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.



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?