Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's not right but it's okay

Marina Keegan is a young graduate from Yale. She is 22 years old. She studied English in one of the greatest and oldest universities in the world and she is planning to start working for the New Yorker. I never met Marina. In fact, I never knew who this person existed until I read her essay - The opposite of Loneliness. She wrote it as her final column for Yale Daily News. Her words are an exuberant celebration of life, the confusion of youth and a dogged determination to live life to the fullest. I cried reading the essay as it was so beautifully written. It spoke about things I knew and understood. The only thing I did not understand? Marina died days after turning in this column due to a car accident. She wanted to live. She did not want to be lonely. She was confused and excited about being young. She just wasn't alive to see her promising life through.

"We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life." These are the words with which she begins and ends her poignant essay. Keegan wrote that now is as good as any time to to embark on a new adventure and that it is ridiculous to lament the hopelessness of life, because life is not hopeless. Marina's words are what I believe in during the good days and what I want to believe in during bad days. I know many people my age and even younger than me who complain about dead-end lives and dead-end jobs, not realising that most of the problems they face can be easily fixed if only they could fix their attitudes...their outlooks. Marina understood that. She understood about being young and what a confusing time it is to make decisions. We are all bogged by the realisation that most of the decisions we take right now will present us with consequences that will last a lifetime. What we don't realise is that, it is never too late to start over.

In yet another searing insight, Keegan notes - "We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay." That's okay. What wonderful and yet easy words to use. Nothing fancy about those words and yet are so healing. Sure, we may screw up our lives beyond recognition at some point or the other (some more often than others), but it is important to know that it's okay. It's okay. The situation may be less than ideal but it's okay. Marina understood that. We may fail at work, with family, with friends or with love. But it's okay. We are young (always). And we can always begin all over again.

I know complaining is the easiest thing to do. But Marina can't complain about how unfair fate is because she is dead. If you are alive enough to complain, you should be grateful enough to live. Her words inspired me. They made me cry. I shed tears for a girl I had never met and never knew until she died. But I have always believed that reading what someone has written, is one of the most personal ways of getting to know them. So, I know Marina. I hold onto to her words. I hold onto to her hope. And I hope someone else gets to read her words and is inspired as well. It's easy to complain but it is so much better to say that everything's okay and try and fix the bad situation. Being lost and confused (especially at our age) is normal and it's okay. But let's not bog ourselves down with the negativity of what it represents but rather celebrate the fact that we can always get right back up and keep going. To start afresh. To make lives our own. Our decisions our own. The consequences of our lives are also our own. There is no such thing as a hopeless situation but there is such as thing as a new beginning. Marina you may be gone now but your voice has been heard. The world is not done with you yet. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I am not a cliche

No. Just no. I am really tired of people thinking that the only things girls can think about is when they will get married. No. I can't emphasise how much I hate that generalisation and how wrong it is. And it weakens the sex further by making it look like a woman cannot participate in another's good news without a twinge in her heart and wondering when it will be her turn.

Why? Why run after marriage as an institution as a goal? Does happily ever after only begin there? Does life become roses and other crappy flowers the moment a woman and a man decide to sign a paper stating that maybe they will spend their lives together? Why do women themselves sometimes perpetuate the idea that they are running out of time? What are we running out of? I hate so much when people whine when others get good news. Life is a graph, sometimes you are ahead, sometimes it's someone else's turn. Be it career or relationships...the drill is the same. No one wins all the time and if you kept winning, it loses it charm and power. So, it's ok if you are married or unmarried. If you employed or completely without employable skills. Life will get you your turn and when you let is happen naturally, rather than forcing it, it will feel right. It will feel wonderful.

As for me, I am genuinely happy that so many people I know and care about are tying the knot. No, I am not ready for anything like that but I am not going begrudge anyone for taking that step in life. I admire their courage for being ready to make a commitment but I want to be free. In the meantime, I will dress up to the tens and show up to as many weddings and whatevers as possible. They are fun. They are free food and they are one more reason to celebrate life. And no, I will not sit in a corner wondering when it will be my turn. My life is too full for that. I have too many friends. I love my family and I love my job. How many people can brag about that? My life is full and I am ok and I refuse te be turned into a cliche.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A state of love: A Handbook for the diehard romantic

First act: Introduction aka why I am the way I am
I am in love. Ok, let me re-phrase that...I have always been in love. My first recollection of falling in love, was when I was about three or four years old and I saw this kid wearing a red cap, when I was on vacation and I knew that the pit in the bottom of my stomach has nothing to do with indigestion. Since then, I have never stopped being in love...(not with that kid...we literally grew apart when our parents dragged us both back home after the vacation).

Being in love all the time however can be exhausting and in my opinion should be avoided if you can help it. Take it from someone who doesn't just fall in love with idiots on the road. I fall in love with fictional characters, I fall in love with music and books and television shows and friends and burgers (ok I actually HATE burgers) and work and dogs and unicorns and butterflies...(again an exaggeration...I HATE butterflies) and pretty much anything on the face of this planet. I have read that being in love is a feeling so intense, that you feel sick pretty much all the time...your head is always a bit woozy and lightheaded and you tend to piss everyone off because you are so damn happy (woozy) all the time. Well, fellow diehard the romantic, the answer I give you will shock you to the core - it is all true.

Living in a heightened state of happiness where a cow pooping will remind you of a song, is going to piss half the world off. That's ok. You still love them for being "adorably grouchy". Go ahead, say this to the genius who is ticked off that you are happy - it pisses them off more. Perfect. However I have come to realise that the perpetual state of being in love is a scary thing in this here are a few tips I have always found handy, when I realise I have started swooning over something as redundant as, well a cow pooping on the road...(but really what is not to love about that? I have seen it only once and I thought it was the most brilliant thing ever! LOVED IT).

Second act: The actual meat of the can just skip to this part if you want to know nothing about me

See how I put that all in all-caps? Well, it's true. On my deathbed, if someone asked me, who I would love to kick the most in hell, (because let's face I really heaven material?), I will unflinchingly say - "Jane Austen". That bitch ruined my life. No one could possibly find a Mr Darcy or a Mr Knightley...but I might spend the rest of my life thinking those bloody perfect specimens of fictional literature might actually exist. Ugh. Note to future generations who are just now picking up their copies of Pride and Prejudice...just put that book back in the shelf and walk away. You are not Elizabeth Bennet and even if you are, unfortunately there is no Mr Darcy. Oh and Jane Austen? That bitch died single.

Don't make music your only priority in life
Sure being a music snob will give you street cred (with no one) but spending your life listening to music, can screw your head (and could unintentionally turn you into a diehard). Now even when you are brushing your hair, you will suddenly find yourself humming "Eye of the Tiger". You will end up thinking that your life (like in the movies) comes with its own soundtrack and that all the lyrics will come true. It's cute but deadly. It will kill you. Or you will spend hours boring everyone you know about the music you listen to and the music they should be listening to. Honey, take it from experience, stop stalking musicians on the internet and well, get a life. It's a little late for me but I wish you the best. (Cue in Greenday's Time of your life, at this point. The song really fits this moment).

You! Yes, you! Stop staring at the night sky, it's freaking people out!
Ok so you are listening to Cat Steven's, The Wind, and you just want to lie on your back under the stars and just be in the moment...well, stop that, go back home and switch on the news. Staring at the stars is how one becomes a diehard romantic. Those bloody stars, who think they are soooo pretty, will literally burn you. (No really if you ever come too close to a star, keep away, they are pretty from a distance but up close they are just hot gas...much like love). Oh and if someone catches you staring at the night sky, you are screwed cause they think you are nuts. So, be smart and come up with an awesome excuse...example - "Oh I was just waiting to spot a UFO". This example will make you sound sane and smart and scientific.

Know your limit
Falling in love with a fictional character (damn you Mr Darcy! You perfect perfect human!), may not actually be the worst thing that could happen to you. That would be falling in love with Royalty. My personal experience had me falling in love with Prince William as I watched Lady Diana's funeral on tv at age 8. I have since had mixed feelings for both the Royalty and funerals. Unless you have found a way to lock eyes with the object of your affection, best not to fantasise about the big rock that the good Prince will give you...cause one day the good Prince will give it to the bitch Kate Middleton. Sigh. Yes, it has been known to happen, so know your limit. Movie stars however are ok but make sure they are not dead or about to die. I will never be able to marry Jimmy Stewart, Shashi Kapoor, Gregory Peck or Jack Lemmon and my heart will never heal. You have been warned.

Books make you smart, stop reading them
They also fill your head with ideas and give you unrealistic expectations and really, why bother? I have always found that while reading a book, I sometimes mimic one of the characters. I am guessing this is true for other diehards out there. If so, I suggest you steer clear of books where the central character is a murderer or a hooker who makes a rich man fall in love with her. Which leads me to my last piece of advice...
This goes to all the idiots who watched Pretty Woman and wanted Richard Gere. First of all, the hooker should look like Julia Roberts in order to have someone like Richard Gere fall in love with her. Second of all, honey you should not be daydreaming about becoming a hooker! Now if you are clever, you will say - "But Aishu, didn't you watch/read Breakfast at Tiffany's? Holly Golightly was a hooker! Surely you want to be Holly Golightly". To that I say, fair point. Just one question, is there is a mirror nearby? There is? Ok good. Now stare at it for a second. Do you look like Audrey Hepburn? No? Shocking. Ok, you can stop staring now. That should be reason enough for you to stop fantasising about becoming a hooker. Just STOP IT.

Third act - the end
Ok, this was my unsolicited advice. Feel free to throw it out of the window even without reading. I won't mind as I am currently staring at a pink unicorn and already in love again...but while it is too late for me (which is why I am termed very scientifically - hopeless), you can still turn around and become a pragmatic and serious and sad and quiet person. I wish you well.

P.S If you are going to be a diehard, do NOT list Titanic or Twilight as your favourite films. I will hunt you down just to kill you. They are NOT LOVE stories and they are stupid and dumb and ugly and my hatred for them is actually yet another post in the making.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A note to all the bullies out there

Dear cool kids,

The ones everyone wants to be friends with. The ones who can afford to be mean to others. The ones sitting in class holding court and passing judgement on everyone else. You know who you are... you are the perfect specimens. The ones blessed with the right clothes, the right "attitude" and the right kind of taste in music. The right...well...everything. The generic wonderkids who remain exactly the same through school, college and beyond. Well, here's the understatement of the century - I was never one of you.

And like me, are tons of others, who are different, who don't colour within the lines and who can't be further from
normal even on times they tried. It's ok. I survived all of you. I wanted to let the universe know that exactly a week before my 24th birthday, when I assume I will end up wiser and more mad than ever.

I survived the jabs, the raised eyebrows and your mocking. I survived your irrational hatred, your uncondinitional need to conform and your belief that there is only one way of living life. I am writing this note because I recently saw a trailer for this documentary called, Bully and in the span of two minutes I saw the lives of young kids with no friends in school feeling like there was no hope. I can't pretend I know what that feels like but I do know what it feels like to be bullied (I was bullied in High School in a little school called Balalok). I entered a new school with no friends and no one to offer me a smile and for two years, it was truly hell. I have since forged tentative friendships with some of my former classmates but the school itself brings back memories of being and feeling utterly helpless and alone.

It didn't help that I ended up doing my Masters in the ultimate school of cool aka SIMC. Fortunately friends were at hand and I had grown enough to wear my idiosyncrasies like a badge of honour. And as I continue to step into adulthood, I grapple on why people act so mean to one another. Sure, some kids dress differently, so what? Some kids like to what? Some kids don't know anything about pop what?

Unfortunately the cool kids always seem to be untouched by the pain they cause. Perhaps it's because they were never at the other end of the jab. Even a casual comment can cause someone to toss and turn for days. So what if someone has gained weight? Why point it out like it's a joke? So what if someone does not have the right haircut? How is that a crime? So what if someone raises their hand in class to answer a question? They are probably excited to be learning something new... Why mock? Why spread the hate? Why hurt?

This seems to be a vicious circle that never ends... and that's not ok. So, here is a sincere plea... if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Not everyone has to get along but why segregate and hurt? You may never know... the unique ones are the ones who will end up ruling the world. That kid you mocked in school? He might just become your boss one day. Because kids who survive bullies, can pretty much survive anything. They create an armour early in life.... but here's the connundrum... they can break too...why break them? Life is too short for this bullshit man...
(A link to the trailer of Bully)