Friday, January 30, 2015

Are men really villains?

Relax! It's not a fight!
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For centuries now, men have been perpetrators of injustice on women. They are the villains and women the victims. They are supposed to be the rulers of the house and women submit to their will. But has anyone ever wondered how hard it is to be man? How herculean it is to carry the cross of being the strong, responsible ones protecting the rest of mankind? While Feminists are up against anything against women, no one spares a thought about the shackles imposed on being a man. I think they deserve some thought. And so, here’s to the men of the world! 

I think the biggest problem of being a man is just being that is enough to raise suspicions. To get you into trouble. You are always a man first, not a human being. You can’t talk to classmates just because they are girls. You have to be extra careful around them lest anything you say or do is misconstrued. You can’t compliment a colleague because that can amount to sexual harassment at the work place. You cant even behave like a normal person would. If a beautiful woman walks in, what do you do? Not look? Close your eyes? But just looking at her makes you a pervert! And that is so unfair! And if you offer to help a woman on your own, you get stares as if you are a rapist! 

For all the independence and liberty women tom-tom about, it’s the poor man who is always supposed to be the brave one! In all situations. From cockroaches to goons, it’s your job to defend the lady. I mean even you could be scared of that filthy insect, right? But when your woman screams and takes refuge behind you, what option do you have but to bravely brandish the broom and aim at the hapless intruder who seems to be born just to test your bravery! You can’t back out and be a wuss. You have to be formidable at all times and belt out a classy “ Aurat ko kya chhed raha hai be, pehle mujhse baat kar” even as armed goons threaten you in all their ferocity! I mean you are expected to risk your life just because you are a man. Why can’t the liberated woman of the 21st century defend her ass herself? 

And on that note, given the 21st century feminism shit, your whole status quo is royally screwed. What exactly are you supposed to do to earn brownie points? To not be looked up as the villain in women's lives? Earlier, you could just mooch off the hard work of the women of the house. But now you are expected to cook, clean, shop, take care of kids and still suffer condescending looks from women who just don't give you enough credit for trying your best to evolve faster and match the high standards of the modern woman! 

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“Don’t cry like a girl - be a man!"- is an anthem men are taught to follow. Weeping is feminine and not shedding tears is manly. Emotions and tears are a human thing, you say? I agree. What does expressing what you feel have to do with being a man? I concur. But unfortunately, being a man bereaves you of the catharsis that comes with a good howl. The feeling of letting go when you are all knotted inside. But you can’t really do that. At least not in public. I am sorry, man! I really am! 

By virtue of being a man, certain things are just a given about you. You should know how to drive. And should know how to parallel park. You should pay the bill when you go out with a girl. You should earn a good salary right in your 20’s. You should propose first. And spend tortuous, sleepless nights about what the girl’s answer will be. And no, you aren’t expected to know how to cook. Men are raised as Mamma’s darlings and that haunts them for the rest of their lives. Can you imagine what a helpless situation that is to be in when the tummy is growling with hunger? I mean, give men a break!
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And damn the latest Bollywood lot!! Any man with less than 6 pack abs is a loser. And the competition gets really tough to ignore when all girlfriends go drooling over Ranveer Singh and then look at you as a consolation prize. So not pumping iron in the gym with protein shakes in tow is not an option. While women continue to indulge themselves with their favourite desserts because PMS cravings! If you can’t do as many reps as the girls in your unisex aerobics class, they judge you. Like just being a man gives you the strength of Shaktiman or something! Tch! Tch! 

Women can finish school and plonk themselves at home waiting for their well-earning prince charming and holy matrimony. Nope, no such luck for men. If you think they have it easy by just being in the matrimonial market, you are wrong! They work bloody hard to earn the demands their parents make of the bride’s family. And do you think just because women are now successful, independent ones, they'll cut some slack for men after marriage? Nope, house husbands are still not a respectable thing to do in our country. While making too much money makes a woman masculine, not earning well makes men a wuss. Ah! Double standards! 

This one takes the cake! Men are expected to understand inscrutable phenomenon like PMS and Periods with absolutely no frame of reference in their own life. No, cramping is nothing close to anything a man goes through. And it’s hard to imagine that with a missing uterus in the body. So it worked fine to make jokes about it as a coping mechanism to hide the embarrassment or ignorance or both. Till Feminists made it sound like a crime. As if you are an insensitive bastard who doesn’t care what the other half of the world’s population goes through month after month. Life is challenging for you too! Sigh!

You lose out on all the advantages that come with being a woman. I mean it’s not your fault that you don’t have breasts to attract attention! You aren’t feminine with a curvy frame. Doors don’t magically open for you just by being the gender you are like it does for women. No one moves aside to let you ahead of the queue. No one offers to park your car if you are stuck with it (you are supposed to know it yourself dumbo! You are a man!) No one offers you a seat in public transit. You are treated like an alien and kept out of the women only compartments. You can never reap the miraculous effects of a woman’s sorry face and a plea - “Bhaiya, thoda jaldi karwa dijiye na!” While that works as a wizard’s wand for a woman, no such luck for men. Wish you were endowed with some of that charm, don’t you? 

So, ladies all I am saying is that don’t be in a hurry to judge men. Yes, most of them are good but there are some assholes too! If we have emerged victorious having broken traditional conventions about what a woman should be, I think men also deserve a break. Let’s teach them to cook. And sometimes be the first ones to propose. And leave them alone for a bit of they don’t get the monthly drama of women. The poor fellows have no idea! 

Dear men, this is my humble attempt to bring forth your agony before the world. Kindly forgive me if I hurt your ego and crushed your sense of false self-importance imposed on you by the world. Whatever you feel, drop me a line. Praises, brickbats - all welcome! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lessons I learnt from Elle Woods

Elle Woods in her colourful glory
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When I watched the film Legally Blonde for the first time, I thought it was a stupid film. A silly girl dressed in bright pink joins Harvard out of nowhere. Her funny gait, inane talk, feather pens and pink curtains just don’t fit in with the serious profession of law. But one boring afternoon when I was in the mood for chick flicks, I decided to give it another try. And thank God for it! I kinda liked the film and its sequel and filled many a boring afternoon with it. Doing this made me realise that we dismiss so many things in life in the first look. But on closer look, our perceptions change. And so did my perception of Elle Woods. Here are a few things I derived from it:

Looks are deceptive. Elle Woods with her shocking pink clothes, clicking her stylish heels and carrying a pink laptop in her manicured hands just doesn’t say 'law student'. The colour of her hair doesn’t make things look up for her either. She bemuses everyone as she confidently strides into law college in her unique attire. And it isn’t surprising that people don’t take her seriously. At least initially. How many times do we look at a well dressed person and think competence? How often do we look at a heavily made up woman in skimpy clothes and label her dumb? It’s human nature to jump to conclusions through initial impressions alone. And that’s why we are all so obsessed about how we look and people’s perceptions about us. But many a times we ourselves are pleasantly surprised to discover our initial impressions proves wrong. So why be in a hurry to judge!

Break the mould. Once in a while. A fashion major applying for Harvard Law sounds bizarre. And shooting your Harvard admission video in a bikini sounds downright catastrophic! But Elle Woods proves that as long as you follow your passions with conviction, things can work out. You will need to work towards. Very hard at times. But as long as it makes you happy, it doesn’t always have to be logical. Life is not a series of linear incidents. You are allowed to choose different paths, turn around or head off in the opposite direction. 

Elle in her wedding sandals
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People will pull you down. When Elle Woods decides to go Harvard Law school, everyone thinks it’s a stupid idea - her parents, teachers, friends. Even the admission committee is shocked to find an admission video in a bikini! But the conviction she brings to her candidature is commendable. Similarly, there will be no dearth of people telling you how stupid you are being in pursuing your ideas. Fight that prejudice and stick to your path. Your success will shut your detractors up. Better still, people will soon find another target for their naysaying and move on. 

Give a little extra: You can’t be surprised when Elle Woods nonchalantly hands out a pink and perfumed resume for a law internship! It’s Elle Woods!! Be it helping Paulette get her dog back or teaching her the famous ‘bend and snap’, not giving out Brooke’s alibi or lying to get David a date - Elle woods is happy to do that little extra for people around her as long as it makes them happy. We all lead a busy life and perhaps don’t have a lot of time to spare. But if we look around, we can also give that little extra to others. A little time. A little kindness. A little generosity. And that could make a huge difference to someone’s life.

There is always something to learn from everything around us. I am glad I watched this film and it got me to rethink so many common facts of life. Do you have a film that set you thinking? Drop me a line in the comments. I would love to hear all about it. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winters are here - and what's the big deal again?

Winters are here yet again. And it seems like the season is back with a bang! Not just a season like every year but a conversation piece. Every single day. All I hear is how people in different cities of our country are taking it. Some are happy. Some are cribbing. Big time! So I thought it should be fun to round up on the topic of the season - the winter season!! 

The winters of Delhi are legendary. The city is known for its drastic climate changes that swing between extremes. So, Delhiites suck up to it every year and bear it with a grin. Albeit, with some grumbling by the end of it. The matching sweaters and shawls make it worth it for them. Though, SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder is common - that nagging, depressing feeling when the sun fails to show up for days. But this is Delhi and that’s how it is supposed to be. Winters is a Delhi thing after all! 

Delhi, this morning
Breaking news happens when our cousins down South in Bangalore start complaining about the cold! They are more like excited kids who found something unexpected at their doorstep! There are oohs and aahs on Twitter about the unprecedented and hence unforeseen weather. To prove it, there is a deluge of photos taken and proudly posted on social media to show the Northies that even Bangaloreans have fog this year!! And what’s more, they are braving it just as well as them.

Bangalore, this morning
Perched happily somewhere in the middle are the Mumbaikars! No, we don’t expect much of a winter. And just about 15 degrees is enough for us to declare winters. And that’s what we did this year. While our fellow indians burdened under the weight of woollies, people in Mumbai were only too happy to finally pull out their dry cleaned jackets and drape their stoles around them. It is winters in Mumbai too this year! It’s great to make a big deal about our share of cold weather and boast that we did not even switch the AC last night! It’s finally winters in Mumbai too! 

(For people wondering why there is no picture from Mumbai, I'd like to inform that, like full fledged winters, Mumbaikars are also deprived of sprawling homes and sweeping balconies to take pictures from!)

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, people are going through temperatures like these. Note that the temperatures are in Fahrenheit and not Celsius. 

And live like this for a few months every year! 

Typical winter day in New York
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According to weather reports, in the current scenario, snow and ice have made traveling difficult and hazardous. There is a few inches of snow has added to existing weather problems. Think of the kind of dipping temperatures people on the other side of the world live in and we may want to thank God for the warmth we are blessed with! 

To sum up, I am not a cold weather person. I hate having to brave the cold after a nice warm bed. Taking a shower or even brushing my teeth amidst the cold air are testing tasks. No, I don't get what's so great about a crisp winter evening unless it lasts just about an evening and not be back every day for a full 3 months. I hate loading up on a million layers of clothes and still catch a cold. I like staying warm and bundled up no matter where I am. Yes, even in Mumbai. But having lived in all three cities, I know exactly how it feels and can empathise with all of you! But I am glad that I am neither up there nor down here but happily perched in the middle in Amchi Mumbai! My oversized sweatshirt over my night dress is enough to keep me warm on a so-called cold winter night. Sweaters? Huh? What? ! I count myself lucky to have escaped the extreme fury of nature!

And now, if you haven't fully turned green with envy and still wish to share your winter experiences, feel free to hit the comment button! While I step out in my jeans and T shirt on this clear, sunny day in my city to run some errands...

Friday, January 9, 2015

This new year, find your true passion!

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Siddharth Mehra in Wake up Sid is an easy going, spoilt brat. His father promises a luxury car which gets him to office but he quits in no time. Sid also fails his exams, gets thrown out of home and depends on his friend for his basic needs. He is written off as a failure. His self esteem hits rock bottom because everyone expects him to get into his dad’s super successful business but that's not what he wants to do. And that’s when he discovers something that he loves to do. His passion for photography, which he turns into a profession, becomes a turning point in his life.

Passion - the single most power that sustains life. I believe that it is very important for all of us to be passionate about at least one thing in life. Something that fires you up. Lights up your eyes. Galvanizes you into action. Occupies your empty hours. And makes life worth living. I don’t mean socially accepted success - not excellent grades, high posts, deep pockets or expensive cars. Although I do know people who zap up the latest limited edition Lamborghini to add to their collection! I mean something that you love doing for yourself. And in itself. Something that takes the mind off the mundane buzz of everyday life and helps you escape into your happy place!

Make it a goal to follow your passion this year
It pains me no end when I look at the younger lot of kids who seem to have no real interests in their life. Yes, they have the latest technology and gadgets at their disposal where they can while away endless hours. But those are not things that get a person to explore ones special skills or develop any new ones. It doesn't lead to learning and discovering new facets about oneself. Passions and interests can actually help you push your boundaries and reach new heights. If you love writing, write more and challenge yourself to do better. Is reading your thing? The knowledge of the world is at your feet in the form of books and online resources. Lap all of it up! Does travel appeal to you? Find time and budget destinations to broaden your horizons. The possibilities are endless!

I didn’t know this about myself till a lot of people told me that I am a passionate person. I guess I am enthusiastic about a lot of things in life and express myself with gusto. Hell yeah! What’s life without the fiery, spirited zeal for things that matter to us. When I think about it, I am most passionate about language. I will confess that articulation and good language are such a turn on! (And also something that got me my life partner!) The love of the written word is another passion. I love writing and I love reading well written work. I still believe in the felicity of phrases. And I cringe and mourn the state of language thanks to modern, super fast chatting medium and 140 character limits on expressing ourselves! And surprisingly, training figures third in the list even though I couldn’t live if I had to give up being out there and talking to a class of participants. I think I am the most alive when I stand before people and ensure that their energy levels are as high up as mine! And yeah, there are a whole lot of things that I could launch into fervently but shall spare you this time!

With the new year, it’s a great time to explore your passion. Or go back to it. Look around and find out what excites you the most? What is it that will make you drop everything else? If you already have a passion, give it your time and nurture it. Writing, reading, sports, technology, learning new things, watching movies, doing puzzles, painting, travel - whatever it might be. If it makes you truly happy, you deserve to pursue it. Make sure you have a weekly/monthly date with the true love of your life.

So, what are you passionate about? I’d love to hear from you. Drop a line below!