Celebrating Love…

“Why are you going to the Queer Azaadi March?” asks a friend. After seeing me drool after SRK, Johnny Depp and Dempsey, she knows I am straight, so it beats her as to why I need to go participate in a cause that’s not mine. I did answer her, but not with something as lame as ‘I support it’. If you are human, have some common sense and sensitivity, you will support it.

The reason I went for the march happens to be a little different. I have a problem with people limiting homosexuality to the sexual aspect and nothing beyond. I have a problem with people not understanding the trauma of breaking the moulds of the society that are designed for the heterosexual majority. I have a problem with the fact that loving someone has to have a conditional clause that they should be of the opposite sex for it to be accepted.

I went because I think love is a beautiful emotion and it can happen between a man and a woman or a man and a man or between a woman and a woman. No matter who it happens between, love is beautiful and there should be no reason for one to hide it in the closet, least of all, because of who they chose to love.

I went to the march to say that I’m sorry. We heterosexuals are a majority and we’ve imposed our choices, our stereotypes on you. I wanted to say that I understand how traumatic it is to come out of the closet and I hope in a few years it will be easier. I wanted to walk the walk and say, you and I can’t be different just because of our sexual orientation. We love and live with passion and hey, everyone chooses who they want to love. How can that make you different?

There’s no I, me, you and them. There’s just us and together we’ll try to make it a better world, a better country (okay okay, I’m still obsessed with MJ, but I mean it!)

By the way, it was awesome to see such a turnout. It has taken us years to come on the streets and celebrate. And I’m damn proud of everyone who showed up in support. Thank you Piu, thank you ever so much for taking us along 🙂

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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!

We’re Just Good Friends!

‘A man and woman can never be friends!’ Harry tells Sally who staunchly disagrees. They prove the point by sharing an awesome friendship, but the inevitable happens. They fall in love! 

‘I am so lucky! I married my best friend,’ says Naina in Kal Ho Na Ho. Some of us do fall for our best friends and don’t get as lucky as Naina.

Take Reema’s case. She was very close to Varun who shared a lot of common interests with her. Both spent a lot of time together talking about anything and everything. ‘I guess nobody around us could understand that we were just good friends. They kept brainwashing us to realize there was something!’ finally Reema developed feelings for Varun and he wasn’t sure. They took their friendship to a new level but it was a disaster. ‘We were great as friends but our relationship sucked. I knew too much about him and expected too much too. It just ruined our beautiful equation!’ Reema admits sadly.

Sometimes, two individuals connect on a level that takes them beyond their gender differences. In fact, this male female mixture brings a newer and a fresher perspective to the relationship. ‘I love getting serious advice from my best friend. He’s a guy and sees things practically!’ Sandhya always tells me. I adore her relationship with her best friend but quite a few of their friends have tried and nudged them towards ‘the next big step’. They both know that their compatibility is limited to friendship and nothing else. But not everyone can sustain this friendly ‘advice’ business.

Both the friends have to be extremely clear, matured and focused to sustain the societal pressure. ‘People can easily manipulate your thoughts and create unwanted complications,’ says Sameer whose best friend refused to understand that two people loving each other as friends does not translate into being ‘in love’. He believes that we watch too many films and believe what they have to say.

It’s like a huge plan to make sure the friendships across genders do not remain where they are. I used to go to a school where every girl tied a rakhi on her guy friends’ hands. This prevented the teasing, winking and elbowing. I thought getting out of school would change that, but it still exists around me in a mutated form. Labelling your friendship with ‘brother’ tags might be super sad, but at least it shuts the people around you up.

‘It’s a very treacherous situation. If you feel the passion and stuff, sure go ahead and take the plunge. But if you’re just getting together because people suggest it, and there’s nothing better to do, think again!’ says Payal who’s fallen for her best friend and has been enjoying a super fun yet mature relationship for quite some time now.

Everybody’s story is different and you have to let friendship be. To quote Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City ‘Only the two people in any relationship know what’s really going on and nobody else!’ So, while it’s awesome to be best friends with the love of your life it may not necessarily mean that your best friend is the love of your life! You may still take that step but remember it’s a huge risk. It works for many but if it doesn’t, you stand to ruin your relationship.

Let Harry love his Sally and let Rahul and Anjali live happily ever after. Don’t let films or people around you dictate the course of your relationship.

PS: I’ve changed names to avoid any old stinky sandals flying at me. Also, this is no ‘Dostana’ inspired post. I was working on this for two weeks, and now that I got the weekend to look away from CampusJunkie, I have put it together! Watch out for my own review of Dostana, tomorrow!

Eccentric Saturday!

After a hard week, one always enjoys hanging out with the family. I do immensely because I rarely get to see them. So, yeah W, RK and family are in town, and as usual RK was super excited about going film shoot observing at Film City. His enthusiasm is awesome, actually the whole family’s enthusiasm is like awesome! So three Mumbaikars, two Punekars and a whole bunch of Londonkars packed themselves in two cars on a bright Saturday morning and headed straight to film city. It was hot, humid and all sad shootings were happening. But that did not deter RK who hung around a few sets and spoke to a few people.

I was standing in the shadows wondering why do we have such a low quality tv industry! The actors look anything but good, they can’t act and the stories are the same, nonsense. There’s no variety.

And to top it all, there is no infrastructure as such within film city. WK couldn’t help but compare it to the awesomeness of Universal Studios. That’s exactly when I thought, hey, there was this talk about making film city a Bollywood tourist destination. Whatever happened? Just another government plan that must have fizzled out!

Of course after a lavish seafood dinner at Gazalee, I wanted to curl up in my bed and nap before I headed for my dance class and that’s when Sneha’s SMS shook me up. Yet another blast! I mean what is going on with our country. I can’t help but think, what is the terrorists’ goal in blowing places up and killing innocent people?

Some say they want to make their presence felt and want the government to take notice especially while making some policy decisions. But what does it achieve? Yes people are terrified, the government starts to act responsible (literally acts) and a few arrests and encounters happen.

All a Hindu hears is that a Muslim was behind the bomb blasts. All a Muslim hears is that he is being racially profiled and the government is after their race. It creates a wider rift between the two communities that are trying hard to overcome riots, fallen Masjid and Mandirs yet to be erected. The political parties, meanwhile, use the terrorist attacks to condemn each other or to further their chances of getting votes in.

The government remains unfazed and we, the citizens, get shaken. In our country, which is home, we cannot leave home and be sure we will come home safe. We cannot help but be petrified about what’s to come next.

I hate watching the news and seeing a blast or an act of violence in the name of religion. And what I hate even more is the fact that these incidents are becoming a regular feature in news. I dread switching on the news these days, because it tells me that our society, the Indian society, is crumbling.

PS: after I sorted these thoughts out, I went out with family, and then went drinking with Omu and Nanu. It was after a long long time that we got to hang out. The chaar chand on our get together was the sighting of an UFO! I’m not kidding, we saw random lights flashing in the clouds late in the night…

Fame or shame!

Radio in Mumbai is pretty bland. They all play more or less the same kind of music, and every now and then an RJ pops up with some gossip (yawn!) some random callers and sometimes some crazy games.

However sad it may be, I still listen to radio when I can. While driving back from work, my de-stressing ritual is singing along to random songs over the radio. Today, I was too tired to do that. In fact, I was so tired that I didn’t bother changing the frequency when an RJ started talking about something I didn’t care two hoots about. And then he said something that made me go, “Uh, what?”

Apparently, he had dared one of his listeners to give her boyfriend’s number and the radio station would have someone call the guy and flirt with him. She, like any naïve girl, said that she completely trusted her guy and gave the number. Now, a girl in a very pretentious sexy voice calls this dude up and starts ‘flirting’. The guy tries to figure out who it is and with a few giggles plays along. She says he’s cute, she says he looked hot when he went down for a smoke earlier and then she asks him what he’s wearing. The guy chuckles and actually answers.

The mad woman then asks him if he wants to know what she’s wearing. The dude says yes!

The woman says, ‘I’m wearing nothing.’

Now correct me if I’m wrong but that does not qualify as flirting- its seduction and a very lame attempt at that!

Anyway suddenly the male RJ comes into the conversation with a creepy voice and announces that the dude’s girlfriend is on air too. The dude panics, the girlfriend is in shock and the RJ is trying to laugh at this situation.

Huh!

I couldn’t believe it. Firstly, I couldn’t believe the girl actually gave some girl the license to flirt with her boyfriend, all for 2 minutes of fame on radio and some sad gift vouchers. Secondly, how can a radio station take the liberty of playing around with people’s relationships like this?

My sympathies are with the guy. He genuinely seemed to be playing along to what he thought was a prank and he wasn’t wrong. He wouldn’t expect his girlfriend to be party to this prank. He still apologised profusely, while his girlfriend just hung up. If I was him, I would be mad as hell.

We seem to put everything, right from our joys and sorrows to our relationships, on the line for a little fame. Are we seriously that hungry for fame?

Where are we heading? I ask again

I feel a shiver down my spine as I read about the father who murdered his own daughter. It feels creepy to exist in this world, where a man is killed and chopped into 300 pieces by a jealous lover and a father who kills his own daughter out of suspicion.

Yesterday, I came across a blog about the need to have children and adoption being the last option considered by infertile couples. The writer argues that people value their own blood even though love has nothing to do with blood.

But what does one do when there is no love at all, or if there is so much love that it kills.

Arushi Talwar was a young teenager, who openly spoke about her father’s illicit relationship. The enraged father could have sat her down and talked to her. He could have tried talking to her, as any good parent would. But he didn’t. If the father suspected Arushi of having an affair with the servant he could have again tried talking to her, but how could he tell her what she was doing was wrong, when he himself was in an illicit relationship that Arushi openly disliked. The young girl might have shown a better sense of judgement by disliking her father’s affair, but her young mind could have faltered when she got close to the servant. Who knows?

The servant, who also knew of the father’s affair could have played around with the delicate mind of the teenager, forcing her to get close to him. After all, Arushi was a vulnerable teenager. Who knows what was going on in that young girl’s mind?

All we know is that she is dead, and whether he father is guilty or not, the fact is that bad parenting killed her.

Do we think that being a certain age and being married is our license to have a child? How many couples think about financial, emotional and social responsibilities of having a child before they have one? If they don’t then why does it surprise us when we hear of an enraged mother throwing her 4 year old out of the window or a 14 yr old girl killed by her own father?

Having a child could be the greatest joy, but what follows is a huge responsibility of shaping that young mind to become a responsible, compassionate and a rational human being…