Type-Cast(e)ing

Do you remember the first time you got to know about The Great Indian Caste system? You may not remember the four varnas buried in your history books, but you will surely remember your entrance forms, where you had to fill your “category” and that’s when you realized that you admission doesn’t depend ONLY on your marks in the said exam, but also on what your forefathers did or were. Long story short, if you are an Aam Aadmi ka beta/beti, you have spent much of your graduation and post graduation, cursing the fallacy of Indian social system, and developing strong biases against those who “reap the benefits”.

But if you, by any chance, didn’t experience the above mentioned situation, then there is absolutely no way, that you didn’t experience the worst form of racism, stereotyping, and prejudices, in the most thriving industry of this country – Indian weddings.

Take a look at your Sunday paper closely for once. Have you ever seen the way the matrimonial supplement is categorized? As if Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Jain was not enough, we have Punjabi, Gujrati, Marathi, Reddy, Brahmins, Thakurs, Bengali, etc etc etc. The requirement, the advertisement remains the same in all of them – Want a professionally qualified match for daughter/son – simple enough, till you see that invisible asterisk -but of our culture/community/religion/caste/gotra and so on and so forth. And God forbid, if you, being an educated person, of educated parents, decide to cross these boundaries. You will be asked to question your judgment more than once, and in many ways, and it will all come down to this- caste/community/religion/gotra etc etc etc. I mean, don’t you remember “Two States?” That stuff is as real as reality gets.

I was born in Delhi, brought up in Rajasthan, did my engineering from UP and living in Karnataka from past 3.5 years. Prejudices exists everywhere – the caste system in UP is extremely rigid. And Bangalore has been in news more than once for its biases against non-Kannadigas. In Delhi and Punjab, Biharis are looked down upon, and the population there is famous for calling every South Indian “Madrasi”. When we try to absolve the differences, by forming friendships or relationships with people beyond our culture, often the societal pressure is to talk us out of it.

And yet you see, so many couples, getting married with partners of their own choice, irrespective of their caste or community. You look at happy pictures, and think “India is progressing”. Sometimes, it is not so rosy. India has, and keeps having, its own share of honor killings. Some make headlines, some are buried in oblivion.

You might get frustrated and ask yourself, is there a way around all this? Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Because eventually, it doesn’t matter who stereotypes and how. What matters is your sense of right and wrong.

My brush with this stereotyping and prejudices happened very recently, and led me to write this post. What has been your experience? You think we can eliminate deep-rooted racism and prejudices from our surroundings, for once and for all? Leave a comment below.

Advertisements

Be Curious, NOT Judgmental

Curiosity and judging others, though poles apart, are innate qualities of human mind. As a child, we all have pestered our elders with piercing questions, about life, about nature, about adulthood, to which they sometimes had answers and sometimes not. All our childhood experiences, our upbringing, our schooling, has contributed to being the person we are today. And on our way to adulthood, we all learnt to form something that we were most likely better off without – judgments.

It starts innocuously, possibly at the onset of teenage, when we learn to form opinions about things around us. I don’t know about you, but me, I was very very vocal about my thoughts since my childhood. I had a very clear sense of what was right and what was wrong, and I spent a lot of my childhood picking fights with those who didn’t agree. It was not good, and I remember long lectures by my parents about how there was no need to fight with all and sundry, simply because “I could”.

Throughout school and for sometime in college, I continued to air my opinions and pick fights. It would also disturb me, since a fight is almost always extremely emotionally draining, and standing on the other side of the crowd, alone, was very trying.

Things improved with time, I met some genuinely nice people in college, whom I am still firm friends with. I grew a little more tolerant, but it was my experience at my Masters in Manipal, that really changed my outlook to different people and their opinions. Manipal is a student town, and if you ever have been there, you will find all kinds of kids doing all sorts of things under the sun. Initially it was awkward, watching girls smoke openly, or boys hanging out with girls in public, and yet seeing same people literally rubbing their noses in their textbooks at the library, but I learnt to not judge people on their looks. I learnt to just let them be.

After 2.5 years as a a working professional, I have learnt that people are not always what they seem.  And hence, therefore, it is just wrong to judge someone just like that. I am learning to let my judgmental behavior give way to a genuine curiosity, to understand why someone is the way they are. Of course, that might not justify their actions, but still, it is a better outlet for all the unnecessary negativity.

Because it is not worth it!

Because it is not worth it!

It is not like I am surrounded by perfect people. Even if I am not judgmental, sometimes I still have fights or confrontations with people who just won’t let me be. Sigh, if only people understood what we learnt by rote in Science in school, that “Energy is constant”. If we let out negative energy to the universe, it will come back to us in some form, and always negative. It is so much better to release positive energy in the Universe, and wait for it to come back to us, as an unexpected bonus.

While it may be fun airing your opinions all the time about someone’s job, their lifestyle, their love life, their spending capacity, it is often a good idea to just SHUT UP and observe. Be curious, try to learn more. But never ever be mean enough to judge someone on the basis of their looks or the money they make or anything else equally superficial. Don’t feel offended if they don’t think the way you do, just let them be. There will be so much more peace around if we don’t try to control everything.

What do you think about this Friday Gyaan? Have you judged someone, only to realize you were way off the mark? Has anyone judged you unfairly? Share in the comments below! ūüôā

Image source: Pinterest

Dream Catcher

It was the last day of her extended weekend, and was she glad it was over! Her friends had been after her life since many months, clamoring her to plan a trip to Goa. It couldn’t have happened on a worse¬†time though. Though she was the one who initiated the plan at the first place,the timing was really not in her hands. She didn’t feel like doing much these days; all she wanted to do was to snuggle into her bed and read the novels lying on her bed table, and get up only to get some more books. Talking to people and socializing, that was not her. Reading had always been her refuge; it took her to a new world, and she lived a new life in each book she read.

She was an architect with her father’s firm in Ahemdabad. And she loved it. Even in her childhood, she was fascinated by the science and art of designing buildings – taking into consideration the durability, utility, and of course, the beauty. She was polite, pretty and very soft-spoken. But she just mostly kept to herself. She was friendly, but hardly friends with anyone.

One of her reasons for fascination to Goa was its beautiful churches, the strong Portuguese influence with Mughal and Indian variations. ¬† Add to the fact that reading on the beach was one of the things in her “bucket list”, a trip to Goa should have excited her to no end. Only, it didn’t.

She was a hopeless romantic, thanks to the endless Mills and Boons she had read throughout her life. And she felt she deserved something magical. Hence she would dive deep in every romance she had, and would often come out of them, wiser but with a heartache. Almost everyone she would get close to, complained how she kind of kept thing to herself, guarding everything about herself, almost jealously. This time, however, it felt different. He did seem “The One”, a doctor in Coimbatore.

They had met in Mumbai at a concert, and by the end of the evening, it seemed only natural to fall in love with each other. However, for a successful relationship, ¬†love is often not enough. Distance, coupled with tiny fights, mostly about how she never shared anything, grew with time, leading to “incorrigible differences”, and couple of weeks ago, they parted ways; this time for real.

Since then she was a living mess, trying to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and dreams. She wasn’t the one to talk or share, and he had often complained how she never “let him in”, but honestly, she had wanted to. She had hoped for a future together, but how could she just leave everything behind her and go to live in Chennai with him? And why couldn’t he come to her, instead of working in that charity hospital of Mata Ambika? Ahemdabad boasted of some great healthcare facilities, but he was happy working with Mata Ambika, whom he called “Amma”. More importantly, how could she say all that to him?

She didn’t want to talk about it to someone. No one could understand, she felt. Her friends, though sweet and meant no harm, were unfortunately not as discreet¬†as her. Neither were they organized. That’s why she almost always planned all their trips. However, she just couldn’t push herself to do it this time, and left it on her friends, who as usual, made a mess out of it. There was shoddy planning at all fronts, starting from their departure from Ahmedabad in train that almost always was late, to their bad hotel, their mismanaged trips to the beaches and almost no trips to churches. But the cherry on the cake was that they missed their flight back to Ahemdabad, thanks to some confusion as always.

As she waited at the airport for the next flight, which was no sooner than 4 hours, she took out her book. But her thoughts remained on him, how much time she spent thinking about their lives together, wondering if they would marry in the traditional Gujrati way, or the typical Tamil-Brahmin way. And just like that when she was wallowing in her thoughts, she heard a voice, “Is it the new suspense thriller everyone is talking about on Goodreads? The one where the murderer is the maid?”.

She looked up, annoyed, and was astonished to see an old woman, who looked as old as the time itself, smiling at her, kind of cheekily! The voice sounded so young, and she was surprised to see an old face associated with it.

“Thank you so much, for ruining this for me.”, she replied, sarcastically. “Oh never mind, it is anyway not all that great. I mean, the author has done better work before.”, the old lady replied, grinning cheerily.

“Are you waiting for the JetSpice flight too?”, the old lady pestered, not willing to let go of her, it seemed to her. “Yes I am. I wonder what are you doing alone here though”, she asked, really wondering how can someone as old as her grandma visit Goa all alone.

“Oh well, I usually travel alone. My husband died 5 years back, and he was very fond of travelling. He had a “bucket list” of places he wanted to visit, so I decided to finish his list for him. I am from Sweden, and it was my first trip to Goa.”, the old lady said, now siting just beside her, with her feet propped up on the chair in front of her.

“Really? Don’t you feel lonely? Or scared?”, she asked, her curiosity stoked by now. She wanted to know more about this old lady, who seemed fun to her now.

“No, not really. You see, you come alone, and you die alone. It is good to have a companion for the journey of life, but if there isn’t one, why fill it with noise? Why try to make someone fit? Maybe you are meant to do this alone. The youth, I think, gives too much attention to the drama element of love these days. In my days, love was made of sterner stuff than that. People were stronger, they took into their stride if it didn’t work out, moved on with their lives. I mean, why waste time wallowing in self-pity, when there is so much to see and do? These days, all people want to do is to share what they do, starting from pooping in the morning to peeing before they slept. And yet they don’t share what is required, like their thoughts, dreams and feelings. Why not just write out what you feel and give it away to the anonymity of the world, instead of keeping it to yourself? Why make it too hard for yourself? What do you think?”, asked the old lady, with her piercing blue eyes.

Those eyes looked like they could see through her soul, her doubts, her insecurities, her continuous quest for the “magical love”, when really, all she wanted was to be happy. She looked down at her handbag, uncomfortable in that steady gaze. She pretended to fiddle with her bag. When she looked up, the lady was gone. Just like that.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. The old lady was nowhere to be seen. She asked the man who was sitting next to that old lady earlier,”Excuse me sir, do you know where the old lady sitting here went?” “Old lady? Young woman, there is no one sitting here from past half an hour. I think someone left here something though.”

She picked it up, it was a dream catcher. It was beautiful and it looked like it wanted to be worn. She wore it, took out her laptop, and started writing everything – her life, her fears, her dreams, and her ideas. She found WriteUpCafe.com, liked it, and submitted all her words in a blog there. This was probably the most whimsical thing she had done, and somehow, she felt at peace, after sharing her everything with the world. It was appreciated, and it soon became one of the more popular blogs.

The girl who never shared anything with anyone, finally shared all her feelings with the world.

What was the last whimsical thing that you did? Did it feel right? Share in the comments below!!!

Feature Image Source : Flickr

This post is part of the contest Spin your Story on WriteUpCafe.com

WriteUpCafe.com - A social network of readers writers and bloggers

The sham and the shame

Even if you are not a very active user of any social media, ¬†you must have seen, read and/or forwarded messages containing text like “Celebrating Womanhood..Happy Women’s Day 2015” or something else on the similar lines. Chances are that your office might have been planned a small celebration for “thanking women for their contribution to [insert name here]’s success”. ¬†If you are an Indian woman, you must have politely smiled, replied with the dutiful “Thank You”s and gone ahead with your day, because you know in your heart, that celebrating Women’s Day in India, is the biggest sham of all.

Couple of days back, many of us came across snippets of the interview one of the co-accused of the Nirbhaya case, Mukesh Singh, gave to BBC for their documentary titled “India’s Daughter”. For those who might have forgotten, on December 16th 2012, a young 23-year old girl was brutally raped, horribly assaulted and thrown out of a moving bus by a group of 6 men to die in New Delhi late in the evening, along with a male friend. The story would have faded into oblivion, but for the fact that the girl survived, to recount the horror she went through. The news spread like wildfire and the entire country was shocked at the brutality of her assault. Protests took place all over the country, and people prayed in every corner hoping for the girl to survive. So much was the impact of the case, that Indian government had to fly her to Singapore, on the pretext of better care, when the doctors already knew that she wouldn’t survive.

The girl died on 29th December 2012. She was a bright student, from an under-privileged background, determined to do well. If she were alive, she would have been as old as me.

The BBC documentary was banned dutifully by our esteemed government, but BBC went ahead with the broadcast on 4th March 2015. I caught it here. Tears rolled from my eyes as I watched it, and it shuddered me to no end to imagine the pain and suffering the victim went through.

News channels and papers are full of debates about the statements given by the accused, the defense lawyers and the families of the accused. People are outraged at the audacity with which the defense lawyers defend the killers, but sadly, that doesn’t surprise me. What they said is probably the mindset of many Indian men, irrespective of their education. Because sensible thinking doesn’t depend on hordes of qualifications, but on sensible upbringing.

The rapists come from a delinquent background, and it was only a matter of time that they committed such a heinous crime. Poverty knows no morals, and such people are just dormant monsters, waiting to strike some innocent victim with the vindictiveness of their frustration and misplaced belief systems.

But poverty is not the only reason for such crimes. Any crime against a woman stems¬†from the basic prejudiced thought – that a woman needs to be “shown her place”, each time she “crosses a boundary” like watching a movie post 6 pm, wearing jeans, possessing a mobile phone, using public transport to commute, hanging out with non-familial men, or daring to go anywhere alone without company. ¬†It doesn’t help that our law-makers too are owners of such thought process, and it is obvious that it will happen, because we choose our leaders among our own kind.

A lot can be and has been said about crimes against women. The documentary contains statements from many distinguished people, who have given very plausible solutions to contain these crimes. I won’t talk about this. But I will just like to point out, the shame I feel for my countrymen, each time I hear of yet another rape, assault, domestic violence, or eve-teasing incident. Maybe things are changing, but the change is too slow for my liking. How long will it take for my shame to percolate through the deepest strata of the society, I don’t know. But I certainly hope that the flame lit by the victim, very aptly named as Jyoti by her parents, won’t die down without concrete consequences.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have something to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

A new beginning

0130 hours in the morning. Raindrops splattering over the tree-tops. A looming Sunday, a dirty house. What else do you need to complete the picture of a confused soul, wandering in the dark alleys of her unbidden thoughts, wiping the cobwebs of her past?

They say human being is very resilient – we underestimate our own adaptability till we have no choice but to adapt. We overestimate feelings – as our very own Joey Tribbiani puts it, “They are just feelings..they will go away”. And they do, in their own sweet time.

Some things are more important than others – dreams are more important than remorse over past. Sometimes you have to pick yourself and move on, hoping for bigger and better things. And hope, is a good thing.

People come, change for worse, and go. Or maybe they were always like that, but it took you some time to figure that out. Till then, it was already late. The storm was here, and it took with it everything existing, leaving nothing but wreckage of an raged mind and violated heart. But here is a thing about storms, once they are over, there is peace all around. There is introspection, and assessment of damage. Practicality kicks in, and imperative decisions are taken. Thoughts that have always been lurking around, take up center stage, and the emergency services move in – family and true friends.

The aftermath of a storm results in clear skies, and clear priorities. And it has encouraged this writer to be brave enough to begin afresh. The first post of 2015, that symbolizes a new beginning of the rest of her life.

Thoughts? Share in the comments section below!