I’m Going Eco Friendly

Okay I can’t take the traffic anymore, nor can i bear to see so much fuel wasted because of the traffic, so I have decided to walk, take the bus or cycle. Yeah! Bus works but takes time, walking works but also takes time. My best option? Cycle!

-I get to club exercise and my commute and thus save an hour!
-I save money
-I save the earth
-It’s fast, it’s healthy and it causes no jams

Would you consider cycling to work? Should we start lobbying for a cycle lane in the city?


Inspired During The Marathon

I ran the dream run last week. I didn’t train much and I hoped to just walk if I couldn’t make it. Yes, I was excited, but I took the run for granted. I was registered by a friend of Dad’s who was going to be there with about 50 kids from his NGO. I shamefully admit that I knew nothing of the NGO.

Of course, when we met up at VT to go and report at the gate, I was introduced to the children and the NGO. The NGO is a shelter for the daughters of prostitutes. The girls are given education, a shelter and a few friends- A reason to smile.

As we made our way through the super crowded gates, I was introduced to a girl, who used this education to not only achieve her dream but also to provide for her mother. Thanks to this girl, her mother could opt out of flesh trade.

She gives the credit to education. How we underestimate education? We, who are sent to nice schools by our doting parents who also provide a cushy future.

This girl didn’t have it easy. She struggled to get the very education we take for granted. She is 20, but she is a super achiever according to me. As we inched to the start line, I couldn’t help but run. I ran because I was proud of this girl. She represented hope, she represented aspiration and to me she represented a better tomorrow.

I salute the spirit of thousands of women who take their destiny in their hands and change it. They break free from flesh trade, harassment, male domination and millions of other problems that plague their kind. They don’t accept what the society, culture or the religion hands them. They make their own path…

Gender Bender

‘What did I ever do that you found such a weird name to give me?’ I remember asking my Mom every single day when I was a kid. Yes, I was the girl who was always asked ‘Why do you have a guy’s name?’

Then I became the girl who was called ‘shakti kapoor’ ‘shakti man’ and what not! The worst day of my school life was my 11th birthday. The school would put up your name on the notice board with flowers to wish you a happy birthday and I was pretty kicked about it. So imagine my horror when they wrote my name as Mast. Shakti Salgaokar on the blackboard! As I stood there in front of the highly decorated notice board, watching my dream wilt through the haze of my tears, every single person passing pointed to me and laughed, ‘They thought you were a guy!’

I went on to be a tomboy who took great pleasure in thrashing ‘stupid’ boys. Of course, terrorizing the ‘stupid’ boys helped. The jokes on my name obviously stopped, but somewhere, the guys all forgot I was a girl.

Of course, through college I continued to be a tomboy and only discovered the joy of being ‘girl’ like recently. That’s a different story (you can read it here). I love my name, it’s different and I have found peace with being myself!

So why am I writing this? Because something happened and I am revisiting my childhood traumas. You all know how super thrilled I am about twitter (In case, you don’t, here’s a post about it). My twitter updates have been regular and random. And I’ve even made a few friends on twitter! So anyway, I suddenly changed my twitter avatar to a nice picture of myself. And immediately, I was flooded with @ replies asking me if that was indeed me. And two tweeple actually were surprised I was a woman!

Of course, I don’t know if they were disappointed I was a woman, but I was in a bit of a shock. Did these tweeple not a get sense of my gender from my tweets? Or am I still that tomboy I used to be? I am a bit baffled. Anyway, is this a side effect of the cyberworld? You can’t see the person you’re interacting with, all you have is the assumption you’ve made about them!

PS: Check out twitter if you haven’t already done so!

Can Love Be Arranged?

Love just happens, it can never be arranged- a very drunk A to a sober B who is getting to know guys through arranged marriage.

So B is a decent looking, intelligent, well qualified girl who’s also got a decent job. She explains, ‘I’ve played the field and none of my boyfriends would ever get my parents’ approval. That headache, I do not want. So let them choose, right?’
‘But why?’ C, who’s been quiet so far asks, ‘ are you that desperate to get hitched?’
‘No yaar! There’s no reason to say no to the process, is there?’

Now, that’s a conversation I overheard. You can call me a voyeur buy it’s a topic I have been pondering about for a long long time. I am a single 24 year old. My parents are fairly liberal, but they want to ‘assist’ me in meeting Mr. Right.

‘Beta, you haven’t met anyone and how many dateable guys do you meet anyway? Give this a shot. Don’t wait for the last train out!’ My father said to me one evening. There was no rational argument out of that one. I spend 12 hours at work (nah! Not going to date anyone at work!) and rest of the time I spend with my family or friends. There’s a slim chance of meeting Mr. Right in these circles. So this mad writer, novelist and a content manager decided to let the family look for matches. I won’t deny having interacted with a few ‘prospects’ and I’m not surprised that most of the profiles ‘forwarded’ to me have left me pondering (now that’s what I do the best!)

Most of those opting for arranged marriage are in it because it’s something they have to do. ‘You sort your career and the next thing expected is settling down. So yeah it’s the logical thing to do,’ a friend confesses.

Another thing about arranged marriages is that the love doesn’t come right at the beginning. The hopeless romantic in me wants to believe that you look for love and discover it with your partner. But I can’t help but wonder, how does someone’s caste, height, salary or designation help define this complex emotion called love!?
‘They don’t define it but are the practical things that you seek commonality on. Marriage is better handelable if these things are clear. Don’t forget that you’re deliberately looking for things in common, only to make the process of falling in love simpler.’ says a voice who’s been happily married and her marriage is part arranged part love.

My question is how do you know what you’re looking for? Isn’t that the fun part of falling in love, opposites attract, being completely surprised by the emotion?

‘That stuff works in movies. The opposite soon starts irritating you. You have a million fights and before you know it the relationship starts to emotionally drain you out!’ this voice recently broke up, so leave the bitterness be.
Despite the bitterness, the above voice has a logical point. ‘You could opt for either. There’s no guarantee of it working. But in arranged marriage you are a bit closer to reality.’
I disagree. Proof: ‘Wanted: a fair, good looking bride. Min: post graduate, ready to move to Australia temporarily.’ ‘seeking allegiance for a good looking, highly educated bride. ‘

Okay, so if she’s fair, you’re more compatible or if he earns more than 10 lakh a year you guys will make it to your 25th wedding anniversary? How is that close to reality in any way? Besides, in love marriage you probably know the flaws and problems of the partner. In arranged marriage, it’s all disguised.
‘My cousin got engaged to a guy, spent a lot of time with him and then found out that the guy would get fits regularly. The family denied it even when they were confronted. Obviously she broke it off! I feel in arranged marriages, a lot is left to surprise to ensure a good match doesn’t slip away!’ says another friend who knows arranged marriage is not for her.

‘Arranged marriage happens through family contacts and stuff. So, people vouch for the guy or the girl. The family is involved and there are more than two brains who give the relationship a thought!’ another friend argues.

‘Isn’t it better though that the two minds who are involved only think it through?’ The first friend retorted. And exactly at this point, I realized that this debate could go on forever. I was nowhere closer to finding out which one was a better option and I found myself standing right at the same point I was when I started writing this article.

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether you opt for arranged or love marriage as long as you end up making a balanced decision. ‘I have seen  enough love and arranged marriages fail simply because of the idea of happily ever after. Forget that nonsense, accept the flaws and smile for what you’ve got and you will manage a happy marriage.’ Concludes my grandma whose arranged marriage has lasted a good 56 years!

Are Relationships About Love Anymore?

Location: Café Leopold

Time: Around 11 pm

Three girls obviously over-dressed for Leopold’s sitting in one corner. One look at them and you’d know they wanted to go some place fancy but ended up coming to this backpacker central in Mumbai. Glasses clinking, one of the girls’ phone rings. She goes out to take it.

‘That was my boyfriend. He’s so possessive! I am sick of him!’

I was a bit taken aback with that confession. This was the first time I was meeting her and I’d been introduced just about 15 minutes ago. Anyway, the friend with whom she came asked her a bit more about the situation. Turns out the girl had randomly met this guy through common friends and they got slightly infatuated with each other. ‘Four years is too long for an infatuation but!’

The guy was possessive, this girl didn’t know how to break up and that’s why she was in this ‘relationship’ with him. Of course, towards the end of the night we were figuring out some plans for next week and this girl volunteers her boyfriend to drive us around etc. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, me and my friend both asked her why she wasn’t breaking up. Her excuse was that it was ‘Convenient’ and she didn’t know how to break it off.

Convenient. This guy was of a different religion, so no future. He happened to meet her and she happened to end up with him. She hated that he was concerned about her and she says its convenient. For who?

Can she imagine what’d happen to the guy when she dumped him after 4 long years? If there is no future, why get into a relationship anyway?

Is this what our urban relationships are all about? Convenience, ease and boredom. How disrespectful is it to your partner when you publicly acknowledge your hatred for him in the same sentence that you acknowledge them as your partner?

People are dumping the ‘loves-of-their-lives’ for trivial reasons and I wont judge them. At least they’re honest with their partners about their feelings.

Goodbye, 2008!

Whooosh… That’s what 2008 sounded like. It came and it went. Whoosh. It was busy, it was engaging, it was hurtful, it was hopeful, it was new, it was old and it was a lot more than words could describe. 2008 brought alive a lot of my dreams. It taught me to be honest to myself and it made me smile through most of it. Of course, post 26/11, it evoked a passion for Mumbai that I’d never known. But yes, the year has been a mixed bag.

So here’s a short capsule about the year that was, just in case I wake up with the year 2008 erased from my memory:

  1. The brother came back from New York: To be honest, Om and I aren’t related by blood at all. His parents and my parents are best friends. We grew up together. I worshipped him, I adored him and then, suddenly I couldn’t stand the sight of him. At one point it was so bad that we couldn’t stand each other’s presence in the same room. And then something changed. We just went on to become thick buddies and before we knew it, the dude jet set off to New York for his MFA. Now that he’s back, we spend hours talking about random rubbish. We swing between crazy, sane and absolutely insane. At the moment, he’s busy giving me advice about the kinda guy I should be ending up with. Hmmn… You too, Brutus?
  2. I lost weight: Yes I know its lame, but, I have been chubby for a long time. Of course I got a little too chubby for my liking (or for anyone’s liking for that matter, I looked like a planet!) I struggled for about a year and a half and around the beginning of 2008, I got to a comfortable weight. Look, I still hate my ass and I wish my stomach was flatter and I think my arms need liposuction, but show me one woman who’s happy with her body just the way it is! My triumphing moment was my slim doctor telling me to go home cause I didn’t need to lose more weight (I disagree but I think I’m never going to be happy with my weight!)
  3. Confidence! Okay, I do not have faith in myself ever! I am almost certain I do things the wrong way and when I got my job, I realised that I can kick ass. Well not quite kicking ass, but yeah, I’m happy with the way I have been doing my job. I’m not happy with my job, but then show me one person who is! (Okay, I guess JLo’s personal boob-setter is thrilled with his job, but other than that one)
  4. Novel! I finished my novel. Yes I did. It is presentable, it needs a lot of work but it is indeed presentable! Now, this year will see it published.
  5. Dostanas: I was a dorky kid in school. In the last couple of years at school, I had barely any friends and spent quite a lot of time wondering how it’d feel to have so many friends that time wouldn’t be enough! That dream has come true. I treasure my friends. I love talking to them, I love thinking about them and I love being there for them. It has taken years to find them, but, this year, I realised how much each one of them means to me  🙂

Now there are two things that I look forward to in 2009.

  1. Moving on: Well, I shut myself away from the idea of love for a long time. The parents made me see sense in the idea of arranged marriage, and though it’s not my plan, I gave it a shot in 2008. There were funny instances, clumsy ones and there were nice ones. The sort that make you smile. I don’t know what I want, but I think I’m slightly closer to knowing it than I was a year ago. Although everyone around me is insisting that my resolution this year should be finding a boyfriend/husband, I will let that take its time. For now, I shall focus on living and loving every moment.
  2. Reality check: This is the year I will get over Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, every year I tell myself I won’t go all dreamy eyed when this man shows up anywhere, and every year I fail. I promise not to buy the products he endorses, I promise not to smile every time an SRK song comes on the radio and I promise I will not kiss the TV/newspaper/magazine in which he shows up. However, he will still come in my dreams. One step at a time people!

Okay then, this post is a diary entry! May not make any sense to someone, but hey, this is my blog! I’ll write what I want to. In 2009, I shall write, just write. Because, 2008 made me realise that there’s nothing in this world that gives me as much joy as writing does. (Well, food n music give me joy, but there’s no sense of creation there!)

Happy new year and thank you f0r reading this 🙂