Thursday, August 30, 2012

The never-ending debate between the head and the heart

The head speaks in plain, sensible black. 
The heart speaks in wild, passionate red.

And this is what they say:

"Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution? That's what Groucho Marx said and he definitely had a point." 
"There you go again, spouting lines said by other people. Who is Groucho Marx?" 
"I speak the words of others because I value knowledge, which I accumulate through reading and being open to ideas. Groucho Marx was a famous comedian, considered to be one of he best in the modern era." 
"A comedian? What does a comedian know about the sanctity of marriage? They make fun of everything." 
"Well, funny things are usually true. Life itself is hilarious." 
"The only thing true in this world is love. And marriages based on it." 
"Um, for your information, upto 90% of marriages in India and 60% in the world are arranged. Great lot of love going on there." 
"That's why there is unhappiness. It's important to love first and then marry. People wouldn't be so unhappy if they had the patience to wait for love to happen first." 
"How can you be so delusional? Don't you know that more of so-called love marriages end in divorce than good old arranged marriages?"
"I thought you started off by saying that marriage is an institution and who wants to live in one? Then why are you advocating arranged marriage?" 
"Well, because, people need companionship. And our society only allows it through marriage. So might  as well find someone and settle down rather than grapple with loneliness for the rest of your life." 
"We don't need to FIND people. Our soul mate comes our way when the time is right." 
"What bullshit. That's just the stuff of books and lore. Soul mates don't exist. Just ordinary people do, and when you make the mistake of falling in love with them, they almost certainly break your heart." 
"What is life without a little bit of pain? Love may make you suffer but it is a good suffering. Everyone needs to suffer a bit." 
"Marriage is a kind of suffering too. Milder than love sickness though. So might as well get married and accept your share of suffering." 
"But what if you fall in love with another person AFTER you're already married to someone else?" 
"You laugh at yourself and forget it. Because life is cruel that way. Or you have an affair, because everyone is allowed their bit of philandering." 
"Ugh, you are impossible." 
"No, I am not. I'm just smart and practical. YOU'RE impossible. You're the one who causes so much trouble in people's lives by making them fall in love. The consequences of the act are implicit in the phrase itself - FALL in love. Nobody ever rises in it!" 

The debate continues between Mansi and Shivani on Sony Entertainment Television, every Monday to Thursday at 8.30p.m. (IST)

This post is written for a contest on Indiblogger. Read details here:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Of India, Truth, and Tears

Happy Independence Day, people.
To be honest, today was just another holiday for me, a day to sleep-in and relax and do whatever I want to. The only "patriotic" thing I did - if at all it can even be called patriotic - is put on a bright patiala-suit that made me feel very feminine and desi. At least for the few hours that I wore it (for a non-Independence Day event I had to attend.) Apart from that, I didn't even hear any songs of desh-bhakti and all that jazz. I am not one for exhibitionism on any occasion. I don't understand why I should sing the national anthem today or attend a flag-hoisting event or feel all prim and "proud" about being Indian. Such activities have nothing to do with what I feel about my country. (Besides, isn't "being Indian" an accident of birth? Each one of us could just have easily been Chinese or Nepali or God forbid, Pakistani? :P)
I think patriotism should be a private thing that you have your own definition for, not something that makes you take to the streets yelling "Bharat Mata ki Jai" like the group of student "activists" of a particular party I saw while having breakfast this morning. They went on to shout zealous slogans of "Desh ki raksha kaun karega? Hum karenge, hum karenge!" I wish I could tell them to go join the Defense forces if they were all so passionate about "desh ki raksha" and all. I suspect that they meant "raksha" of a different kind - like protecting that elusive thing called "our Indian culture" from western influences, or preventing our women from wearing short skirts and drinking alcohol because lo and behold, that is so not "Indian".
That is why I believe we have a very warped sense of truth here in India. We like to live in our ideas of what is the truth or what is "right" even when there are glaring evidences of the contrary. We are not accommodating of variations in our "truths" and often, myths and legend get mixed into them too. Even for simple things, we are not good at being honest: when someone asks if they can come over to our place, we go ahead and say yes even if we are busy, and then proceed to complain about how people are impinging on our time. When we really don't like something, we can't be straight-forward about it, we like to beat around the bush. We are obsessed with saving face in society and upholding a good reputation and "character" even if it means being outright fake.
And then, there are tears. We don't tell the truth but are highly emotional about it. Any wrong can be covered up with an outburst of tears. Any injustice can be borne with swollen eyes and private sobs. Our films rely on our emotional tendencies to become blockbusters; our politicians use them to manipulate us, and our media capitalize on them to fool us. I recently got around to watching the much-talked-about show Satyamev Jayate on YouTube. I watched the full first episode on female foeticide and then half of the second episode on child sexual abuse. Unlike most people, I am not an Aamir Khan-fan. I think he produces and acts in good films now and then, but I also think he is a sharp businessman who has calculative motives behind everything he does. That's why I didn't trust SMJ to be all that people were making it out to be and refused to even watch it since the 3 months its been broadcasting.
Yes, I am a cynic and a skeptic and strongly believe that problems can't be addressed by making t.v. shows about them. When I asked my friends what's the point of SMJ anyway, most people said: "at least the show makes us think about all that is wrong."  My question is, don't we think about all that anyway? What good is the show doing by just further driving the point home? If Aamir Khan wants to make a difference, why doesn't he go out there and monetarily, directly help the people who need it, rather than putting so much effort into a fancy show and demanding crores of rupees per episode?
My concerns were somewhat appeased after I watched the first episode because I did find that the show is good and has a point - it's not all just talk but a little bit of action too. But what I didn't like is the tears. The close-ups of audience members with tragic expressions and leaky eyes - ghastly. Mr. Aamir Khan discreetly wiping a corner of his eye with a knuckle - ridiculous. Somehow, I do not believe in tears when they appear on television shows. It's still tolerable when the victims are the ones who get emotional while recounting the horror they have endured, but why the host and why the studio audience? Such horrifying, disturbing tales should not induce tears, they should induce anger. Crying over problems seems like a way of accepting their dominance over us; being brave-faced and outraged is surely more constructive. At least in my opinion. I think I would take SMJ a lot more seriously if they did away with the studio audience completely, if Aamir Khan didn't get emotional, and if they brought in videos from the field rather than making it a largely in-studio production. I don't want to see a chart of statistics. I want to hear people telling me their views right from where they are. There's a little bit of this incoprorated into the show already but I think we need a lot more.
I know that if I have such a problem with the way Mr. Khan does his thing then I should produce my own show rather than pick faults with his, but I just felt like voicing my views about it this Independence Day. SMJ has the potential to bring about real srategic changes to crucial problems but its not going to happen by sitting around crying and merely "thinking" about it. Life is all in the doing, and since Mr. Khan has the resources to actually do something, I really wish he adopts a more practical approach and succeeds.
In the mean time, here's to an eventual better tomorrow.
Jai Hind.

The commercialization of Independence Day - our real truth?

Friday, August 10, 2012

You and I

We are strange.

I approach, you withdraw.
I withdraw, you approach.

I talk, you don't listen.
I listen, you don't talk.

I say I know you, you think I don't.
I think I don't know, you say I do.

I tell you everything; you don't seem to care.
I keep to myself, you don't let me be.

I feel close to you, you are cold and detached.
I distance myself, you are suddenly so close.

I am crazy about you, you are only indifferent.
I forget and move on, you are suddenly a friend.

I like all your pictures on Facebook, you don't like anything I do.
I stop looking at your updates, you appear all over my page.

I stall, you walk.
I walk, you stall.

I smile, you stare.
I stare, you smile.

I cry, you laugh.
I ebb, you flow.

You and I,
We are strange.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Psycho Within?

I have never thought of myself as a control freak. Until yesterday when, while having a conversation with a friend, I realized that I am a major control freak when it comes to time. I like to have plans materialize my way, and when they don’t, I go berserk and get quite pissed off.

I’m all like: “Oh you must meet me this weekend, because the next weekend, I’m going to be busy working on some stuff, and if you don’t meet me, you shall suffer my wrath.” Like, what the hell is that? Who am I to make demands on people’s time like that, even if they are my friends? And what is the point of constantly planning in advance? Things hardly ever work out exactly the way I want so why do I obsess over them so much beforehand? I am perplexed by my own behaviour, and hence here’s my attempt to analyse and decode it:

At a psychological level, I think my time-fixation may be because of my upbringing. I come from a family of disciplinarians who like to have things done in a particular way at a particular time, all the time. They are never late for anything (always too early) and hate waiting, even for five minutes. I grew up under a broad notion of “_ thing must be done at _ time or else…” This means that mentally, I am always anticipating what to do next, right from the moment I wake up in the morning. Like: “After class, I’ll eat. After eating, I’ll go to my room and rest for a bit. Then, I’ll wash clothes before 4p.m, then come out for tea, then go back and start on that assignment, etc. etc.” 

I remember when I first came to hostel, every evening I would be planning when and where to eat dinner right from 6p.m, and my friend would look at me like I was crazy. She would decide only when she felt hungry, whereas I just needed to KNOW all the time, even if it meant planning my hunger. :P

All this makes me sound like the minor character nicknamed “Timetable” in the movie Dil Chahta Hai, but thankfully, my condition is not that bad. I don’t believe in routines set in stone but I just like to know what I’m doing when. I’m the kind of person who will check what day my birthday or a festival falls on right at the start of a new year so I can begin planning possibilities of what I could do that day.

Sometimes, I completely freak out thinking that I’m behind on the “schedule of life”, as I like to think of it. Friends my age and younger are getting married or at least engaged and I’ve never even dated. Others have fancy jobs or are travelling the world and I’m still studying and not clear of when I’ll have that dream career. Everyday, the earth seems to be spinning faster and faster and the days are shorter and shorter, and everyone seems to be getting somewhere except me. It’s as if I’m left thinking: “When oh when will my LIFE truly start (read: take off)?”

At a more emotional level of analysis, I think this condition is because I am so worried about time running out. It always does in the end, doesn’t it? There are never enough hours to spend with friends and loved ones or enjoy or stay young or just do all the things one wants to. If I was in the movie In Time, in which the world comes to a situation where time is literally money, and if you run out of it, you die, I would probably have a heart attack just coping with the stress of living-day-to-day, not knowing whether I’ll have enough time to make it to tomorrow.
Yet despite all this, the funny part is that I’m still a great procrastinator. I obsess over time but still have the gall to waste it and while it away doing absolutely nothing. And when that happens, I feel worse still, knowing that time’s a ticking away…

A still from the movie In Time. If your clock runs out, you die. Obviously. Majorly freaky stuff. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mission Master of Arts - Half Completed!

It has been over a year since I came to Hyderabad. Well, if you minus vacation time, I have only "lived" here eight months but technically, it is still a year. At first thought, time seems to have flown past, but if I ponder a bit, I suppose it didn't exactly fly. I have just been enjoying myself so much that I haven't noticed the months fade into each other. 
Or have I? 
There have been certain times when I've missed home terribly, missed my family and friends and the familiarity of Ahmedabad, and often at these times, I have considered dropping everything and going back. Just to return to my comfort zone and not have to confront life in all its complexity. 
But then, I'm not a kid anymore. I can't go running away from things just because I feel overwhelmed. I have to accept and manage whatever comes my way; to learn my lessons and grow as a person. 
Hyderabad - and the University I study at here, in particular - have given me a lot over the past year: freedom, space, confidence, contact with creative, intellectual minds, a broadened window through which to see the world, and most importantly, a teeny bit of wisdom. I don't think it's any coincidence that my wisdom teeth all came out after I'd spent some time here. 
I am so much more mature now. I don't react to things as impulsively as I used to; I don't take life as seriously anymore but instead focus on taking my goals seriously. I am more open to new experiences. 
Academically, I have done things I'd never thought of before: learned to make short films and radio programs and handle heavy reading which initially made no sense. I did a lot better at all these things than I'd expected to. And my happiness knows no bounds. 
There are still days when all I want to do is eat Mummy ke haath ka khaana and sleep in my own single bedroom but I know that in order to gain somethings, you have to make a few tiny sacrifices. Coming to Hyderabad was like a challenge to me because I have difficulty with little things like crossing roads and remembering directions and using public transport alone but I am so proud that I managed everything perfectly and proved to myself that I am capable of more that I usually give myself credit for. 
I'm half done with my master's degree and not sure of what will come next, but I do know that whatever will, I am ready to embrace it.