new category came into light, they again criticised them since feminism is for women. From this we get an idea that the essentialist view is too fixed and that it creates problems for everyone.

A man cannot cry, because he should be strong, sturdy, angry, muscular, vigorous and so on . A woman should be caring, meek, obedient, sacrificial, have a heavy bust, thin waist and so on. These are stereotypes and we make them, follow them blindly and perpetuate them. Not just in gender, we also stereotype varieties of humans such as Baniya = Kanjus, Bengali = Intelligent, Punjabi = alcoholic and so on and so forth.

We never ask ourselves why a man cannot cry. I mean crying is such a human phenomenon, an emotional act of any normal human being to express his sentiments and our society bifurcates it by gender. There are so many men around us who have problems but we don’t ever see any man crying. I saw my father distressed but no he cannot cry because he is “The man”.

In this busy bee life we forget to ask ourselves if what is happening around us is right or wrong. These small incidents are part of a very big vicious circle which is forming a static boundary and we never try to cross it or erase it. We make stereotypes impulsively. It is an over generalised concept which has eaten up our souls. In my city, Delhi we often encounter a Chinese or Japanese or Nepali or any North Eastern person we regard them as “chinki” without knowing that we unconsciously cast them out from our society.

If a young woman is going to marry someone their parents wants a “well-settled” man, this is the Stereotype. I mean a girl can marry someone who is able to feed himself two meals a day but no, The Capitalist Society wants more and more and more! In any family a guy who crossed his 16 or 18th year, the whole bunch of relatives would ask “When will you start going to work with Papa?” I mean  it’s not necessary for any man to take over his father’s business, maybe he wants to do something else.

It’s endless to discuss about them – we are encircled by this generalised idea which we apply to every individual. There is no way to get rid of them since it is internalised by our inner core brain. What we have to do is to just ‘Ask- , ask about everything that why does this happen, why we believe in this, why do we follow certain ideas ignoring the fact behind their origin. It’s a hard reality But we forget asking questions – that’s why the true knowledge tree is faraway from us. I remember a few days back when I ask my mother why we aren’t allowed to do any sacred work as in puja during our periodsand she said “Bas nhi jaty ashubh hota hai , pavitra nhi hoty hum”. (It’s not done, it’s inauspicious, that’s all). Then I ask why we aren’t “pavitra”, and she was annoyed and said  “I don’t know, why you ask so many questions!”

I think this happens to each one of us definitely at least at one point of time that you are stopped for asking questions. There’s the root of the why we are not finding the answer behind this why.

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A student, writer and a feminist who believes in individuality not in feminity.

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Girl, Should You Be Feeling All Excited When Someone Says, “You Look Beautiful”?

Posted: February 15, 2019

Do you get excited when someone compliments on your looks, or dejected when you feel something is wrong with your body? Worry not. Read this.

Do you get excited and flying inside when someone says, “Hey! You look beautiful, hot, sexy, so young”, “You’ve got silky, smooth, straight hair”, “Your skin is fairly flawless, nose is sharp, lips are sexy, eyes are pretty, cheeks are bubbly”, blah blah blah….?

Of course, who wouldn’t be? It was same with me too! When someone said any one of the above things, I used to feel very high and immediately for a moment I would think “I should maintain myself more to enhance my beauty and to get more such compliments”. Funny, isn’t it?

You are beautiful!

At some point of time, I paused and questioned myself, “Why do I feel so? Does beauty refer to only physical appearance? Is it having that all mentioned above?”

Then I got the answer from deep inside “No dear, it’s not the truth! It’s not your skin, fairness, hair, eyes, nose, lips, fairness, figure, height, weight etc. You are beautiful just because it is YOU!!

If a person has everything what is defined as beauty and is very bad at heart… Then what is it called?

I agree on the point, “People who look attractive grab immediate attention of others”. I ask myself, “Why should we seek attention from people? What is it you are getting when everyone looks at you like you are an angel?” Happiness? No, not at all. It’s just temporary pleasure!

Today if society says, “You are beautiful”, the same society will judge you if they see a small flaw in you. This is happening everyday in film industry, right? People who are crazy on an actress will also judge her when she gains weight or she loses her figure or with her age etc.

Don’t try so hard to become beautiful. Don’t feel bad for the body you are blessed with. We should understand that we cannot decide our looks by birth. It completely depends on the nature (god, power, destiny, fate, or whatever in your terms). You cannot decide your parents, family, genes. You are born as you. No one is designing your looks or body parts when you are in your mom’s womb. It’s all a natural process.

So, why can’t we accept ourselves as we are?

However you look… what you are deep inside defines you. How you act, behave on a situation, your words, your character, self-respect, what you think, whether you are true to yourself, your gratitude towards your blessings (your parents, family, education, work..), whether you value your time, whether you take care of yourself mentally and physically, your health and so many other factors…. they define how beautiful you are!

However you look, you are beautiful. Don’t judge someone by their looks. Everyone is beautiful!

Just take care about how you present yourself. Again it’s not to impress anyone, but it’s the self-confidence that you can have.

What about the ‘blemishes’ I have?

People ask me, “What about pimples, blemishes or marks on the skin?” I would like to answer, “It’s not something that you should hide or feel bad about. But it’s in your hands to get rid of them, if they bother you so much.”

Hair fall problem? Overweight? Allergic skin? Pimples? Marks? Or something else?

how to be beautiful

It’s okay, dear! It’s absolutely okay. Whatever happens to your skin/body, you should realize the fact that some of these things happen when your internal system is not proper. It happens for various reasons, such as when your blood doesn’t get what it wants, when your food doesn’t get digested properly, etc.

Observe your body, get to know what it really needs. Have a proper health routine – eating healthy food, exercise/yoga. You will definitely see amazing results; whatever bad is happening to your body will fade away.

However you are, accept and love yourself, be confident with your own body/skin/hair. Trust me, “you are beautiful” and I mean it. Just think good, do good. Smile from your heart, it’s the best thing in the world. Stop posing for pics with fake smile. Whatever it is, do from your heart.”

Ignore what people say, and your life will be awesome!!

Images source: shutterstock

Header image: YouTube

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The Reluctant Father

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“Rohan silently knew he was not on top of his father’s priority list. He wasn’t sure if he even made it to the list. But, kept taking his chances anyway. Laxman would snap at him at the slightest excuse.”

 

“It’s 6:00 pm. Dad, take me to the park”, Rohan pleaded.

“I have a meeting, didn’t I tell you that? And you’re a big boy. Play with your friends,” Laxman snapped.

He said that to his 10-year-old every day.

Saddened, he waved back his disheveled hair, dangling his petite head in despondency, his brown eyes welled up. Rohan murmured to himself, “Please, not again, dad.”

School wasn’t his thing. Staying in one place would make Rohan restless and almost destructive. He always looked forward to outdoors especially skating downtown near the “fairy-statue.”

Rohan silently knew he was not on top of his father’s priority list. He wasn’t sure if he even made it to the list. But ,kept taking his chances anyway. Laxman would snap at him at the slightest excuse. He was ‘unavailable’ to Radha and Rohan. If it wasn’t traveling, it was his laptop or phone or earphones or car or even his shoes!

Radha always tried to double up as father and mother, she was exhausted and wished only if Laxman sometimes….?? “Never mind,” she said to herself.

Rohan was struggling at school in all subjects, especially Math. Radha pleaded with Laxman with a vein of sarcasm.“It’s time you put your fancy Princeton degree to use, Laxman. Rohan needs help!” Laxman remained unaffected, he always did.

“What is the use? He doesn’t understand anything anyway,” said Laxman mockingly.

“Don’t give up on him just yet Laxman, he’s trying”! said Radha in a concerned tone.

“What the hell is wrong with him? Why can’t he focus?” sneered Laxman. His free-floating frustration with Rohan was mounting by the day while he struggled to pin the blame.

Radha was trying to keep it all together while Rohan was soaking it all up for years, silently. He was reaching a crescendo, but who would know how far it goes.

A strange disquiet gripped the dining area, while everyone ate. As usual, Radha tried to lighten it all up with trivia. Laxman’s responses of ‘hmm’ and ‘ok’ were perfect conversation stoppers. While nuances of social conversations often escaped Rohan, Radha kept at it, almost single-handedly.

It was Sunday again. A bright clear day.

Laxman would work on his laptop, sometimes as a ploy to avoid playing with Rohan. Radha was busy preparing the grand weekend lunch for the family. Rohan would often accompany his mom to the kitchen but then it was Rohan. He’d rather be running outdoors, swimming, rafting down the river than bearing the agony of monotony in the kitchen!

It was past mid-morning and Laxman hadn’t seen him since early morning. It was unusual. He called out to Radha from his room. “Where is Rohan?”, he asked hesitatingly.

Radha was both surprised and glad. She had never seen Laxman this concerned for his son.

“On his skateboard, outside, where else”, she quipped

“Are you sure, Radha?”, he probed, this time with a shade of worry.

“Sure as sun Laxman, anything to run away from work”, she chuckled

“Would be back just in time for pasta and meatballs!”, she looked at the clock on the wooden fence. It was 2.30pm.

Laxman went back to work. He was in his room, quiet and somewhat edgy.

He walked to Rohan’s room. He hadn’t gone there in a long time. He nervously looked around.

There was no Rohan!

Radha laid the table for lunch when she called out to him. There was no response.

With butterflies in his stomach, and head buzzing with possibilities, there was no way on earth Laxman would swallow a bite, let alone a plateful.

He broke into a cold sweat, as he looked over the entire house and neighborhood. He couldn’t find Rohan. It was 3.30pm. Radha was beginning to worry too. Rohan didn’t have too many friends. She called a few he often visited.

Rohan was nowhere to be found.

“This never happens! Good heavens, where could he possibly go?”, she thought

It was 5:00 pm. Radha eyed the telephone with furious glances as if she could bully it into ringing and giving her news. Still, no news was good news, isn’t that what everyone said?

Pacing up and down, he constantly punched one hand into the other.

Radha told Laxman to take the car out. They drove around scanning every nook and cranny of the streets where Rohan played. The drive seemed long. Laxman felt like a part of him wasn’t even there.

“Oh, I know where he likes to skate,” said Radha, clenching her fists. “He will surely be there,” says Laxman confidently.

They zoomed to the central corner downtown where the grand “fairy-statue” stood erect.

Laxman hurriedly parked the car and marched to the corner near the statue. He took a deep breath while he was unable to hold off the flow from his eyes. “Thank God, there he is,” he paced towards Rohan to encircle him in his arms like he had met him after a million years!

Radha swiftly followed Laxman. “Where is he..? Tell me… where is he?”, she wailed.

“Can’t you see him, in my arms?” Only she couldn’t see anyone!

It was 6:00 pm again!

Image Source: Pexels

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Hi, Hello, everyone, I’m Kamaldeep, good to meet you! Randomly organized. definitely maybe, are

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4 Interesting Things That Can Help You Understand How Your Woman’s Body Works

Your body is an amazing thing, woman. Keep in touch with what happens normally in it, and you’ll be fascinated by how much you can understand it, even on a day to day basis.

In a culture where it is considered shameful to utter words such as ‘vagina’ and ‘clitoris,’ women sadly remain less aware of the anatomy and physiology that constitute their own reproductive health. If only women can closely connect with their feminine parts, they will discover how amazingly and beautifully their bodies are designed.

Here are four cues your body gives out to help you get in touch with your insides.

(Note that while there are several other signs which can indicate underlying abnormal health conditions in a woman, this post is about the signs of normal female reproductive health).

#1 Your vaginal discharge can predict your fertile days

The colour and consistency of your vaginal discharge (or white discharge) is a natural indicator of where you are in your monthly cycle. If you have noticed, it can be white on some days, sticky on some days, watery on some days and there can be days with no discharge at all.

Performing a simple test on your white discharge is one of the natural ways to predict your fertile days. Whether you want to plan for a baby or avoid pregnancy, or simply love to explore a bit of your biology, here’s what you can do:

Image source here

Take a bit of your white discharge in-between your thumb and index finger. If it stretches and stands like a stick when you move your fingers apart, it is a sign that you are ovulating, that is, an egg has just been released or is almost about to get released from your ovary. 

How being aware helps

This property of the vaginal discharge is called Spinnbarkeit in biomedical terms. It can be both interesting and helpful if you perform the test every day for one full monthly cycle. Check for yourself to see how fascinating it is to track how your vaginal secretion changes over the course of your cycle!

Having sex around the time of ovulation, which is usually around 14 days after your last menstrual date, is your ‘fertile period’, and an ideal time for conception; useful if you’re planning for a baby.

#2 Your mood swings can warn the onset of premenstrual stress (PMS)

Well, you may belong to the 5% of population who does not experience mood swings at all before your period.

If you do experience these, however, tracking such emotional melt-downs along with your menstruation dates over a period of two or three months may reveal a significant pattern. If you consistently had emotional outbreaks for three to four days preceding your period, you are likely experiencing premenstrual stress (or symptoms or syndrome), commonly referred to as PMS.

Just before your period begins, your hormones can take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. You may experience crying spells about your husband not picking up the phone. You may burst out in anger for those dirty socks not having been put into the laundry bag. Or, you may suddenly recollect a painful past and feel a deep sadness.

PMS is common to many women and is believed to be a result of hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle and low levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter). PMS is not a disorder; rather it is a set of symptoms which can vary from woman to woman, and could include anxiety, irritability, mood swings, bloating, constipation, backache, headaches and cramps.

In a small percentage of women, however, PMS can be a sign of something serious. If you experience recurrent episodes of depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, or insomnia, specifically during the PMS days, it might be a symptom of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which needs medical attention.

How being aware helps

While PMS is widely known among women, the question is how many of us are consciously aware of it when it happens? Besides, how many families are educated about the symptoms, and that she needs support and understanding from others?

Though PMS does not affect daily functioning in most women, the awareness that premenstrual mood swings are psycho-biological can help women handle stress at home and within relationships more maturely. Becoming mindful of PMS can help women indulge in self-care, can hint them to be cautious to keep potential negative thoughts at bay and can make them communicate better with their family.

It is essential that men put thought and care in understanding the natural physiological changes that happen in their partners. Perhaps not making a big deal of her emotional tantrums or sharing home chores during her premenstrual days can not only strengthen relationships but also allow homes to remain in sanity.

#3 Your vagina can talk to you about your sexual mood

Before we dig into the subject, let’s get clear on what exactly we mean by a ‘vagina’. It’s a common misconception to refer the complete external female genitals as vagina. Let’s correct it – it’s called ‘vulva’. Inside your vulva, the muscular opening which connects to your uterus is the vagina.

Unknown to many, the vagina keeps changing throughout the menstrual cycle. An experiment you can do to study your internal biology is to touch and feel your vagina for a few seconds every day for one full monthly cycle. You can be intrigued by how your vagina becomes harder or softer, tightly closed or opened, and dry or fluid-y with different phases in your cycle.

Likewise, your vagina undergoes significant changes during intercourse. In the most ordinary state, the walls of the vagina are closed on to each other, unreceptive to any entry from the external. When aroused, you’ll be surprised with what follows. Vagina, in an excited state, expands to make more space – not just externally but also on the inside. Sexual arousal causes the uterus and cervix to be pulled upwards so as to open up the vagina to a larger area. This is called vaginal tenting.

How being aware helps

So, if you feel vaginal tightness during sex, it can mean you are not fully into the play or you are in that phase of your cycle which isn’t meant for procreation. It’s can be a signal to get your foreplay done well before you get busy down there, or perhaps sort out some mental unwillingness which is bogging you away from seeking pleasure.

#4 Perimenopause can signal you the nearing of menopause

Menopause is most commonly thought of as a menstrual cycle change that happens for women in their 50s. While this may be true, it is important to be aware that your body begins to give hints about the forthcoming menopause a few years before its actual onset. This intermediate gradual transition phase is called the perimenopause and can begin as early as ten years before your cycle ends.

If you are in sync with your menstrual cycle, you may be able to read the signs of perimenopause in your late 30s or early 40s. Look for changes in the length of your cycle. It may get shorter or longer than usual.

For instance, if you’ve always had your period once in 32 days but recently began to notice it happening 4 days earlier, that is, once in 28 days, it is a sign your system says, “Hey woman, it’s time to wind up!” (This number can be different for different women – look for a distinct shift.) Other signs may include changes in the consistency of the flow, occasional hot flashes, vaginal dryness and sleep problems.

How being aware helps

Yes, there isn’t anything you need to do or can do during the perimenopause phase. However, awareness helps you to be mentally prepared for the inevitable, and gives you a chance to equip yourself with relevant knowledge, so that when menopause happens later in your life, you shall sail through it strongly.

Your body is seriously amazing!

If you are here on this line, by now I am sure you are appreciating the wonder woman in you. If throughout your life your knowledge of your reproductive system included only that of using sanitary pads, getting pregnant and giving birth to a child, think how much of nature’s amazing sketch of your body you will remain ignorant about.

Just like you will be able to detect if there were a problem with your eyesight or digestion, you must be able to identify if there happens a change in your female organs as well. For that, you must be in a close, natural acquaintance with your cycle – all the time!

As you close this page, do take with you the necessity to nurture and embrace the lady parts within you, with love.

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