Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A Guide to my Defense Mechanism?


Since it’s a bright Sunday morning and I am… well… holed up in bed, I thought I’d talk about my most effective defense mechanism; it’s called *drumroll* IDGAFing your way through life.
IDGAF stands for I Don’t Give A Fuck.
Excuse my language but there is no other way to put it!
So let’s talk about the few basic questions related to the IDGAF method (I love how scientific this sounds)
Well the credit goes to me my friend from high school who mentioned this in a depressing conversation about our grades (of course!) and I would elaborate on that but that’s not the point. A few of the terms I use to help you understand it are derived from this TED talk I heard long ago by a retired newspaper editor (I would give you her name if I knew it but I’m too lazy to find out).
Now that we’re done with the acknowledgements, let’s move on to the practical stuff (such laboratory feels).
Make a mind map of the stuff you do everyday. Now imagine the time, money and energy you spend on any task as the ‘fucks’ you give about that task.
Your big idea
Lots right? Tasks, events, obligations, relationships blah blah blah.
But… what if you had a limited number of fucks to give? What if you had a ‘fuck budget’! You wouldn’t want to waste your fucks on something you don’t care about, right? For instance, if you don’t give a fuck about Game of Thrones, then you don’t care who’s dying next, you don’t want to waste time watching the next episode and you won’t be spending your pocket money buying another ‘Winter is Coming’ T-shirt! So in short, Game of Thrones isn’t getting any of your fucks!
So by consulting your fuck budget, you get to narrow down on the stuff that actually makes you happy; the stuff you don’t mind giving your fucks to.  And you reach this goal by a two-step process:
  1. You decide on the stuff that you don’t actually give a fuck about but are pretending to give a fuck about because #society or #whatever
  2. Don’t give a fuck about those things!
I know it sounds like the highway to hell but you add in some honesty and a lot of politeness and hey presto! Let’s assume that it’s Friday night and a Marvel movie that you’ve been waiting for is released. You’re dying to go for it before the spoilers are out but you have to attend this neighbour’s birthday party. A kid who you literally are just a neighbour to.
so many memes, what a wow
So now… you consult your fuck budget!
There’s only so much time and money you have. So you have to choose between watching that awesome movie and well…buying a birthday gift for a kid you don’t even like. It’s not even a choice really so just go buy your popcorn already!
Just a polite shake of your head and a “Nope, sorry, I can’t.” can get you out of awkward situations, too much work, suffocating relationships and what not. And the only reason you actually hold back from pulling yourselves out of these situations is that bloated alter ego of yours that thinks that the world will end if you say no! But that kid is going to cut that football themed cake irrespective of whether you go or you don’t. Get over it and move on!
My therapist would say that this eventually leads to emotional blunting but it works for now so REJOICE! 

Just like me

She walks in pretending to be cool but that face droops when she sees her only acquaintance occupied. But then she switches on her defense mechanism of “Oh, I don’t give a fuck” ad marches towards the backbenchers all bubbly and cheery and begins talking to the first boy who smiles at her although she knows he looked down her shirt when she bent to keep her bag.
“Oooo dating already”, a passerby commented but she doesn’t bother replying because sitting with *someone* is better than being with no one; at least then you can snicker about the ones sitting all alone.
She smiles bravely as she walks out of class for recess. Alone. As she squirms out of the cafeteria with a dish she didn’t really want, she slips and her mask falls and I see a tired girl who is desperate to fit in but doesn’t know how o. I see a girl who puts on eyeliner to hide the bags under her eyes. I see a girl who is sick of laughing at jokes she doesn’t understand. I see a girl who is trying way too hard. I see a girl who looks exactly like me.
So I turn and walk away.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Dear Sir

Dear Sir,

I will forget today just like I forgot yesterday and the day before. I will forget the date and the place but I won't forget the way you placed your hands on my sides and pulled me to your side almost binding me to you.

But I didn't pull away.

Instead, I smiled. I smiled and said I think it's late and I should go back but if you'd bothered to look a little more closely, you'd see that it was a broken smile. 

It was the smile that I had gently donned as a silent tribute to the girl who was gang-raped in Delhi and the boy who was born a refugee. It was a smile that appeared when words cowered to express the shame and the guilt I felt because we had failed them. 

And it was the smile that I plastered on my face as I was molested by one of my idols. 

But I'm not going to say that you scarred me or that I will never be able to lead a normal life because you've probably heard that a million times before. But I'll tell you one thing.

I had always believed that there are some things a person can never get used to. And molestation was on my list. But after being sexually assaulted by a cousin, having a 40 year old uncle dig his penis into my ass during a car ride and having been inappropriately touched and cat-called at in movie theatres and buses more number of times than you can count on your fingers; sexual assault doesn't surprise me anymore. When you were busy biting my neck, the only thing I could think of was: 'Where should I look so I can't see the reflection of my face'. 

When I left, I had this feeling that I had left something behind, but I couldn't put a finger on exactly what that was. That night as I was trying to wash away all the perpetual dirt that seemed to surround me, I realised what I'd left behind. My power to feel.

Dear Sir,

While people are busy trying to find themselves, you (along with many others) helped me lose a part of myself.

Thank you so much

Monday, 31 October 2016

Travel Ink! Update #9

31-10-2016 08:41 AM: 

It's Diwali.
It's Diwali and you're celebrating and bursting crackers and eating faral and meeting relatives and you're celebrating Diwali.
It's Diwali and I also went to the Tibet Museum today.

Now stop for a second and take a deep breath. Get rid of your thoughts for a moment.
Right now, you're an Indian. You're an Indian with a choice. You can choose to accept your culture, partially or wholly, you can choose your religion, you can choose to celebrate and pray, you can choose to speak or criticize, you can choose your identity.
And no one can touch you for it.
Now imagine being invaded by foreigners. By strangers to you, your country, your culture, your existence.
Imagine being shut in a box of their choosing. Where you are now them and you are now theirs. Where everything is changing and you can't do a thing. Because the foreigners have you in their clutches, and your resistance, however large, is just. not. enough.
Imagine your temples, your mosques, your churches, your places of worship being torn down. Imagine watching the ridicule of the Bhagwad Geeta and the Kuran and the Bible and your holy scriptures. Imagine watching them burnt, torn, soiled.
Imagine being helpless against it.

Every day thousands of Tibetans traverse across the Himalayas, leaving their country, leaving their home because it's no longer theirs. They are strong willed and determined. They are what their teachings preach. They are the Tibetan people. They are the Tibetan culture.

We live in a safe bubble where rebellions and imprisonment and torture are just stories. Even the Kashmir issues are beyond our comprehension. Because they're just issues to us. From newspaper clippings and loud reporters.
But then, just a country away live the Tibetans. Robbed of their identity, robbed of their beliefs, robbed of their existence.
Did you know the Chinese deny the existence of Tibetan history? Did you know that the Tibetans don't have the right to speech? Did you know any suspected anti Chinese man or woman are publicly humiliated? Dressed in dunce caps and humiliating clothes? Did you know that they're tortured while imprisoned, taken on for questioning and killed?
Festivals are banned because they "waste resources", education preaches communism, children learn Chinese thoughts and culture, monks are forced to change their entire belief system and are otherwise executed publicly.
It's inhuman.
That's what it is.
Inhuman and completely, utterly backward.

Here I stay, living among hundreds of Tibetans who have come to India 5, 8, 10, 12 years ago. And I never even imagined how they came here. Exactly why they came here.
Because they were just stories.
Until today. Today, after seeing the pictures and the narrations and the videos and the stories.
Today I saw just how messed up everything is and just how powerless the whole world apparently, can be.
They aren't stories. They are people. Kind, true, beautiful people.
And yet, here they are. In India. A country away.

Travel Ink! Update #8

30-10-2016 08:13 AM:

Tashi delek, folks! Same old routine in the morning: make Maggi, take a hike to the nursery and chill with the snotty, smelly, occasionally bratty babies. Fun!
No really. The kids are adorable. But I'm still happy for the break tomorrow.
Rest of the day was pretty slow and sleepy. Momos for lunch and then three hours in the room with an e-book and political science textbook. Boring.
But then I decided to not so nicely ditch Dhriti and go for a nice, long walk across town. So I went to the main square, realised I was going the wrong way, turned back around for the museum, realised it was closed when I reached there, decided to go to the monastery, then decided against it when I saw the hoards of old Indian tourists with no sense of talking in public etiquette. Slightly embarrassed, I walked away.
But then I got an amazing discount for helping a shop owner make a Facebook account. Plus points!
Now for the slightly more happening part.
Wait for it
We cooked rice and tomato bharta.
So it was slightly embarrassing because the lady whose house we're living in felt the need to make us chapatis and sabzi because she didn't trust our cooking.
Oh well. At least she makes a mean vangyachi bhaaji. (Ho, me sampavli, aai. Sheek jara. Okay sorry. Please let me come home.)
Now we're about to sleep, ready for a short hike to Dharamkot tomorrow and maybe an hour of meditation. Oh, and also shopping for the secondary folks who I forgot about the first time we went shopping. I could tell you who if you asked. Puchho na.
Interesting stuff today? I bought a phenomenal poetry book called 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran. Ready to lend it to anybody once I get back because it's truly worth the read.
Also, I found a Himachal thali restaurant while roaming today. I'm probably going to force Dhriti there.
Oh and also, Dhriti made the tomato bharta herself! (Under my guidance, of course *takes a bow*) because I cut my finger. I swear my dad let me take that knife just to get back at me for being a terrible person.
Anyways. Good night!

09:17 AM:

This is an out of the blue, I don't know why I'm doing this but it's still am kind of update. But since it's Diwali (lame excuse), and I'm tired of seeing copy pasted messages of "Happy Diwali", so cheers to Travel Ink updates.

First off, I am super disappointed that Diwali is no different here. Tons of firecrackers and heartstopping thudd. And there is enough being said about it so i needn't add more to the pile of insignificant complaints that everybody talks about but still I see animals going deaf and crackers being tied to dogs tails.
But at least I'm not obliged to smile at random strangers who will religiously ask me "How old are you?", "Oh you've grown so thin. Your mom doesn't feed you?" and then dump some useless kitchen item like a thermos or a cup (oh praise the lord for cups. Cups that are given on birthdays and on Diwali. Cups that have been exchanged by so many hands that nobody even bothers unwrapping them anymore. Just rattle the gift box and Oh! Cup hai. Rhea ka birthday aa raha hai. Return gift dene me kaam ayega"
That's all about Diwali. And on a different subject, today when we ate Tibetan bread (not as special as it sounds) with jam i remembered my mom's methi ka parantha with jam back from school. It was just a wisp of random reminiscence and wasn't accompanied with a pang of self pity or home sickness as it usually is in movies and in the literature world. And that was when i realized that memories don't necessarily have to be happy or sad. They can just be there like the untouched books on our bookshelf that we bought so enthusiastically because they were cheap but never got around to reading. And then you just catch glimpses of them as you walk past them too much in a hurry to leaf through the book and feel but it's still there.
That's it. This was just an interesting revelation and hence it's here. Continue with the faral hogging.

Travel Ink! Update #7

29-10-2016 09:30 PM: 

Hello once again. Sorry I skipped yesterday's update. There wasn't anything much to say plus i was feeling low so it would've been an unhappy update but hey! I'm back with tomato ka bharta and off-white rice to make up for the sins of my past (creepy.. Sorry about that)

We finally started cooking on our own. Maggi for breakfast, it was a bit rubbery but somehow everything we cook in this induction cooker tastes a wee bit weird. I forgot what we had for lunch but for dinner (which is the most interesting part of the day), we tried to cook a tomato bharta. The original plan was that Devshri will cook while I (the patriarchal husband) will sit and finish up my essay but due to an unexpected turn of events which might have involved Devshri cutting her thumb (not like Eklavya though), I ended up coughing in front of this pile of tomatoes and weird spices. To be very honest, (Devshri don't kill me), I was skeptical about this random mixture of this grocery paraphernalia Devshit was ordering me to put in, till the very end. I mean how can a pinch of turmeric, black pepper, salt and a tad bit of frying turn ugly, squishy tomatoes into an edible companion with off-white, super cheap rice? But guess what! I was wrong, like I always am! *Dramatic bow*

And I won't forget to mention the super sweet housekeeper who has trangressed each of my stereotypical beliefs about evil landlords. She's made me turmeric chai for my ghasa, and rotis and sabzi because she is sure that if she doesn't we will die of food poisoning. (*Whispers* when we made her taste our masterchef worthy bharta, she thought it was a chatni. I was more than hurt but anyway)
Apart from the nonsensical ramblings, I feel this trip is turning into so much more than I bargained for. I thought this would just be a mere échappée from the rat race with lesser fire crackers but turns out this is giving shape and size to my otherwise colourless, shapeless plateau of life. So enough for today and for you Whatsapp addicts, I'm going to introduce you'll to a new Tibetan phrase each day so there is atleast something for you'll to take away and also as a thank you for reading these super long things. So for today it's "De show" which means 'Come Here' because I wish you'll would come here to meet the people and to huff and puff while climbing up the temple stairs. Okay shush now. Bye bye!

Travel Ink! Update #6

28-10-2016 07:02 AM: 

Update! First day at the nursery. Can we all take a moment to talk about how adorable children are?
So we took care of 30 babies, aged from 9 months to 3 years, with 3 permanent teachers who talked about us not so discreetly. The kids talked in Tibetan and we were reduced to saying Tashi Delek and Ma Chi and Ma De and De Show. Basically the kids probably thought we were stupid.
But whatever. The most heart melting moment was when a baby boy came up to me and hugged me tight for no reason whatsoever.
So we endured 4 hours of kids. By the end of it, my hands were spotted with pee, boogers, saliva, dried baby food and other questionable liquids from various orifices of their tiny bodies.
Baaki ka din was pretty normal. We roamed around all over again, talked to people, asked about their stalls, where they were from, about their stalls, their lives vagera vagera. A cafe guy gave us free chips because we were so nice to him.
Then we bought groceries. First time I actually envisioned my mother and Nirmala mavshi cooking to remember what all they used for making the fodni. I feel accomplished.
Now hopefully we can follow the 100 rupees per day scheme starting day after tomorrow!
Good night y'all and have an okay Diwali. Whenever Diwali is. I really don't know anymore.

08:19 PM: 

Nursery was the same old. Not saying much, seeing as we've been there exactly 2 days. Something different? They played Enrique's Hero and some old Hindi songs. The kids promptly tried to climb onto me. *sigh* You gotta do what you gotta do.
Skip to the hotel room.
Both of us slept because putting the kids to sleep is a tiring affair. But I woke up in half an hour and with Dhriti's permission (I swear I asked), I went on a small walk, earphones and awesome travel playlist in hand. Took some amazing photos. (The photos aren't amazing, but the view was!)
After the walk, we left for the conversational class, but not before making a quick stop at Poetry Cafe. The young, energetic, extremely friendly helper there was a great conversationalist. Apparently the place is called poetry cafe because the owner is a wannabe Tibetan poet. (Aren't we all...)
At the class, we made a few...friends? An American who asked us out for drinks (he wanted to make friends. I promise we told him we're underage and don't drink), another American who looks like Ryan Booth from Quantico, a German-American who comes to India every year and has been all over and a Tibetan man who works in Delhi for a medical social work organization. Great people! So were my students for the day! From Arunachal Pradesh, Varanasi and Tibet. Don't ask me their names, they're way too complicated.
I took another walk through Bhagsu road, Market Road and Temple Road while Dhriti finished some of her college application essays. Asked prices, made friends with a certain Doma (religious with the heavy belief that girls protect girls), asked around some bakeries about Tibetan holiday sweets and looked at potential shirts for my brother and I. (I found a good wall hanging for my grandparents. Shhhh!)
We just came back from a Japanese restaurant with a very sweet owner, loud foreigners singing and laughing and shouting, a French couple and another dude who had a lot to eat. 

Vegetarian Sushi is disgusting. Remember. And so is Japanese Green Tea.
Now we're back in the hotel, exhausted and sort of ready for a new day! Some cool experiences? We met an Indian couple, young like us, from Mumbai. The drinks guy asked us the difference between Mumbai and Bombay (terrifying to explain) and I met some babies from the nursery on the streets while walking around (They stopped babbling and stared at me blankly. I will never forget that look)
So good night and have a great Diwali i guess?