Singlehood Vs. The lifestyle break-up | Should you try to work on your relationship?  

It’s a weekend morning and I am watching TV with breakfast. 220px-Sonu_Ke_Titu_Ki_Sweety_-_Movie_Poster

Actually, I am watching a lot of  it these days, I can hear my mum mumbling in the background. I am sipping my tea. The movie that’s playing is ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’; a film that I am guilty of watching twice on the big screen, enjoying it thoroughly with friends and then taking my family to watch it too, because … Well! It’ was humorous.

Boy meets girl. Best friend doesn’t like girl. Boy and girl break up, in a string of comic sequences.

As destiny would have it, a month after the release of this film in 2018, I would go on to be introduced to one of my client’s best friends, “a match destined to be” as most would predict, I would go on to experience the deepest relationship of my life and then, just like the protagonist, I would fall short of getting hitched.

The film was a super hit with fun songs, cute boys and hawt girls. But reality is a little different. I wonder, are we all turning towards a more fickle existence or co-existence?

It’s sad.  If the reason for us to end a relationship  is based on comments, prejudice, status, or mere differences, it is sad.

I survived the crumbling of my relationship but I now become deeply moved when someone tells me they broke up or their marriage isn’t working out. It breaks my heart to see people give up and a silent prayer creeps up that says, “Please don’t.”

Why do we want to give up?

And then again, why do we want relationships?

I am walking into a meeting when I am greeted by this vibrant and confident girl, “Hello Apsara” she says, “How are you? Remember we met a few years back”.

I acknowledge with an equally big smile and greet her. Even though I remember her as another’s friend’s girlfriend from a few years ago; his work and social circle defining both of them, on most days, today, I can see her.

No reflection of him or his presence and I think to myself, that’s the kind of women we ought to be! Having our own identities even if our better-half has a grander one. It’s not about the ego or the money, it’s about having a little something that’s your own.  It’s about our contribution. Like I have always believed that not each one of us might have a need to earn the bread-and-butter; but let that not be a reason for us to reduce our contribution and underestimate our potential. This girl, was more than someone’s girlfriend today, and totally seemed to be living that.

DSM_BreakingUp_episodeUntil a couple meetings later, in a casual interaction she mentions, “Well, it’s a year since we went apart.” And I in-turn become overtly apologetic.

She, on the contrary, consoles me saying “It’s okay Apsara. His life and work really took over and he wasn’t in a frame of mind to commit to marriage. We mutually went apart.”

We exchange pleasantries and I leave. But in my heart, I am deeply moved.

Why does a man or a woman have to let go on the basis of work or pressure? Aren’t those the times that we ought to stand up to eachother or make space to accommodate the other? What fantasy do we all live in! Myself included. They always said that love isn’t a bed of roses. But now, when we see the thorns, we leave. In an article, actor Ayushman Khurrana’s wife Tahira mentions how she wanted to leave when Aayushman shot to fame, because they were in different spaces; and how he held on, and how they ultimately did.  (The anchor of a moving philosophy of humanistic values and  Nicherim Buddhism does indeed reflect in their lives, I have always felt it. In recent interviews they have confirmed the same)

In other words, one of us, has to be adamant. One of us, has to make sure we don’t give up.

At my office,the very same day, I am speaking to one of my associates on the phone regarding some financial decisions, when I casually ask him, towards the end of the call, how he and his new bride are doing.

He replies in the negative, saying, “Well, Apsara, I am on the verge of a divorce.”

I swallow a lump in my throat and without even realizing what I am saying I ask sincerely, “Can I speak to her? Can I do anything to help?” and he replies baffled, “Of course not Apsara, you don’t even know. her”

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Aah, I check myself, true. I don’t even know him for that matter! Nevertheless, I invite him to tea and we talk at length. “I don’t know why she married me” he says, “because she never even spoke to me. She judged me for who I am, the money I earn, the life I live, the person I am and left.” “I din’t stop her.” he continued, “After a point, I din’t want to either.”

A melancholic tea party ends with a warm good bye and text message from him saying that he appreciates my listening, while I stare back into silence wondering why this affects me.

Perhaps because it’s the same story over and over again. Our sense of validation from the prism of comparison, our sense of external acceptance without our own, our attempt to build a relationship with communication taking the backseat… In a way we are all in search for a ‘right partner’, even though it’s different from the 90’s bollywood myth of finding the ‘soulmate’. Today,  in stark contrast, it is about self’ at the Centre and ‘choice’ as the mantra.

I am drawn back to the boys in the film. The best friend says “Hazaron mil jayengi”, (you will find 1000 girls) who don’t want commitment but only physical intimacy.  And  I wonder does physical intimacy motivate marriage or commitment? 661127-sonu-ke-titu-ki-sweety

Even as I ask the question I laugh in my head at how futile it is. It does and it doesn’t! In our times, I am not sure sex can be a primary motive because we are liberated.

No matter how orthodox our culture, the youth are far more progressive, liberal and self-aware. In this space, a physical relationship can be established even while dismissing the need for an emotional commitment. I personally know many promiscuous couples, that have great understanding.

In short, in this space, when sex doesn’t become the reason for a relationship to hold, what does? To each the answer will vary. And for that answer, for that reason, we need to work on our relationships.

For the best years of my life I enjoyed singlehood, precisely because I believed I would decide marriage when I meet someone I want to discuss the prospects with!  That worked for me but I must admit that Singlehood is different, and being single after a break-up from a long term or serious commitment is different. It’s never the same. So then, why do so many of us go through this?

And THIS is the pressing concern that we need to address when we get into a relationship or think about commitment. 772d9e9c9113ad72476c4885d681ae58

Sex is easy to find, companionship…. Not as much. So, will you get a “better option?” Sure you will! A hotter girl or a more handsome guy, a smarter woman or better qualified man, a richer woman or a more affluent businessman – sure, you will find a better option but a better partner? A better companion? Well, that takes effort.

It does.

And whoever that companion is, he or she has tough competition! Oh yes! Because we live in an age that is ruled by amazon prime and netflix. They give us good company, easily transforming days into months and months into years.  Adding to this our travel goals and shopping targets? Well, certainly our professional lives will take the forefront!

For the EMIs I pay on that expensive car I drive  or the exotic vacation I want to go on, the lifestyle I keep or the social memberships I maintain – for everything I will push myself to work longer hours and make more money.

But will I compromise my relationship? Maybe.

Should I? May be not.

And that breaks my heart. And so, I will give free advise:

Don’t give up. Speak, listen, discuss, share, let go, build, celebrate. Just don’t give up that easy.

Giving up on a relationship is the easiest thing to do in 2019 and hence forth. And probably the cooler thing to do too. But, it’s harder to work on it and keep it going.

I am not asking you to stick in an abusive relationship (physical, financial or mental) but  I am asking you to work on the busy relationship, the one with differences, or the one with no communication; even the one with less spark.

If you fight because you can’t make time, make time.

If you fight because she doesn’t cook well, well then, teach her.
If you don’t respect him because he doesn’t earn as much as you, then, pay the bills yourself.

It’s not about man versus woman, it’s about man and woman. We all need to walk that mile, that distance and that effort. We all need to appreciate the person on the other side just as much as we need to – the person on the inside.

For the longest time I remember, I shied away from the idea of relationship or marriage and perhaps, that’s why I consistently met men who were ‘interested’ but not ‘willing’ to commit. A large part of that phaze went in denying my own truth and pretending it never existed. But it did. A void did. The deep desire for a real and meaningful relationship did.

And then it happened. (After I had pledged to not indulge in any romances for more than a year, phew.)

The deepest and the most relevant relationship of my life. One that taught me the value of family, that brought me closer to understanding my own insecurities, and one that taught me the importance of conversation. One that healed me. I have no memory of the emptiness that I felt before meeting him and I don’t feel the void after him.

Perhaps, that’s why what Emma Whatson means when she says, “I am self-partnered” makes absolute sense to me.

Perhaps relationships are meant to change something within and in-turn, change destiny for the better? Perhaps.

I sought and received the committed relationship that I needed; it may look incomplete to the world because it dint end in marriage, but for me? It was complete.

By now my tea is over and so is the movie. I smile. Didn’t I begin by wondering why my friend and his girlfriend had to part ways? Or why my associate should suffer a broken marriage? Perhaps their story is similar. And like mine, perhaps their journey was complete.

The empowered singlehood with no void, equips me to continue my pursuit in work and passion but having known the void  and the process of the void being filled up,  makes me revere the brilliance of relationship and what it can do to a person.

I recollect sharing with a close friend, how wonderful I felt at completing 50 theatre projects successfully and she replied, “great, it’s good you are distracted”.

And that pricked.

I wasn’t working to be distracted from my break-up. I was working out of the love for my work. I was working out of genuine happiness.  the self-aware people that we are becoming, the more of us are choosing careers that we love and doing work that gives us sense of fulfilment. In cases where it doesn’t, we have dual careers (like myself and many others). And that’s why work,  can never define our sentiment towards relationship.

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In mine I learnt putting the other before myself while being cared for, I learnt how time can fly and freeze at the same time, I learnt what breeze, waves, silence, laughter, and memories can mean and how deep and meaningful conversations can cure everything; and for that, I will urge everyone who is reading this to give your relationship another chance.

I know it’s tough, I know the rocks have waves crashing down on them, I know that you dint sign up for half the things you experience, but still, I will urge you both to not give up …. Not on the relationship and neither on yourself.

In my head you see, there is an epilogue to the film, where the fairytale continues. In reality you see, it should…. We should make it happen & it ultimately, absolutely should!

Her conversations with the Ocean

I am sipping tea, and we’re standing between Mumbai and Vadodara, somewhere on the highway. Everyone’s sleeping in the bus, after all, it’s 3 AM and we’re tired after a long day, an exhaustive performance, so much travel, and a workshop on ‘voice and speech’. We travelled by bus, a team of 10 people, to a festival which was competitive in nature. We came back with a merit and few words of appreciation. An experience to remember.

With 2 nights of constant travel, the driver needed rest. We halted. I stepped out. Behind me came one of my youngest team mates, ‘you know, paranormal activity happens between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM’ he said. “Is it?” I inquired curfc423c07-032b-4240-bf74-bdedc28957a3iously, with a smile. Another colleague got down and joined me for tea, “It’s 3:30 AM” I smiled, “eerie time to be awake huh?”;  “Perhaps!” said the 15 year old.  “But we have the moon with us! The light will help.” said my colleague, and we looked up to the sky. Interestingly mesmerizing, was the view of the moon. We stood in silence, sipping tea and drawing inferences. I could hear the ocean, distant. I could also hear the winds, in conversation.

Theatre is like an ocean” my colleague had said in the workshop, where the mentor asked us why we do theatre. Theatre is like a ocean. “Why would you say that?” I ask him now, in an afterthought. He says, “It’s beyond the purview of our common sight.”  “You may read a dailogue and simply speak it out, but the depths that lie in each word, need a lot more of reading between the lines, flowing between the lines to really comprehend.” He says, in a matter of fact manner.

I knew, I always knew it is beyond.

In fact, in one of my childhood poems I had a line about my dreams (theatre), it ended on the sentence, ‘I know it calls me far beyond, than where I walk to it.”

In this journey, it called me beyond my limits, my language, my identity, my perspectives, my belief systems, and my spirituality too.

Something like Love.

We begin our journeys in love with a certain belief system. With a certain expectation. With a certain idea. For some it’s traditional, for some it’s free spirit – but ultimately, it is a belief system. And when that doesn’t work, we either feel rejected or we feel dejected. Isn’t it?

For one thing, I have always been liberal, generous, and spontaneous. I have been loving, and caring too. I have centred my life, around love. I have made it a priority too. And still I find myself, disappointed in some ways. Though, happy in some too.

Happy because I centred my life around love, but it wasn’t one love.

Yes! As disturbing, ironical, disgraceful as that may sound – it wasn’t one love. I centred my life around love for my people and love for my work. I centred my life around my romance with a person and with an idea.

In most cases, the ideas survived, the person taught me something more about life and left. The disappointment isn’t so much in leaving, as much as how the goodbyes happen.  This song perfectly defines it, ‘Mana ke hum yaar nahi”, where she says “raaste mein jab milo toh, hath milane ruk jana.” Effectively, yes, we aren’t friends anymore but can we still greet eachother on the crossroads of life? In respect of our past. Let’s begin with believing that we were right people, just different in opinion and expectations; is it possible to achieve this each time we are disappointed in people?

And perhaps that’s where my disappointment lies. In the love that despises, rejects, turns away and disowns. Like you never existed. Like life, goes on, like it never mattered and it never counted. Do we really need to be heartless to be strong? Do we have to be free from emotions to be brave?alia-bhatt_640x480_71478076956

But then, even as these questions persists, the answers lie in the second love. More often than not, I found that these encounters smooth out, that people do come back in one way or the other. It’s rare that someone who mattered too much to you, walked out and you never saw or heard of them again. Even in death, one will certainly walk to the funeral of the other. I especially like that scene in the movie, Dear Zindagi, the last scene, when Kyra makes her film and at the premiere, are each of her past flames. Putting their past behind them and respecting that journey, you seem them cheer her on.alia-bhatt-4

And you can see, what has set her free! It wasn’t another ‘shoulder’; it wasn’t another person, but her romance with life, her love for her work.

Yes, there was a Shahrukh Khan in Dear Zindagi too.

A special friend, a special bond that helped her find her calling, her ‘second love’ (her work), but it didn’t take away anything from her own journey. The interaction helped her define her own ways and routes, and in the end, that’s what we need to strive for.

“It’s 4 AM” says my 15 year old friend, “What are you thinking so much?”

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Applause Vadodara at BHAVAI 2017, Mumbai

“Nothing” I reply, “just about our Play!”  The play, Kundalu by Makarand Musale, was about 3 characters: “A” who is stuck in his circle and strongly believes that life is meant to be lived in limits, “B” who is trying to understand the limits while being curious about the horizons beyond and “C” who has lived a life of explorations, beyond the questions, followed the heart, respected the struggles and cherished the journey.

“Ah! You were thinking about the end right? Which path did B chose? The life of security or the life of discovery!” he asks excitedly.

Our play din’t have an end, and left it to the imagination of the audience, which path to take.

“Whichever way you go, just don’t get stuck in the same circle” adds my colleague, as the three of us walk back to the bus.06068cfb-e9ff-421e-b53c-b597dd75f5e1

I smile on the inference, it’s ultimately about growing, becoming better, stronger, wiser and closer to the  self, and not make the same mistakes.  It’s about breaking the limits – the circles, the loops that twine our thoughts, confuse our actions and end up limiting our journey. Like the performing the play, Kundalu, taught us.

Taking it a little further…

Don’t get into the loops that chain you. Set yourself free.

Continue to love, though you can love differently.

Let there be romances,

Just make sure there are two 😉

One with the person

And one with you!

 

As I get back into the bus, I can hear the ocean call me. They are both my love and my friendship. My passion, my theatre, my romance as well as my companion, my listener and my lyric.

She as1ked the ocean,

“What do you see?”

He said “I see footsteps,

And a long journey”.2

She asked the ocean,

what is sunset?

He smiled, it’s the beginning,

for a new day you must rest.

She asked the ocean, “where do you head?3

Will I see you again or is this an end?”

He returned in response, as a gentle touch, as a wave,

“You can see me when you want, I am right where you left.”

4

She asked the ocean,

“What language do you speak?”

He answered in a riddle,

“Ask your heart what it seeks.”

‘S5he asked the ocean,

“what is love and what is friendship?”

He answered with comfort,

“that my waves merge in deepness is love,

and that is return is friendship”

~ Apsra

And let me leave you with the song that I mentioned earlier, and while you hear it, please pen down your thoughts in the comments or write to me at apsara.iyengar@gmail.com.

Lots of love, always!

Apsara

 

The Relationship and the Claw

You don’t want to go there but it’s like an imaginary claw is stuck in your chest, it pulls you forward. You don’t want to go there. But there is no other way out. You are pulled, and pulled. But wait! This can’t happen. After all, wasn’t this so beautiful? Okay. It wasn’t all that beautiful, but like they say – a known devil is better than an unknown one! You knew this one. You knew this world.

You know these roads, these sands, these places, these trees, this music, this weather. You know it all. You identify. You may not relate to but you understand. Wait. Hold on. That’s not enough, right? Understanding isn’t enough. You have to accept, you have to stay. You have to give up. And then you see in this world of yours, there are hardly the things you unpacked. So the things you brought aren’t there anymore.

You don’t have your favorite diary or you favorite dress. You don’t have that picture frame someone gifted you, years back, and that you loved. You don’t have that old guitar you used to play. You don’t have even your Cinderella shoes! You look around and you know everything about this place, you love it, you value it, you adore it but then, it doesn’t have your flavor in there. It doesn’t have your stories, your memories, your views, your thoughts, your identity. It’s just not there.

And suddenly, everyone thinks you are going to continue waiting, just like you waited before. What you did voluntarily, they expect unconditionally. They expect you to wait, and love and understand. You hardly spoke because you were in the ‘i-support-you/you all’ mode, but somehow that became a habit. Now, you can’t speak unless it’s your turn and you know what? It’s never your turn. You don’t want to leave because love is not a matter of whims; it is a choice but not a whim. To act on our emotion is upon us, but to feel that emotion, not always. And so, you don’t want to leave because your heart is there. But then, your heart is indeed your heart!  What is life if your heart has no love or space for yourself? What is life if you heart only gives and doesn’t consider receiving? It’s not like people don’t love you or you don’t receive any warmth. You do. But what is life if your own need for warmth is only secondary? Probably, not even secondary. Probably your own need isn’t even visible to you.

Until that one point, when the invisible claw climbs into your chest and attempts to pulls out your heart. What is the need for your own heart in your own body when you have no value for it? Why must it stay with you? Donate it. Give it away. Throw it away.

You consider the option of donation. Why not? If you heart, has no value for you, then why not give it away to someone else who can live with it. But then again, what is the sense of a heart that doesn’t beat? What good will it do to give a dead heart to living soul that needs a real thriving beautiful heart to help it heal?

This is too much philosophy for you and so you decide not to listen to the claw. You ignore it, but then it pulls you forward. Slowly, slowly, and slowly a little more. Ouch! You squeal. Wait. I didn’t see that coming. And suddenly, it hurts, and it hurts beyond more. And you don’t how what’s happening. You don’t want to leave, but you don’t want your heart to be pulled out by that evil claw. You fight it, your struggle, a tear rolls down your eyes. You are weeping but you won’t give up the fight. Either you fight the claw and stay where you are, put your heart back and pump it up with life, or you let the heart go, away, distant, someplace you don’t know. You don’t know what that claw will do with your heart.

But wait a second, you have tears and you squeal isn’t too subtle; they can indeed hear you. Then why aren’t they coming forward? Surely they can do this much, can’t they? Can’t they just walk up and hold your hand, or help you claw out the claw. But they are just there, watching. Wait, they aren’t even watching. They aren’t even interested. What exactly is happening? Do you not exist. Do you? Did you just cease to exist for them? But you are a live person and you are right there. But they can’t see you or they chose to look away? The only energy you know is the claw that is pulling your heart away from you and you don’t want that to happen. Or maybe you do. You don’t know but the pain is getting too much. If you let the heart go, you will be numb and things will be fine. You want have a beating heart to worry about or warm emotion waiting to heal, you will not feel and you will be fine. But you still don’t want to give up the fight. You don’t want to resign. You don’t want to be defeated. And so, you walk. You walk in the direction that the claw is pulling you in. After all, how bad can it get? The world that was so meaningful to you doesn’t see you anymore, you don’t even exist. What is the point of being there? You walk. You heart aches, you can see it torn out a little with the claw but you continue to walk. You walk. You walk. You continue to walk. It hurts, it pains, but you continue to walk. And then you see, you are right before a cliff. A cliff? A cliff, really? But what sense does this make? Why a cliff? Why all this walk and all this claw and all this pain and then a cliff? Why? What meaning does this have? But I don’t know how to fly. How will I save my life? Or is my life anything at all? Do I serve any purpose or have a mission to draw? You see the cliff and pull back a little but as you go closer, you know you want to be there. You want to jump. But you don’t know how to fly. And you still want to. You want to jump. You take some small steps forward. Suddenly you hear your old world calling you back. Your eyes light up with hope and a small smile comes up in a glint of the eye, but when you hear them closely, you notice they only have reprimanding words to share, they expect you to wait and stare a little longer and of course, take the blame. May be it is your fault. May be you were always wrong. Maybe you just made the big mistake of calling your world your world.

But if your wor4142942-happy-girl-alone[1]ld is calling you and all it has to say, is that you aren’t good enough, then, it’s time to go off to the cliff. You turn to the cliff. Your tears wiped back. The claw doesn’t hurt and then at the count of three, you jump. You actually jump. You actually jump down from the cliff. You feel free. Absolutely free. There are tears of joy now, and your heart is free. It’s absolutely set free, even  more than you could have ever imagined. And your heart has wings! You never knew. You thought you couldn’t fly but then, your heart has wings! It can set you free, it can make you fly! If it wasn’t for the claw and it wasn’t for the cliff, how would you ever know that an end could be a new beginning? That an end could be your beginning? That your heart can have a way to take you away, and heal you to happiness? How would you have ever known.  For some people, they jump down their own cliff only to find each other again, with parachutes. The parachutes save them from falling, save them from drowning in the sea or  being lost in the sky. Sometimes they land on the same ground, sometimes they walk a short distance before the claw and the cliff, another one ofcourse, waits for them. And then they jump. And the story goes on. For others, like yourself, there is just the claw. The claw is like a clutch. It will open the parachute when it is time for you to land. Until, enjoy the flight. It’s morning again, it’s dawn, it’s a beautiful day and you are absolutely free. You have no memory of any baggage you have no pain to carry. The old world is another world now, you live in another destiny. There is a new life to your heart, you rejoice it. You see it thrive and you enjoy it. You donate a little of your heart too, after all what’s the harm? This is good stuff. Your thriving heart can make a difference. You smile. Because you are free.  You have found meaning in loving yourself. Abundant love. Abundant compassion. Abundant happiness. You have learnt to fly. you have learnt to land. You have learnt to love. You have learnt to lose. And you have learnt to survive. You smile as you fly, the cliff after all, was the greatest lesson you learnt and the most beautiful experience of your life.

Thank you.

 

The Relationship and the claw is more of a rant and I hope that I will record and perform it someday! Contrary to the first read you will notice that it’s neither negative, nor so much about romantic relationships, as much as it is about our own emotions and feelings of being ‘trapped’. This could be a situation in love, marriage, work, friendships, siblings, comrades or anyone for that matter.  The key learning is that the heart has wings! 🙂 Everyone’s heart has wings! We have to let ourselves go, we have to let ourselves fly, we have to allow ourselves to enjoy the flight, because victory lies on the other end of our challenges! And joy lies in making it to the other side and knowing that you are still okay. Happiness lies is knowing that we all will make it and we all simply need to trust that we will!

This post is more of a monologue, performance material and if you wish to use it, please reach out to me and keep me informed! I wrote this a few days ago, and my friends encouraged me to publish it as a special on my birthday! So, there you go. Just in time! Hope that this year we write more, talk more and have more stories and learning to share. Have an amazing day!

p.s. Thanks Shubh! See, now you’re mentioned on my blog 😀 it’s your lucky day too, just like mine! 😉

Do Not Fall in Love with Such a Man

Don’t fall in love with a guy who kisses you on the forehead. Do not fall in love with a guy who inspires you to be more than who you are.

Who tells you on your face that you are wrong but still continues to love you. Don’t fall in love with a guy who will answer your call even at 12 in the night and make sure that you are okay.

Do not fall in love with a guy who simply accepts your life, friends and friendships and never questions you on them. Do not fall in love with a guy who can be Romeo and come down just to see you and nothing else. Do not fall in love with a guy with whom you CAN have long conversations – that are non romantic. Do not fall in love with a guy who listens and who shares his dreams with you and seeks your opinion on matters that concern him. Do not fall in love with a guy who is transparent.

Don’t even think of falling in love with a guy who lets you hold his hand and also holds yours and walks forward, as he realizes his and you realize your dreams…. because when you fall in love with a man of such character, irrespective of whether he stays in love with you or not, irrespective of whether life takes you apart or not, you will never come back and be the same. You will struggle to be completely and entirely independent because his love will have changed you.  Either you keep him forever, or do not fall in love with such a man at all.

~ Apsara Iyengar

Inspired from Martha Rivera-Garrido – http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/3246253-don-t-fall-in-love-with-a-woman-who-reads-a – Do not fall in love with a woman

 

Do Not Fall in Love with a Man - Apsara Iyengar

 

27 and Single – Coping with ‘Bidai’ of your Male friends.

It’s 10.30 p.m. and my friends call me, “Hey! We’re coming to pick you. Tea treat!”

“Sure! What’s the occasion?” I ask.

And my question is answered as I get into the car and we start talking.

“That’s like an arranged marriage turning into a love story?” I conclude, after hearing a detailed version of how a friend fell in love with the girl he went to see for an arranged marriage. We all rejoice but only before one strange interaction.

Someone comments, “But you know what! We just can’t meet like this once we’re married.” The girls look at each other. “Sure” we say, marriage does shift priorities. It’s obvious to be busy and occupied once married.

But strangely the conversation shifts gears and all of a sudden the guys are talking about all the permissible limits of our friendships as though friendship with women is more like a drug – not allowed post marriage. I start to feel a little uncomfortable.

After all, weren’t these the same guys we grew up with? Can we so easily over look the many years of school or college or work – the various walks from where we women, know the men in our lives – and simply accept an instruction to tone down our warmth and affections?

The weather is suddenly more chilly. Someone brings us all Tea and we hold the cups in hand to re-construct warmth on a chilly December, winter evening.

One of the guys, once again starts to speak of an “All guys trip”

The girls look at eachother as they animatedly make plans.

“Hello!” we say, “aren’t we a part of the plans?”

“But once we (the guys) are married, we won’t get a chance to travel together and have fun. You girls should understand.”

And instantly I feel two things.

  1. With the men getting married, they want us to know that they can’t really be ‘friends’ with the girls, the way they were before.
  2. With the men getting married, they don’t want the girls to be a part of the plans, trips, get-togethers they’re planning, somewhat in preparation for a married life ahead.

And the ‘dost-dost-na-raha’ feeling stares in the face.

I am reminded of the feeling I had in 2010, which led to the inception of Half A Cup of Tea with the blogpost, “All About Being a Girl“. Yes, I felt that same strong urge to write.

I am close to 27 now and my standards of finding a partner, are high. I must first fall in love and be convinced enough to marry. But that’s my personal life and my choice.

Being a single woman or a woman not married yet, does not mean  that we’re likely of pinning intangible expectations on people we know!

My friendship with the men in my life is irrespective of their commitment or marital status. And that’s simply because – friendship is different and romantic love, different.

This film is a classic example of friendship, I tell you!
This film is a classic example of friendship, I tell you!

And then again, we do love the people in our lives, don’t we? And how do you express the love and affection you feel for people, when they aren’t birth – siblings? Like I love my sister. I give her a hug. I love my friend, I give him or her a hug. Aren’t friends, to some extent, close to siblings?

Friends are the people we grow old with. Sure, we have spouses and partners and cousins – but friends are peers. And so, should a change in relationship status reflect upon your associations with others?

Being a feminist, and someone who has forever lived in a male-world, I somehow always surpass gender in my associations. Sure I have learnt of “ways of men” and I know of a language that I may never speak, but I accept them the way they are and see no difference in my friendship extended to men.

The discussions on a guys-only-vacation start to ensue once again: On chats, groups, meet-ups and once again I find myself revolting to the very idea.

I think we as women, understand. We understand other women. We understand that women would like their men to be committed and ask me on any day, and that is exactly what I will advocate to any guy friend in my life.

But, when your friendship dates back in years and months, knowing eachother as individuals, growing professionally, personally and emotionally – then must gender come in the way at all?

One of the girls chirps in, “Apsara, you know what! We’re all going to be the same before and after marriage, it’s the guys who are going to change. Bidai ladkon ki ho rahi hai.” (We’re giving away the guys in marriage. )

I do totally respect and understand that friendship always has to be two ways – if the guys don’t want to keep it, it’s not going to exist.

And that again raises two points:

  1. What are the ethics of friendship if it is “okay” now and “not okay” after being committed?Ally Committed to Future Concept

If that’s the case, then one must not encourage anything that cannot be explained to our future partners.

There is this strange scene I remember from one of my favorite TV series: Ally Mc Beal, Where she talks to her roommate saying “I feel a sense of commitment to my future partner, even before I have met him”.  All though the statement is weird, it does ring a sense of truth.

  1. Does the guy have a say or not?

I remember having this discussion with a girl-friend once and she said “I think he would need to put his foot down and tell both the women that they matter and they better cope with the fact that they hold different but significant value in his life. I think…. That’s a step the guy needs to take, make and walk.”

And that brings me back to my disappointment with society! Yes…. now the matter has escalated and I ask a greater question: despite so many years that we have come as a society, we still face these challenges of perception.

I remember my early twenties, where an over intrusive admirer had a problem with every male individual in my life. He was almost a stalker and he called me once, while I was meeting a friend.

Stalker: Where are you?Hypothesis: The Thinking Girl.

Girl: Umm xyz place.

Stalker: What are you doing there?

Girl: Umm discussing work with abc.

Stalker: How can you be at xyz with a guy?

Girl: <blank>

Stalker: I am coming there.

Girl: <blank>

Stalker arrives.

Stalker: Why are you here?

Girl: <No answer because the stalker deserves no explanation>

Girl <in the head> : Because my friends are the ones who have stood by me through years of test and times of struggle, they have shared my joys and offered a hand – in love and friendship. And HENCE – I am here.

And perhaps I am too ambitious to expect the same answer from all the men in my life.

To expect that they place our friendship at the same degree, level and stature as I do – as women do in general – without the gender coming in the way

Of course we have our own little things – the girls night outs, conversations and to-do lists. And the guys certainly have a lot more of that – the guys parties, the bike rides at 2 am and other things – which the girls are not a part of. And that is fine.

The Guy Things!            The Girl Things!

But what stings a bit, slightly, is the idea … of letting go, in advance…. For reasons that are best unsaid. That’s what pricks!

And that takes me back to the ideas of Love that I have frequently discussed in the past years – love must happen, we must grow and evolve. We should be open to idea of Love and in a similar way, in friendship with gender differences, we should be open to idea of letting go.

Yes, I am open to the idea of letting go – just as I am open to the idea of falling in love or living single based on circumstances. If the men in our lives have women who are not comfortable with us, then the possibilities of friendship taking a backseat arises. (I am talking about people not having time. That’s fine. My best friends I haven’t spoken to in ages but I know the friendship stands) But if the women respect eachother and role of friendship in the lives of their men – would a healthy, beautiful relationship, friendship and extended family not be possible?

It strangely gives me a feeling of women being typecast – I am telling, that’s not true. The woman you love will never be insecure if you love her enough.

It all depends on the way WE conduct our relationships.

I am taking the liberty of quoting another friend’s girlfriend here. (A story very close to my heart and couple whose kids I am going to spoil :p)

My friend had stopped talking to me over certain misconceptions. And my repeated requests to understand the problem had failed. Eventually, after months of void, I received a letter from him reviving our friendship. It was his partner who has encouraged him to do so.

In a private conversation with her one day, when I thanked her for being understanding and considerate in encouraging my friendship with her partner, despite barely knowing me as a person, she said – I could see what an inspiring companionship you both shared. And I must respect that. Had I had friends who were male and had I shared similar rapport with them, would I not expect my boyfriend to understand and accept the friendships?

She moved me with her beautiful words because I know how much that friendship mattered to me.

On another day, I was to make a movie with a very dear friend. We’d once been founding members of a youth group, today we were meeting once again over a common goal. I desperately wanted to make the film and once he read the script, he loved it. We began work but repeatedly faced hurdles.

On one anxious day, I came across content that had striking resemblance to my piece of writing. I panicked and frantically tried to reach my friend over facebook chat. When I couldn’t get his response, I created a group chat adding his girlfriend and whining about the unexpected situation.

Within seconds she replied – Dear Apsara, relax and have faith in your work. I am sure the two of you are very talented and are going to do a remarkable job with the film. You must remain composed, irrespective of the fact that certain situations aren’t in our hands. I am sure when you make the film, it will be unbeatable. Trust me, it’s a very strong act.

The film is yet to be made, but what filled my heart with even more optimism was the fact that my friend’s girlfriend turned out to be the most mature 😀 handling both of us and encouraging a positive perspective and action plan.

These women, individuals in themselves, understand.

These women, us women, we understand: and that’s where women are beautiful.

On the threshold of 27, I see so many of my girlfriends married and many turned mothers – they are busy – raising their husbands and children (:p) BUT, I still haven’t lost them. Yes, we cried on the wedding day…. And we did all that drama for the women…. But strangely, and painfully, seems like it’s the MEN we’re bidding goodbyes to.

As we finish off with tea and head back home, I remain silent.

While the men prepare for marriage, it’s not that the single-women-friends are waiting to cling on and ‘be the same’. For the single, individual, even moderately ambitious woman,  we are NOT dependant on men and we will certainly NOT intrude on married life spaces. That I must receive the disclaimers, saddens! A little bit of my heart breaks there…. And the tea is JUST not enough.

I make myself a cup of tea and call a friend – I tell him I am disappointed.

He laughs. He asks me:

If you were committed, would you really want to hang out with your group as much, plan trips of travel with your friends and do things without your spouse or partner?

And I answer with puzzlement, “Why wouldn’t I?”

Perhaps my expectations from life are far too ambitious – but yes, if and when I am committed, I would

In memory of the first post "All about being a Girl" where I used a pic like this!
In memory of the first post “All about being a Girl” where I used a pic like this!

expect my partner to understand the associations in my life – the ones that have molded me and made me, Me. I will expect him to have his friendships and let me have mine. I would love for the circles to mix and blend and make one huge, harmonious family – but even if that does not happen, I doubt I’ll trade one set of relationships for another. I think the beauty and the challenge lies in balance and understanding.

Perhaps it’s a long shot for me, but for my married and committed friends, I pray that you keep your Friends and give each other space and freedom in relationship.

I pray that it be only responsibilities, physical distance, and life passions that possibly distance us – and not social limits of bias and sad presumptions that already fragment our society!

Write to me and let me know what you think:)

With Love,
Apsara

apsara.iyengar@gmail.com

4 Things About Girls and Guys and a Little Realization

Really wanted to type this out yesterday afternoon; doing it before the moment completely disappears. #GirlsAndGuys

I was working with a few teenagers yesterday, the mid teens. Confident, expressive; the girl has the same naive, optimistic enthusiasm as I did as a young girl. The guys are silent, they have the smirk; typically boyish. They all speak when asked, they communicate, they all come forward and express.

conversations with the 'younger' mind
conversations with the ‘younger’ mind

On one question, the girl answers. I can almost hear myself speaking.
I resist getting carried away and ask the boys, “That’s how a girl would think. I have been working for so long, but I still hear the guys comment on my thoughts and drive it home that – ladkiyan aise he hoti hai (girls are just like that) I want to know your thoughts.” The guys dint seem to take my word too seriously, the girl related and said “yes! I so agree! :D”
The guy spoke, sharing his thoughts. And then the other added.

I realized a few things yesterday..

One:
Girls believe. I guess it’s just there in our basic set up! We’re naive, we’re optimistic, we’re hopeful. And we aspire and we make our aspirations true. That’s how we achieve whatever we achieve. That’s the way we succeed.

We might never really know the world in its harsh terms; because we don’t look at it like that. We look at it believing that it’s beautiful, and, what is not right, can be fixed; and we attempt and make our journey.

Two:
Boys have a more practical approach. They don’t show too much emotion. They want to make a difference too, but they’d try to understand what people would respond to. They will try to understand ‘what’ the path ahead could be like and based on their own understanding, they will take their steps. They look beyond; they predict the hurdles and then walk. They aspire and they succeed; on the way they look at life.

Three:
To a large extent, we are who we were in our teenage. The core remains.
I didn’t feel much different from the people they were. I am a good number of years older, but I could relate. I could recollect my days and see that I was indeed, one of them. I was just like the girl. I had just the same equation with the people around me.

Four:
I perhaps, should NOT have made the comment on ‘Girls and Guys’; because what I saw there was something very obvious and precious too.

There was no discrimination.
Yes, I did make that comment. But I looked at them and realized I was wrong.

Men and women are different but they do share an honest relationship and a harmonious co-existence. It is there. I just loved the vibes I got from the teenagers. They accept each other.

More importantly, they respect each other.

It’s there in the upbringing; it’s there in the schooling, it’s there in the culture.

The elders in the room hand me my cup of tea.
I am sipping it as I hear them speak some more.

I am thinking how thankful I feel to them, for bringing me back to myself; in some ways.

One day, many years back, I graduated from school and stepped into the ‘world’ being an individual like them. One day, many years back, I was a person of these realities. One day, many years ago, I accepted myself the way I am and only strived to be better.

I had never faced discrimination.
But as an adult, I feel differently. I work in various circles owing to the ‘multiple areas of work’ that I indulge in.

I find myself, many a times, amongst men, who look at women ‘just as women’.

I used to cringe, I used to argue, but I was quickly labeled as “woman empowerment leader”.

Then I began to accept them, THIS discrimination as it is.

In accepting discrimination, I have accepted ‘them’, but become distant from myself.

Because there are two schools of thought:
One that looks at individuals and the other that looks at ‘men and women’.

If I accept the ‘men and women’ ideology, any woman will always be a misfit.
What is needed is not a focus on ‘women’, but a focus on individuality.

For the past few months, I have felt suffocated; and only my work has kept me going.
For weeks I think this thought has nagged me. But I wasn’t able to figure out, until I met the young adults yesterday.

If it wasn’t for close friends, my business partner and the theatre that I love, I think I wouldn’t have remained sane. And please note; I never discussed this with them. They kept me sane through conversations and connections that were beyond these thoughts, beyond this discrimination.

It never happened to me before, but then, ‘never’ always has a beginning.
For weeks I have heard women being humored, I have myself been termed ‘dumb’ for speaking up on things that matter to me or for sharing my interests, I have been labeled ‘blocked’ when I have had a different set of opinions than those proposed to me.

And I have constantly felt suffocated – for the very fact that I was NOT blocked to these ‘suggestions’. I was open to them. And being so ‘reachable’ has only made me more vulnerable to hurt and abuse.

As I sip the cup of tea, I say, “Criticism is fine. But only as long as it is constructive.”
And everyone in the room looks at me, wondering what I’d just said.
I just smile and add a few sentences to make my statement seem coherent. I get up to leave and profusely let the kids know that I enjoyed interacting with them.

As I reach my car, I see a text on my phone.
The previous night I had opened up to a friend about the way I was feeling; a series of mixed experiences and emotions. This morning, she added an after – thought to our conversation. She said:
You can NOT allow this. Because the more you let it happen to you, the more you will de-value yourself.  Disrespect cannot have consent.

I reverse the car and start driving back home. Disrespect cannot have consent.

I wonder when I began to need such words to heal disillusionment. Something tugs at the cords of my heart; sometimes we silence ourselves for the relationships we value. But are they worth it at the cost of our self-esteem? But I take a breath of relief in realizing I still have the sixteen year old alive in me. And a sign of relief, that I can still write. So what if this is the first ‘real’ post since December :p So what if it’s taken me 7 months to be able to write? So what if some time has passed?  I still hope to make it. And I will revive that naïve, and innocent enthusiasm to do so.

..when gender doesn't come in the way of smiles
..when gender doesn’t come in the way of smiles

Sharing here, a picture with my friends from a group trip we did a while ago. They would perhaps kill me for sharing such a picture where we all look crazy 😀 but… I think the emotion is significant. 

So… if you’re reading this post, and if you liked what you’ve read here, please get in touch 🙂

Drop a comment or send me a mail or connect with me on twitter or facebook. I will feel encouraged and much more alive.

Thank you for reading,
With love and wishes for healing anything that plunges at the cords of your heart,
Tumhari
Apsara

Crime against Women – Introspection Part 1

So does this mean, only in case of mass violence, we are moved or affected? When it’s a group of people being attacked, somehow we find strength to unite. But, if an individual is victimized, we stand and watch?

I was discussing Newtown with Mom this morning, and I said “Would people in India defend and protect like they did? Would our people be moved just as much?” And mom said, “Of course. In that moment, I am sure, we’d think of nothing else, but to protect the children. We wouldn’t think of living or dying.”

But I am so disturbed by the incidents we hear of, here in India. The Guwahati molestation, mumbai daylight killings and now the Delhi gangrape on the bus..

Where does humanity go in such cases? how can people just watch?
And in a bus? …. really.. like in a bus? And the perpetrators have not been identified.. do u mean to say, the rest of the people in the bus traveled comfortably all the way to wherever they were going?(Later revealed the bus had ONLY the rapists.) 

I just wish we would all understand that tolerating such crime is a crime in itself.
No girl, no matter how she dresses or where she goes – deserves such a fate. No human being deserves to be tortured like this.

Who gives them the freedom to walk scot free?
Why is the legislature so weak that people think “it’s OKAY” and “We can get away with crime”? ….WHY.

I don’t care about anything else in our nation (and am up for serious reprimand for saying this.) except that the law and order HAS to be put into place. Perpetrators HAVE to be caught. FEAR of BEING CRIMINALS should be set in. People seem to “pride” in over powering the woman, being criminals – it’s becoming a “path to take”. Is that what our society is becoming? How can we be so tolerant. HOW…

It’s seems like it’s better to take a gun or a knife and go around killing these people that actually being good people. And you know what? I bet – if the woman of this nation start doing that – people will start advocating”HOW” women should behave. I am sure leaders of morality will stand up in seconds, but now – in this moment – we’re just spectators. None of us doing anything. And, it’s shameful. Let’s at least just KNOW that THIS is shameful. We should be ashamed that we’re letting this happen to our women.

If the victim has a knife on her and she killed every man who tried to touch her, i am sure people would have filed a case on her. Eye witnesses woould have spoken, people would have “talked” BECAUSE it’s OKAY to speak about the this woman because she’s not a bad human being, right? She’s not going to charge after them. She was just defending herself – so, it’s okay to speak up against her.
I am sure, SHE would have been tried in court while her perpetrators would have mourners.
No such heroism would ever be celebrated. …. or maybe I’m just being pessimistic. The first negative thought on Half A Cup of Tea.

I am so angered and so hurt. In the past ten years, growing up, I have only seen more and more of these crimes and we’re only becoming “tolerant”.

Wake up people, wake up. Wake up!!!!
We’ve gone from movies like Halla Bol – where rape was being faught to movies like Rowdy Rathore, where rape is treated so casually.

I really, earnestly, wish to voice out – RAPE is NOT a joke. Violating a woman is NOT something that should be acccepted or entertained. I really feel it’s the highest degree of violence, it can NOT be accepted.

Ideally I see two ways from here:
Image

That’s the only thing I can see right now!
We’re becoming more and more tolerant with each day.

Yesterday, my friend and I were on a bike and a rickshaw driver, drunk in the dry state, drove so rash that he almost drove us over. I shrieked in relex “ What are you doing?” in Gujarati and that was all I said. He stopped his rickshaw in such tremedous anger, the way he looked at us he said, “How dare you speak to me like this?”

He went ahead and we drove slowly. My girl-friend said, “Aps don’t get involved with such people.” And I said, “Babes! It was reflex! He almost  pushed us over.” We both were moved.
And then we observed that the rickshaw driver was moving really slowly.

He wanted us to overtake him, so that he could fight and abuse us. My friend and I decided to stop the vehicle and let him go by. We din’t want to get into a situation. We let him pass.

He waited briefly and then left.
We went our way, but the incident just struck me.

Is it the male ego? Is it the urge to feel superior? What is it?
What is it that makes these men think like this?

Write in – in the comments below and help me understand!
I seriously think we all need to ask these questions.

Also, let me clarify, I am NOT anti-men – I am anti-crime-against-women.
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Also, this is not done yet. Part II coming soon.
Every woman in this country, sometime in life, has faced abuse. We just don’t come out with it.

How many cases will we report?

Everyone of us has been either molested, eve-teased, or put in a terribly dreadful situation and this is something only a woman will know.
If you are a woman and you want to voice out a story, write to me on apsara.iyengar@gmail.com and we’ll try to do something about this. Let’s brainstorm on trying to fix this nation. Is there a way? Is there hope? I want to try. I just can’t sit there thinking it’s all okay and someone else will save us.

p.s. I got the above picture from this blog:

An interesting read. Says –

“As long as we allow government to be the only protector sentences like “she was asking for it” or the ever so funny “Don’t go out after dark” will be heard. Honestly, if we aren’t allowed to rely on anything other than the police, who will only show up after the fact, what else is there to say?

But if we play with the thought that many women carries a gun, the same sentences can instead be laid upon the rapist. ‘That guy really was asking for it. Trying to rape a woman with a gun. Pfffff… what a smuck!’ ” [ Link to the post]

Satyamev Jayate – A Story Of A Patient From Baroda Hospital

I wrote this post way back in September – almost 9 months back. Never posted it because I didn’t think people would be interested to read, that it would be received properly, that it would be okay for me to speak up…… but today, SatyaMev Jayate has encouraged me to share this story.  A patient from Baroda, and an observer in me; here goes:

 18th September, 2011

 I am an optimist. I may be sad or low or I may just start crying… but I am an optimist at heart.

 When I walk into an office, my first instance is to believe that I am in a noble place. That the people there are sincere. That the work they do is honest. That they wish to do well and do just.

 But something really moved me yesterday.

 It all started last week.

 A friend sent me a text that his mother is in the government hospital, admitted to the ICU because of a high diabetic condition. I decided to pay a visit and offer to help.  I just had the regular “Hey bud! Lemme know if you need anything!” and the “Hey Mate! Don’t worry… all will be fine.” – Dialogues ready in my head.  But when I stepped in there, I just couldn’t leave.

 This was the government hospital of Baroda – the place where people from all over Gujarat come for treatment. There are patients from far of districts and even other states like Rajasthan; who come here with faith to be cured.

My first feeling was optimism.

 We take my friend’s mom to the first ward.  The doctor looks at the swollen foot and says, “Take her to the other department. This is a case of diabetes being severe. Control that first, and then come here.

We rush her to the other ward, and there the authorities tell us “the wound is severed. The swelling is critical. First aid is required. The leg has to be dealt with first, before we look begin with treatment for diabetes.

 My otherwise troublesome friend is rather quiet and I step in, “they have just sent us here. So, it would be really nice if you could confirm where we are to go”. My friend rushes to the other surgical department, to the doctor to bring him to this department so that treatment can begin soon.  The doctor comes, comments “well!! I sent her here because it was your case of diabetes … but if you are not taking her, we will start our procedures. She anyway has to be admitted.”

 

My instinct is disturbed by the lack of coordination.

 

But then I watch as the doctors sending us to the ward; the interns scolding my friend for not getting the syringe in time ( ; ) ), the doctors doing the rounds and I helping in the tests – I feel  like appreciating the work.  I feel overwhelmed thinking of how they are working in this set up; treating the underprivileged, giving their whole to so many patients.

 After spending the weekend there, I return home thinking- yes! The system may be flawed, but it still isn’t all shallow and hollow. There are people working for humanity. There are people doing their job really well. There are people who are passionate and care. I felt good about the treatment meted to my friend’s mother.

 However, my happiness was soon to be tainted.

 The following day, I was discussing the case with a colleague. I had previously done some social work in terms of copy writing, for his Grandfather’s trust. He brought to my notice that since the trust operated close to the Hospital, and since my friend’s mom was in the same hospital, I should refer the case to them at least once before the surgery that was scheduled in the afternoon.

 Well! It made sense. No harm in getting one more perspective on the case. I reached the hospital with agenda but to be greeted by my friend, in tone of happiness. “Apsara!! All is fine now! Mom is being discharged.”

 I am pleasantly surprised and credit all the ‘good news’ to the positive colors that I am wearing : )

 We walk down to pay the bills. On the way, I look at the trust office and suggest having a word them. Since everything was good now, we could just tell the people at the trust that all is fine. My colleague has after all, taken the trouble to connect us.

  However, from that point onwards, everything changed.

 The NGO people meet us with great warmth and positivity and my colleague’s grandfather volunteers with all the energy to look into the subject and to meet the doctors with us. He comes with us.

 He says, “Oh! Let’s meet the doctors if your mother is being discharged.

He walks straight in and asks about details.

 Apparently, the diabetic department that had given us “discharge on request” (despite us never making any such request) and the authority explains that they had to do this because they could not treat my friend’s mother for the ailment. It was the job of another department.

 The intern explains, “The lady was brought in a critical condition. We presumed that the swelling was because of a tissue infection. And the infection would have affected the bone. But; the swelling in the tissues occurred only in 2 – 3 days; which means that the bone could not have been infected by the tissue infection. For a bone to be infected, the condition has to be longer; for instance, in terms of months. So the fact is that the bone was initially infected and this infection spread to the tissues. Our department doesn’t deal with bone problems. The bone infection has to be cured by the orthopedic department and it must because that’s what has transferred contagion to the tissues.”

 So if there is a bone infection, why was she being discharged with a mere mention that there has to be regular dressing of the foot?

 And the answer is: THAT is not our work.

 The doctor explains, “The orthopedic department was not taking her. What can we do about it? So, our work is to deal with tissues. If they don’t admit her for a bone treatment, we have no option but to send her home and that’s what we were doing.

 My colleague’s grandfather, looks at us and says, “Don’t discharge her today. Stay a day. We’ll look into it and talk to the highest authorities.

 He takes us straight to the senior doctors and explains the case.

 Within 10 minutes, we are back in a ward and the 4 doctors are here to see her.

(The reason is the NGO. The NGO is renowned for its good work. So, when they are associated with a case, they manage to get answers.)

 The doctor inspects the foot, confirms that my friend’s mother has to be shifted to the orthopedic department and the procedures begin in few minutes.

 I just stand there spell bound.

 I help in the processes and running about. I help in the shifting.

But deep within, I am terribly disturbed.

 Today, we were on the verge of committing a big mistake. We were taking my friend’s mom home with an almost fatal infection. We were going to quietly bring her for a dressing the foot – every day for perhaps a month- so that her open wound could heal (the incision that was made to inspect and clear the region with the swelling. And for records, the swelling has only partially subsided, and the foot looks far from normal).

 We were going to go home smiling, thinking that she was being discharged because thing were fine. Not knowing, that it was because there was no one to check and sign her papers.

 

 I had wondered last week, why I was there…. At the hospital… when I should actually be studying or working or doing something of personal importance… and yesterday I realized WHY.

It was so that I could open my eyes and see the world, not through tainted glasses.

 We, the educated, were going to fall prey to negligence, then what would be the case of the under privileged? The poor? The uneducated?

 I still feel, the doctors are doing a great job out there. Working hard day in and day out. Treating patients and healing them. But what disturbs me is the thin line between “work” and responsibility.

 There were professional’s out there, who were willing to let a patient suffer because it wasn’t a matter of their department.  Knowing well, that the condition could worsen, that it could lead to a critical amputation or extreme condition of the infection spreading in the entire body…. Knowing… that….. Sending this patient home is not the right thing to do…. They knew it…. But they were still about to go through with it.

 I never really wanted to be a doctor. And now I think, with the idealist that I am, I’d have suffered more if seniors around me were dealing with patients like this.The hope, however, lies in the hands of the young minds that are sincere and the experienced professionals from the field who are role models.

 I can understand the Munna Bhai MBBS dialogue, “Ek doctor ke liye ek mariz ek bimar sharer hai. Bus.” But… at the end of the day, that ill body is a human being.

I can understand them being un-moved by illnesses, by ailments, by these critical conditions. What I cannot understand is how they can be indifferent.

 I cannot understand how we can go to bed knowing that somebody is suffering before our eyes, and that we could do what was required to treat them.  This diabetic department/ surgical department may not be responsible for the procedure of curing……. But they could bring forth the case to the ortho-department.  

 The patient’s relatives on the other hand, suffer not just trauma but also confusion. They have to file papers, transfer papers, sign documents, get medicines, shift the patient themselves form one ward to the other and above all, remaining in the dark about what exactly is happening.  

 

The first thought that came to my mind was that, I am an Indian.

I have lived in this India.

I have walked the dirty streets, I have worked in dingy buildings and I have seen the sarkari daftar (slow working offices). I am still tolerant when it comes to postal, police and railway procedures … but this is a HOSPITAL. And this is a matter of life and death.  We just cannot be tolerant here.

 If you have managed to read this article and reach till this point, then here are two things:

  1. Pray for my friend’s mom : ) She’s still needs are good wishes and still needs to be treated for the bone condition
  2. Don’t be *starry* eyed and believe everything around you. Ask questions, be alert and HELP where you can. Perhaps you could help someone in pain and in need. It needs only an educated mind.        Please share this post.

 For now, I am too un-rich to be able to help this NGO in spreading the light, but when I can, I shall.  Until then, I am going to make posts like this, volunteer with time and spread the word.

 You can do the same and perhaps help someone in need.

 I guess the positive colors did work after all 😉 we met the Hari Om Seva Trust. And God bless them for the wonderful social service they are doing.

 

As Of Today: 26th May 2012

The Trust [Link to their Facebook Pagesharing the name and link on request]still operates in Baroda helping thousands of under privileged patients with subsidized health care medications and the correct information about their ailments.They host camps, educate and do a lot of voluntary service and have been recognized internationally.

My friend’s mom – finally underwent an amputation. The amputation was needed to avoid the infection from spreading. She walks with a Jaipur/false foot now and is fine.

 As for me, I am still *starry eyed*, yet wiser; have many questions [While at it, you can Like the blog page here: Half A Cup Of Tea. Please do!] I am still moved by instances and this is but, one story. If there’s anything you need me to help with, please feel free to get in touch.

 Inspired by cause addressed by Staya Mev Jayte – even if the series is making a lot of money, targeted for TRP, it’s still getting us to talk about subjects. Their success is justified, in the same way, as I bring out this post and justify sharing something like this without facing the wrath of society and “higher authorities”.

 Satya Mev Jayate – it’s the truth after all, why fear?

 

Unraveling The Idea Called Love

I want to embrace that feeling,

That brings me near me;

That tells me who this person is;

Or those living within me.

I fear who I may discover,

I fear being bound;

I know not where this may lead,

I stand silent without sound.

I want to go back home,

To sharing joys and sorrows;

I want to lay below the stars,

Not worrying about tomorrow.

I want to live in this moment,

Though knowing it may end;

I don’t want to travel on that road

Because it may end.

If I were another person,

I’d perhaps not move with thought,

I’d let this moment live as it is,

As with destiny it’s brought.

Those who say Love is selfless are wrong. Those who say that love is unconditional are wrong too. Those who say love is about living for someone else aren’t right either. Those who say love is life – are, perhaps right.

Love is just like all of us – it’s human. It has its ugly sides and it has its prettiness. It is just as flawed as perfect; it’s just as imperfect as it is sacred.

Case 1: Love – the other side of the person

In simple words, it’s simply our identity. The way we love defines us. That’s why people in love have different personalities. This one friend, in a relationship since years, has a partner who just wouldn’t let her be out in the “open”. He doesn’t let her create a profile on social networks, he doesn’t like it when she hangs out with girl friends, he doesn’t like her not meeting him and he doesn’t like her working. And he’s pretty candid about it saying, “That’s the way I am”. To his friends, however, he’s kind and supportive and being a renowned television artist, he certainly works with many working women. He has great respect for them all – or so he certainly shows. But back in his home, he wants a wife who doesn’t need anything else besides him.  They do love each other, and I’ll be attending a wedding soon. 

Case 2:  Love – the more than one, simultaneous

In case two, I am out for dinner with a friend. Unfortunately that evening, I don’t have company. It’s a party evening and the whole city is busy! So I ask him to join me and he comes. He says, “I haven’t told anyone I am with you. Please don’t mention it to anyone”. And I just put down my spoon. I ask him “why be clandestine?” and he says “she wouldn’t like it” and I say, “Are you seeing each other?” and he says, “No!! Of course not! We have different lives and different languages. We can’t even think about something like that. Besides, I have a long distance girl friend right; I am committed to her and she knows I am here with you”. I just keep quiet and quickly finish my dinner. Another word would hurt my respect too much. Why am I dining with someone who feels the need to keep our meeting a “secret”? I quietly finish dinner and stand up to leave. He tells me not to be upset. I say it’s fine and that I just hate it when people have dual standards. I say, “if your friend matters so much and she disapproves of u giving me company for one dinner, then why are u here?” he says, “because u are a friend. And she is someone I work with; meeting her every day. I can’t afford to hurt her, and I want to be there for u when u need help.” I say it’s fine and that I wouldn’t bother to call him in future if it’s going to bother his girlfriends.

I go back home and sleep over it. I wake up in the morning with my cup of tea in hand. Half way through, the images flash in my mind. Are there multiple relationships in this friend’s life? I was meeting him after months; years actually. I had known of his long distance girl friend of 4 years but I was unaware of this co-worker’s presence. What is this friendship about?

Case 3: Love – the mistaken belief

On another day, I am talking to stranger on social network. Our conversation drifts to how they are looking for a groom for her. I say, “I have tremendous respect for women who marry young. It’s really hard” One thing leads to another, and she makes a statement that blows me off my feet. She says, “Love is sacrifice. Which is why I can marry someone I don’t even know”

But how can something like love be sacrifice? Of course we do things for people we love and often, we give up on things for them. But calling it “sacrifice” would create a void within, wouldn’t it? I had once read in some work by Paulo Coelho – Sacrifice means you have to go without. That there isn’t enough for everyone, and hence you are giving up on something you desire. Love shouldn’t mean killing your desires. There should be room for two people.

Which is what makes me go to the first lines of the poem above – love is a more personal experience. It’s our frame of mind, it’s our experience and it takes us closer to who we are – within. And it’s often; very different from whom we are to the world. That someone we are with knows or sees a side that others do not.

Which is why love requires courage; you need to have the courage to face yourself. Go deep within and bring out a person – that other person. My sister commented, “Well, in your case then, they are bound to find many personalities” and I stop and think – that’s true. Each frame of mind, each part of life – may be the person deep down doesn’t change – but somewhere we do. We do have multiple personalities – look at yourself early in the morning, look at yourself at night, look at yourself in front of your boss, look at yourself in a temple – aren’t we different people?

It is these different people who are responsible for ripples in relationships. Our different personalities. A partner should understand who – all – you are. And that can be difficult at times – because life isn’t stagnant. We have different phases and different requirements. When I am reigning high in success, I need someone to celebrate with me as well as keep me grounded. When I am low in depression, I need someone to see me through. People have to stay through all these phases to make successful partners. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen. Sometimes pressures, turns in life, priorities, competencies don’t match what’s needed. Relationships end.

Of course, true love should see you through everything. Maybe it isn’t true love – but it still is something – because it has a part of you.

And that brings us to the next point – the misconceptions about love.

  1. Love is always happiness
  1. Love does not cause pain if it’s true
  1. Love is unconditional
  1. Love is freedom of speech and space. Love does not bind.
  1. Love is selfless; happens only once and lives forever

I started this post with the statements – love is like humans. It has its flaws. And the discussion above explains that there is and can be pain because life has its ups and downs. So an “always happiness” situation doesn’t happen. An unconditional love also doesn’t happen – because there are some amounts of expectations always. When you call, you expect and answer; when you love, you expect a response, when you speak, you expect to be heard and you expect them to share, while you listen. It’s when our basic expectations are met – whatever they are – we call it unconditional love. The fact however that is it really isn’t unconditional.

There’s one more kind of love actually. I’d perhaps call that “unconditional” because it’s the one sided love. Where you just have these strong feelings for someone. You don’t expect them to love you back but you have small expectations like “he must at least listen” or “she must at least respect” and then these expectations when not met, turn into hurt and pain and pull at the strings of your heart. I remember feeling like this for a person; when I’d simply keep hurting. For months. Everything else was perfect at that time – professional lives, opportunities, friends- everything. But somewhere, those little expectations would pull at the heart and linger like pain. I never really told him that I had feelings because he dint seem to reciprocate. And then one day, it ended. Like my heart gave up on that “unconditional” feeling. Yes, I don’t want to use the word love here, because love is a very strong word. Unconditional can’t really be that strong, can it?

Love can be unconditional in terms of adversity, yes. That no matter what you stay along. No matter what, you tolerate and you love each one of those personalities within the person you admire, despite everything. Yes, that unconditional “being there” can be there, but something where you don’t need anything in return – well, that doesn’t happen. And more so, it shouldn’t. And hence love isn’t selfless. You want your heart o have peace, you want to see their smiles, you want to embrace, you want to protect you want to share your life. That certainly can’t be selfless.

It’s almost evening. I have been silent all day. And now I have my evening cup of tea in hand. I started writing this blog in the morning and it’s evening now. There are still many thought’s that I need to carry beyond from here. Still many ideas to share.

  • Why intimacy isn’t wrong
  • Why love binds and dead-ends happen
  • The loves that don’t reach closure; barriers
  •  Guys and girls – how their worlds are different and needs and expectations are different. How guys fear to commit and how girls simply hold on to all the love they get – even from different people.
  • Selfishness happens – when you don’t love a person back and still don’t let them go either

There is much more to discuss, and I shall try my best to publish soon.

It’s now become more like a quest now – to unravel truths of life. To unravel ideas in the universe; and perhaps I could keep writing forever and still not have answers. Sometimes I think I want to drive down to some unknown place, sit down and write about all those things that I have discovered. But somehow, I know it won’t work. Because love isn’t perfection – it’s life. It’s human with imperfections, with problems, with pain, with hurt, with longing and still, with power and strength. Love is energy – there’s no need to fear it because it can take you through. Love makes the heart happy – and don’t deprive yourself of it.

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