Sunday, December 14, 2014

Treasurywalla, Open Letters and Objectification

    In the last couple of days, social media was suddenly booming with an open letter from Shehnaz Treasurywala to eminent male personalities of India in an attempt to either grab their attention towards the increasing crimes against women or a means of publicity stunt. I read it and chose not to comment on it or share it, nor did I feel it's something out of the blue because we women have been yelling this pretty much everyday with almost no effect. I also happened to read an open letter to Ms.Treasurywala from an Indian man asking her all sorts of questions, that I felt the need to pen this down, upon reading the kind of eyebrow-raising comments on the website.

    I don't care if Ms. Shehnaz's open letter was a publicity stunt or not. The problem with most things we Indians do is attaching our judgement on a person along with their viewpoint. For starters, would this letter have reached such masses had it not been an actor's? Secondly, why conjoin her profession and the content? Would the same objectionable questions about what one does for a living been raised had this letter been written by an anonymous author or a 'conservative, Indian girl'?

    The response letter has placed a heavy weight on the objectification of women. Sexual objectification in movies, ads etc. First of all, how many of us have informed and contemplated opinions on objectification at all, is a question that runs in my head. I still haven't quite confirmed my own thoughts on the matter. Is sexual objectification deplorable because we have complete disregard for the party's personality or is it an aggressive movement towards the tapping of downright raw nature of human being?
   
    I cannot but agree of all those movies that have scantly clad heroines without any role but glamour and that of a crowd-puller. It makes me wonder why the heroine agreed to such a movie at all.(Money aside, of course) But glamour and sexual appeal are there in almost all of our movies. Do we suggest to ban such portrayals or learn to see past it? Mass media is a portrayal of the society and vice versa. In this cyclic process, who stops first and who follows? Will filmmakers stop introducing erotica in movies if we, the public, learn to see past the fact that it's yet another viewpoint or stop the thought itself by banning such scenes in the movies? Would such an act be regressive or progressive? For, one one hand we're finally moving away from patriarchal concepts that deem women pure and chaste if only she refrains from a particular kind of behaviour we all well acquainted to understand and on the other hand we're wishing to walk away from the other end and asking women to not be open about their own bodies. In a world where sexual objectification of both men and women are on the rise, why are we greatly concerned with only women? What did the poor men do? Or is it all praise for men and condescension for women on the topic of sexual objectification?

       I found it extremely disconcerting to note that the response to the actor's letter ran along a line of condescension. The author lays emphasis on whether celebrities ever talk about all this at the least 'over a cocktail party'. Why is alcohol even being brought into the whole story? What eligibility criteria did he pass in order to question Sunny Leone's eligibility in the movie industry?

     It's not like these 'celebrities' aren't doing anything to bring upon public awareness in the country. What about people like Aamir Khan, Farhan Aktar, Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Shabana Azmi, Rahul Bose and Nafisa Ali? While you may claim that Aamir Khan charges in crores for an episode of Satyamev Jayate, clicking your tongue; he's still doing a great deal to the society. Money is a part of his job and no one but himself has a say in it. How long is the society going to blame the movie industry? Yes, it's unsettling that masses are swayed whenever an actress's legs are in view and it gets them all horny. If don't want to get all horny and rape people, do not watch those movies. But no! You'll want to watch them anyway and later raise questions about an actor's choice of movies and nudity. That, my friend, is called hypocrisy. Ever wondered about all those movies where the lead actors utter something utterly chauvinistic about how a woman should be? All I heard in the theatre are claps and support when dialogues fill the air about how a woman should be. (In Tamil: they go like 'Pombala na adakka odukkama irukkanum') I didn't see anyone writing open letters then. Why now?

    The problem with our society is that it's full of taboos that needs to see the light of the day. Sex is taboo but we're one of the largest reproducing country in the world. No, we can't portray erotica but it's perfectly okay to be pent up with sexual energy that can be unleashed on the streets while folks from one's own family sleep in the safety of their homes. I believe that the rate of crimes against women, in particular will decrease only through awareness and education. Yes, movies are influential and you can question the kind of message a film delivers but we have no right to judge an actor based on their choice of movies and interlinking an on-screen portrayal with their real life persona. It's not the complete catalyst for groping hands and lewd comments on the road. It comes from those mothers who let their boys be, even as they exhibit questionable characteristics and don't let their daughters out in the night because it's not safe. It's because of your high school biology teacher who chose to skip the chapter on reproduction or spent a matter of minutes on it with the rest for 'your own reading' of the subject. It's because of the callous remarks and labels attached to the idea of boys and girls in the country. It's happening because of those fathers who don't slap their sons hard when they harass another but smile in a resigned approval. A lot of issues don't surface because they're bound by the ideas of morality and 'family values'. It's time we all took time out to understand what it really is, in the current times. The day sex can be a dining table topic, we'll have the air around the topic cleared and resolved.

 Until then, let's at the least not blame a third party and realize that something is fundamentally wrong with the way we choose to see a situation.

Decide what you wish to take from a movie or a man or woman. It's always a matter of choice.



Google images 

Google images

~Hemu



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Headscarves

The sun rises when she lifts up her chin
and sets when she breaks free the scarf 
full of misery and pain that she holds in her head. 
Headscarves of the woman bear more than the colours that you see. 

Source: HEADSCARVES

~Hemu 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Words You Say


 | If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful? 
I found this quote, so far shared as an anonymous one on one of my Pinterest browsing days. I can't even begin to express the kind of impact this single line has on me, never leaving my mind; only permitting me to constantly picture myself with all the words I say everyday, on my skin. Would I still be beautiful?  | 

We live in a world that is extremely fast-pacing, with more faces unregistered as we pass by everyday and words that escape us without any filter that we don't really pause to think about the effect we have on another person's thoughts and image of themselves.

   I can't probably explain this better unless I bring my case into the picture. I was (and still probably am) a very loud child in my days of growing up. I spoke to everyone without inhibition, believed that everyone I meet are my friends and that this world is a lovely little place. This optimistic outlook on life was not met on the same terms with everyone. I loved talking with people about anything and everything. I'd ask doubts during classes at the silliest levels if I didn't understand a concept. I didn't think it was a big deal, really. Why else were we in school? Owing to this, I was thus called the 'Doubt-mistress' of my class, not to forget 'Chatterbox'. During extremely boring sessions, my classmates used to nudge me and say, 'Hey! Ask some doubt and pass some time. This is getting really boring'. To that, there have been times when I have obliged and had my own share of fun. It's all very nostalgic when I think about it now.

   While all those happy memories live on, the problem arises when the invisible boundaries are crossed and kids or anyone for that matter, don't realize the impact of what they say. Sometimes people shrug off insults and name-calling with ease on the outside while it would tear them up on the insides. Being branded talkative wasn't something that got under my skin but the lightness with which everything I said was. It was/is hurtful to have people ignore, override and consider what you say to be unimportant without even listening to it. It still hurts me. I have been through it and so do so many other children and adults who in everyday of their life, undergo their own such battles.

   We fail to comprehend the impact our words have on another person's life. Bullying,stereotyping, limitless teasing and condescending attitudes are all a part of this spectrum of failing to grasp this simple working of the world and people. When I look back at my school life, I wonder if my own friends have been passive bullies in a way, forever scarring parts of my memory. I have learnt to live with it and accept the factors of age and maturity with it but it would not be true to say that it doesn't have any impact on me. After all these years, it still does. I believe that I have matured into a different person because of and despite all these occurrences, but who is to say that everyone will get out of the pit of name-calling and being slighted?

  We have no filtering system in our heads, most often. I have had my friends tell me how hurtful it is to be stereotyped on looks, mannerisms and characteristics. A very close friend of mine told me how it gets to her that everyone she meets comments on her physique and not on her lovely character that I personally know of. Gay. (I still don't understand why it grew into an offensive word) Fat. Ugly. Pimpled. Talkative. Duffer. How quick we are to categorize people into slots and call them so in a jiffy! Do we realize that it could potentially create low self-esteem and confidence, depression and other psychological effects for the rest of the other person's life?

  A lot of you may think that you know when you cross the bounds of your 'good-natured' humour. Honestly, most of you might not be aware of the subtle but strong impact your comments and sarcasm creates in your own good friends from work or college. Maybe you could ask them once in a while. Even the strongest of people you think aren't affected by the world's perception of them are at some level,are indeed affected by it. So, before you unleash some laughter for yourself at another person's expense, you could think about it again and see in retrospection, if it might hurt your friend in some manner or the other.

 I tell you all this because I have been subject to much of this and know how it hurts. I have known other strong people in my life very close to me describe how it goes with them. I'm sure you know what I mean. You may be bullying someone else without your own knowledge, creating such a deep impact that hurtful words from decades back still ring loud in their ears, after all this time. But so do the really good words. They stick around from the most random times in your life. Small words create a great impact.

I ask you now to think of all that you say to people on a daily basis. Think. If all of that appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?

Beauty is not skin deep.

Next time, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

P.S: Don't confuse all of this with a dogmatic attitude or a person who cannot accept constructive criticism or good-natured humour between friends. There is a huge difference between what I'm talking about and all of this.


Original Artwork by Hemalatha Venkatraman. Copyrighted. Do not reproduce without permission.
 Find it on : www.hemusartblog.tumblr.com


Monday, October 20, 2014

Home

  How could I forget that night? It was exactly ten days since my grandfather had passed away. I was close to 1400KM away from home at Bombay, unable to sleep; merely staring at the wall a little before midnight. There was a sense of melancholy and wishful dreaming over my head. My teammates were fast asleep, heads buried in makeshift pillows. It was January; the floor was as cold as ice but yet, vaguely comforting.

  Silence screeched as the wall suddenly lit up to life, reflecting the warm hues of an oriflamme presence somewhere. The sound of the crackling rose up to the second floor apartment where we lay as the fog lifted, disintegrating into nothingness in the face of the bonfire built out of all which held people back.

   Bhoghi, the harvest festival, had dawned. It was midnight as heavy drumming began to sound, awakening the sleeping souls to stare out into the dark; where below, there lay a mound of light and lilt. Smiles cast invitations even when we couldn't see. We ran, our flip-flops slapping the bare mosaic flooring. The sound of the dholaks and laughter intensified with every step of ours, the excitement building. I rolled out only stopping to a reckless halt before the fire. The flames, a feet away leaped about, taller than I was, a fourteen year old girl in disarray. A Sardar, otherwise camouflaged by his beard and black turban smiled through it, holding out sweetmeats to me.The flames blazed higher, smoke spiraling into the vast sky charring the past and ready for the future.

    Slowly, the other state gymnasts descended the stairs and gathered around smiling, laughing and chattering away. Girls who would otherwise be dressed like dolls before the floor exercise performances began to dance in baggy pajamas and disheveled hair holding hands. My hands slowly slipped into theirs, strangers I didn't know in a place I wasn't really acquainted with. All I knew then was that the sound synced with my heartbeat and that the dance came from within.

It didn't matter that midnight in a strange place that I was holding hands and dancing with strangers. It didn't matter how close I was to the fire that night because I didn't feel any heat, only the warmth. It didn't matter that night that my grandfather was dead. I learned to laugh out loud again after a ten-day hiatus. It didn't matter that I was celebrating the festival away from home because, that moment in the dark when all our eyes met lingering with joy, shining in untamed light, I felt at home.  


Source: GOOGLE IMAGES. I do not own this image.  

~Hemu

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Broken

We are all but broken women 
pieced together by the joyful memories 
lining every heartbreak,
every belied relationship 
and all of the hidden sorrows
behind fallacious, colourful smiles. 

We are but broken girls 
sprouting out of our own wombs,
further broken with every push;
standing out of monotony 
as a lovely mosaic of our own mess. 

We are broken.
But oh, the shards are just too beautiful 
to comprehend,
to surpass 
or to be neglected. 

Just remember to piece yourself together.
You'll be spectacular. 



Original Artwork by Hemalatha Venkatman | Copyrighted  | Do not reproduce without permission 
|In connection with my art blog Hemu's Art Blog's ongoing Inktober Challenge and the Facebook page of this blog where I have been putting up a poem a day. | 

~Penned and sketched by Hemu 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Girl Who Catches Stars in Her Hair

I know a girl whose hands are always full
with misery and poetry, love in vain and abyss infinite.
Yet, she settles down to catch the evading stars every night
and because her hands are full,
the stars perch themselves on her hair
so that she may smile.

Original Artwork by Hemalatha Venkatraman | Copyrighted | Do not use without permission 
| I have been going about with pet projects on my art and writing blogs where I put up one inked sketch as a part of the Inktober Challenge throughout October. On this blog's Facebook page, (Street of Smiles) I've putting up one poem a day for as long as I can. I collaborated both the projects for the day, combining my art and poetry. Please do let know what you think of it. :) My art blog can be found at Hemu's Art Blog! ) Thanks and cheers! |


Penned and sketched by
Hemu 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dangling Feet

   I’m borderline aqua-phobic. The line lies between that simple stance that my feet can touch the floor of the water bed and the assurance that drowning is not a possibility. It lies submerged in the sea-green blues of the waters, the fear of not death but suffocation unto death and the helplessness of it.

   Sixteen years of age was when I set out to Calcutta for the first time in my life en-route to Manipur. The train chugged away, pulling with ease the coaches that followed, sculpted with steel carrying people full of dreams. The locomotive sped at an immense speed as I edged my way to the doors of my bogie, swaying with the whims of the vehicle itself.

  It was noon and everyone had slept into obliviousness. The door was wide open, as I held the handles just on the outside and lunged my body forward for the erstwhile breezing wind to scream in my ears. Drawn to the avenues open to my senses; I merely collapsed and sat down on the steps, still holding on to the rails, feet dangling to the moving Jelly stones. The rhythmic lull of the wagons over the railway tracks seemed like the ritual of love-making between two as I closed my eyes; unaware of the people around me, singled out within.

   I don’t know how many minutes passed before my eyes opened to a change in sound, the return of the breeze alongside the summer sun. The rhythm was the same, but the echoes and sounds that emanated, completely different.  I gazed ahead to look at the calm blues staring back at me, its ripples moving from one to another, in constant motion.

   My fingers tightened around the handles as I peered down. Hundred feet below were deep waters that could devour me alive. It was the first time I saw seemingly bottomless waters below my own dangling feet. The initial flutters of anxiety and fear had drowned in the overwhelming feeling that was caught at my throat. I had never felt this comfortable, alive and fearless of waters. Transience and permanence loomed to and fro, as the moving waters coupled with the climax of the lulling pleasures put me in the moment, in complete awareness of my senses.

   I was neither in the past, nor an eon later. I lived that moment, completely, without the fear of suffocation and drowning lest I fall. In that unknown place, over an unknown water body somewhere in North-east India, I could then do nothing but smile as the cool wind kissed my face.
I have never felt that liberated, thoughtless and free in all my life, ever since.

~Hemu

I do NOT own this image. Source: Google images 



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Affair With Addiction




I don't understand those poets that romanticize alcohol;
attributing poetry to a glass of high
or a joint of weed.
I'm tempted to judge a man
who loves alcohol and smoke;
a daily dose of exigency
to unlock and  let oneself be.
But what right do I have to roll my eyes
at him, an artist
immersed in the illusion of beauty;
recovering and emerging from
a bottle of whisky
when my words spill and fall like
a momentous dominoes set
when I think of you?
The illusion and the addictive need
to romanticize the image of you?



~Hemu

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mirrored

Image Credit: Laura Williams



If you mirror me and I see your soul,
will I be looking at you or me?
Or,
do you think, maybe it'll be a pensive
of your confident being mixed with mine;
filling it up with stars
where my insecure spirit leaves a hole?






~Hemu 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Karna

|This happened to be a piece I'd penned last year right after I read this book called 'Mrityunjaya-The Death Conqueror'. The life of Karna is one of the most fascinating and tragic stories I've ever come across. He happens to be my most favorite character in The Mahabharata alongside Draupadi and Krsna. I keep attempting to sketch him again and again and never have I been satisfied with what I complete as it never seems to represent him in entirety. The artwork can be found on my blog, here. Cheers! Revel in His life, for it's complicated and beautiful. |



What is more trying by destiny, oh warrior
 than to be painfully oblivious to the origin of your birth?

You who slayed vice with smoldering golden rays
later blanketed in the smog of your munificence
sparked from vanity leased out in thy head;
exorcising material despair,
subduing with grains of praise the
licking ravage flames in your chest,

under the gilded skin armour, shut.

What could have been more ruthless
than the rejection of the dark-skinned maiden-
flinging insults like dung to a damp wall
while your strength lay untested and unapproved?
The woman you loved and hated within eons;
that your brothers  five later betrothed ,undivided

only to garrote you to shameful death.

What decremented your virtuous soul further?
the culminated fury abreast constant light
of doubt-ridden guilt about your legacy
Or losing your honour to jealousy
Beginning a vow out of an unnecessary jabbering

of the tongue unsaddled by righteous thought?

And when you saw your confounded flaws
mirrored on the deceitful glass of an angered moment,

You saw the image that your blue-skinned kin saw,
an enemy you endured with till your
chariot broke
while fighting with the universal wheel of time-

the only aid to defend the dead in you.

There were those grains of sand that fell through
the goodness, your blood dripping onto the muddy moulds
fusing towards an unjustified departure
defended in the karmic book of a godly conman.
The hourglass now contains merely light
in honour of a hero, tragic 

thus denied a deemed title

because his own blood feared the words

out of an unworthy stranger, spitting in the air.

~Hemu 

Source: Vimanika Comics 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hold You

Source: Google Images 

I'm not the type of girl
who'll squeal and hug you hard
in trepidation
of thunderbolts clapping across the skies.
Instead,
I'll be staring at the clouds light up
  whilst holding out,
the piercing rain slash my breasts;
in comfort.
I'm the kind of girl
who'll smile and hold you though,
if these forces scare you;
  without judgement or question.
Who said boys can't be afraid of the
  rumblings far above our heads?

~Hemu


Monday, August 18, 2014

My Madras

I was born long after Madras was rechristened as Chennai. I was born long after the trees along the Marina Beach lost itself in the growing roots of modernism and globalization. I was born long after bell bottoms paved way to formal pants and tight shiny clothing of women from the retro era moved on to where we are now. I was not around for the period when Spencers had a much different and a glorious facade. I was born after the fires licked the Moore Market that I only see in pictures now. I never got to see those beautiful trams nor the clean Coovum river. I was not around for a large part of what many people claim to be the best and glorious period of Madras, but it's still the part I connect with the most and if God wills the time machine's existence, I would love to return to the 80's and live here, all over again.

     In an age of fast-pacing and rapidly moving world where change makes its presence felt all over and spilling, my city has managed to hold on to Her reigns and let the gallop slow down, but never stopping. The change that has come about has always been nothing but gradual, taking one step at a time and relishing what it may have to offer. While cities like Bangalore and Delhi may have lost the scent of itself over the years, Madras still lingers on. There was no greed with the city in wanting to swallow the latest and the newest. By this, I do not mean that we shunned anything new and progressing. There has always been progress. The beauty of the ascendance and progression is largely determined by how it is done. In that manner, there is no beating Madras. We hold on to our davara-tumblers long after porcelain coffee mugs have come in. Filter kaapi still beats CCD's cappuccino hands down. 

    Very few cities have a classiness to it. On that front, Madras is almost synonymous with culture and dignity. Margazhi season kutcheris, bharatnatyam recitals, the flavour of Mylapore, literary fests and a long list of festivals and fairs that we celebrate in our own little silent ways.I've heard North-Indians say how South-India, Tamilnadu and Madras in particular don't have fun in celebrating our festivals and weddings. 'It's a drab', they say. But who says loud music and heavy dancing is the only way to unwind? Have they witnessed the 'maalai maatharthu' of a typical Tamil-Brahman wedding here, the excited talk and chatter between households and people across the streets during Navrathri Golu or taken a walk along the long roads on the pristine night of Karthikai Deepam? This just happens to be a different character and hue altogether that no other city has. A silence that shouts joy more than anything else.

   Yes, on more issues than one, Madras is said to be conservative.But it has never stopped anyone from doing anything they want to do. What I love most about this city are the people. Large-hearted, warm people who despite their inhibitions, never throw you about. Shorts never changes a good old auto-driver from giving us the right directions and goodwill. On a particular night, I got lost in North Madras (Royapuram side) and it was  pretty late. I didn't know the way around that area quite well and had to stop two or three times to reach back home. Each of them told me the way like I was related to them.The kindly auto-driver called out to me to be careful and made me wait till the vehicles on the side of the road had passed and the sweeper ladies on the flyover said, 'Badhrama ponga, kannungala' after my friend and myself thanked them. The local departmental store owners smile every time I walk in and the Bhaai's never let go without saying a bye.Religion is not a problem for us and Madras is a a haven of mutual co-existence and religious harmony. Everyone smiles.The bus conductor, the traffic policeman, the daily commuter on the train and the kids on the bicycle. From a city so welcoming, what else would one want? 

  It's been 375 brilliant years of sambar-vadai, filter kaapi, Carnatic music and divine beaches. It's been 375 years of happiness amalgamated with street plays, MGR, Shivaji Ganesan, Superstar Rajinikanth; plays and theatres that support drama and art. It's been 375 years of diverse architecture: vernacular, Indo-sarcenic, colonial and the ones now. It's been 375 years spread with tree walks, temple walks, Panagal park and Ranganathan street hustles. It's been 375 long years of sentiment, love, emotion and pride for Madras. 

Like I read somewhere, Chennai is a city. Madras is an emotion. That explains everything I have to say. 

Happy 375th to you Madras! :) We love you. Let's clink our tumblers together for the years to come. 

~Hemu 
  

Image source:  Internet -google images

One of my Madras doodles.You can check  our the rest of the sketch series on Madras over  here.



      

Saturday, August 2, 2014

For a Mere Twang of Joyous Life : Education and Learning

These are but a fraction of my ever-pursuing questions, thoughts and ideas about the vast gap between learning and being educated, a pause to acknowledge the idea of life rather than chasing it. Predominantly, these are questions I would like you think about and I would absolutely love to know your thoughts about the same. Cheers! | 

After having gone through battles in examination halls, memories good and bad at institutions and officially now, a graduate still on a break post-undergraduate studies; it's safe to now indulge in these thoughts that I have been a participating member of in my head all this while. All these years, as I aggressively tried to approach the idea of it, I was only but a passive phase all through it. Had I contemplated more on all of this, would I have been happy or eternally in a state of chaos? (Though, sometimes, chaos is a lot of happiness)

     What a safe life we all lead! Kindergarten, 14 years of school, 4-5 years of undergraduate studies and some more on graduate college and so on and so forth.Most of our parents never considered homeschooling as an option. We just settled into a life of grade after grade of education, of math that makes one's head reel and biology classes where the chapter on reproduction was very quickly skimmed through. There lies no immediate goal, no quest in a child to pursue something in life on the broader sense of it. This hit me massively as I just finished my undergraduate studies because that's when people finally started asking me, 'What next?' Even for that, there are definite set of expectations and options that they'd like me to be a part of that they approve of. Apparently, taking a lot of time to decide what one wants to do for the rest of their life sounds foolish to many because there is a comfortable life ahead of everyone if they choose the path of higher education, a job, marriage, babies and a settled life. How unsettling can it get?

  If at the end of 22 years of age, I take a commemorative step to reflect on my past; there is nothing there but for a well-scheduled life full of classes, exams and 'extra-curricular activities'. The main aim was to do well in the annual exams so that we can move on to the next grade. No one asked me, 'What do you think about taking a day off from school and do something on your own?' Our earlier generation's probable struggle with receiving a decent education has thrown the coming ones into the shackles of the pin-pointed rat race with no finish line, ever. How different would life be today if we were to appreciate kids and people for who they actually are, their understanding of the world, their short term and long term goals?

  What would be the result today if I was asked 'What next?' when I was 8 years old? At 13? At 17? (Assuming the general mode of education is off the table) How different would it have been if I just went to the park one day and slept the day after. While it is true that we would be possibly 'immature' to make the 'right' decisions and not really know what to do, thus 'ruining' our lives; isn't it also equally possible that we would end up discovering more about ourselves in ways we never envisaged we could? Would world peace and contemplative questions ever be accommodated in the current system? Imagine, if we could do wonders after two decades of dealing with authority that knows which direction you have to go by, merely by being pushed to make a decision of our own after say, 3-4 years of being allowed to think for a bit; how would life be if we were allowed to be whatever we are from the very beginning? Life experiences would be a word with immense depth, will it not then?

  Being driven to 'settle', forcing our way through a vivid journey along beautiful sights so that we could enjoy our the visions to assimilate, years later just so that we can sit and take it in... strikes a wrong chord in me somewhere. It is not my opinion that the education system that the world is currently subject to is wrong, but I'm merely wondering why another path would be scandalous to anyone who feels good parenting is the perfect high-end English medium schools, tuition and  extra music or art lessons that can always, only be a sidetrack? Or is it a concern of the fast-paced society we are in where our credentials lie in degrees earned, money made and the house we buy? Will parents have the time to home-school their children, will children be appreciated for the schooling they give themselves in a community?

 For, I sure as hell don't know what I've been chasing all these years. I don't quite know why I studied what I did. I don't know why I'll have to know what to do next when all these years, I was told what to do. Why do I have to 'settle down'? (Boy, do I have a tough time getting that!) Have I been restricted by education and its circles of tight authority or was there much more of a learning there than I am giving it credit now?

Schools without degrees, learning something merely because one loves it and not to enroll in contests to win recognition, putting otherwise exorbitant fees to build a workshop or a place for children to live their lives on their own terms and a life full of travel.. is that too much or too Utopian ask?

I can only hope I have the answers when I become a parent and if I end up where I think I will end up siding with, I can only really hope I have the courage to not put my child in a school at two and a half years of age.. but ride bicycles with her and spell out poetry or whatever the hell she wants, however overwhelmingly beautiful and scary.

Image source: Google pictures: Courtesy Indian Health Service/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
Image Source: Google pictures :photo by Stephan Jouhoff)

~Hemu

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Transcendence

What hasn't yet been swallowed by the billowing winds of change
catches itself in between the lines in my palms
that I stare at each morning as the sun shakes off its dust
in the quest for a clean, blue sky.

I wash my hands in the pearls thrown ashore
attempting to see nothing, hear no song nor see any dream;
but it has already stitched itself onto my eyelashes
that throw me in lands, I only can wish to see.

A land where transparency reigns over the transient world.
At the least, I'll know what's coming.
And where I'll not be going.

~Hemu

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sorrows and Seashells

For a change, I thought I'd put those words on parchment. :)



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Still Little Moments

| Isn't it true that the smallest things, the most minuscule moments in life are what one reminiscences the most? There are some dishes that your grandmother makes/made that you can taste when you think about it, the carnivals you attended as a child whose colours are still fresh in your memory.

I generally don't post anything from my personal journals.This is the first time I am sharing anything from my personal diary. These are two little moments in my life from my past that I now look back with immense love and longing for, that I have recently written in my 2014 journal, Shon

Two little stories that I'd like to share with you from my past that I would trade my present with. The sportsperson in me that I long to meet again.

 I'd love to know what your memorable moments are. Please feel free to share it with everyone here.  |


#1
Synthetic tracks. My spikes dig momentarily into the rubber and shoots out just as quickly. My body leans in to the left, just a slight tilt; like the angle in the mirrored version of number 7. I'm out of breath and feel the pang of heavy wind and breathlessness burn my nose and throat. But the pain is beautiful. It pulls me and pushes me. My feet is never stagnant and there is no thought on my mind but the lines I'm bound within and the place I have to reach. That slight tilt in my body with my legs striding and the pulling within that's trying really hard to finish the race I started... that after that point my legs will be fine and the pain will subside. I can breathe without noticing my own breath and the necessity of air to my lungs. It is the time that I give nothing but my very best. That moment of tilt as I cover the curve of the race, that's when I'm the most steady.

#2
It's almost 5:00- 5:30 pm in the evening but my coach is relentless. I can't go home until I land on my feet from the Round Off Backflip Back Somersault. It doesn't matter how many times I fall down. I can't stop, I'm not allowed to stop. If I left for home now, I may never set foot in my gymnastics training every again. The hall on the left wing corridor on the first floor of my school was empty except for black mats, my coach, a picture of Gurudev with a walking stick and a smile and myself. Anger welled up as tears in my eyes. It's unfair that the other kids are allowed to go home and I am not. My coach didn't care. I just want to leave. I muster my strength and run with quick, agile steps and completed the element, landing on my feet.

I landed right!

I did the Round off Backflip Back Somersault for the first time in my fourth grade.

My anger reaped happiness. My coach merely smiled. I did it a couple of times more and landed right every single time until my coach asked me to stop practicing and go home. Oh, at that moment I never wanted to stop performing the element nor go home.


P.S : I still remember the first time I performed the floor exercises on proper floor. The height, the stillness in the moment when I was in the mid-way of my element, in mid-air and swiftness that existed at the same moment. The perfect landing. It still takes my breath away.

Image source: www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

~Hemu


Friday, April 11, 2014

Women, Sex and Other Issues

What's the most important entity and identity for a girl living in India according to the society?

Education? Financial success ? Independence? Talent and skill? 

Nah.

It's her Honour.

Honour and virginity are perhaps the most hyped ideas that the nation lives by. One of the chief reasons a rape victim is looked down upon is because she's 'impure'. Most people don't seem to think that it's a violation of her right, that it's the very helplessness that she's left with; that a man can take undue advantage of her proving his so-called masculinity in the most cruel way possible that hurt her more than the act of rape itself. But no, a woman has been raped and the society goes clicking its tongue on the fact that the most important image of the woman has been snatched upon by a wayward fox. It's not her Freedom and right but her virginity and honour. 

The importance the society attaches to sex is wholly on a negative side unless it is post-marriage. Everyone is happy when there is an heir in the making in the family. Did that baby magically happen? Did an angel bring the child from the sky and drop it within the woman's womb or at the hospital like the little girl in The Cosby Show believes? Of course not. We are all adults and yet we fail to acknowledge what is the most natural path of life. So, why is it that a woman post marriage is lauded for her baby-making abilities but shunned and scorned upon if she is a person involved in a relationship involving premarital sex or is a rape victim? How is the very same baby impure or unchaste? Fertility and motherhood are two factors that should never be contained within the realms of pseudo-morality. 

Sexuality and virginity has long been confused with morality. We have enough and more Indian movies that prove that point. Heroines who commit suicide because they are no longer 'pure' post rape or thrown out of the village limits for having lost their virginity before marriage are the front-running examples. A woman who is open about her sexuality is demoralized and called characterless while the shy, goody-goody woman clothed from top to bottom is the ideal image of an Indian girl. 

I love Superstar Rajinikanth beyond words but to merely hear him depict how a woman needs to be in the movie Padayappa still makes me cringe. Media, TV serials depict the ideal bahu as the woman contained within the house, producing the family heir while the woman who is open to her sexuality, who wears modern clothes or consumes alcohol, wears heavy make-up is generally the villain to the otherwise mellifluous life of the lead woman in the soap opera.Sexist portrayals of women are far too many to count, starting from small advertisements to statements made by famous personalities.  Many of our 'leaders' believe that chowmein, tight clothes, mobile phones, staying out after 7.00PM causes rape. 'Boys will be boys and make mistakes' is the most recent one that flashed by in the news. I can't even begin to explain how disgusting it all sounds.

Images are from the internet
Women are being judged for every single choice of theirs. We still live in a country where white bed sheets are laid out for the wedding night in many a households to check the purity of the bride newly welcomed into the groom's house just the day before. The 'modesty' and the character of a woman is measured by her virginity, her number of boyfriends etc. 

I have boy-friends who have told me that they will ogle all that they want at busty actresses clad in half-nudity but they themselves only want 'homely' girls for wives. Though it is a matter of opinion, aren't we all at the end of the day looking at women as prized objects to be safeguarded? Women are always being looked upon as property being handed over from one family to the other. If she is open about her sexuality, a woman who is too much into literature or talks too much, she might not be the right fit for the family.

As an Indian girl I don't have the luxury of taking a walk down the road to the beach at 2.00 AM, unaccompanied, well.. because it'll be my 'loss' at the end of the day. If in the process of enjoying a good walk at the wee hours of the morning someone does get raped, even the girl's family and extended relatives will chide the girl. 'Why did you "allow" her to go out at that time?', they will ask. Who allowed your son to go clubbing at 1:00AM in the morning? That is never a question that's asked, sadly. 

 Forgive my digression. It's just that there are too many things that we women are being unwillingly attached to that it takes a while to understand them all. It is no secret how many goddesses we have in India. Every single one of them are celebrated upon and worshiped, yet the woman is abused and called a slut and a whore for her choices. Why? Even today menstruating women are considered impure in many households. It's a sickening picture. A sign of fertility has been tossed upon to be looked at as disgusting. Bravo! Hypocrisy knows no bounds here. 

The instances, incidents and happenings are innumerable.It's high time we learn not to judge a woman open about her choices. It's high time we didn't assume that the highest quality in a woman is her virginity. It is not. When a woman weeps when raped it is not because she's been penetrated but because she was rendered helpless at the point. Rape is an act of power and not sex. A woman is to be understood and approached on her skills, her abilities, her talents and independence and not her sexual choices. And just because someone has slept with another once doesn't mean she's welcoming all of the multitudes of men out there. This judgmental attitude is the biggest malice this nation has. 

If a woman engages in premarital sex, it's her choice. Leave choices as choices and not as foundations to build your useless hypocritical opinions and slut-shaming name-callings. Live your life and not someone else's. 
Peace out! 

Image from the internet. It doesn't belong to me. 


~Hemu 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Our Demon Darkness-es

And so when finally, 
your darkness peeped and led its head out towards opulent skies 
living in a space too bright to be comforting;
mine jumped from a rather cozy nook between unsaid truths and half-complete lies
to lend a hand and save your face disintegrating in the white 
that we later together beat. 
I'm only glad our demons are on the same side. 

~Hemu 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Oh, Date The Girl Who Reads and Writes and Thinks and Dreams

|Way too much has been said about the girl who reads and the girl who writes, travels and takes pictures. Here I am offering you a package in a woman, many I know stuck in a bubble as huge as the solar system.. maybe much bigger.|




Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for her worlds are interconnected. She flits between the real and the unreal, uses logical reasoning one moment and points her wand at your nose to turn  it into a great purple snout the next. She's the one who'll want long eventful screams on the roller coaster but also be the one who denies your bike ride when you forget your helmet back at home.

  Never mind with statistics about deaths by roller coasters and bikes or dancing on the road around her. She won't consider them most often. Chances are that you'll end up in an argument in which she'll win hands down unless of course; you are debating, for you'll be allowed to talk once in a while. (You'll maybe even learn the difference between the two)

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she creates stories in her head picking up from her stories in life all real, trying to leave hints for the ones she wishes to see herself with and weaving it in magic and lyric; written with tears and some pretty good grammar. If you can't spot that, then maybe you are not the one. Then again, you'll know she'll think of ways to tell this to you. (which you in all probability will never understand) But oh, don't worry. These are the times her thinking blurs and imagination begins.

   Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she throws your life upside down. She'll want you as sexy as Rhett Butler but also as calm as Atticus Finch, goofy as Ron Weasley and seemingly obnoxious as Fitzwilliam Darcy. 'Perhaps you could learn something from Eeyore who builds his house everytime it's knocked down,' she'll tell you occasionally. You might not know these names or these people, you probably don't even know she called you a donkey towards the end. As opposed to most advice, do not hold her close when this happens and say that you understand when you don't. She'll find it out and yell out loud stating you are a dishonest asshole.

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams because she is constantly scared and filled with ideas that could get you killed along with her. Her dreams are unclassified and chances are that you'll have to help her find the perfect spot for skydiving or hunt down at 30 stores before she finds 6 mismatched chairs and a table. You won't understand her wishlist for there is no coherence between successive bullets because she thinks one moment grounded in reality and then takes off to the sky and skydive from there, again. She'll want to buy the complete Calvin and Hobbes collection with her first salary when you'd think she'll donate it to charity and make you come with her in the pouring rain in search of a pitiful yelp at 1:00 AM in the morning when you really just want to sleep.

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she'll make you think and dream before you speak if not write and read. She'll teach you the constellations and then connect the stars in her own way. You'll get a 'that's my niece, there's a dog and that cloud looks like Babloo, my first soft-toy-teddy'. (No, all of them don't look the same and she doesn't sleep cuddling a teddy bear either) She'll show you her diaries but you'll learn to never open it without her permission though it's probably filled with your name in every page. She's dumb at times. She might gift you a pink teddy bear key chain on your birthday and 'Donate your eyes' application form to her mother on her 45th birthday, but that's because she falls outside the rule book that tells people 'What to gift people on their birthdays'. Sometimes you'll have a star named after you and sometimes all you'll ever get is a bag of apples. Remember, that's because she hasn't still completely grasped the ideas of celebrating one's birthday.

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she's filled with wanderlust and you'll be on your tiptoes all the time like the ballet dancer whose dance she takes you to see, spending all the money you have on the tickets that you have nothing left for dinner. But she'll make you good tea, the best for the ones who read know what support it. You've got to stand by though, never lie on the couch if you're hungry. You'll never get anything to eat if you dwindle around while she makes dinner. But wait, chances are that you're making it for she preferred attending sports lessons when a lot of her peers began to make the tastiest pasta ever. Good luck with that for she'll tell you that the salt is a pinch more than it should be unless you're exceptionally good.

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she will go on whiskey drinking competitions and burp louder than you will for that's another feather on her cap already preening with many like karaoke nights and book readings at quaint little bookstores. She'll know people at every street she turns into and wishes she didn't for she loves new people and bumping into ventures round the corner. You will have a ball of a time for many people trust her unpredictability to be true and honest and you'll probably even get cookies for free. (that's a jackpot, isn't it?)

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she a messy mix of what you might not like in a girl. Seeming obnoxiousness, a handful of ego, too many ideal prepositions and demanding stances, craziness hard to control and someone who'll never be subdued.She'll punch you in a fit of anger if I have understood her right. But she'll also pass on her infectious lifestyle of uncertainty and music, her varied concepts of love and your own space to do your own little crazy things, a dog, a cozy home you'll hardly be at owing to all the globe-trotting and perhaps 24 dogs to greet you at the door when come back home from work, together. Later, she'll dance in the rain with you and sing for the same.

Date the girl who reads and writes and thinks and dreams for she's the mess you want for the rest of your life. The perfect mess that will set the crooked painting on the wall straight.

SOURCE FOR IMAGES: GOOGLE- I DO NOT CLAIM OWNERSHIP OVER ANY OF THESE PICTURES.

Cheers!
Hemu


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Curious Case of Crematoriums and Women

It's a world riddled by mindless following of empty practices that has lost its meaning and setting in today's world. Starting from everyday notions like a woman being 'impure' during her period to being but an ally during all religious rites in most cases, the status of a woman is always judged by her biological clock ticking or assumptions on her psychological strength.

 The most favorite of all these has been the ban that has been imposed unsaid in the houses of most families, that women aren't allowed to go to the crematorium or perform the last rites of the dead. I have never really understood the concept but from the perspective of mental strength. A woman might probably lack the mental strength to hold back tears (which are apparently considered 'impure') thus causing a scene as the pyre is lit. But aren't there women who are far more stronger than some men are in such cases?

I come from a semi-orthodox Brahmin family as a whole. My parents however, have been broad-minded enough to let me make my own decisions in almost every matter. While the extended relatives scorn at my doings, my parents silently watch me through it irrespective of whether they approve my stance or not. In my opinion, I believe in attending the last rites of the deceased till the end. It's my way of paying the last respects, the final goodbye. Death is a concept I am trying hard to understand and accept as a part of life and something I'll continue to do so.

 My father is an interesting man.He has always made me deal with my situations on my own, instilled a sense of independence in my sister and myself. When I told him that I would definitely attend the last rites of a close relative who passed away recently, he didn't immediately agree to take me there. In the end, he did. But with a disclaimer: 'I'll take you there, no qualms about that. But anything that happens there, you'll have to face on your own.'
Several uncles I knew stopped me at the gates to the cremation grounds. There were blissfully unaware that I had attended these funerals in the past and that I knew what to expect. 
'No. Don't come beyond this point.'
'You won't be able to take it. Don't you come inside.'

Of course, some sensible men there supported me and said it's no big deal and that if I would be strong enough to take it, I may come inside. I did attend the whole rite, but with what level of ease? I had be less obvious of my mere presence among the other men so as to avoid any last minute scene. 

The only thought that constantly races through my head in all these scenarios is a big, block 'WHY'. Why should it be so difficult to pay the last respects to someone dear to me fearing social stigma? Why dodge through a scene that is likely to be caused by some hotheads at a point that is important in the final journey of the deceased? 

 A relative of mine once told me that the concept of death as understood by a man and woman are two different things altogether. The man sees the ashes and bones of the deceased post cremation and before scattering them in the sea, understands death in its complete sense; that there is no return to the physical being of the one gone.But the women on the other hand are merely exposed to the body last seen, still thinking that there lies the wishful life and the memories but not the hard hitting truth. It makes sense to leave behind people who are bound to be emotional and don't wish to witness what happens 'beyond'. But what about those who wish to come along and say goodbye? What of their wishes to pay their last respects to fulfillment?

The general notion is that the menfolk want to protect the womenfolk from it all. I ask you this : how long will you 'PROTECT' us from all this?

Maybe we don't want to be protected. It's best to call things by what they are. Masking and hiding anything definitely doesn't alleviate issues.Why not try to understand death as a household concept? How long are we going to keep the women in dark about what happens after the body leaves a home in a hearse? What if one day, they can be included in the process and we as a community grow spiritually, understand death in its form and sense? Customs that we tend to 'upkeep' now are irrelevant to current times.As far as my knowledge goes, Hinduism doesn't forbid women from entering crematorium grounds. If there are such 'rules' written down anywhere, I'd love to hear from you and its prevalence to current situations. 

This is a picture I took at Varanasi last year. For a city that is famed for cremations and liberation, no man stood with a stick by the cremation ghat asking me to move on and not witness what happens there everyday. Isn't that Hinduism in its original sense? 

Cheers!
Hemu

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unclog

Source- Google images. This picture is not mine. 
There is just so much to say
that thinking of them all makes me tired.
It never rests though, the constant sound of feet pacing about;
sometimes running and at times heavy and weary,
tapping along the edges of my thoughts
and wiping away the colours of my dreams on a doormat
in-between certain transitions.
Maybe,
if I just said it all, there would be nothing
to worry about.
No colours to end up on dirty ends
but in the sky or my love's eyes.

~Hemu

Friday, January 3, 2014

Adopt a Book

For me, books have been the greatest companions ever. To jump into another world that is not my own, to dream and conjure sets full of people in different clothes or a sky forecast with rain while the sun shines down my back- there is nothing that a good book can't do to the term 'impossible'. I love the parallel lives that any book-lover lives.

   Funnily enough, I have never had a library card outside my school where the habit began and gained momentum.I loved the idea of owning the books I read and I still do, fancy a private library. Back in the days, I used to pocket little coins and change that I used to get and buy 'Tinkle' for Rs.2 from old paper marts where people sell old papers, pamphlets etc for money. I remember the days of relish as the stack of my comic books grew,slowly leading its way to finding Enid Blyton and other authors that people threw away, in the collection. As I grew up, this habit only tantamounted. While I still do shop at the various leading bookstores for new copies of books, most of my books are from second-hand bookstores and old paper marts. A book or two are hand-me-downs from my father's old collection. I can't tell you the pleasant and satisfied sigh that escapes me every time I open my steel bureau full of books. An impending problem with adding merely two more books to the lot is the fact that there is no more space for any more new books. I can't even begin to tell you how happy it makes me feel. Almost like having a child and watching it grow up and go off to college. That would be say the least.

   In the several visits to these old paper marts, I have found many a book that I have always wanted to own. I have books decades older than me, bearing signatures and love notes inside dated from a time when books were still the most popular gifting option. I have come across random authors who I have never heard of, who have moved me to tears making me wonder how they have not been listed on the internet listings of brilliant books. I get super excited when I find a character who shares my name or a close friend's. I still remember the book in which the protagonist shared the same birthday and year as my sister's. It's a wonderland really.

 I am happy every-time I visit these places and get a book. I love it. But I also feel a tad bit bad for the book and sometimes its old owners. I once came across a collection of about hundred or so books dumped at an old paper mart near empty alcohol bottles, plastic junk and the likes that is to be found at any paper mart. That is not odd, to find old books finding its place there. The reason why it was so disheartening was because all of those books that I could lay my hands on that day came from the personal library of a man who had even managed to have them stamp printed on the front page announcing his name and address. Any person who would have collected so many books and built a personal library would never be capable of discarding them away like that. My guess is that the second or third generation of his family would have given it up after the owner and I guess they thought that the books were only good for its weight's equivalent money. (If something like that ever happened to my books after my death, I'd haunt my people.).I have a book picked up, an Ernst Hemingway from that lot for which I am grateful but I can't imagine how the same would have been of so much pleasure to someone else... maybe a circulating second's sales or a library that could always do with more books. I believe we should at the least have the concept of yard give-aways where people can pick up the books they would love to adopt and take care of. What a lovely appeal has that got, eh?

    The books at the paper marts are not immediately thrown away. They are displayed for people like me and you to come and adopt for a new shelf,welcomed by new book-mates. I might even be romanticizing this too much, but I just can't help it. The owners of such marts are ever too helpful. I have befriended a handful from my area who keep aside books if I ask them to and give me discounts on the books I purchase from them. Try it once. I can assure you that it is a fulfilling joy.

Spread the message.Let's be a book-liver as well as lover. Let's all adopt books for the joy of another world that needn't go into the shredder.


P.S: Medical experts and bored people, don't come off with what the term 'liver' means. I don't mean the body part. You exactly know what I mean.

Second hand bookshop on Charing Cross road, London-1951-Photo credits: John Chillingworth/Hulton Duetsch Collection 

~Hemu