A penny for my thoughts

Swathi Santhanagopalakrishnan – just because someone couldn’t handle rejection

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Swathi / Nungambakkam / Infosys / Techie / Gruesome Murder – these are words that have been flying across our keyboards, in the media and also in our minds. Just the audacity that went into a stupid plan (hacking in broad daylight in a public place),  and the fact that it did materialise – upsets me no end.

People are rising up, holding candles, giving media bytes, clicking tongues, sharing facebook posts , feeling appalled and all that. We are thinking about Swathi, her family, her day and her life that was just cut short in one unpleasant surprise. The invisible Swathi who was unknown till last Thursday – is now on national media. We are commenting on efforts of the police, or lack of it, how there was no dignity to her body after being slain.

While all this disturbs me a lot,  we are still missing the main point here. The fact that Swathi was murdered was because the murderer could not take rejection. He could not understand a simple “No”. He did not want to accept it. And so, he feels justified in his mind to develop a plan to ease the pain in his mind. How? By eliminating the person who uttered those words.

There are reports about an altercation between Swathi and the unidentified person. Have we reached a stage, where altercations and arguments must end in only one party being alive? Who decides that? What gave the man-in- the -checked shirt the right to end Swathi’s life? And it was not an unintentional happening. It was pre-planned.

Let us observe, how people across society view this. As women, we feel more pressurized to be on our guard. You will have to have an extra few thoughts – before you voice your opinion in a meeting, comment on someone’s clothes, or just go for an early morning jog. You might get murdered, woman! Be careful.

The reaction amongst men – is slightly varied. There are those who have daughters – this is a group that feels extreme fear. Things could go wrong, how much ever effort you could take. Mr. Santhanagopalakrishnan made the effort to drop Swathi outside the station everyday. How much more care could he have taken of his daughter? Travel with her to office as well? There are many thoughts that would have taken a similar turn among fathers blessed with daughters.

And there is another group – despite being politically correct in groups, this group thinks a bit more. They do not think more about Swathi and the murder. But their attitudes mirror their views and generalisations about women. As a friend of mine noticed the scene at her office – there was a subtle ” After having moved for so many years, when women break it off – that is just not fair! ”

What irks me – is that I witnessed a similar mindset during the Nirbhaya incident. And during the Meghalaya groping episode. Many male colleagues / acquaintances also voiced a “What was she doing at 10 pm with a guy? ” ” She must have dressed provocatively”

It irks me that the people saying this are in the 20 – 35 age group. The so called youth or young population.

It irks me that these were people with access to an education, a degree or in some cases maybe even two.

It irks me that these were people who would actually be in the target group during such incidents.

It irks me that they are able to empathise with some who has psychologically gone astray.

Why are they not able to understand a “No” ? Sometimes you are rejected – painful as it may be, It happens. Socially, Emotionally, Professionally – sometimes even intentionally.So would you resort to murder?

Murder your boss because he did not give you a good appraisal? Or stole your idea? Murder the guy who rejects your visa? Or Murder the person who cheated you in a business deal? Murder the maid who declines to work in your house, but works at the neighbours’? Your best friend of those days who just cannot find a common topic to discuss with you now? The employee who takes a bribe, but does no close the deal?

Would you murder them all?  The right to say “No” is a person’s choice.

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The ability to accept it and move on – is a sign of maturity. Let us teach our children to handle rejection, to let go and move on, and to also learn to assert their ideas by saying a “No” firmly if the situation discerns it. That is the need of the hour. Much more than CCTvs, and police protection –  we need to change the apathy that is cancerous to our society and its people.

 

 

 

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A Ray of Hope – Poem

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After a long break, chancing on a poem I had written during my school days – has spurred me on to get back.

A Ray of Hope – Mathangi J

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The skies were dark

when along life’s long river I decided to paddle

And on the banks I saw a bunch of people

all they did, was just dawdle

I found a number of willing comrades,

but neither of them had any grace

They said to me

” You may come with us, or you may go

Between us, relations will forever remain shallow”

 

The skies were darker when I went further down

But even there,people were frantically searching

for the materially studded crown

Hardly did they give me a glance

And to communicate, I did not even have a chance

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Scaling my vision, I saw a figure at the deep end

Slowly I paddled yonder and far

And when I saw her,

I thought she possessed invisible scars

 

As I saw her –

there was a question in my glance

To which she replied –

with a faint smile and understanding countenance

 

“I know what you search for

People – they possess none

They try to reach it thro’

temporary periods of fun

You’ve come in search of the keys

which will unlock your mind to peace”

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I stared at her with calm excitement

As I stared, her form suddenly did change

and flew towards the mountain range

…. In the form of a dove

It was then that I realized

there was a ray of light from the dark skies above!

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I was about 14 years when I wrote this .

 

 

The Chennai Rains – what it taught me!

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December 2nd 2015 – A day I will remember in great detail. And by that I mean like Sheldon – eidetic memory and all that! For the rest of my life! Why? Because I learnt a lot of lessons. Life lessons. Hopefully positive too!

December 2nd 2015 was a Wednesday. A very rainy one. The previous night was a bummer because there was a really long power cut. And we had to make do with no TV, low charged mobile phones for mindless whatsapping, and no microwaveable hot dishes.

Many near and dear ones called us in the morning to find if we were ok, thanks to tv reports, rumors and truth on social media, tamilnadu weatherman forecasts and the panchaangam (traditional methods of hindu astrology). Well, we were ok. We smiled. Reassured people. And stocked up for the rainy days ahead. And then it all began.

Lesson 1 . You think you have a plan.

I surely did. My plan was to live a “simple”life during the badly forecast days of rain. I prepared myself mentally for power cuts. So I had stocked up on provisions that would not be easily perishable (read rotis, dal and eggs). I had my work cut out. I was going to do a lot of written work that did not include electricity. Letters to write (Yes, I have a bunch of pen friends and we write to each other the pen and paper way), assignments to prepare for and the like. Priding myself on being ultra organised, I was relaxed that Wednesday morning.

But what did I really learn?: I thought I was preparing myself for a simple life. Turns out my version of simple was not simple. I should have thought minimalistic. Couple of hours down the line – I had no thoughts of food perishable or non perishable, no fancy words to write in my letters, and no creativity to showcase in my assignments. All I was thinking was how to creatively salvage what we could and how to get out of my house.

Lesson 2 . You think you are connected.

John Donne said ” No man is an Island” More so in today’s world where we are connected through Whatsapp groups, private chats, phone calls, Face time, Skype, Facebook, Instagram and what not. And you think that all these will help you in case of an emergency. I can upload on Facebook, tweet about it, send a message in groups  – that’s what we take for granted every single day.

But what did I really learn?: News Flash : You need wifi and there is no power. You need mobile data (Yes all the 3G and 4G the pretty girl tells you is unlimited on TV!) But the network operators decide to shut down. And you are relying on your senile memory to desperately grasp at phone numbers that are just an illusion in your head. Arrogantly displaying your useful as a brick smartphone. Pity, the landline is the only thing that works. But sadly redundant in our heads and homes. Sorry John Dunne. Man was indeed an island on Dec 2.

Lesson 3. You work hard so that you can afford stuff.

You buy a house. And then a car. And do it up well. Look up magazines, hire an architect. Paint it. Lights. A lawn. The works.

But what did I really learn ? : None of these matter. You cannot take them with you. You may have to leave it behind. All of them. The things you waited so many days to buy. Or saved up for. The envy of others. Anything. When I left home – I carried my wallet, mobile 2 sets of clothes, my grandparent’s photos, an ID proof and a couple of certificates. That’s all. None of the books I heavily invested in and thought were the reason for my life. Not the Laptop. Nor the Tablet. Nope. Din’t think of them even once.

In a way – the Chennai floods taught me a lot more. That you are never safe. That things change. That the things and people you thought you could rely on, may not be so reliable. But that random people you din’t think of, step up to the occasion. That people help. That some like to see you struggle. There are more expenses than you imagine.  But it does not seem important in that minute.You are powerless against Nature. Or stupid bureaucracy. That you yourself are not the person you thought you were. You are extremely strong on auto pilot. And can be really more arrogant and self-obsessed than we realise too.

 

Surprisingly, when people were clicking their tongues and enquiring about all the material damage (read vehicles, electronic equipments,cleaning, plumbing, carpentry ) – I feel like I have some clarity. Or maybe I am just zombied out.

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Reasons why I am single – clarifications.

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This image I observed on Social Media is the reason for today’s post.The whole single – ready-to- mingle stuff. Why is there so much hype attached to it? If someone is single, people are always trying to set you up. People talk to you about :

-The security of a relationship 

– Your biological clock

– having  your ‘own’ family

– a home

– becoming responsible

And woe betide you if you are single and Indian and over 30! Book your package deal with a therapist because you are going to have serious confidence, self -esteem issues. Depression even. Apathy? That’s better than depression. Seriously.

But wait. Talk to people in a relationship (read marriage) be it arranged or self made – the list of complaints is not short either.

– I just don’t have the time for myself

– In laws, In laws, In laws

– What do you know about the pressures of raising kids today?

– I’ve been taken for granted.

– I don’t know who I am , really.

– My Hobbies? Interests? What? Are you joking? I have forgotten those long ago..

– Don’t tell my wife/ husband about my outing… Please!

– I have to buy a “responsible” family car not the snazzy one I’ve been saving up for

– Career of my choice? Can’t shift now. Too much depends on me.

– Aah.. those were the carefree days when I was single. 

Sounds familiar? Well, I don’t understand. If you are single , you want to be in a relationship. If you are in a relationship you want to be single again. Or do you just want to be in that in-between- courting stage? What gives? Let me address each issue in the image above first.

1. I annoy people : Yes. I annoy people by being bold and standing up to them. I have thoughts. And opinions. Try to make me understand . I will respect you for that.

Yes,yes... it works both ways
Yes,yes… it works both ways

2. I am never anyone’s first choice : You might also not be mine.  Wondering why  Ms. PYTs  Or Mr.Balloon bicep type seem to always find the right person, while you struggle? Funny, when you are strong…

I am hoping this will be the trend
I am hoping this will be the trend

3. I f*** shit up : So people avoid me, as they need someone to cover up for them, because THEY f*** shit up too.

Remove,remove,remove
Remove,remove,remove

4. I am just bad with relationships : People are used to others putting up with their idiosyncrasies, so when I tell it to them on their face, they feel they’ve received a slap. And I have received my share of slaps of this genre too. So, I am just as bad / or good at this as you are.

Sometimes this happens too
Sometimes this happens too

5. I am not liked : I have wallowed in this area for quite awhile. And I am not afraid to admit that. Everyone wants someone to love them and someone whom they can love, so where’s the question of like?- They wanna leapfrog that and go straight for the love part! And you are so brought up to be the person others like. Else you might be considered selfish. Well, I have just one bit of advice – Give as much as you TAKE!

Be free..
Be free..

6. I’m an ugly ass mother-f***er : Body stereotypes. The bane of our lives today. Who sets these standards? Blue eyes. Fair skin. Bronzed look. Long legs. Tiny waist. Short hair. Long hair. Curly hair. Curvy but not curvaceous. Swimsuit body. Be the natural you. Be physically and mentally strong. Respect the inborn strengths of your body. Ugly ass or not .. you will figure out.

Irrespective of gender.. this works
Irrespective of gender.. this works

7. I spend my whole life locked up in a dark room with food and a laptop :  I think food and laptop are better companions than 90% of the people on the earth.

Not so much about the dark room.

And the rest?- books are a better choice! I wanted to use a lot of swear words here. Lalochezia and all that? Wondering what it is? Go read a book!

Learn,absorb, apply
Learn,absorb, apply

Coming back to the whole discussion about being single or otherwise. I have just one thought.

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And then, for sure, it won’t be all paradise. Be prepared to work on it. Put effort. Shed some tears. Raise your voice. But if, at the end of the day – you feel safe in your head and thoughts and the opinions you want to voice. It is worth it.

Peace out!

DESTINATION DUBAI – Souks, Malls, Fun and Food.

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DESTINATION DUBAI – Souks, Malls, Fun and Food.

Talk Dubai – and pretty much any layman would come up with The Dubai Shopping Festival. Season or not, there is tons of stuff to see – be it the lavish malls or the Arabian Nights type of Souks.

The Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are pretty much located within walking distance to each other. When you get there you are actually not prepared for the experience. Once you get past all the touts who want to sell you “original copies” of Chanel, Gucci and Prada – you get into a marketplace lined up on both sides by small stores, selling GOLD.

Shops at the Souk
Shops at the Souk Pic Courtesy : Deepika

First it doesn’t seem so impressive, but then the magnitude hits you- there are so many shops looking like  small departmental stores and their stock keeping units are Precious Gems and the Yellow metal. My friend who accompanied me informed me that during the shopping festival – the pavements would be lined with gold and gold ornaments on display. Just easily lying there ladies and gentlemen – one of the most precious metals in the world. For the ever photo savvy tourists – you can spot a golden dress , a 5 kilo gold ring that holds a record and just loads and loads of gold. Selfie anyone?

Sheets of Gold
Sheets of Gold
Outfit of Gold!
Outfit of Gold! Sorry for the glare 😦

Close on the heels of the gold Souk is the Spice Souk – just the most brilliant place to get any kind of spices be it regular or exotic. Cardamoms, Raisins, Pistachios, Almonds, Dates … and then crazy combinations. Dates stuffed with Almonds? Check. Crispy,salted Pistachios. Check. Roasted Cashews? Check. Vanilla pods? Saffron? Green tea. Chamomile buds. Check. Check. And check. This is a fantastic place to let go if spices excite you, or if you are into cooking. Being a wholesale market it is a good idea to stock up on dry fruits and nuts (as I did) since the prices are also pretty reasonable.

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You walk further down the Market and you can take the ferry for about a Dirham or two per person and get off at Meena Bazaar. A market for all Indian items. You have to stroll around , pick and choose – but when you decide to buy something it is a decent bargain.

As against the Souks, the malls at Dubai are a Sightseeing Activity by itself – in terms of architecture , activities and extravanganza. You will find a mini snow land, IFly,  fun activities for kids, sport stores that stretch for miles, and all the brands that you may read in Novels or Vogue. While I was not able to afford anything even if it were on a mighty discount – the malls are a good place for you to lounge in and spend time.

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Oh! Do not forget to stop and enjoy some dessert at Paul’s Patisserie. It is to die for!

Dessert at Paul !
Dessert at Paul !

I personally loved the Ibn Battuta mall – it has an Egyptian wing, a Persian One, a Chinese section and the like, beautifully done and maintained. I loved the mall more because it chronicled Ibn Battuta’s adventures, and it finally put a face to the man who gave me one of my favorite quotes.

My favorite quote!
My favorite quote!

So that is how my Dubai story ends. I hope you enjoyed following it.

(Trilogy ends with this post)

When you go through a networking page…

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I see you going through a networking site

I somehow catch the waves of your plight

As you ponder –

“Is their life a bit too bright?”

“Or is mine just, not quite right? ”

“Why are my finances always so tight?”

“And how come, everyone seems to be in a constant state of delight?”

 

What’s the big deal?

I want to scream

When you sadly draw my attention to the numerous “Thumbs up” on a page

It really doesn’t mean anything

I mean – “Whom do you want to upstage? ”

 

Do people really genuinely feel?

I have to wonder

When they shout and scream in happiness.

True. I wish them no bitterness.

But then, does everyone have to know?

Many times I am embarrassed, but I go along with the flow

 

All you excited shutterbugs ,if I may kindly appeal?

Ugh… pictures of your every meal?

A photo of your broken spiked heel?

A selfie at the driving wheel?

Please-oh-please – let not every aspect of your life be revealed!

 

Sometimes I am so tired of this Spiel

Where your real life is concealed

And I get to watch just the highlight reel.

Yes I do admit.

Sometimes I do wonder and sigh ” Why is my life such an ordeal?”

 

I’m confused. I think. I decide.

I don’t want no one to give me my pride.

I mean – I’ve worked hard. I’ve cried. I have truly, truly tried.

And many an illogical thing, have I taken in my stride.

 

But somehow I don’t want it on display.

“Why do you always keep to yourself? ” – I hear you say

Maybe I am scared, my peace it may steal

Or maybe I am cautious, it may end up my Achilles’ Heel

 

I am sorry. I will continue to be slow.

It’s really not because of my ego.

What I really don’t want to forego.

Is my happiness in watching me grow!

GONE GIRL – Book Review

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GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn – REVIEW

What started as some in-flight entertainment, ended up being a book that scared me about the mind of people – men and women alike. For people who have already read reviews about the New York Best seller “Gone Girl” on Amazon / Good reads – would have seen words like dark genre, thrilling read, and etc .Here are my thoughts on the book.

THE PLOT : Perfect wife Amy goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary, but only after having organized her traditional treasure hunt for husband Nick Dunne. Nick, the bored male in the relationship, out of a job as a writer, and barely supporting his family by owning a Bar (bought with his wife’s money) – is definitely not in a “ Happy Anniversary” place right now.

With Amy going missing, a nonchalant Nick is forced to turn his attention to her absence, rack his brains for information that would make look less a suspect in the eyes of law. A confused Nick who remembers the “Amazing Amy” he met and fell in love with – is forced to deal with her parents, news that she was recently pregnant, the media, flirty moms who want their share of media, his sister, and the police – all the time wondering – whether he should have put more effort into the relationship. The introduction to Andie – the 23 year old Nick has an affair with, makes us like him even less.

And then a U-turn, Amy is alive. Milking her disappearance to her benefit. Playing a game to send Nick a message that he cannot take her for granted. Or mess with her emotions. A game she has played before. She watches in perverse happiness as her carefully executed plot to frame her husband, unfolds. It is not justice she seeks, but control.

And as Nick senses he is being framed – he counters her every action through his. Some subtle power play and ego we read about here. Amy who is now in the clutches of her one-time stalker, carefully executes another sterile plan – that of murder. She returns home into the arms of Nick, with an effective fool proof story for the media. Cameras flash, the police are satisfied, and the case is closed. But Nick is not satisfied . Neither are his sister and a detective on the force. After all no one can plan a perfect murder. But Amy did. And got away with it.

And while we wait for Nick to be a normal man, who divorces his psycho wife and moves on with life – he stays in the marriage. Because Amazing Amy is pregnant. With Nick’s child. Yes, more devious planning to keep him in the marriage. Before you start sympathizing with Nick – wait to read his justifications and hers for keeping the marriage going. That is something I am not giving away here.

MY THOUGHTS : The book starts of in quite an average manner. Moderately paced, Nick and Amy narrate their versions – each person characterizing the other through their own experiences and emotions. You understand Nick through Amy’s eyes and vice versa. You empathize with both of them in your mind. The narrative keeps trudging along – you are almost bored with the detailed descriptions of their life events.

And then the author does a 180 and steps up speed. Suddenly you are thrown into the vortex of Amy’s brilliance, her cunning, premeditations and patience. Just when you want to support her for not taking the situation lying down – you are stunned by how affected a person can be when they place too much importance on their own emotions and ego. For Amy – till now an above average person suddenly progresses into an unemotional, manipulative person – efficient in planning to kill, be killed if necessary and to ruin people’s lives devoid of guilt.

I quote Amy’s thoughts from the book “I was told love should be unconditional… Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional Love is Undisciplined love …”
And in the words of Nick Dunne “ … I write down everything about her day, her likes and dislikes… I am a great husband because I am very afraid she may kill me. The fact is , my wife is a murderess who is sometimes really fun.

This whole scenario scares me and would continue to if the roles / gender were reversed. Is this a trend in today’s world? Nick and Amy seem like a normal couple who go through the regular hills and valleys of life. Is this how people think now? Are they manipulated to stay in their marriages / relationships? Would they want to kill / frame someone they loved before? Is it all about power play and being in control? Having the last word at all cost?

In a life where we don’t get to choose our families and our own genes – we do sometimes get a choice of our partner. Someone we think might grow to be our soul mate. Granted we are on our best behavior during the courting phase – that is but a normal reaction. We preen, we coo, we coddle, we exhibit the best side of us. But when you end up sharing mind space for a long time, physical space, or even room space – you are bound to let your guard down. You are just who you are.

You know that their best behavior did not last. Maybe it shocks you. Surprises you. Hurts you too a bit. But News Flash : Neither did yours. He picks his nose. You snore. He is sloppy Joe. You whine and nag. No one is perfect. You need not be. For that would be unnatural almost.
Its good not to take things for granted. But to pretend? Lifelong? Is that a solution? I quote the author’s words here :

“ We pretend to be in love… and it feels almost like love sometimes… Reviving the muscle of early romance”

Early romance. The key words here. That beautiful period of discovery. Euphoria and Peace. Fear and Courage. Talk and Laughter. What poets write about. What films are made on. And then it changes? Does it fade? Or change? Or grow? I have no answer.
In true style of the book – here is my Quiz.

If the period of early romance is so special, how do we make it last?
A) Experience the “early romance” with as many people and move on when it fades out?
B) “Pretend” to be in the “phase” with your partner for as long as possible?
C) Accept some changes as growth but keep some silliness going?

What would you do? Have you felt all the things that Amy and Nick felt? Its time to think. Before committing to a person, folks – wait to think. Am I in love with the person? Or am I in love, with the idea of love. Its not the same. At all.

For a person like me – where a book transports me to a different world, where I visualize the characters as someone I interact with or observe – it terrorizes me. Are people like Nick and Amy people on my Facebook List. My whatsapp groups. Do I know them already? I hope to God, I never have to interact with such people on more than a superficial level. Peace out!