Red… For Hadia

SO we enter the abstract domain. Hadia, the inspiration behind this activity has herself asked me to write on “Red”.  This is what I feared. For me, anything that isn’t particular to the tee becomes nauseatingly close to psychoanalysis. And that scares me to pieces.

Yet, these are some disjointed thoughts that I associate the colour to.

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Mohabbatein was an all-round snooze fest. And as in every desert there blooms a cactus, yours truly took away a key message from the movie. Red Flower = Love, and Yellow Flower = Friendship. This of course was a part of the ever elusive Rose Day celebration in the cool college. And then the college I studied in had its own Rose Day celebrations. The only red roses I received that year were in a bouquet from a girl *cue confusion*. To her I remain eternally grateful for opening my eyes.

On a side note, I justified to myself that one offers red hibiscus to Ganesh idols because it’s “love”.

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I owned a red salwar kameez once which was just as gaudy as it was loud. It was bought for a school annual day event where the women were all “wives”. Of course the red was to be synonymous with married women. And that dress I wore whenever I felt like dressing up as Indian. I did the whole shebang with a bindi, and earrings etc. This phase went on till I realised the dress was suitable only in the context of “Ye Desh Hain Veer Jawaano Ka.” The only red I’ve worn since are a sporadic kurta here and there. Associations with choodha-wearing brides make me too conscious.

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I had an allergic reaction last year to who knows what. My face was swollen and was the shade of tomatoes. I ended up in the Emergency Room and then the ICU. But when I looked myself in the mirror, I realised this is what it must look like when an author says “he/she turned a brighter shade of red with embarrassment.” For me embarrassment is felt in the stomach, seldom shows up on my face.

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I remember my mother crying when I first started my period. I was 10, maybe 11. And she cried when she shared the “news” with her mother, then with her best friend and finally just cried every time she mentioned it to anyone. I didn’t get it then as to why she was crying if specks of blood showing up every month were normal, as she explained. A year later, the cramps began. Now, I cry every month yearning for the first decade of my life when I wasn’t bending double over my stomach.

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Marilyn Monroe looked like she had it all when she wore red lipstick. I think it was one of the late-night movies I sneaked a glance at oblivious to my parents. And then I noticed almost all of the “English film women” wore red lipsticks. At a discussion with peers (fellow preteens), I think one friend said it looked better on screen while another said it looked better on their skin tone than Indian actresses’. I bought my first red lipstick last year after a hijra woman I was interpreting for told me it would make my eyes stand out. Boy was she right.

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Priya Wal looked so damn cool in her red highlights in Remix, that Anwesha was my ultimate idol when I was in school. I wanted flaming red hair. Till I discovered naturally red hair. I realised I could never have those, or carry it off as confidently. The last time I was envious of the same was when I saw a senior colleague who carries off the red curls with better panache than Katrina Kaif in Fitoor. In my head, whenever I rebel, I have red highlights.

The Beach When It Rains… For Chaitri

There was a stage in my life when I loved to run around in the rains and get drenched.

Now I love to stay indoors and listen to some Petrichor appropriate songs (different from rain songs). And therefore I do not have a recent memory of the beach and rains together. I have one from a while back though. .. And it’s a moment I try to recreate here.

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The third year of college was an incredible year for me. If I were to plagiarise, I would say it were the best of times and the worst of times.

Therefore, once it ended and I was done with seeing docs, I decided to take a group trip. And this one was to Kihim and Korlaigadh. Also, whoever had heard of going to a beach in the rains?

Nevertheless, I went ahead with the plan. This post isn’t about the trip, though it was magical in itself. This post is about the beach where I got drenched to the bone.

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I’m a beach person. I’d been to Alibag before, and therefore to Kihim too. Yet, this time was different. Earlier I’d been with friends, and this time with strangers. And I guess that made all the difference in the world.

If you’ve been to Kihim, you’d know that it’s not the cleanest of beaches. It’s dirty, muddy and attracts the kind of crowd I don’t get along with- the drunken revellers who seem to be a constant presence on the beaches.

And ordinarily, I’d complain endlessly about these to everyone in the vicinity. However, as a stranger with a bunch of people who didn’t know me, I shut up. And if  you know me, you’d know that’s very difficult.

And then, as I tenderly entered the water, it started to drizzle. It’s frustrating at first, when you want to play in the waves but the rain hits your head… The first instinct is to run away and hide.

But imagine not being able to see the waves because everything in front of you is just… Water. So you give in, you let go.

I don’t remember too much from this trip, except that when I took a bath later, I still felt like the waves were moving me around. It was a Holi with the rain shower and pichkari-like experience.

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I don’t think I’ll love the rains on the sand too much now. I don’t even think I’ll love getting drenched either. But that one time, just that once, I didn’t really mind it so much.

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Yes, it says sukhi aatma.

Gender Roles and Men…for Akshay

I speak too often on this topic for me to want to speak anymore on it. But because it’s one of the prompts, I’ll add my own twist to it.

Toxic masculinity, and conforming to concepts of accepted manliness isn’t an abstract concept. It is a lived reality of our lives. Our lives. You too, boys.

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You know what made me curious about Fan? Yes, the SRK movie with him in a double role? The fact that at least one version of SRK cries. And it’s not random shedding-a-tear-at-your-daughter’s-wedding-crying, it’s the proper crying session with snot coming out his nose and whimpering kinds.

It’s the girl kind of crying.

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One of my closest friends had his first sip of alcohol after his first break up, in high school. Because that’s how “guys drown their sorrows”. The next day we had a bitching-about-the-ex-over-icecream session. And that’s something we do to this day with every new break up. 

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Alok Nath is my favourite kind of Bollywood father. He’s not as traditional as Amrish Puri, but he’s not as modern as Anupam Kher. He’s the father who offers to educate his daughters against popular wishes. He also makes sure his daughters-in-law are treated like family. Unfortunately, he’s also the one who puts maryaada before any thought of self preservation. It’s expected of him to sacrifice for the daughters till the time he lives. And boy, he never disappoints! 

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Last year, I met a 10-year-old boy. A son of a friend’s. He wanted to be a chef, but his mother said no one gives brides to baawarchis.*

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In a class of 100 odd students, there were 5 boys in my college. These were boys who chose “arts”, or as we would say today, the liberal arts. The common assumption made about them? The dating pool was very large and accessible for them. After all, arts wasn’t a career choice.

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I didn’t recognise myself as a feminist for a very long time. I thought the movement, the term were all very dated. I thought the movement needed to rebrand itself from men bashing to something more positive. I am also sitting on the upper echelons of the privilege pyramid. I didn’t think I was ever forced onto any gender norms. So it was never relevant to me either.

Till one day, it all was.

You may think the call for gender equality and dismantling patriarchy isn’t your business. But it’ll fall into place one day. One day, when your life’s choices being dictated by your genitals will be problematic to you too.

*A cook at home.

Non-Monogamy or somewhere in the ball park area…For Sneha

I’d really appreciate it if you, as a reader, would decide for yourself if this is a topic you’d like to read. Skip to the next post if you’re not comfortable. Anyway, these are musings. There’s no point to it.

One of the things about being in the unmarried minority of 26-year -olds is ruminating on relationship dynamics all the time.

Non-monogamy isn’t new to these ruminations.

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As a curious, 10-year-old voracious reader, I came across the very scandalous idea that all of mankind was sired (umm, what’s the female equivalent?)  by 7 women. 

While my understanding of sexuality and sex was minimal (nil), it seemed strange that each woman would have SO many children. I had barely understood this concept, when I came across another scandalous article. A woman who talked about how she lived with her husband and girlfriend in the same house.

It took me another decade to grasp the concept of non – monogamous, polyamourous, or even non – heterosexual relationships. Yes, that long.

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My most favourite movie as a child was Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. Big surprise. If you grew up in the 90s, the eternally college going SRK was as irresistible as the basket ball-playing, summer camp-going Kajol. Rani Mukherjee was a by the way person in their love story.

And that was my point of reference for relationships for the longest time- soul mates meant to be together even if there are many people who matter to you much walking in and out of your life.

So you wait and you wait, till a person you’re meant to be with walks into your life. Or dances in. Or plays rugby. Or your mom spots one in a wedding.

Here’s the thing though, do you realise how much pressure that is on one person?

Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi reh sakte. By which logic I should’ve had no trouble in being married by now. Multiple times. I could have a husband for everyday of the month, and then some.

And yet, it’s the expectation of being everything. The be all for one person for the rest of your life, for all your needs, that’s cumbersome.

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A worldly-wise friend of mine once said to me that you’ve not really been in a relationship till the time there are constraints on your life. While that’s not globally true, it’s a big disappointment for most people when their significant other is not jealous. Jealous = Invested in the relationship.

But then, heterosexual monogamy is the norm. I see friends give in to the pressure of relationships and align themselves to expected/accepted behaviour all the time. And  that’s because one is supposed to be in a long-term successful relationship.

I’ve seen many a person ruined by the pressure to conform. To be normal. Yet I find this elusive concept of a normal, everyday relationship slipping from my grasps. And that’s a struggle.

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I live in two houses now, one with the family and one with a flatmate. The latter is closer to work. I own two backpacks. One for work and one for travel. I have a bunch of friends to watch movies with, and another to discuss life with. I even own two phones, one for regular use and one back up.

Do you get the drift?

Spontaneity… 

I take a holiday often, aka the reason people envy me. 

I have an excel sheet that has plans for all my vacations. So I basically research the life out of every place I go to. And places I want to go to. And places I may someday go to.

Which is why, it’s totally out of character for me to do something I didn’t plan and think about in advance. Also, take opinions on. 

This morning, I saw an interesting post where a friend asked for topics to write on, and for the first time, I decided to blog as I thought. Yes, it’s unbelievable that I put in any thought into my posts. But I do. So I put a similar post of mine. 

So here’s a day of random posts about nothing and everything. 
PS. I think this is a major excuse for people to pull my leg and suggest outlandish stuff. Thankfully, they’re not.