Casual Sexism & Me

” You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”

The popular proverb-
” You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”,
holds true for me.
I’m only beginning to realise how I’ve been oblivious to my surroundings.

I’ve usually prided myself in being a sensitive person who doesn’t mind calling out people who make insensitive comments, jokes and generalisations. I’ve worked hard to not be the source of exposure, for stereotypes and discrimination, to the people around me. And just as you would know, it has earned me multiple inaccurate judgements which I continue to carry. “She’s so uptight”, “Learn to take a joke at face value”, “Don’t be so overly sensitive”, “Such a joy-kill”, “Stop over analysing every word” and on and on and on.
It continues to feel hurtful being ghosted or ignored by the people close to me for no wrong doing on my part, but that’s life I guess.

Having have said this, in the recent time I was shown the mirror. And boy, was it harsh!
Contrary to my understanding of self, there is one person I realise I’ve failed. I’ve failed because I’ve run along with age old discrimination when it comes to this set of people in my life.
As a daughter I’ve been ignorant and supported sexism in my home, in ways I only now understand through my own experiences.

Casual Sexism is women eating after men at home
Women getting interrupted while speaking, told to lower their voice and watch their tone.
Not making space for us on the couch or at a table.
Us gravitating towards housework at all times.
It’s the little things too.

There is one thing to have gender roles and another to have relationship roles. I’m not sure if it is the right term, but by relationship roles I mean the roles imposed on a person based on the relationship status in the complex equation. To make it simpler, as a daughter I have different roles as compared to as a daughter-in-law. It is like a sub-categorisation of gender roles- a deeper pit.

It was through an instagram reel, where two successful celebrities were being interviewed and they shared how as a woman their family doesn’t mind interrupting and/or disturbing them in the workspace while their male counterparts were available at the same time.*
For a moment I was disappointed by their families and almost a second later I was ashamed. I was ashamed of perpetrating the same- and no I’m not being harsh on myself.

Every so often, I’ve assumed that my mother was always available for what I want without checking with what’s on her mind, while I’ve always enquired with my father if he wished to help me on his day off. Only today, when my mood, willingness or need isn’t acknowledged before assumptions are lathered upon, do I feel frustrated. It’s more like tasting the same medicine, and I understand it is taxing physically mentally and emotionally.

This isn’t me venting. This is me working on my block one aspect at a time, as I promised myself.
This isn’t me venting. This is me sharing what I feel and what I’ve understood, so we can help one another and realise that we are not alone.
This isn’t me venting. This is me putting myself out there and hoping that it helps someone learn from my mistakes and not having to learn it the hard way.

Casual sexism is real. It is so real that we do not even realise that we are the victims and perpetrators of it, all the same.

I’m currently being more aware of my assumptions and generalisations with others and trying to be more patient with the ones making the same mistake that I’ve made all these years. Everyone has a different learning curve and the best I can do is start a conversation to kick start the process. Because like I said at the beginning
” You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”

Essential Summer Saviours

The soaring temperature has had me flipping day and night to a point my husband wishes I had an assistant with whom he could check on my mood before approaching me, true story!

Hello there!
I’ve taken my sweet time to get back to this space and I’m glad to be back tapping at my keyboard and letting my thoughts flow. I hope you’ve looked forward to reading me just as much, if not more, as I have waited to write to you.

The world has been heating up over the years and India seems to be lapping up heat wave upon heat wave. The soaring temperature has had me flipping day and night to a point my husband wishes I had an assistant with whom he could check on my mood before approaching me, true story!

On the not-so-contrary, I wish I could walk around with a personal air conditioner in my pocket which ducted across y body and over my scalp so I could get away from the feeling of being bathed in sweat all the time. Or maybe, only if, the heat took away some fat from me instead of just sucking the energy and water out of me. I mean, right, why not?!

So…. So to get away from this ever prevailing and presiding attitude of annoyance I tried and tested things to create an Essential Summer Survivors list!

DISCLAIMER 
(using teleprompter voice while reading this)
All items, tricks and things are a creation to serve my needs (need for survival). Anything that helps you too is a welcome mention in the comments and anything that stands against your systems is also welcome in the comments. But remember to keep it a mutually supportive system because remember its summer and its already hard for most of us.

Here’s comes my Essential Summer Survivor kit includes

  • HYDRATE
    As often as we hear it and no matter how well we know it, hydrating is the most important ingredient for surviving summers and the heat. Making sure that I consume a good 3 litres of water is usually a task as using an app for it every time isn’t exactly my thing. So I just got myself a nice glass bottle and keep it on myself all the time. Even when I move from one room to another its always at hand.*
  • CURD & YOGURT
    This is a key element to me summer saviours list. Due to my stomachs sensitivity to curd, I usually prefer it in diluted form. At the end of my breakfast and lunch I consume a glass of freshly made butter milk, salted or sweet depending on what I prefer at the time. It also helps settle down the spices consumer hence saving me the acid reflux on days when I consume something very spicy and is great for digestions as well.
    Note: It’s a great practice to follow year round.
  • WHEN LIFE THROWS LEMONS
    It’s true, but I collect them all for the summers. An essential summer survival item is lemonade or lemon soda/ virgin mojito is I’m feeling fancy.
    But a glass of freshly made lemonade is as close to heaven as I’ve gotten in the summers.
  • FRUITS & SALADS
    Since all fruits and most vegetable are packed with water along with other essentials, I find it a great way to snack and hydrate at the same time. As a snack between meals or just for a light meal, I find a bowl of a whole fruit or vegetable salad with a basic vinaigrette dressing really handy. Also, I’m more of a whole fruit person more than a juice person since I find the fibre and chewing really satisfying.
  • ALL THINGS COLD
    As tempting as it is to consume something loaded with ice or super chilled, I am not used to it and quickly end up with a soar throat to runny nose. So I try to have things that are at room temperature or slightly cooler instead of heat to hot food and beverages. Like instead of a hot Americano I prefer it with cold water or just water that stayed in an earthen pot or matka instead of directly from the
  • EYE HYDRANTS
    I experience burning eyes or dry eyes quite frequently doing the summers when compared to the rest of the year. So I prefer keeping eye hydrating drops handy (nothing specific, just off the counter stuff).
  • BATH WATER TRICK
    As the temperature rises I prefer a drop in my bathing water. It could be absolutely psychological, I don’t know, but I feel that If I take a cold water bath my body temperature for some time is lowered helping my feel better. On the contrary, I feel that a hot water bath will just up the body temperature even more and refuse me any respite from feeling warm and sweaty.
    Especially a cold bath before bed is a blessing like no other.
    *Try adding a slice of lemon to your water bucket, it leaves you feeling fresh and lemony (do not use the lemon water on your hair)
  • ICING ON THE FACE
    Picked up from one of the late 90s or early 00s advertisement of a summer drink, I began to ice my face at home and fell in love with it almost instantly. I just pop a couple cubes in a bowl and send in front of the mirror for a dew minutes; just gently applying the ice all over my face and neck.
  • COLOURS & FABRICS
    A large part of being comfortable during the day also includes what we choose to wear. I stick to comfort fitted clothes in lighter and neutral tones. Just breezy outfits that help me breath better, linens and cottons are my go to choices.
  • SUNBLOCK
    There is not a single day in the year that I start my day without applying a nice neat layer of sunblock on my face neck and arms. A routine as simple as this can take you a long way. Immaterial of gender and age, it should be a must on every one’s routine. But of course, I do not apply it in the early morning hours when the sun is not so harsh as some exposure to the sun is also essential.

This pretty much sums up everything I try to do as an Essential Summer Saviour for myself and the ones around me. What do you think?
Do you also have little things that you swear by during this weather, if yes, then do share! 

*Glass Water Containers that I personally love currently:

A Pillion Ride

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?

KARMA

Ever feel like you’ve read something that you need to share?

There is no significant relation to your life at that very moment but it seems like it’s a thought for food for life in general.

When a bird is alive, it eats ants…
When the bird is dead, the ants eat it!

Time & Circumstances can change at any time…
Don’t devalue or hurt anybody.

You maybe powerful today… But remember,
Time is more powerful than you!!

One tree makes a million matchsticks,
But when the time comes,
Only one matchstick is needed to burn a million trees.

So Be Good. Do Good.

Law of Karma

LOVE

Love is patient, Love is kind…
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

STORY 1
Boy met Girl. Girl was terrified of him. She was amused by him and he needed her help. He had puppy eyes and she had a caring heart. Locked in a situation with no probable alternatives. Girl begins to look after Boy with a determination of completing checklists. Before she knew it, he became her home. He knew how to lighten her up and she knew how to make him drool. They went through years of happy-sad, excitement-monotony, calm-distant like a wave in the ocean… effortless. One morning, while she was on a train away from home and he was being his happy self… He was gone, just like that.

STORY 2
She is curves. He is her pool of comfort.
He is always there. She always walks right into his arms.
She has a temper. He has solid shoulders.
He never judges. She is a ball of complexes.
And each night, they meet like the first time.
And each morning they part with a promise of a repeat.

STORY 3
Even at a distance his cologne tantalised her senses. Since her mid teens she spent hours being lost in his world. Smiling at the joys, crying with him through his hardships, laughing at moments of surprise and fun, calmly holding on when she didn’t know anything better, learning something new each time and experiencing more than a lifetime with him… ever since the first time she walked down the corridor, her hand holding him tight, she knew. She knew that this bond was forever. And so it was… just that simple!


A few days back I was asked if I have any love stories that I could share, for an assignment. While I had nothing that could help the person in question, I did realise that there are a few romances that I’ve been nurturing since a while now.
Here are my atypical love stories, in which I have invested just as much as I do in my human relationships. That’s right, in all the above stories the girl/woman is me. The male counterpart changes in each one of them.
The first is about Bruno- who walked into my life on his little fours and years later left us with no time to prepare.
The second one is about me and my mattress.
And the last one is for the love of books (think physical books and not soft copies).

Now quickly go and revisit the stories above if you thought love was all about two people. Love is actually an emotion and it is on us to feel and associate it with people places and things, which have an impact on us, which require us to put in an extra effort and sustain that commitment.

THEY, THE TEACHERS!

They are the world!

When the entire world celebrates teachers, I’ve decide to acknowledge and thank my constant teachers.
They don’t bare the title, they play the role. They are unrecognised, they are essential. There are no specific subjects and specialisations but they have all contributed in one way or another.

They taught me that age does not always decide the role.
They taught me that respect cannot be demanded- one has to earn it (age and relationship no bar).
They showed me that just because someone thinks differently than you, doesn’t always mean that either one of you is wrong.
They have respected my space when I wanted to stay alone without confusing me for a lonely person and forced their company upon me when they sensed my loneliness… the difference between being alone and being lonely makes a world of a difference.
They showed me that self worth must not come from grades, qualifications, pay cheques, material possessions, but from within.
They made me realise that forgiving is not easy but it isn’t impossible either.
They have shown me that learning has no age.
They taught me that sometimes proving to be the smartest in the room is the dumbest thing to do as you could be hurting someone with your ignorance of them.
They showed me that being sensitive is a strength and not a weakness, only if you believe it.
They taught me that being caring and understanding of others is a talent in itself and takes practice to become instinctive.
They taught me that it requires strength to say Yes or No, it requires smarts to choose between them and it takes courage to live up to the decision.
They made me realise that nature and our surroundings are our best teachers, only if we’re paying attention and filtering the noise actively.
They taught me that in a fix between two people of different age groups, there are no hard and fast rules regarding who initiates a solution. It is always the one with intent that goes first.
They showed me that the world doesn’t revolve around me and it is better that way.
They taught me that no problem is unique to only me, someone somewhere has been and is going through it with me.
They taught me that the physical distance has no capacity to put distance between two hearts. They will continue to stay connected irrespective of the time zones, with effort and trust.
They taught me that diversity is just that- diverse. Not everything is good or bad, worth or worthless.
They showed me that most priceless things are qualitative and cannot be en-cashed.
They taught me that food feeds your stomach, money feeds your ego and Travel feeds your soul- and we need ALL of them. 

On a daily basis I don’t show gratitude to their contribution as I’m busy in my quest to conquer everything else. 
They are the wheels to my chariot, often un-noticed but the essence of my functioning. They usually come in as small blessings when I am least expecting them and leave with no charade, with no claim for applause.

Who are they, you wonder?

Even I don’t know for sure. 
They are my family members. They are my friends. They are strangers on a street. They are my colleagues. They are the house help. They are bystanders.
They are the world!

Being

Raavan laugh softly. ‘Because it’s very easy to counsel people that they should be calm and centred. But no one tells you how to do it!’

‘I’m sure you’ve been told that the only way for the mind to find peace is by learning to be calm and centred.’
‘Yes,’ said Raavan, rolling his eyes.
‘Why did you roll your eyes?’
‘I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.’
Vedavati laughed. ‘I didn’t say it was wrong. I just asked why you did it.’
Raavan laughed softly. ‘Because it’s very easy to counsel people that they should be calm and centred. But no one tells you how to do it!’
‘Exactly. That is the problem. People keep thinking that they have to do something to achieve that state. Be successful in their profession, perhaps, or go on a holiday, or make the right friends, or find a different spouse… But even after they make the change, they find they are not calm. So then they think they have to do something more. Something different. It’s a never-ending cycle. Basically, calmness and centred ness are always elusive because people assume they have to do something, gain good karma, to get there.’
‘So, the problem is with our focus on karma?’
‘Yes. It’s very difficult to be calm and centred if your entire focus is on that. For karma is action in the hope of something in return. Like, if you give charity to someone, you expect at least respect in return. It’s a transaction. And if the result of your actions is not what you expected, you feel let down and become unhappy. Even worse, if the karma you get in return for your actions IS, in fact, what you expected, you discover that the happiness you derive fro it is fleeting. If dissatisfaction is guaranteed, how can you find peace of mind?’
‘How?’
‘Simple by Being what you are meant to Be. By staying true to your Swatatva.’
Raavan leaned back. The beauty of the logic filled his mind.
Vedavati continued, ‘I’m not saying we shouldn’t focus on karma. Without our karma, we may as well be dead. But karma should not be the centre of our lives. If we truly discover our Being, our Swatatva, and live in consonance with what we are meant to be, then everything becomes easy. We don’t have to try hard to carry out our karma. Because we will not do anything in the vain hope of something else. We will do it simply because it is in consonance with our Being. With what we were born to Be.

Book: RAAVAN- Enemy of Aryavarta by Amish

GLOSSARY:
Swatatva: one’s true self, Being
Karma: the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences (Hinduism and Buddhism)
Consonance: agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions

ECCENTRICITY

Edith Sitwell

Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness.
It is often a kind of innocent pride.
And the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and the vagaries of the crowd.

Edith Sitwell

How better could one explain this term?
Very often and very loosely have I heard very many people use this as an adjective for two opposites; for the smarts and also for the looneys. How then should I agree with them when I fail to understand their hypocrisy?
Or should I just believe that they use the term for people and behaviours that are beyond them (good and bad), and give due respect to those who dare to emerge on the either extremes of the bell curve of accepted normalcy?

Paper Boats

“Could you read this poem out to me?”

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream.
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of the village where I live.
I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know who I am.
I load my little boats with shiuli flowers from our garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land in the night.
I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting their white bulging sails.
I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the air to race with my boats!
When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.
The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their baskets full of dreams.

– Rabindranath Tagore

During a sweltering summer afternoon, my younger sister- who sometimes is an adult but mostly a teenager, walks upto me with a book of poetry held loosely in her hand. She sinks next to me on the bed while I continued watched the fan over head churn and spit warm air around.
With her head rested on my raising and falling stomach and cotton stripped pyjama clad legs hanging lazily off the bed, she asked out of tired curiosity “Could you read this poem out to me?”. While a bit agitated, I agreed as there was nothing better at hand for me to occupy myself with.
There were no conversations that followed. Just the two of us, lost in our own lands of thought, counting the boats we have sailed to no specific destinations and longed for a response from the universe.
With a decade between the two of us, after a year of this summer afternoon, it still amuses me how age truly is just a number and how I (even now) continue to dwell in my own child-like fantasies hidden under the drapes of adulting.

Note:
1. Shiuli: also known as night-flowering jasmine and coral jasmine
2. Child-like: when an adult continues to have (nice) qualities of a child such as innocence and trustfulness