Category Archives: Friends

Do we truly use all we have and get?

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I remember a discussion after watching Sardar some years ago.  Someone remarked how we don’t really value the freedom we got because we don’t know what it is like to live without it. I remember thinking that was such a typical statement to make.

But when you look around and see how one tends to take everything you have for granted — from expecting the government to do without participating, shrugging and blaming without trying, pulling others down for trying.. all manner of things, I realise maybe we truly don’t realise the vision our leaders had when they fought for freedom.

On a more personal note, even freedom as women today is quite different from our mothers’ times, as is the case with every generation. Discussions I often have with batch mates and friends are often peppered with phrases like — “Thank god we don’t live in the times our mothers did,” or  “We didn’t have to fight for our right to education,” (in most cases these women are  largely urban), we could do what we wanted, marry whom we wanted, when we wanted..and many such “coulds and “haves”.

But what we forget to discuss is do we really know and use this freedom and independence (political and personal)? Did we ever stop to think are we truly free to do what we want? And since I think it is a yes, do we really do what we want..?

Most of the women my life (no surprises) are in my age group and effectively single. But very of them want to actually remain that way. Very few are single  not because they choose to be that way but it’s happened to be such. They are almost always trying to change that. Willfully and consciously or at least in gestures and wishes.

I realise most don’t want to be alone, women included, but we are so conditioned into believing that living alone is equivalent of the worst possible hell that we are expected to do everything in our power to change that status.

Most want to eventually be a part of another whole. While am sure it is somewhere lurking inside me, I notice it has become another level of achievement in our generation of women. Yes, you studied and worked for a few years and had the requisite exciting flings and affairs, but now, come on, how come you aren’t still married!

Oh, you have done this that and the other but how come you aren’t married?

Oh come one, now you are in your 30s, you must settle (for) and get married.

Among the different versions said, one person even said to me.. the only reason everyone always wants you to get married is because they are unhappy that you are not.

It’s so deeply ingrained that party invites from spouses of school friends say, “please feel free to bring your husband”

.. or your seniors who assume you are married say, “..am so sorry I thought you were married..”

But all these tedious lines apart, even everyone my age,  seem to want to come to marriage and stop. That seems to be a finishing line or the medal, something I can’t decide.

Am not entirely sure whether or not I will or wont or do or don’t want to get married but I know it won’t become my life’s goal. I don’t want to go after “eligible men” who are not “divorced” and feel smug that marrying in my 30s has “netted” me such a nice find.

This is not marriage bashing or man bashing but, funnily, about doing what you want, even if it’s not something everyone wants. Why is it so difficult to digest that?

PS This was a nice article I stumbled upon..

Impressions are in the mind.

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Just read this.

And realised it’s very true. You tend to get noticed more if you are thin. I’ve learnt this the hard way. I haven’t even gotten close to becoming ‘thin” but the little weight I lost made people closest to me so competitive that I shut up about the process.

I have discovered that nothing like encouragement and swapping tips when it comes to weight loss. It’s the most invigorating discussion. But not with people who treat you differently because now *they* notice you.

I am exhausted

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Protecting the girl child is one of my pet causes, especially since so many girls die in this country with alarming regularity.
But as I grow older, I have moments when I feel it would have been better to have been a statistic rather than be a single woman in this decidedly un-modern society that I am unwittingly a part of. It’s as if I am not actually allowed to control my life (at least after a point).

[Yes I realise it's a dramatic comparison but perceived privilege is worse than actually not having that privilege.]

I consider it a big crime when I read of mothers, mothers-in-law and other sundry women of a household who encourage their pregnant daughters and daughters-in-law to kill their babies. Despite all the expected troubles in the distant future for that daughter who is yet to come into this world, how can a woman actually do that?

But now when I see my mother and see how helpless she feels with a daughter who is supposedly independent, educated and reasonably self-sufficient, and not in the bracket where the reasons for actually killing the daughter arise, I wonder if this independence has any meaning at all.

I have the education, the ability and the capability to run my life. But when strange people call my parents and consolingly ask, if they (my parents) still have an unmarried daughter, I want to push them out the nearest window.

Yes, the independence is mine while all this angst is conditioning-driven but how does one go about disassociating one from the other? Every time? More than one person has told me that all this will affect me only to the degree I let it affect me. But I am still grappling with developing a thick skin, which no one really seems to know how to do.

I hate this peddling of my parents’ unmarried daughter. I hate what it does to them, and me.  I hate that they would willingly let me marry any man (which can be looked at a positive as “anyone will do, any religion too,” my mother says.. which again dumbfounds me) just so that I, and them more importantly, rid themselves of the stigma of an old, unmarried daughter.

I hate that, in this so-called progressive and modern and urban India, there is no place for single women. Progression implies you are ‘allowed’ to have a love marriage but also to snidely hear “but you haven’t found anyone, have you?” That’s exactly what I want — my parents picking this argument to fling in my face my failed relationship(s).

My mother does not have any answer to all my whys and that always brings us to a cusp where she has not even considered challenging conventionally held norms. I respect that but since this one involves my life, I can’t help but vociferously protest. “Why can’t you just get married before it gets too late..” is one refrain she never tires off.

She doesn’t realise why I get upset when strange women call and ask if I would be willing to marry men only because I am taller than the average girl or older than the average girl. Needless to say, we don’t gel is an argument my mother doesn’t understand.

I hate the fact that my married friends (well some, not most) turn around and demand to know why I am “not doing enough to get married.” Or “why I am not willing to compromise since now am in my 30s”. Or since it worked for them (the Russian roulette known as the arranged marriage market), why can’t I believe it will work for me?

These are people I grew up with and turns out we evolved and became people we don’t recognise anymore. It’s scary. It’s upsetting. It’s futile. Especially not having people who don’t even understand what you are saying, forget believing in what you believe.

Nothing today is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ so why is this situation any different?

I have a friend who comes from a relatively conservative background (only as reference since her mother and mine are identical when it comes to some demands). Some years ago there was a tremendous pressure on her married. Demands came in all forms including emotional blackmail of a parent admitted in the hospital. But she didn’t succumb. At that point I was ambiguous since I could see her worry and her parents’ suffering.

But today I am glad she stuck it out. Not that she is my moral comfort now, but I know despite intense degrees of emotional blackmail, she survived. It takes strength and conviction that being alone won’t completely derail you – something a lot of people would have you believe and is used as frequent initiator into marriage. “What will you do when you are 50?” is a favourite question when you say you aren’t sure you cut out for marriage, or at least marriage of this kind.

Like in most areas of my life, the pressure here too exceeds everything else. I should know what I want – whether it’s my job, my life or my marriage. I should actively seek it – clamour, fight, run and do what it takes to get it, grabbing every opportunity that comes my way.

Most of my interesting experiences and relationships have been because of one chance I took. A turn I made. It has almost always been unplanned and certainly not charted. I don’t have a rose-tinted vision of life and would like to believe when the turn comes, I will take it.  It will be my decision and one I will live with, positively or negatively.

But till then, this argument which often becomes a battle of wills, is becoming intolerable. With most people I can give it back but somehow not able to get through my parents. It’s a futile, recurrent argument which only leads to cold sulks, tears, hoarse throats and me making crazy declarations.

Would it have been better if I had just not been born?

Best of 2009

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Just read a best of 2009 here, on a blog that actually got me hooked into the blog world. And I was tempted to try it myself.

2009 was in a sense a landmark year for me.

It was a year that made me realise truly that weight is just a number that can fluctuate one way or another and I inherently do not change as  a person. And if I don’t change, I owe it to myself to remain true to myself, no matter how I look.

I also realised that weight may be a just another number but more people noticed and commented and asked me how I was, now that I was thinner than they were used to seeing me. But that’s them. I am still who I was.

I made bread for the first time. And the happiness was unparalleled. So far. Nothing has me this ecstatic to see the sticky dough rise into a gleaming white dough and eventually bake into a dense loaf. Not even my first cake.

I discovered, just like challenges in cooking which I took up even though they scared me, that my ‘let’s try it’ attitude should be transposed on to other areas of my life. And just like cooking experiments, the results there also are mixed. But that’s the fun. I did, after all, make a second and third attempt at bread.

Twitter was another new addition in my life and I seem to have taken to it much more than any other social networking site. Its remarkably private and suitably succinct and the pressure to be popular isn’t that much. On most days. And it gives a new meaning to hyper.

I took once chance opportunity during the year and it exposed me to something I hadn’t considered at all. All of a sudden avenues seem to have opened up and am willing to give sleep and all other faves of mine, to actually work at something. And, for the firs time, whether it will work or not, is not bothering me. I know I need to and can do it. That’s all that matters.

I read more, spoke less, thought more, tried to verbalise without letting emotion get in the way, learnt to replicate the rush of a heady experience on bad days and am learning, to a point, to be positive and not kill my brain thinking.

Happy new year, again.