Shades of Passion

Here's an insight into the mind of a person who's in love with Music, Art and Science.......:)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Of pleasure, happiness and confusion...........

(This blog is inspired by an article I read on dependence of happiness on oneself)

Happiness................this word sounds good! When you hear it, you feel good! When it happens to you, you feel even better and when it keeps happening to you all the time, you are on top of the world! And all of us crave for happiness. Our happiness is often conditional! IF I get this, I'll be happy, IF that someone loves me, I'll be happy, IF my work proceeds smoothly, I'll be happy! And when these IFs betray us, we're unhappy! Happiness sounds fine as far as these "happy" things keep happening to you. But what IF these happy things fail to happen? We become unhappy? In most cases, yes.

The problem becomes grave when these happy IFs keep failing to happen for a long time. We seem to think that the Universe is conspiring against us. We feel that the whole world of ours is falling apart. We lose interest in the most loved things of ours and eventually, break down! So, if this problem is so grave, why doesn't it surface in our list of problems! (We refers to us, the common people)

Well, let me state an example. Your work's not proceeding well and you take a "break"! A break could just be anything, a coffee break, a sleep break, an ice-cream break............and then, we feel happy. But look carefully, is it happiness you're talking about? Or it is just pleasure? Or is it about confusion between the two? (Hence, the title, of happiness, pleasure and confusion)

Most of us do fall prey to this confusion (including the author of this blog). I have had a fair share of this confusion myself. So, what does one do to avoid the confusion between happiness and pleasure????? Well, I'm afraid, I have no tailor-made answer. At the max, I can express MY view-point on this!

So, my view point is, one ought to recognize that there's a little corner inside all of us that takes care of happiness! Only that this little corner is overburdened by the heavy sacks of pleasure! So, dish that corner out. For this corner holds the key to internal happiness. This is that corner that brings you to an equilibrium with yourself, co-ordinates your thoughts and body, makes you stable mentally...........but easier said than done!!!!!!!!!!

This means, we have to become detached with things to a good degree. Yes, we can try to do it, but can we really do it? I guess, attachment comes to us naturally. When we've invested in something, we tend to become attached to it. This inherent tendency of being attached with things is by no means easy to get rid of! As I stated in my previous blog, it took me forever to become detached from my rangolis that I'd have invested hours working on............not that I don't feel sad still when a cat runs over it or when it has to be washed off. But I guess, I compensate for all that by counting the number of times I've derived satisfaction by looking at it.............

So, this detachment has to be taught to oneself and the limits may vary from one person to the other. Attachment is RIGHT, but how much and when is the thing that can save us a lot of externally induced unhappiness. And for that, one needs to work on oneself. We have to nurture that small little corner in us to realize that happiness is a state of being......only that we don't know about it as yet.

And an important thing to learn when we teach ourselves detachment is that more the attachment, more likely is the hurt caused by the attachment. One has to toughen oneself against the onslaught of unfavourable circumstances/people/thoughts...........

I don't know if I am making sense, I shall stop! :D


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Beauty behind the curtains and flashlights!

At Sujju's suggestion (in his blog at, I write today about what happens behind the stage in the Glamour World......since I have been on the other side of the fence for some reasonable length of time, I take this opportunity to write about what backstage is like in Fashion World. And again, at Sujju's suggestion, I shall give a very unbiased opinion of the backstage.

Well, my modeling days were rather nice, for many reasons. And horrible, for some other reasons. After a while of the fame and the associated glitterati, I got disillusioned and forgot about the whole thing. It didn't agree very well with my personality and I was happy walking the roads as a normal woman compared to being a model and walking the ramp!

The first brush with the catwalk in College happened with the Freshers' Fashion Show where I wore possibly the skimpiest outfit for the Western round. The compliments flowed in and I enjoyed the feel of the whole thing. It was nice to hear the catcalls from the seniors (I was in an all girls College, mind you). I was declared a natural at the whole thing! It sounded Music to my ears actually........

So, in College, just like many others, I got into modeling for a little extra money and glamour. That attraction for getting to wear trendy and stylish stuff (and getting paid for it) draws most of the girls to modeling. And at that age (17-20), most of the girls have a rather lean frame (which kind of qualifies for modeling these days). I was no exception!

So, I decided to try my hand at this. When I joined Miranda House (my College in Delhi), I was an extremely study-oriented person. Books were my world and Art was my window for exploring things outside my world. Modeling was something that never even occurred to me. But being in Miranda House makes sure that you get an opportunity to do EVERYTHING you can possibly do. According to my seniors, I had a good figure and I ought to try my hand at modeling.

So, I decided to try it. Just like all the others, I started off with Auto Fair (one of the events in Delhi that beings lakhs of people together). Daewoo was looking for girls to model (read flash smiles at people who came to see the stall). So, I applied and made it. We were supposed to report to the Office two days before to understand what we were supposed to DO (I write do in caps because there was literally nothing to do). We were given the outfits and were asked to report to the venue on the stipulated date at 8:00 am.

We went and were there, dutifully, until 6:00 pm. This was my first experience with SO MANY people looking at me with very different looks on their face. Some were appreciative, some were lewd, some were indifferent (these were the ones who intrigued me the most and I have reasons to believe that these were the ones who were GENUINELY in love with automobiles :D), some were puzzled (as to what these girls were doing standing next to the cars when they had nothing to do with the cars or their specifications), some were disgusted (these were mostly older Aunties and uncles who must have found the whole thing very irrelevant and out of place), some were amazed (these were the girls in the age bracket of 10-18).........................and many more.

And a few days later, I was recognized by one boy in the bus as the "girl who modeled for Daewoo". I can't lie by saying that I was not happy! I was on the ninth sky! For the first time, I understood the amount of fame that comes walking with the professions in glamour. Partly because you are so VISIBLE........and partly because there's nothing much that needs to be done (this was my perspective as I knew nothing of the rigorous exercise schedules of models, I was naturally lean) to look your best! Make-up and good clothes do it!

The fame did get to my head, for some time, at least! I did some amateur modeling for one or two small Fashion Shows. And that gained me some recognition. It was a dizzy feeling and I felt great about the whole thing. But that was after the Fashion Show. While it was happening, the backstage was a hub of activity, HECTIC and CHAOTIC. And stressed out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was in the College Fashion Team (called Silhouette). We participated in the IITD Fashion Show and I was backstage as well as on the stage! The theme was "Egyptian Culture" for round one and "Animal Kingdom" for round two. Since we weren't funded by anyone, we designed our own clothes. THAT was an AWESOME amount of fun. I think I've never been more creative in my life. We designed outfits out of paper, tube-light covers, polythese, card-board, brown cover sheets, newspapers, cloth.......................everything that we could afford to use!!!!!! And wearing those self-designed outfits was fun! And it made us all co-ordinate very well with each other.

Everything was so pleasant until the day of the Fashion Show arrived! We had some 15 mins to change from dresses from Round 1 to dresses of Round 2. Since there had to be a change in make-up, accessories, clothes, there was total chaos behind the scenes! There were angry abuses in the green rooms, shouts of disgust..............oh! It was horrible.

And the result? We lost some of our good models for the next year's Fashion Show. There were some very tall models in our Hostel. ANd they became the envy of the shorter ones. There was always this undertone of hatred in the green room while we got ready to flash our best smiles in public. I felt so hypocritic!!!!! To the world outside, I wore a million dollar smile when inwards, I was simmering at not having been made-up properly because there was this CENTRAL model who needed better make-up than mine. Those were the times when I experienced the first GENUINE pangs of jealousy. I wished ill upon the central model. Sometimes, in a fit of rage, I wished her dead! I felt tremendous remorse ten mins later, but at that moment, it felt like she was taking away MY moment of fame by being dressed and made-up better than me! I was not myself!!!!!! And I hate myself for those moments now............

Once we were on stage, there were loud whistles (I, fortunately or unfortunately, hail from a College that is adored by the IITians of Delhi), claps, catcalls.............even guys photographing us while we walked from the green room to the stage) was all very very flattering. Following all this, there were phone calls made to us (I could never quite understand HOW these IITians managed to find our whereabouts)............and it was like walking in the air.............

Then, there was this once when I had to opt out of a Fashion Show as I had this sudden bout of pimples due to an allergic reaction to some cream a beautician runned upon my forehead. It was very heart-breaking to be told that I can't model for that show as they needed a GOOD skin for the Show. That was when I fell with a thud to the ground. I realized the hollowness of the whole thing. How superficial all of it was! It didn't dishearten me for long though. Once my skin became better, I continued to kind of pull across a stunt here and a stunt there.

And all this came to a grinding halt when I went through an incident that was an eye-opener!!!!!!!!!! I shall not be specific as to what it was but in short, it was exploitation at its extreme in the name of providing "better" opportunities!!!! It was then that I forgot completely forgot about modeling! And then, one after the other realities struck!

One incident is still etched in my mind! One of my seniors went ahead and carried on with modeling. She once appeared in the all famous magazine "Femina"........I happened to be looking at the photo in the presence of one of my other seniors who was this model's close friend. She remarked very casually, "I think she must have slept with the cameraman and that's how she could make it to the magazine" that time, I dismissed her opinion as the one stemming out of some bad feelings she had for this model friend of hers. But one day, I met that model senior of mine and asked her if what her friend said was true. She said, "Ya! But what to do, it's a part of being a model". This shook me!!!!!!!!!!

This set me thinking. Is it true? Is this flashy world that shallow?

And I asked myself, what about all the good things that "I" experienced???? Those times when we wore something no one else did? About those times when someone recognized me in the bus? About the fame that came walking to me? About that loud Music we catwalked to? About the besuty we used to portray? Was it all my limited view of the whole thing? I asked myself if I failed to see the REAL part of it??????

I am still struggling with these they say, I'm only human. I can't untangle my thoughts enough to find out whether this is a good profession or I wish I could.....................

In the end, Thanks Sujju for your suggestion. It's been long time since I lived through those moments..................

(PS: With due regards to all the models out there, continue to model as far as YOU like to do it....................)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Got a problem? SMS! Got a solution? SMS!!!!!

The idea of posting this particular post struck me this morning when I was listening to Radio City just before leaving to start my day, rather early..........the RJ was rattling off about some song to be played with Anuradha Sriram and some other big name having sung together. And people are supposed to SMS guessing the song........[for those who don't know, these "VAS (Value Added Services) SMSEs" cost Rs. 3 per SMS!]......only yesterday, the Remix Raja contest participants' songs were to be played and people are supopsed to vote for the song they like the most! How? Again, through SMS!!!!

Since I am a SMS freak myself (unfortumately only the "free ones" that Spice provides at the rate of 100 SMSes per day), I wondered if all these so-called contests were being organized from the point of view of money to be earned by the cellular service operators and the Radio Network!!!!! Because, if you have a query, send SMS, if you feel good, send SMS, if you're feeling bad, send SMS, if you've found yourself a new girlfriend, send SMS, if you're broken off, send SMS, if you've got a job, send SMS, if exams are going on, send SMS....................humph humph.........and the list goes on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the one that amazes the most is: Whatever it is that you want to say, all you need to do is to type in your message and send it to 7007!!!! You spend Rs. 3 for sending a message that may never be read! Or will never be telecast.....and you will not even know whatever it is that happened to your SMS.........

The other day, Radio City triumphantly announces a JACKPOT contest where you're supposed to send a SMS saying JACKPOT to some number and if you're lucky, you get to win a lakh rupees.............and the cost of the SMS, Rs. 10 per message!!!! So, if 100000 people send messages (or let's say 10000 messages are received, as people will send multiple messages too for the hope of winning a lakh rupees), it amounts to a lakh of rupees! And some ONE person gets to win the money! So, it's a mere recirculation of money! So, YOUR money may be paid off to someone else, for having done nothing more than sending a message!

This is still ok, you win some money! Yesterday was Dr. Rajkumar's birth anniversary! And the RJ announced that whoever has ANY incident to tell related to Dr. Rajkumar can message! Considering the fact that Dr. Rajkumar very much walked the roads of this city, ate here, moved around here, there must have been a couple of thousands of people who had EXPERIENCES to narrate! And if all of them send one message each, it's a couple of thousands circulated already! And how many get to get "On Air"???? Three..........funny na!!!!!!!

Not only this, the other day, I happened to watch some TV (I always have some bad experience to relate to whenever I sit down to watch TV). And there was this channel showing some soap! I don't remember which one (partly because there are just so many of them on TV and partly because I don't care a penny for these soaps). And the idea was to GUESS what will happen in the next episode! And, needless to say, one's supposed to send a message GUESSING the events of the next episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This reminds me of the times when a program called "Surabhi" used be on Doordarshan! Lakhs of people used to send in post-cards giving answers to the questions asked every week. That was when even Postal Department made quick buck by introducing special competition post-cards, costing some Rs. 3 each or some such thing!

So, isn't the "HOPE" of winning a jackpot, the "HOPE" of patching up with one's friend/lover/spouse by dedicating a song on TV, the "NEED" to be on Air filling the pockets of the Cellular Operators? With the SMSes doing rounds like THAT, there's little doubt left though!!!!!!!!!


(PS: Well, to tell you frankly, I have sent SMSes myself to Radio City, but that was for a contest where one was supposed to cook up "INNOVATIVE" names for two characters of a love-story. And I came up with Dhana"stinking rich"Lakshmi and Moorkhanand Saraswati.....and guess what, I won myself Joggers' Park CD for this one!) :-)

PS2: Some data to back my blog up:

During the voting period from November 2004 to March 2005, Indian Idol got more than 55 million votes via SMS. At Rs 3 per SMS, that is Rs 16.5 crore (Rs 165 million). The telecom companies made Rs 11.5 crore (Rs 115 million), and Sony about Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million).

As these three main protagonists -- media, mobile and aggregators -- get together, a Rs 2,300-crore (Rs 23 billion) market has been created, says a Lehman Brothers report. (This includes texting and is not just operator share.)

In 2005, the Indian music industry got about Rs 140 crore (Rs 1.40 billion) or 20 per cent of its legitimate revenues from mobile music. "These days film producers stress on mobile marketing," says Shatadru Sarkar, deputy manager (new media), Saregama. "A hit film can generate Rs 1-1.2 crore (Rs 10-12 million) -- about 5 per cent or more of an album's sale -- on mobile revenues," says Shridhar Subramaniam, managing director, Sony-BMG. Its big mobile hit of the year is Rang De Basanti.

By 2010, the report estimates mobile data to be a $10-billion (Rs 43,000-crore) market in India.

Radio Mirchi gets 40,000-45,000 SMSes a day in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. As a radio station, it is a great tool for engaging listeners.

How selfish one should be?

(Disclaimer: To all those who read this blog, this blog contains MY opinions that may or may not agree with yours. My word on ANYTHING at all is not final and you're free to reject the opinions if you think they don't make sense)

Hi! Here's me, the blogging addict (an e-version of a writing addict really) blogging again about something that has been puzzling me for a long time.........relationships.........

Well, I have read so much text about the self-lessness of a relationship...........there are so many romantic novels professing the same. There are books after books written about how to retain your relationship's happiness! And since I am a self-help addict too, I must say, I have read a good number of these! And after having researched so many of these, I wondered if there is something called complete selflessness? And if there is, is it practical to be completely selfless in a relationship? More than practical, is it healthy to be selfless? Puzzling, isn't it? Well, it puzzles me still!!!!!! So, here are some views of mine.............

There's this particular website: (it was sent to me by my friend a long time back to read and build up my lost self-confidence). This website says, love's honest and live's selfless and love's kind and such things!

Hmmm.........if love is so nice then, why do relationships break? Why do people drift apart? The same people who said they were in love fall "out of love", is love such an EASY thing? In my opinion, NO! The stages in a relationship can roughly be divided into three stages:

1. The initial one, where your "loved one" is the best person you've ever come across, where everything has a rose-tint to it.........

2. The middle one, where you start realizing that the other person in NOT SO PERFECT afterall.....and in my opinion, this is the stage where the not-so-strong relationships crumble....coming to terms with the fact that the person you love is a human being and the demi-God you thought he/she was can be a tough one...........

3. The last one, the COMFORT zone..............the relationships that survive the Stage 2 reach this stage and this is where one comes to an understanding of the other person.....the stage where one accepts the other person along with his/her faults!

Now, fortunately or unfortunately, the Stage 2 generally lasts for a long time! These are the testing times in a relationship! The initial rosy rosy charm wears off and you fall back to reality! (wait if you're losing patience, I shall come back to selflessness point soon after this)......

The initial stage of the relationships is the one in which one's completely selfless! We repeatedly tell our partners that THEY are all that we desire, they are all we care for, and they are the one we'll do anything for! And trust me, we live up to this............ummm.............for some time! A few months...........maybe an year! I think an year of being together is sufficient to see the true personality of the person you love!

After this, reality strikes! Unfortunate are those who get married before this Stage 1 is over! Because THEY find ti extremely difficult to come to terms with the Stage 2! There are squabbles, quarrels, constant irritation, tensions etc. But all's not that bad! After this, many of them DO manage to reach Stage 3 and live happily together! But with decreasing tolerances, thanks to our jet-set life-styles, it's difficult and lots of marriages end up breaking!

With these trends setting in, where separation from your spouse is not such a BAD idea anymore, there's this question that obviously springs up! WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE RELATIONSHIP?????

After having read a lot of text on relationships, I came to know that being SELFISH to come extent helps the relationship from going bad! Sounds funny na? But it is TRUE......

Now how does this selfishness come to picture? Where does it appear? How do you know when to be selfish and about what? Frankly, I have no ready-made answers but I shall relate things from my own experience and from what I have heard from so many of my friends!

Many of us become completely selfless in a relationship. Initially, we are willing to give up everything, and bend to any extent to get the relationship going! We don't mind "adjusting" here and there, and sometimes, everywhere!!!!!!! The other person's happiness becomes you happiness and you just GO ON adjusting! If you're lucky and have a partner who stops you from doing that, you may save your relationship from destroying itself, or else, you're hitting the doom faster than you think!

AFter a point of time, the "adjuster" starts crumbling under the pressure and to complicate the matters, the other person already used to this "alternative" persona of the adjuster! Changes start gnawing at the very foundation of your relationship..........and if you don't recover in time, you're in for either a broken relationship or (if you are already married by then) bitter marriage.

So, what does one do??? In my opinion, The idea is to be a combination of FRANK, PRACTICAL and SELFISH! Now, there are two additions to what I started off with, frank and practical!!!!! (I guess, that's just my excuse for writing more and more).........

So, if you feel that the relationship is making you adjust with TOO many things, you TALK (here comes frankness of a relationship and a little bit of selfishness too). If you continue to be SELFLESS when you know that you are being a person you're basically not, YOU have to raise an alarm and talk to your partner! If you think that you are not getting returns in your relationship, in terms of attention, understanding, time, space etc., YOU have to TALK! (again a combination of selfish and frank).......and to be all this, you have to be practical! Consider your partner a human-being with human qualities.......with traits that have flaws...........and then, SIT down and think! Are these flaws the ones you can live with? Or will you be able to accept these flaws five years down the line? Think PRACTICALLY and assess your relationship (and this exercise needs to be repeated from time to time to take a cold hard look at your relationship so that you don't suffer).......

And trust me, if YOU are not happy with what you're being, there's no way that you can make the other person happy too! Your level of comfort with YOURSELF will determine the happiness in a relationship! One has to adjust, of course, but not with one's basic nature.......THOSE compromises shall crumble one day or the other and will only lead you to pain!

So, if you're in a relationship, guage the strength according not to what the other person is, but with how YOU feel with the other person around............


Friday, April 21, 2006

Cheer-up Factors????

What do you do when you feel down???? What do "I" do???? Let me see. Maybe, I can divide my "down" times into some categories, professional and personal......

So, when things don't work on the professional front, I tend to just go for a coffee with labmates. Or maybe, sit with my department friends, crib about things not working. And that makes me feel better immediately. I guess it's about letting it our of your system. IISc being extremely flexible in terms of work timings, I think we have room for such chit-chats where we can share professional frustrations with each other. And that is a very good vent for me. After having cribbed and being joined in it by others, I get this all new perspective of what I CAN do in my work! The lapse between getting frustrated and feeling recharged depends on how soon I can get into this chat! And more often than not, my favourite colleague, Girish, is the one I catch! The diplomatic yet optimistic outlook makes me see things in a new light and I stop being a cribber and start being a worker......

But on a personal front, when the things don't seem to be going too well, it's difficult to find a formula to feel better! It varies between writing it up in a mail to myself to making an Art-piece!

At times, talking to friends helps. But one thing that always makes me feel good is WRITING it up! Sometimes, to myself, sometimes to someone else! Mostly to myself. Again, it's about letting it out of my system! Once it is out, I begin to look at things in a different way and then, life becomes easy! I begin to think better...........

So, what's YOUR cheer-up factor??????

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Addictions addictions

If someone would say about 6 months back that one can be addicted to blogging, I would possibly not have even believed! But then, looks like it can be true, rather it is true! I am kind of addicted to blogging! Though, off late, I've been picking up things as "issues" while writing. Unlike earlier when I used to write simply, my day's experiences!

Here's one small story I came across, can't remember where (guess I'm reading too much these days)......

A ship drowned killing almost everyone on board but a man who happened to get to an island. He was awfully lonely in the beginning but eventually, came to terms with his Fate and learnt to live with the resources of the island. He even devised methods to entertain himself in times of excess loneliness. The island had a big mountain on it and the man looked at it longingly many times.

Many a time, he almost got ready to see what was beyond the mountain. But then, he decided against it as he was not sure whether it was wise to explore the unknown. And as a result, he never went that side. Years went by and he began to get weak. One day he fell sick and it took him days to recover from it. He decided that probably he was going to die soon. At this juncture, he decided to go to the other side of the mountain and see what was there. Now that he was going to die soon, it didn't matter even if he left the safety of this side of the island.

He walked on for days, it was a tiring journey and he was tempted to turn back and go back to the warmth of his home. But he kept moving and when he reached the summit, he saw that on the other side, there was a thriving city! A city complete with all the comforts of life!!!! Having the most beautiful houses, most beautiful women, people earning their livelihoods, people coming back to families at the end of the day...........

And he sat down on the summit, cursing his Fate and his stupidity in not having explored that part earlier! He could also have had a life where he could live among people!!!!! And he died there, at the summit, grieving......

Now, what does the story mean? To me, it meant that often, we do not cross these mountains of reluctance! And don't explore what's on the other side! Without reaching the summit, we will never know what the other part of the island, OUR MIND, has!!! We are too tied up by our own limitations.........our own thoughts! We don't let our thoughts soar and fly and reach high!!!!!!

Every new exploration of an unknown territory brings with it the risk of getting lost! But what's life without some calculated risks! I would say, like the life of that man who didn't know there was life just next door! :)

Scary Movie! In a lighter vein......

Well, inspired by Karthik's blogs, I decided to pen down the lighter moments of my life too! If I tell you, I like to watch scary movies, you'll think, what a brave girl! Haha! But what if I tell you that I can watch them when there's someone in between so that I can hide behind him/her when the scary scenes come, you'll laugh!!!!! I'm used to such responses! :-D

So, here goes a small prose relating my experiences of watching a scary movie (this prose is half real and half imaginary).........

When the proposal of watching a scary movie came
I was the first one to volunterr for it
Well, in reality, I am scared to death by such movies
But then, given a chance to watch them, I don't hesitate a bit
So, we decided to bring a CD and watch the ghosts
Painted white in the face and not in the least looking scary
And the story pretty much had them all over the place
But that doesn't stop me from being wary
When the Group ganged up in the Lab
I had to find someone to hide behind
And when Sumithra agreed
It restored my peace of mind
The movie started and I watch a happy 50%
Of what was going on on the screen
And the entire Group was laughing at me
They are all just so mean
The movie was ok but I was scared, as usual
And eventually ended
And the only thought that really haunted me was
How am I going to go to bed????
Well, this prose isn't even half of how I feel after watching a scary movie!!!! :-D

Experiences.............and some lessons too

I have been penning rather negative thoughts about being a woman off late and I am sure, I'm being pictured as a hard-core feminist. Well, maybe I am one. How do I care anyway........

After a rather disorganized and incomplete blog, here I am writing a rather organized blog about my experiences and lessons. After the exercise on Saturday, I have come out as a definitely different person. In this regard, Jasmeen sent out a questionnaire and I decided to answer it.

Here's how the questions look:

1. what made you join the intervention?

Frankly, I don't quite know. In a way, I was sick of eve-teasing. Of having to worry about having some guy along with me all the time I wanted to really freak out alone!!!!! There these times when I feel the urge to just aneak out alone and chill out at places! But I had to always worry about finding someone to go with, preferably a guy, specially if it was after dusk. I think, it was my frustration of having had to hunt for company and the general sense of fear while going out alone that made me come to the intervention......

2. How do you think the passerby responded to your stare? Do you normally look at people in the eye when youre out? How was it different this time, if different at all.

Generally, I look away! Even after having passed these people, I had the funny feeling that there were eyes upon me. But I didn't have the courage to look back and meet the guy in the eye! The age old training of IGNORING things worked all the time. I used to ignore, or rather pretended to ignore these passers-by. But this time, it was different. Maybe because I had decided that I am not going to project myself as weak. There's strength in all of us but it needs bringing out, polishing etc. This was my opportunity. And I grabbed it. It worked!!!!!!!!! For the first time, I didn't look away or ignored. It gave me a sense of liberation! I stopped getting worked up about how I was dressed!!!! (That is one thing I am constantly worried about) a way, it was like learning to fly when a new pair of wings has suddenly come to your possession....

3. What were the sublte changes you noticed in your own behaviour? Like (maithili) spoke of how tough it was for her to not give the passers by space while she walked...etc

Yes, true! In the beginning, it was difficult not to stick my elbows out to prevent myself from unwanted brushes from the people walking past! (Something that I used to do unconsciously). And it was difficult not to walk with nudging people!!!! But as I got used to walking on the pavement, DEMANDING for space, I felt that the vibes reached the people walking around! And I could really walk without having to snake through the crowd! Even in a place as crowded as Brigade Road, we can afford to walk freely if we send the correct vibes out!!! This was something I learnt! :)

4. What do you feel about such interventions: are they fun? Threatening? Empowering?

Well, yes, this was definitely an empowering experience. The most important thing that came out of the experience was that I realized that I CAN!!!!! I can be what I want to be! I can DEMAND to be left alone (and get it) was fun because it was empowering! Threatening, NO. I didn't feel threatened. I guess, it had partially to with the fact that I knew I was strong deep down inside and no longer cared for who perceived me HOW!!!!!!

5. Will this alter the way you perceive brigade road/ or the way brigade road perceives you?

Hmmmm...........maybe, I perceive Brigade Road as a place I can hang out in now, without having to think too much about how the crowd to respond to me! ANd even if it doesn't I don't really care. But yes, it may change the way Brigade Road perceives me. I was probably just another girl there until Saturday! But now, Brigade Road may think twice before messing with me, in ANY WAY!!!! I feel empowered!!!!!!!!!!

6. What worked for you? What did not?

Everything worked for me! The powerful back-stare worked!!!! The sense of freedom worked. So did the no non-sense look!

7. What did you take back with you that evening?

A feeling of self-worth. And a sense of confidence! And loads of experiences, differences in opinions, courage...............loads.................

Well, apart from the questionnaire, I learnt that one can do whatever one wants to!

That's a LOT learnt in the four hours I spent at Brigade Road being a part of the Blank Noise Project!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, April 17, 2006

A tryst with eve-teasing: Face to face with reality....

When we face eve-teasing, it happens! But what if we invite it upon ourselves??? And then, FIGHT BACK????? Well, this was something I did on Saturday. I shall relate the experiences here. When I say I "invited" the teasing on me, I meant I dressed up "provocatively", in men's language.........

Some 10 days back, I came across this project called "Blank Noise" project. I had no idea what it was going to do or who was running it or what "I" was supposed to be doing as a part of the project!!!! It was like one of those proverbial dark rooms I was entering only to touch and feel things and find my way to the other side.

And when I went for the first meeting (I believe that was last Tuesday or something), I had gone half expecting it to be a Group of people who intend to take it to streets, shouting slogans, opposing this and that! But I was proven wrong and delightedly so. I met a cool and "in-control" Jasmeen who had her set of ideas, that defied the conventional ways of protesting! I think her ideas struck me as protest from the middle of the crowd!!!! Not standing away from the crowd.

So, we decided to meet up on Brigade Road on Saturday, April 15th at 4:30 pm. The rain did play a bit of a spoil-sport but as they say, "Where there's a will, there's a way". So, in total, 12 girls turned up. And there were guys too, three of them, all of them struck me as the kind who respected women.

The idea was to dress up in clothes that we wouldn't dare to wear otherwise. Mind you, we didn't BU anything in particular for this occasion, but chose one of the pieces of our own wardrobe that we don't otherwise have the guts to wear. And then, we were to stand a little apart from each other, some 6 feet away, across Brigade Road. We all positioned ourselves and just stood and watched the crowds.

Trust me, when I started off, I was a little jittery, but all my close friends supported me and showed faith in me. So, we started this something called a STREET INTERVENTION........where we STARE back at whoever stared at us. Now, the entire episode was a long one so, I shall not write the entire thing but I shall write about the discussion we had at the end of it all.

The salient points that sprang up during the discussion were:

1. Some men came up with the brilliant idea that "We are warm blooded, hormoned, Indian men and we are programmed to look at women" (now whoever said we said we thought this guy was a cold-blooded cockroach!!!! I can't think of a better term for him as I think I despise cockroaches the maximum). I did not know that men who chose to be decent on the roads are either cold blooded or non-hormoned or non-Indian.........funny na?

2. Why are women trying to deprive us of our fundamental right? Staring at women? Afterall, that's what we come to do at Brigade Road!!!!!!!! (And what about the discomfort women face because of these stares? Don't we have a right to chill out? Just like that? Unaccompanied by men? And what about our right to feel comfortable on the streets??)..............hello!!! Your rights end where MY nose begins! Wonder if they ever heard of this!!!!!

3. If you dress PROVOCATIVELY, we WILL look! Why can't you dress "DECENTLY"?? (Well, the statistics will shout in your ears that dresses have had NOTHING to do with WHO has been teased. In fact, boldly dressed ones aren't teased as much. The "timidly" dressed ones are more frequently targetted")

4. Eve-teaising is NORMAL and not a crime...........(ANYTHING that infringes upon someone's freedom is an offence. And eve-teasing is an infringement upon our sense of feeling free in a public space. Admiratory glances are different, lewd gestures are something completely different).

5. I was only LOOKING...............(well, ALL women have a knack for finding out the difference between looking and staring. An appreciative glance, that pretty women draw plenty of, is totally different from a leching one, and trust me, WE KNOW WHICH WAY YOU ARE LOOKING AT US).

6. Women have become programmed to stick their elbows out to prevent those "accidental" brushes from every Tom, Dick and Harry passing by (on Saturday, we consciously made an effort to walk freely, and trust me, IT WAS SO DIFFICULT as we've been programmed to walk like that, defending ourselves all the time. But when we did it, it gave us an all new confidence).

7. Women are amazingly complacent about eve-teasing. Primarily because it's been grilled into them that if you are eve-teased, IT MUST HAVE BEEN YOUR FAULT!!!!!!!! You must have dressed in an inviting way and BLAH BLAH, WE BLAME OURSELVES and keep on compromising on HOW we dress (and the matter only gets complicated if there's someone who keeps grilling into you that it's YOU who's caused the eve-teasing. I should know, I have had a guy like THAT in my life who always made ME feel that I was the one who called for the eve-teasing)! How we want to dress is primarily governed by how men in the street will look at us! Strange eh? Strange but true!!!!! Men on streets decide the dresses of a happy 90% women!!!!!!!

8. Men who stand for women being harassed on the street are being viewed as "spineless", "feminine" and "un-macho"'s just about as ridiculous as it can get!!!!!! I would call such men sensitive, caring and responsible........of course, opinions differ!!!!!!!!

I guess I have lots more to stay but then, I shall refrain from it! I guess some men out there are going to HATE me for feeling how I do about eve-teasing! But I guess these are the very bloody idiots who need some cure in their top-floors so that they learn to respect women, and the space they deserve, to be THEMSELVES and to CHILL OUT, without being ogled at and ridiculed.......


Sunday, April 09, 2006

An age of watching TV

Scene: The family is sitting on the dining table and watching a movie on TV. The mother is trying to tell the children that they need to clean their rooms as some old family friends are visiting the following morning. The children seem to be listening. And then, she's asking the husband to call the electrician for fixing up the exhaust fan in the kitchen (she's having a tough time working in the kitchen without the exhaust fan working). The husband nods, apparently understanding the amount of trouble she must be having working with the cooking.......

After ten minutes, it occurs to the lady that no one seems to be paying attention to what she's saying and there are many ways in which this scene can end:

1. She adds TWO tasks more to her list of "to-do" for the coming day: Call the electrician, and clean up children's room, realizing that if she doesn't do it, it won't get done in all probability.

2. She starts speaking LOUDLY so that the children and husband listen to her! Maybe, even shout at them or switch the TV off.....

3. She ignores the tasks and thinks, if THEY don't care, she doesn't either.

4. After the TV viewing is over, she REPEATS the instructions to the children and husband and hopes that they would've listened this time......

Now, different people would respond differently to a situation described above. As for myself, I would respond in way 1 (I guess that's why I've listed it first). The point is not that I am fond of taking up responsibilities of other people. But that I see all the other approaches as futile. The situation I've described above is a very common one these days in families (I'm sure all of us feel it at one point of time or the other).

So, is TV viewing eating up on time that families can spend together learning about each other, communicating with each other, helping each other solve their problems! In short, COMING CLOSE TO EACH OTHER!!!!!!

My views may be heavily biased against TV viewing as I am absolutely not fond of watching TV. I watch TV once in a few months and find TV viewing a sheer wastage of time (except for occasionally watching Nat Geo or Discovery or some News Channel)......I don't even remember when was the last time I watched a movie on, the point is that there'll be people who'll advocate watching TV as a source of education and information. I have nothing against their views. Everyone has opinions and those who don't have, I don't even consider them!!!!!

So, I am not saying that one must stop watching TV......I literally find myself abnormal in not liking TV..........but HOW MUCH AND WHEN is the question. Indeed, we can learn a lot if we watch TV, but how much of stuff on TV is worth watching? How many of us sit down and watch something worthwhile on TV?

So, I was talking about the quality time of a family being eaten away by this seemingly harmless Television Set sitting in our living rooms!!!!!!! The time that can be spent talking with family is whiled away in watching either two men fighting, ready to draw blood, or two women plotting against each other, or someone quizzing for winning a crore (or some similar astronomical amount)................ I am sure a big percentage of people view TV showing one of the above....

As such, with both parents working, children don't get to spend much time with them and with the TV invading, they go further away from parents. Sharing of feelings, narration of incidents (which is VERY important for children venting their feelings out), sitting together just talking of future plans and problems being discussed..............everything is done with a TV constantly running in the background. With the TV as a distraction, there's divided attention comnig into picture and one's never sure if one's heard properly.

So, what's the solution? Throwing the TV out of the house? Yelling at children asking them NOT to watch TV? Ignoring all that and carrying on with whatever you're doing? Letting your husband watch TV and chatting away to glory on phone with your friends? Won't THAT just widen the canyons already being dug up by the changes in life-style of a typical urban family???