The Body Syndrome

I’m all for celebrating female/ male form.. & for women’s sexuality as expression..but so much of what i’m seeing on SM now is just ‘prostituting’ of one’s own body.. ( though the real ones do terrible real work- sans the cameras & photoshopped angles)

Where is the mind? Are we already there in a future where a few seconds of titillation matter more than any real achievement?

Young Women celebs on Social Media in particular seem to have embraced the body as both Means & End . Nudity as normal. I don’t want to take names here..but check out Snapchat or Instagram for example- see the feeds of some the names you heard vaguely/and you will get the picture! In fact there is a whole new genre! Of ‘popular SM star.. based almost entirely I deduce -on ‘bodyshow’ !!!

The markers have not changed at all- except for the increasing ‘explicitness’ of ‘content’!! Wow! You have come a long way baby! To quote a famous ad from the US of A! https://www.voanews.com/amp/3380920.html

Is nothing left for the private realm?

Is this the ultimate ‘consumerist’ society where the Product & the Consumer are practically One? Finally in a non competitive relationship? Rather a mutually self sustaining one?

The Economics is the only possible answer. In a world where how well we can ‘monetize’ our being, our life, its the deal maker or breaker.

Maybe i should celebrate that where earlier women were forced to barter with their bodies in the private domain.. for influence and assets.. Now they have the freedom & power ( with suitable ‘!managers’) to do so – as coquettishly- as before- to a million fold audience! They can pose as provocatively as they might have anyway- but now it means 10 million ‘likes’ and dollar returns!

I am so uncertain

In these uncertain times..

Is this empowerment?

Or dis? I can only question

Or chronicle what I see.

Sometimes it seems

The more we move ..

the more the milesones stay fixed,

The more i wait

The less it changes

But for the worse.

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Petrichor

So excited… and so surprised! 

My fourth book! What?? 

Thats the funny thing called Life! 

All the things you signed up for and they  dont happen, and so many crazy  uninagined ones do!

So my last one – Waqt ke Ujaale May- or loosely translated- In the light of time– which was in Hindi-Urdu mix got this Sahitya Akademi ( Literature Academy )Award.. just this year.. and even that i am still figuring out..How??? 

This book is Petrichor- A Collection of English Poems .  Yes ..thats the book above.

Petrichor? Perpetually being asked the meaning ..

Sharing the invite.. for the Book Launch The book has 51 poems.. (Yes the book cover photo is by me! ūüėäūüėä) please try n make it for the Book Launch by the Hon Governor Haryana .. some captive audience is required! ūüėä

The themes are love.. life.. its living.. hope…gender.. feminism..futures.

Its dedicated to my daughters. My wisest most annoying gurus. 

Sharing the dedication only..I do feel i need a ton of good wishes..( wishes that extend into buying the book at a pittance!)

My last English one – A Life of Light -is on Kindle ( heavily discounted i am sure!!) will try and get this one there soon!

Another  collection of poems? Would not be here but for my angst.. and some love! 

ūüėćūüĎćūüŹľ

#Poetry # Love # Motherhood

Womanhood

This time.. i am impelled to share a poem i wrote recently.. incidents of gender & sexual violence in #India are so unsettling, so deeply disturbing as a woman , as a citizen who would like to see equality, respect and freedom of movement & choice for all.. 

But its not just India. I do think that women’s safety is an issue in many many places around the world.  And so I believe this poem may have a global resonance.  Also here i seek to touch more than just sexual violence- more the societal discrimination that women everywhere face everyday. 

No more commentaries!  Here it is.

Womanhood

I am safe.

So I sit by a moonlit window

And exult in the night ,

Its magic coat

Of starlight and shadow,

It is an oasis of beauty 

In my frenetic day,

As i write this.

I am safe, and that makes me free.

I am still whole

I am still unravaged,

In fundamental ways.

I have lived 

With a million compromises,

A thousand times

Of being shortchanged 

For no reason but being me,

Of listening politely

To absurd intrusive questions 

That have no sensible answers.

All this I have accepted 

As the pricetag of womanhood.
But I am alive, and grateful.

The fact that parts of my body 

Or even worse-my daughters’ body 

A vagina or breasts,

Or another orifice

That purveyors of porn enjoy,

Have not been my dismantling 

Or my death sentence, 

Makes me grateful.

Grateful too for

I have the words,

The words to record my passage,

Their shambolic setting

Reflecting the weight 

Of my life, on my tongue,

Mine- And a common womanhood’s

To celebrate and expurgate.
Yet i am certain.

In every life

I will ask you

God of Everything 

And Supreme Nothingness,

I would like to be born

A woman again

And again.
Entirely with 

All the dizzying fragments: 

Eyes lips hair skin

Form & sway together ,

And the secret parts-

The unsuspected parts-

Of brain and brawn 

And blind courage.
It cannot but be better

Than now,

And i do not wish

For easy privilege 

For fatuous entitlement.

I want to be here

Part of and witness to

Every change

Every bastion that crumbles.

My glee in that tomorrow gives me

Added breaths even in

This poisonous today. 

~ Sumita 

From my next book Petrichor due out soon.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.. please do post. And i hope to share more with you.. just follow this fledgling blog! 

#Poetry #Women #Gender #Change #Hope #Tomorrow #Time #Creativity #Write #Now 

Holiday Abroad! Travel Planning Tips to Do it Now!

img_2415
The glorious Amaltas (Cassia Fistula) is a shower of gold in the blazing Indian Summer

Summer is full blast upon us, bringing with it all the incipient fantasies of escaping to cooler climes, whether in #India or #abroad.

Now ‘foreign travel’ is always the ‘neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride’ kinda thing with us, and why not? Its not something most of us can traipse off to on a whim. Frankly, not unless you are a Mallya type or our own Priyanka Chopra who seems to live in a First Class cabin on assorted jet planes!

I am a self confessed Travel planning junkie! My holiday planning starts well, well in advance, so that by this time I am swimming in an absolutely delish sea of secret anticipation for D(eparture ) Day! I¬†love my annual jaunt abroad, and gamely take the friendly & not so friendly jibes about it. Its not easy or very affordable to do as a Govt officer, but I make my hard earned rupee go as far as possible, with meticulous research. You could say i’m a dogged bloodhound when scouring for the best, the most value for money ¬†vacation deal!¬† In any case a recent study by Cornell University has proved what I, in my zen wisdom have known and practiced so religiously for years. That travel and experiences bring you more happiness, and more lasting happiness than spending money on material objects.

 

So here are some tips .. just to ignite your inner TRAVEL GOD/DESS … and get you started!
Continue reading “Holiday Abroad! Travel Planning Tips to Do it Now!”

Travel Sidelights

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

~ Marcel Proust

Why travel? Why leave the known & famialiar comforts of your known & well lived in home?

Why at all?

In my case, it would be an unquenchable thirst. For the new. For the unexplored by me. For the different from my known world.  Like New Zealand. Or Alaska. Or Sangla Valley.

Or to revisit a semblance of the places and sights that afforded me the greatest happiness in bygone years when I might have visited them with people  I loved. People I can never revisit them with again.Like the Kumaon mountains. Or Sikkim.  Or Memphis.

Or to visit and explore and own once again what is beautiful on our planet. Like the colour filled  cobbled lanes of Rajasthan. Or Europe.

Or to learn. To discover the variety and the magnitude of the human existence. Across continents. Shivlings to totem poles. And to giggle thereafter- at the common passions.

But it seems thats not why my fellow #Indians mostly travel. They dont need the forgotten relics. Or the secret cafes tucked away in shadowy bylanes.

They seem to be pleased. To arrive in a potbellied #Innova or similar. Stuffed to the gills. Car & humans both.

At a ‘ hill station’! The air must be cooler. Thats all. The traffic. The noise. The choking. Doesn’t matter. 

‘Its just wonderful to step   out of our hotel room and be able to eat Chola Bhaturas & Chaat right on the Mall Road! ‘ With the same accompanying dizzy Punjabi music you & your kids heard in the taxi all the way up here!

Truly a thrilling holiday. 

So please forgive me if I feel that the holiday might have been a great ‘hit’ but the travel was wasted. 

You might as well have not spent the money. 

I know this sounds terrible. And I can be attacked ad infinitum for it. 

But all i want to say is that – Make the Effort!

If you are going somewhere new.. why not do something new? Eat something different? Experience something ‘fancy’? 

Stretch your imagination. Dont avoid the Museums as something ‘not for us’. Dont avoid the Cafes with a disapproving glance. Dont skip the stroll in the bylanes  off Mall Roads as ‘might be dirty or unsafe’.

Reconnect to a simpler self. Do chat with the porter, rickshawwala, hotdog stand wala, ticksr wala wherever you are in the world. Its uniquely fun & insightful!

Indians have always been peripatetic.. we invented the genre of ‘ religious travel’ because we have these four Hindu sacred places stuck on four different corners of the Indian subcontinent. But with increasing Personal Disposable Income we are up and about  the known universe like energetic athletes eager to gobble it up‚āĻ

But i swear, sometimes i feel  the PDI & Travel is wasted on us.  Atleast many of us. If most of what you want to do in #Manali or #Monaco or #MachuPichu is chomp on food you brought from home or look for an #Indian restaurant ( infamously overpriced abroad!)  why bother?

If you hate Museums & monuments bore you, Why bother?  If yoy aren’t willing to wander or walk  into forests or fields of fllowers . Why bother? 

Dont be just a jealous ‘also Jane’. 

Seriously. Save yourself some money.  Your wife will love you to bits for the diamond set you will buy her if you dont do  Switzerland or  Shimla-Manali  this year! 

The Woes of Data Management 

Too long since my last post!

First, the recovery time from The Big Fat Indian Wedding ( i have yet to coalese my thoughts & write the wrap up to that series!) , then the horrible time one always has catching up with work post ANY fun!

Yearghhh!

And then you know what happens when you spend an obscene amount of your life/time online? Or atleast stuck to your phone as in the Fevicol ad. Chodhdna nahiiiin!

Taking photos. Jotting notes. Taking more photos.  Jotting more notes. Etc

Well, a few days back.. bang in the middle of my own exhibition of photos- yes-i clicked them all! Titled ‘A Kaliedoscope of Journeys’ ( more on this in a bit) my phone packed up.

Yeah. As in no memory for even ONE photo. Now for someone whose whole life is basically on a small bit of engineered metal .. an existence encapsulated between my fingertips, a lifetime captive in a palm.. etc ..you get the picture, right?

So this was a grade One crisis. Every other thing ground to a standstill. 

Then i checked my laptop . To back up & transfer stuff from my phone. Gulp.! Laptop too in Code Red. As in some 672kb remaining in C drive.

The stuff of nightmares. Except i never thought my nightmares would be IT related. No galloping horses, no growling lions chasing me. Just the thoughr of my photos & notes vanishing like mirages in the  dust free virtual world!

So after spending two harrowing days figuring & fixing it all, i am happy to share my two bit.

1. When you are buying a computer or related device- basically anything that mentions ‘capacity’ or ‘size’  – BIGGER IS BETTER.  Seriously. Not trying to be sexy here. 2 years back i bought a laptop with 500GB space & an iphone with 64GB & it seemed the universe was infinite.  Now my world has shrunk to too-little -space-to-do-anything. You do not want to live, ever, with such a feeling of digital deprivation. As if life wasn’t tough enough.

2.  Dont take less photos. Take more. Take as many as satisfies your inner God/Goddess. Less selfies though is a seriously good idea. I know they are a necessary evil. Who else but you knows your best angle? Etc.  But still too many selfies is terribly loser-ish. I mean you were at a great place – natural beauty or party zone- with some great folks-and you ONLY wanted your own pouty/fake smiley snaps which you could have taken anyways in your own by-yourself-room ?

3. Buy a 1 TB external memory drive of the best brand you can afford. Am currently using a Toshiba. So far so good. Transfer EVERYTHING onto it. Just in case. Get expert help if you need to. Like i did for my Notes. As in ALL my poems ( which, lazy phone addict me writes only on my iphone! Not so bad when you have three poetry books published!! He he) 

4. Talking of notes. A digital diary is the only way in today’s times to seize your random realisations or not so random conclusions about life & people. I have recently downloaded Google Keep for my poems & such like. Seems pretty user friendly & hopefully will not consume my phone storage. Fingers crossed.

5. Now for the tough part. Deleting  stuff mainly photos.  Specifically from the phone. I dont know why every time i sit down to ‘clean up’ my phone of ‘faltu’ ( north indian word loosely meaninh extra/ not required )  photos, every image seems special. I feel as if this is the ONE  picture i will need either for my Social Media life ie twitter/ instagram/ watsapp/ facebook/ snapchat/ even this blog, or for my real inner life-to revisit & smile over in solitude. 

So i have, after much thought evolved a simple principle for deleting or retaining a photo. Its simply – ‘People Over Places’. Keep the goofy faces over the pristine scenery, everytime. Its them that matter. Its them you love. Its those expressions you might never find again.

This is from an amateur photographer who just held her first ever Photo Exhibition & it was all landscapes & some cityscapes.  Travel is a drug i freely admit addiction to. And photography is an extension of sight for me. So with some trepidation, i took the plunge. The wish was to share some of the joy,& calm &  positivity  I discover on my travels.. particularly in the midst of nature.

 A big thank you to friends like Navneet Saxena who helped with the execution , and a multitude of friends & folks who visited & appreciated the photos.  
I hope to share those images.. in my next post! Sharing one of the reviews.. 

http://www.lifeinchandigarh.com/news-views_a-journey-within

#Photography # Travel #Digital #Toshiba #Google Keep #Iphone #Data #IT

The Big Fat Indian Wedding Part 3

Okay, now to THAT thing. ‘Love Marriage!’ Basically, in India we so prefer it if that incendiary state of being ( I mean love!) happens AFTER the wedding. But nowadays…sigh …kids are in such a hurry..sigh..

Well, your beloved offspring comes home and announces that s/he is ‘serious’ about someone. As in ‘settlement’. So with a trepidation in your heart you ask the mundane details. You can’t ask to meet the object of your child’s affections since… in all probability you have met them already, while you were donning that fake super cool parent mask at various get togethers of the youngsters at home. ( Actually, its not a mask but a wig. You know wigs right? Only the person wearing it thinks its natural.Everyone else can spot it a mile away!)

The worst is definitely meeting the parents. You see in ‘√°rranged marriages’ you WANT to make the effort. You want to like them and them to like you. Because its YOUR well researched, well thought out selection from a seemingly vast but limited pool of suitable genetic stock to mate with your own illustrious gene pool. But here 20 somethings have decided, most probably high on pheromones, that they want to cohabit in the long run. Stomach turning I tell you. Specially as some kids really do implement the ”look what the cat dragged in ” concept!

Besides uneasy relations between parents of the bride and groom are not an Indian phenomenon. Its a global reality. Its like Trumpisms. Everyone suffers. Dislike, distrust, contempt… Your basic matrix of ¬†cordial relations between ‘friendly countries’. And like the fine nuances of diplomacy, ¬†doublespeak reigns. Specially when the moment the other party is gone there is MUCH venting. With ¬†a tendency to be ¬†extremely ¬†judgemental on a broad variety of issues. ”They are too ‘modern’! “, ¬† “”They are too ‘traditional’! “, ¬† “They dont even eat or serve ‘non veg’! Roma/Romi will starve..” ¬† ¬†“They eat and serve ‘non veg’, even on Tuesdays! Arun/Aruna cant live in such a family!”.. Yeah you get the picture.

All this poorly camouflaged passive aggressive behaviour by the elder folk ( passive aggressive is by historical tradition something Indian women ‘do’exceptionally well! Remember.. all those long suffering ¬†but loving women in the family? Note to Self- topic for future full-on post!) leads to serious ¬†minute-to- minute phone updates between the happy twosome. As if they were coordinating a Prime Ministerial visit to a Back of Beyond district instead of romantic nuptials. Focus. Precision. Ability to think on your feet. Coordinate disparate elements. Attention to Detail. Etc. Etc.

It also leads soon enough, to a kind of reverse ‘helicopter parenting’. (Go look it up.)So the anxious couple start monitoring almost every response and interaction their parents have with each other. No,not the best way to make a serene entry into matrimony.

So BIG Note to Self. We as parents should be less judgemental, not just with our progeny but also with our peers. Parents our age are mostly okay folks. We actually are the golden generation. The ones who still obey and adore our own parents. The ones who indulge and adore our children. The ones who believed ‘adjustment’ was part of marriage and Love meant the long haul. The ones who don’t count ‘sacrifices’ along the way ¬†as a big deal because it was as easy as breathing to do whatever you could for the people you love.

Of course, there are the lucky people for whom it all does go down as smooth and sweet as the perfect cold coffee. And I know some myself. I think they are lucky as hell, but also ¬†really special in themselves! Myabe thats how they attract all the good energies. I am hoping that when my babies present my husband and I with their choices, we are as fortunate. As happy and as relaxed. Yes- Ashish Geeta & Sona- here’s to you! And God bless the chilled couple- Anvita & Abinav! Much love!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Fat Indian Wedding 2

Okay so I realised ( I am a  work in progress so constant realisations are part of my syntax!) that my previous post might have been entertaining( thank you readers!) but it was decidedly jumbled. Kind of putting the cart before the horse.

See basically in all weddings, anywhere in the world you need a bride and a groom.Not that you can’t have two brides marrying or two grooms doing the same. For the latter ¬†two ¬†scenarios just multiply all issues I mention here onwards by an optimistic factor of 100.

So yes, The business of finding a ‘match’. No its not tennis or Baddy we are talking about. but the more serious business of ‘fixing’your child’s wedding. ( you know by now that all Indianisms of English are in the ‘ –‘ right?) By some ancient wisdom, all Indian relatives start to ask pointed/oblique questions about your offspring’s ‘settlement’ at roughly the same time. Its like in the Phantom comics I read as a kid. (where did the comics of this world vanish?) Old Jungle Wisdom, fully in sync with the Old Jungle Drums beating a message to each other. That only they can hear or decipher. They know the voodoo too. that can fry your own normal parents brains. We so need closer ties with Africa because ¬†its pretty clear that our family folk ¬†have all grown¬†up in Denkali anyways.

Now as to the ‘fixing’,( no wonder that we invented match fixing! Poetic! ) there are two broad scenarios. Here goes-

SCENARIO 1

This when your child has refused to participate for the nth time in a pointed conversation on ‘high time you settled down’ or similar convivial topic. His/Her last mumble is taken by you, the concerned parent, as acquiscience. So the Big Game Hunt begins! Aka How to arrange the ‘arranged marriage’!

Except that, based on my own empirical data culled from hundreds of doting parents calling up almost five time removed strange cousins and aunts, this is a much tougher job than envisaged at the outset. Because, apparently in India, you can never find a ‘decent boy’ if you have a daughter or a ‘decent girl’ if its your son you are doing the leg work for.

This obviously leads to considerable frustration among the parents. Causing them to (a) dilute the original standards set out for the prospective match AND (b) bemoan that they would have been happy if their offspring had not been so studious/obedient/’simple’ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†(this one is the worst without a doubt!)/ generally virtuous that he/she did not find a mate for a ‘love marriage’ despite a long drawn out, expensive ¬†education in a fine professional institution. (and for you young people who didnt- stop feeling superior-just realise even your fuddy duddy parents think you are losers!)

Of course, the parents are implying ¬†here that they would have been delighted to embrace their child’s romantic choice into the bosom of family..No questions asked, no dramas enacted..

Think again…

SCENARIO 2…

.. in Part 3 of The Big Fat indian Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

The Big Fat Indian Wedding 1

The Big Fat Indian Wedding is a story of modern day decadence meeting  sacred tradition. 

Which means you try & minimize the space for anything religious & broaden the horizon of pure newfangled partying!

Which leads to comic situations at best , and extremely pained family elders at worst. 

We have all heard about the infamous Car o Bars of Punjabi weddings! Well cultural synergy  in this country is such a happy reality that these are now a fixture in all weddings irrespective of caste, region & community!  

So the guys are all sneaking off, at regular intervals, here and there, imbibing  in surreptitious freedom What do the women do? 

Well, for starters there is always an enterprising younger sister who is carrying a bottle in her finery laden suitcase. Which is duly shared in communal swigs and then covered up with over -generous shimmy’s of that designer perfune. 

But how will that last a long long night? Aah ! the cunning and the coyness of Indian women .. is to die for. So you beckon your most obliging male relative .. younger or older is immaterial. Whisper an entreaty. Soon enough he will re- appear with a ‘soft drink’ for bhabhi, chachi, maami or whatever! Of course he knows that it has to be a double because who knows when you might be summoned to perform some terribly important and utterly perfunctory ritual. ( by the way for the uninitiated all rituals involve a supporting role by women characters. Men if they are involved, have to just step in royally at the appropriate moment!)

In case you think Indian weddings are all about the smuggled & clandestine consumption of alcohol, let me add. There’s so much more. 

It truly is an exercise in ‘managed chaos’.  Much of a muchness in every way you look at it. For one, there are too many relatives whom you just HAVE to invite. Why? Nobody can quite answer. But there it is. A black hole of a mystery which sucks in all dissent and refuses any light on the matter.

Then there are too many ‘gifts’ you have to buy. Mostly for the category already mentioned above. Apparently its the ‘done’ thing, the ‘riwaaz’ and not keeping up is a Fate Worse Than Death. It also gets worse here if you are the parents of a daughter. Because not only do you have to pander to your fussy ones, you have to kill yourself figuring out gifts for the groom’s family without a clue as to what they would really appreciate. 

This is obviously a topic i realise i have a lot of ‘feelings’ about.. a good mix of nostalgia, affection & angst. 

So thats Part 2!

WHY? WHY NOW? WHY ME?

I don’t think there is any earth shaking reason for me to be starting a blog. Though i wish there was. Something so irrevertibly course changing that it would grab you by the jugular ( in a manner of speaking only!).I can’t even type( oops! i give my age away-i mean word process!) properly and despite my many achievements, have been often subjected to ridicule from my own offspring for the same.

The last phrase MIGHT  have offered a clue about me. Yep. You guessed right. Anyone who uses words such as √°chievement”, ‘subject’ and ‘for the same’ all in the same sentence can be nothing but an Indian civil service officer. Guilty as charged.

So then why?I should stay in my exalted cloister, no? Actually the civil service is an incredible opportunity- of positive change and growth for every section of society that you might touch given the breadth of its canvas. Or just an opportunity for familial growth and mobility. As in every professional group you do get to see the spectrum here.

But the reasons for this blog, (at the expense of my precious sleep, i might add!) are simpler. And more complex. I don’t want to write about my job. though i might from time to time. Having spent more than a quarter century pursuing it with childish enthusiasm, i am at peace with having done, and still doing all that i can, every day. And almost at peace with what i could not.In many ways the Universe is a random place, and accepting stuff that happens ( or doesn’t ) with grace can be surprisingly difficult.

So now.I want to find a voice, and a space for all the rest. The interests and the passions and the quirks that are buried in my super serious professional life. Like poetry. Like travel. Photography. Gender issues. Fitness ( okay more the lack of it! but its always on my mind i tell you!) Old Girlfriends . Old boyfriends. Decluttering my life. Shopping ( does that sound weird-decluttering followed by shopping? yeah..) Home decor. Gardening.Literature. Jewellery on a budget. Marriages in mid life.Parenting. Green living. Being more. Spirituality.( though i am beginning to dread the word dripping  soulfully off every wannabe). The pursuit of Vanity. Music. Social Media.So yeah-basically Everything.

I promise to be completely honest here. Yes, even down to freely imparting all my varied life hacks! Of course, the reader imbibes anything from here at his or her own peril! 

Jabberwocky in my personal dictionary is a synonym for nonsense verse, for a breakdown of conventional meaning, for freedom to explore new dialectics, and for an unbridled creativity of spirit. Its part of Lewis Carroll’s wonder full Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There ( 1871). This was a sequel to the more famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and it describes her discoveries in the back to front world of a looking glass.

So there we are. All set. Come, lets set forth..Tis not too late my friend, to seek a newer world…

PS Where is the last line from? Anyone?

And the blog title? Such a giveaway in terms of time..:))