Dear 2021, As you get ready to depart, I have a few last words I’d like to say to you. You came in like a teeny-tiny ray of sunshine peeping through…A letter to 2021
What is the need and meaning of certain traditions that Im expected to follow?
There is a dilemma that I’ve been working on for quite a few months now.
The constant struggle between wanting to fit in and yet be true to myself is always a push and pull, 21st century or not.
To think about it, it is more difficult today than ever before, despite the acceptance and awareness available regarding being oneself, self love and embracing oneself.
But the conditioning that I’ve had growing up, watching my mother and grandmother and every other woman that I’ve come across. Every woman whom I’ve seen embrace this phase of their lives.
Then there is this whole generation, my generation specifically, that seems to be such a contrast. It’s almost comical if you think of it, no?
Women of my generation seem to be on the divided and resting on the two corners of this conundrum, with very few falling in the middle to justify the normal probability curve.
21st century or not?
The stereotypical view of an Indian woman is that of someone whose entry is heard through the jingle of her bangles and chiming of her anklet way before she comes into view. The stereotypical view of an Indian woman is someone who draws majority attention to her round red bindi more than the rest of her. The stereotypical view of an Indian woman is someone gracefully draped in five meters of saree. The stereotypical view of an Indian woman is someone with lush curves and voluminous long hair. The stereotypical view of an Indian woman is someone that silently stands next to her partner
Things are changing though, aren’t they?
Now women don’t necessarily align with all the above standards. We wear shorter hair, pants and just a watch and we are independent that wish to define ourselves than be defined by someone or something.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in favour of one thing over the other. There are no sides. It’s not black or white, it is mostly grey- hence, the dilemma.
So what did I do? I turned towards the pool of resources available to me to find some answers. And what I found blew my mind. Completely.
All the Indian rituals that an Indian woman is expected to carry out are not just patriarchal, some have beautiful logic and science behind them. Let me share some of them with you-
Also know as the red dot, this bindi is applied between the two brows or the mid-brow region. Among the seven chakras/energy centres in our body, the sixth energy centre lied right there. This is the seat of nerve plexus as well which directly impact the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.
Also, putting this dot/ bindi makes us press this point which helps in improving concentration, relieving anxiety and stress and heal headaches and sinus by stimulating this energy centre.
This is the red powder used by married woman, lining this central hair partition- commonly applied starting from forehead unto pituitary gland (the seat of emotions and thoughts). Traditionally Sindoor is made by mixing turmeric, lime and mercury; a combination that is helpful in controlling blood pressure and activating the sexual drive.
The application of Sindoor is started on being married and curbed when one is a widow.
This piece of ornament is worn on the second toe.
It is known to press a particular vein that runs from the toe to the uterus and then to the heart- meaning it helps strengthen the uterus by improving blood flow to it ergo regularising mensural cycles.
The wearing of tight and heavy bangles helps press veins that lead to the reproductive organs and are knows to help in easy conception. So it is not so bad if I plan to start a family, right?
EAR & NOSE PIERCINGS
These piercings are becoming wildly common across the globe now, but mostly as a fashion statement. In India, a girl gets the left side of her nose pierced using a precious metal like gold or silver. This point is know to be an energy centre that connects to the uterus and helps manage the pain of childbirth.
With regard to ear piercings, as a woman it helps regulates our mensural cycles and as humans it regulates blood flow throughout the body.
This piece of jewellery is usually worn on both the feet, traditionally. Precious metals like gold and silver are used in making anklets as these are good conductors, enabling a lot of good energy/ions enter our body. Anklets are also used to relieve or reduce leg pain alone with stimulation of veins which result in better blood flow to our limbs.
Don’t ever stop dating your wife and don’t ever stop flirting with your husband.
“A successful marriage
requires falling in love many times,
always with the same person.”
As I started to close in on my mid-twentites, I knew marriage was right around the corner. It was a definitive; just a matter of when, where and to whom. Not having have found a partner myself, it was certain that my family would find me a match, fortunately the decision would be mine.
I was, however, mentally prepared for it. Like I said, it was only a matter of when, where and to whom I’d me marrying. But I knew that it was going to happen and had made peace with my early adolescent spirit that had a skewed sense of feminism wrapped in a fairytale bubble (you can only imagine how messed up and confusing that can be) .
Right up until I got married and moved into my husband’s home with his family that was now becoming mine, I didn’t realise that all my education and exposure had not managed to protected me from having preconceived notions about what it means to be a married woman and a daughter-in-law… imagine my surprise!
Through household chatter, experiences of my family members, media and popular tales I had sub-consciously gathered and consolidated data on what it means to be a married woman. I had created a mood board of sorts which was painted by putting woman and their struggles on a pedestal and normalising the negativity that came with it. I knew I was suddenly going to be an adult with responsibilities and unspoken/ declared duties and expectations. I knew for myself that being a married woman there would be a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law angle, the Bermuda triangle between the mother son and myself, etcetera.
After being married for almost two years and starting a new journey along side with the on going pandemic here are the things I’ve come to experience and realise that I wish someone had told me but no one told me about being a married woman.
1. It begins at the end of “Happily Ever After”
..”Yes, I do”…. “Yes, I do”… And they lived happily ever after!
It is after this that a marriage truly begins. I do not know what I’ll feel in retrospect after having have lived my life, but I now know that the meaning is to make the most of it, the best of it and hope you can look back and say that “.. and then we lived happily ever after”. Marriage is like playing with lego, you imagine, aspire, create and hope you’ve gotten it right.
2. It helps you discover yourself
There is so much I’ve realised that I never knew about myself. There are times that I surprise myself. It could be about things that you are protective of and things that you are accommodating about. It could be your new found level of patience and ability to persevere. It could be about how accommodating you truly can be and the strength to stand up for yourself in ways you never thought you could. And sometimes it’s about finding out that being vulnerable and feeling safe at the same time is a possibility. I’ve had moments where I broke down for no reason at all and still knew that I’m loved and there was no judgement being thrown at me.
3. Finding your new family
The thing that sticks out to me the most is that my birth family is the family that I was born into, it has loved me since before I was born, I’ve had years to build my relationships there and create my own space. And I’ll always have a home in their hearts- which goes without saying.
But coming to my marital home- at first it felt like a house with people who occupy it. It is after all these months that I’ve realised that these are relationships that I have to nourish and build for them to mean anything in my life; because otherwise they will just remain my husband’s family.
4. I have two mothers
Here I speak for myself and I know I’ve lucked out. Marriage gave me two mothers- my birth mother will always be the one who got me into this world and taught me everything I know about life thus far. But it is my Mother-In-Law who held my hand when I stepped into a new territory and helped find my comfort zone. She is the one teaching me things going forward.
She helps me understand my partner better which in turn helps me nurture our partnership better as a wife. She asks for my opinion and shares how things have been done thus far- what better, right?
“Marriage is not a noun;
it’s a verb.
It isn’t something you get.
It’s something you do.
It’s the way you love your partner every day.”
– Barbara De Angelis
5. Marriage changes you
Many of our friends and cousins have complained that we’ve changed as individuals but I don’t say this as a bad thing.
We have both made upgrades to our behaviours and patterns in order to support each other better and stay in sync. from being two singles, we’ve gone onto becoming Mr. & Mrs- that entails changes in order to survive and grow as a unit.
6. It makes everything more serious
That’s true, suddenly the intensity of everything is heightened. Conversations about future, plans for the weekend or just as argument- everything is more serious than it has ever been before. It could also be because you know this is it- this person in front of you is it and you both want to get it right and do not want to just settle for average.
7. THERE ARE NO HIGHWAYS ANYMORE
The attitude of “it is may way or the highway” doesn’t apply anymore. I’ve realised that it is rarely about being right, but mostly about finding the best option available. I’ve found myself actively avoiding quick fixes and wanting to talk it over with partner to find a long term solution to issues.
I once read it somewhere that marriage is like weight. It is not like once you’ve achieved your ideal weight you can go about living your life, similarly once you’ve sorted something in your marriage that is not it. It has to become a lifestyle, where you constantly and proactively keep working on it.
8. IT IS THE NEXT LEVEL OF TEAM WORK
Marriage doesn’t just take work, it is hard AF.
It is an amalgamation of too many factors at once with no manual and one fits all solutions. A happy marriage is a symbiotic relationship where not only do we support one another but also become the foundation to our children and an assurance to all the others intimately connected to us.
“A husband and wife
may disagree on many things
but they must absolutely agree on this:
to never, ever give up.”
From their stripes to their paws, they are worth being fascinated by and gaping at. They are elegance and power wrapped into one.
Do you know how a Tiger is raised?
On my recent trip to a Tiger Reserve and National Park, I had the opportunity to learn more about this beautiful creation of God. From their stripes to their paws, they are worth being fascinated by and gaping at. A tiger marks his territory and regularly patrols it and protects it from competitors. Each of these territories has three to four tigresses marking their own territories within. A tigress litters three to four times in her lifetime and each litter gives her anywhere from one to four cubs, usually. For the first three years of their lives these litters are under the protection of their mother who feeds them, nourishes them and educates them. She teaches them how to hunt and camouflage for safety, she teaches them to identify opportunity and strategise. If she identifies that there is a weakling amongst her litter, she terminates it for the safety of the others. It sounds rather heartless, but Darwin did say that the world functions on a ‘survival of the fittest’ model. And jeopardising the lives of the strong in order to continue supporting the weak is not something that favours life in a jungle.
Anyway, once the cubs are old and taught enough she releases them from her care and shelter. They are expected to work as individual units that moment forward. They are to explore the jungle, find a territory they’d like to call their own, challenge the one who calls the territory home at that moment and then the winner takes it all. A face off of this nature is purely based on strength; relationships being no bar. It is fairly common for a daughter to challenge her mother and a son his father, one among sisters and amidst brothers.
And hence the cycle continues…
In the wake of all this new information I realised that what a Tigress really does is that she season them for the best and the worst to come. She is accepting of the limitations of her children and doesn’t coddle her kids, instead pushes them to be better. She needs them to be better each day because she knows that her strength and glory will do nothing for their survival. While she is the legacy of someone, her litter is her legacy.
This made me think of gratification, the thin line between being pampered and spoilt, the difference between being comfortable and being unequipped. Just the mere realisation of this thought has had me viewing people, situations and stories in a very different light. I mean, I’ve begun to perceive the experiences I’ve had so far in a different light as well. It made me take a step back and analyse my stance on certain actions my parents took for me during my rebel years.. were they being strict or were they making sure that I had the qualities and skills to survive once I was out of their shelter.
What do you think?
Walking through the crossroads amidst workday lunch traffic, actively blocking all the commotion around me. I made my way home after completing a long list of chores, on foot to avoid wasting time in vehicular humdrum, thinking of what is with all the rush, what is it with all the chaos, what is everyone chasing, if everyone is out on the streets then what about their homes??
Why is it that each day the crossroad near my house see’s the same rush; on weekdays its in blue and blacks while on weekends the same rush turns vibrant in colour, but its a chaos all the same.
Bickering to myself, trying to come up with reasons and then justifying them, and then looking for a better answer as that wasn’t satisfactory enough- I was stopped mid step. From the corner of my eyes I saw something, something that was out of place. My peripheral vision had been coloured neon and my hardwired and set-pattern expecting brain couldn’t understand why. While I was lost in a new confusion, me sense were flooded by a sound. The sound of a hearty laughter- the kind that just forms in your stomach, rolls up your throat and launches itself into the world like a contagious vibration. It made the hair on my neck stand, in a good way.
On turning back, I saw a child of 5 or 6. It was this child that was responsible for the disruption of a regular weekday afternoon. This child wore a neon coloured overall with the whitest of white shoes and held a pinwheels of fluorescent colours. The person responsible for this child rode a scooter, absolutely unaffected by this roar of a laughter. If he was struggling with navigating through the traffic, his face didn’t show it.
And just like that I realised that I had raised my free hand and was waving at the kid with a smile on my face. The child wasn’t just laughing but also waving at all the strangers that were passing by and had a chance to do so face-to-face as he sat with his back against his riders back. It was when the child and his rider were out of sight and out of my audible distance, I realised that his sound had gained out al the sounds that my surroundings were creating- the honking or motor vehicles, the sound of their engines, the telephone conversations, the barking of stray dogs.
Once again, bickering to myself, I entered my house wondering what the child was so happy about, how musical was his laughter and does looking at things in retrospect really make them easier to laugh about?
Completing a year is like coming a full circle. Celebrating its end is expected and accepted.
We’re getting closer to the end of this landmark year. This year we have all been part of something larger than us and are all in it together.
As a year end trend, many people are soon going to start talking posting and tweeting about their achievements and experiences from this year. Some will talk about gainful investments, career advancements, academic brilliance and other such verticals of growth and prosperity.
Completing a year is like coming a full circle. Celebrating its end is expected and accepted.
Here’s what I want to tell each one of you out there; whether you’ve made progress or just floated, whether you have large gains to boast about or your budgets have shrunk like never before. Go ahead and do this:
Pat yourself on the back because you’ve made it through the year!
A year that was nothing sort of a global frenzy. A year which no one had predicted to begin with and thus we weren’t prepared. But you survived. each one of you is a warrior who survived, with big and small battle scars. Battle scars nonetheless.
This year has taught each one of us to nurture and cater to out health before everything else.
It has created a paradigm shift for a lot of us. From employers working on their conscience rather than business acumen, governments going over and above for its pupil, all family members pitching in at home, teachers becoming students overnight to embrace the digitalisation in order to continue educating our futures, neighbours supporting each other, societies become more aware and responsible towards consumer decisions.
Finally local, cottage and small, industries became the heroes.
A lot of large houses lost their shine as necessity and minimalistic behaviour started to seem in. Sustainability and eco-friendly became the new norm. And you played your role in making this shift happen.
To sum it up, all I want to say is that we need to appreciate all the big and small adjustments and improvements that we have made in our own lives. We need to start looking at the quality of work that has happened and all the skill development that took place in each of our lives. We reconnected with our families and truly spent time with them and ourselves. We learned to appreciate all the footwork that goes into getting things done and the people who get the footwork done for us.
Appreciate the house help, the paper boys and the milkmen. Appreciate all those who chose to adapt to change for our convenience, even at the cost of their own inconvenience. Appreciate all those who stuck it out with you even when you were of the edge and continue to hold you close. To all those health and fitness practitioners that got workout to your homes so you didn’t neglect yourself. The colleagues, subordinates and superiors who supported you and continue to do so.
And that for me is a great cause for celebration!
Congratulations on being such wonderful survivors!
BEAUTY IS NO LONGER IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER. BEAUTY IS LOOKING LIKE YOURSELF.
Hope you’re all doing well.
I recently came across something that Alok V Menon shared on his social media account. And, oh boy! I think every soul walking, breathing and living on this planet needs to read it. And read it over and over again.
BEAUTY IS NO LONGER IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER. BEAUTY IS LOOKING LIKE YOURSELF
One of the life’s paradoxes is that we are encouraged to “be ourselves” but are often punished when we do.Alok V Menon
When I first told my grandmother I was transgender se responded, “How could you do this to me?” In her eyes my journey was about hurting her, not about healing myself. She eventually passed on without ever seeing me as myself. At her funeral I had to dress as the man she wanted me ti be. I wept:for her, and for me.
Despite constant invalidation, so many transgender people transition because we know there is a quiet and fierce dignity to being able to look at yourself and say “this is who I am.”
Marginalised people learn from an early age that beauty is often about power. We see the fair, thin and gender-conforming among us called “beautiful”, while the rest of us are meant to spend or entire lives aspiring to be like them.
It’s time for a new beauty paradigm.
Beauty is about looking like yourself, even in the face of social and cultural repression. Accessing this beauty can feel impossible in a system that rewards conformity over creativity. But, in my experience, a commitment to honest self-actualisation yields unparalleled peace and conviction.
As a visibly gender non-conforming person, I often receive unsolicited advise about my appearance. One time a complete stranger came up to me on the street and said, “You’d look ore convincing if you just shaved. Let me buy you a razor.” The sight of me walking with my head high- brown, bearded, a dn in a bold red lip- was too much for them. Like so many, this person mistook their insecurity as my own.
In moments like these I think about how dangerous beauty can be.
Why do engrained beauty standards so often require some of us to become invisible in order to make other people feel more comfortable? Beauty has a way of justifying violation in the name of benevolence. It gives legitimacy to the way that we police and restrict one another’s appearance. “I’m just doing this to help.” The presumption is always, “Why wouldn’t anyone want to be beautiful?”
But whose standards of beauty are we required to adhere to?
Normative beauty is insecure. if it was universal and just, it would not need to be constantly proven. Different ways of looking wold not be seen as a treat, just another way of being.
For so long I lived my life within society’s constraints of who I was supposed to be. it didn’t work, I yearned for a way of being that was more consistent with what I felt, not what I had been told.
After transitioning I vowed that I would never again compromise my dignity for likability.
Although I am constantly harassed for it, i am able to keep going because I know who I am…
Irrespective of which box we check under the gender section,
Irrespective of which skin tone we identify with,
Irrespective of what our hight weight and talent is,
Irrespective of our nationality and age,
Irrespective of every other scale that is created to measure us against,
Irrespective of everything… we are all wired in such a twisted manner to compare ourselves to the prescribed standard of beauty. Beauty of the physique, beauty of the character and appearance, beauty of what’s right and wrong, beauty of your diet…
I mean if I am created unique then how come my beauty has to abide with the narrative dictated by a handful?
There are nights I’ve lost sleep over my dark circles. Only to be treated to a warm cup of tea and a reminder “you earned them because you weren’t afraid to burn the night oil to go after what you wanted.” Then why feel bad about them? Shouldn’t I just be proud of them just like a soldier os proud of my scars; they are proof of his fights and victory. Then the bags under my eyes are proof of my hardworking and willingness.
I’ve fretted the few extra kilos and that muffin top I always sport. But hey, how can I forget that I savour food. I’m well with the normal BMI for my body and I am a healthy functioning adult- isn’t that something to be grateful for?
There is always something. The short ones wish for height and the tall ones wish for a day of no back pain. The anorexic ones wish for good health and the healthy ones are always counting calories. The ones that lack melanin are so easily sun-burnt while the melanin rich have a complex. The ones with flowy straight hair wish for curls and the ones with waves are busy blowdrying and straightening.
Can we please stop feeling that we are not enough. Because if you aren’t then nothing and no one can make you enough.
I’ve put together a quick list of songs that I can’t do without!
In SOIRÉE I had shared a bunch of my favourite songs and told you why each one of them holds a special place.
Today I’ve decided to make yet another list.
This time its a list of songs that somehow never go wrong with me. I can sing along to them and also let of some steam while singing them out LOUD!
I’ve hardly ever skipped them when they play and have always found them to be versatile enough to get along with all my moods.
- Raabta by Pritam
- Jaane Kya Dhoondta Hai by Lucky Ali
- Naina Da Kya Kasoor by Ayushmann Khurrana
- Iktara by Amit Trivedi
- By The Way from Aisha
- MEMBA– For Aisha
- Laree by Call
- Dil Beparwah by Prateek Kuhad
- Teri Ay by Umer Farooq
- Barcelona by Ed Sheehan
- Cheerleader by OMI
- Remember The Name by Fort Minor
- 7 Years by Lukas Graham
- Someone Like You by Adele
- So What by Pink
- The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
- Circles by Post Malone
- Castle of Glass By Linking Park
- Believer by Imagine Dragon (always after Demons)
- Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
- Sugar by Maroon5
This is a bunch of songs on the top of my head. Would love to hear your list as well!
Please share your picks in comments 🙂
ALSO, did you notice?
We now have a LOGO!!!
Its later but better than never, right? 😉
Because the universe is showing us that it holds all the cards, once again
My Two Pennies:
These words aren’t mine, but the sentiment is the same.
I’ve borrowed the expression, but there is honesty in the thought.
I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again.
You’ve heard it multiple times, and we aren’t close to being done.
The times are hard, for all of us.
It will get worse before it begins to look better; that’s a fact.
The faster we absorb it, the smoother the sail shall be.
After all, it is a time of survival and not war.
It is a time of survival and not war.
Let us try to be considerate of the ones around us.
Let us show that we are really worthy of being at the top of the pyramid.
Let us revise our kindergarten lessons of morals and humanity.
Let us do so without malice and hidden agendas.
Let us not try to out smart anyone…
Because the universe is showing us that it holds all the cards, once again.
Hold on, in times of pain and strife:
Until death comes, All Is Life.
Whether by accident or by design,Ruskin Bond
We are here.
Let’s make the most of it, my friend.
Make happiness or pursuit,
Spread a little sunshine here and there.
Enjoy the flowers, the breeze,
Rivers, sea, and sky.
Mountains and tall waving trees.
Greet the children passing by,
Talk to the old folk. Be kind, my friend.
Hold on, in times of pain and strife:
Until death comes, all is life.
Apologies for all the non-relatable yet tempting optimistic content that we are having to binge over social media.
In times when the motivation to get out of bed or to create a to-do list seems beyond lost,
enjoying each moment is a myth.
Kudos to each and every soul out there that has been keeping the spirits up and have managed to create a routine and find sense in these pandemic times.
Some of us have been exploring cooking, while the others have been baking their hearts out.
Some are discovering the art of reading, some have been educating themselves with online courses.
Some of us have taken to workout challenges, some are being pro cleaners and organisers.
Some are taking to art and some have been binge watching series and movies.
Some are always available for that 3am online games, while some are catching up on all that lost sleep.
Some of us are allowing ourselves the unusual slip on routine and responsibility.
Some of us are pushing ourselves to create a routine for the future.
Some are growing a kitchen garden, some are now making their own cloth bags and masks.
Some are catching up with their families and friends.
Some are taking in the much needed break from work and society like a pill of meditation.
While all these things sound like the actions of composed minds in these times of strife and distress.
But believe me when I say,
It isn’t easy for anyone.
Families have been separated.
Relationships are going sour.
Truth is being spoken.
Corners are being cut.
Gender equality and roles are being put to test.
Stomachs are going hungry.
Birds are let thirsty.
That hot morning tea is turning cold in order to put food on the table.
That office desk is catching dust, and there is an itch to call and ask for the dues.
That need to enjoy summer evenings with friends is stronger now than ever before.
Everyone needs a break;
A break from this enforced break.
Suddenly the phrase, “Excess of anything is bad” is relatable.
But guys, hang in there.
Remember, this year is about surviving- no matter what your New Years’ resolution was.
We need to survive- physically, emotionally, financially.
So hang in there and be kind
Because “Until Death Comes, All Is Life”
To the ones asking and enquiring about my long distance lockdown, thank you so much!
You guys are absolutely beautiful.
I’m back to my marital home. Back to Mr Husband. And Very Happy!