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

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The Friend Who Was Not Noticed

It’s late evening and I am returning from a meeting. I am little low, a little let down. There are times in life when everything is great, but you still seem to miss some spark.

You call your friend up, rather mechanically, he’s still at work.

“Hey! Why don’t you just come down to the site!” he says, cheerfully.

You drive down to the site. It’s a visual beauty. It’s a dark night, with stars and a barren land before you. Your friend greets you and takes you to see the work. You can’t understand much but you pretend to look intelligent by nodding at the details. And then you both stand at the railing on the construction site and watch the work – in – progress.

Someone brings you both cups of tea, and you’re half way through when he says, “You know what? I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn so much. I have given my life to cricket, I have worked in the travel industry and here I am, working on real estate. There’s so much to learn, so much to do in the world; it’s just that sometimes we wrap ourselves in our worries and forget to look ahead. It’s just a matter of time, when you keep walking.”

I smile at him and we stand silent for a few minutes. And I know that, that second is one of those honest moments, when life reflects answers to you.

For a long time, I remained focused on the things ‘that pull at the cords of your heart.’ (Yes, that story, may be another day) but I just wasn’t able to look beyond what held me back. I did work hard; my company did well, new projects we took up blossomed. But, in my heart, I held on to the losses I felt dearly.

And more than the loss, I held on to bitter experiences, painful encounters and harsh realities. So much, that it started to feel like I am a changed person.

I remember this realization once, that holding on to sorrow is also a luxury! 😉 You know… when you spend days hurting, when you waste nights wondering and many tomorrows are lost with blankness… all that is luxury. A luxury that can be injure the richest of all because it can totally blind you to magnificence of life! For instance, the past year has actually been a beautiful journey, some remarkable encounters, some very inspiring conversations, life altering experiences, some warm success stories, and may be, I shall share some of them in the course of time. But the point remains, that I remained utterly selfish, buried in luxury! Yes Selfish because I failed to share any of the life learnings on Half a Cup of Tea.

[I can’t really list out the wonderful people who have taken me through. I know they all know how much they matter.]

And in the course of “this phase” I have realized that it’s easy to question everything in life, but difficult to rise above and beyond. It’s easy to ask “Why did this happen?” or “Why do I face this” or “How will I accomplish?” and it’s harder to take that step forward.

I remember Devdutt Pattanaik had said at the jaipur literature festival, 2013 “Writing comes from living”. For most part inspiration in life, comes from Living. Yes, that’s the most valuable learning I have to take home.

Inspiration comes from living.

When you live, you open the doors to the possibility of being inspired. And by “Live” I do not mean breathe day – in and day – out and go through the rut of life. By live I mean – spending time with your niece and nephew, taking care of your family, spending time ragging your friends and being teased, spending time flirting lightly with everyone; by “living” I mean continuing to be your own guide and mentor – reading, learning something new, spending time with yourself, helping someone else heal ( like the dialogue from Ek Villian! Agar hum kisi ke humdard nahi bante toh dard humse aur hum dard se juda nahi hote.)… probably, even writing a book! 😉 (His upcoming book: Chasing Love… Destination Unknown.)

All of the above have been accomplished by this friend of mine. And so, I decide to write; again.  Don’t get me wrong; I wrote many short plays for children, wrote for my clients, wrote for my friends; but what I have not done in the past year, is written for this space called Half a Cup of Tea. And that’s why I chose today to write again. To restart the journey of sharing experience, being a friend, and “stepping out” into space; to open doors to be inspired; to open doors to living.

Today, it’s like (one of my) best friend’s and my only childhood friend’s birthday. He has “survived the test of time” like I say :p through 14 years of unadulterated, uninterrupted friendship.

Strange, I never noticed that you have been there and seen me through all these years! From heart breaks to professional set backs, you’ve always been there!” I say.

“That does it Apsara!” he replies, “What more does a friend need that to be ‘forgotten’. Fantastic!” he says with mock resentment.

I wonder, have you noticed? That the best relationships in our lives are the ones we seldom notice.

I am instantly reminded of a twitter interaction with Roshan Abas, take a look at the picture below.

 

The people who love and support you, help you bounce back!
The people who love and support you, help you bounce back!

 

Roshan Abas shared a post asking one to “take the leap of faith” and jump through toughest hurdles.

I had replied in light humor that “I am currently trying to build a ladder to climb back up from the fall.” To which he replied “Why do you look at it as a fall? Look at it as a trampoline of people below who have faith in you. The friend Not Noticed

Have you had a rough patch in life? Then take a look at yourself, above the situations and look at the “trampoline of beautiful people who have faith in you.” And you’ll see that life is bright, after all 🙂

Here’s to a little bit of “self love” and little bit to those friends who have been there.

To the friends who have “stood the test of time”, and who have not been noticed! 😀

I never take names on this blog, but here goes, the least I could do.

Happy Birthday Sachin Agrawal. Hope you feel noticed now 😉

Cheers and love,
Apsara

The Lok Sabha Elections 2014 – An experience for the Indian Citizen  

And so it has me, just like the entire country.

A Message from half A Cup of Tea - all you need is an ID Proof and 2 Photos to Vote ! Do that.
A Message from half A Cup of Tea – all you need is an ID Proof and 2 Photos to Vote ! Do that.

It’s sunday morning, and I am just back from a long walk in the morning. The city is filled with hoardings and posters and various brands are endorsing “Voting” in the elections.

There are of course the party hoardings of Congress and BJP and there are various corporate endorsing the act of ‘voting for your government’ via hoardings, creatives, initiatives, offering discounts and much more.

 

I contemplate as I pick up my cup of tea.

Over the last one month, Politics has absorbed me, too. I have read articles, journals, history, watched interviews, gotten into arguments and debates and analyzed events like never before. And anyone can easily say, that THIS is a movement.

 

After a decade of scams and shams, the country now wants to look forward to a better tomorrow.

And that is where the danger lies.

 

I remember that time, when the corruption had reached its hilt and the ‘Anna Hazzare’ movement had ensued. The first time it happened, I went to too (I mean, I went only once, just to extend my support by watching. I generally keep a low profile from participating in anything that I am not completely aware of.) I think many of us youth had initially supported it. But then, the ‘dharna’ happened a second time. Then a third time and then a fourth and after that, I gave up. I watched as the country was walking aimlessly and blindly in support of that ray of hope,that promises to bring a better tomorrow. How many of the youth had read the Jan Lok Pal Bill? How many knew what they were standing for? Everyone walked blindly because they found a leader and they trusted him.

I was scared. I had such great fear that I was living in a country where so many people would just get wooed so easily. I felt paranoid to think no one had strong opinions. All they knew was “they are against corruption”.

 

That was 2011 – 2012.

Do you remember the movement like I do?

At that point – if anyone suspected the intentions of all the involved individuals, they would say,

“ Oh! So you are not anti – corruption is it? You are FOR corruption! go to hell”

And I literally had to cry, that it’s only my skepticism and MORE to just encourage more educated fan following. I had to assert that I am against corruption too!!!! But it’s just that, I am a little skeptical when people can ‘use away’ so much of their time just stalling work.  wouldn’t’ all that affect the growth of this country?

 

That was 2011 – 2012.

You must also note: That while the whole ‘anti corruption’ movement ensued, the corruption levels around us went down. On a daily life basis, traffic police started to issue proper receipts, rickshaw drivers started to charge by meter and everyone talked about how it would be good to walk on the paths of ethics and doing what is right.

Some benefits did come out of the movement.

But by then, the politics of this country, took a backseat in my life – like for many others. I stopped reading so much and I let things happen (well, they did even without my participation :p but still!)

The Party was formed, AAP came into existence, and they formed the government in Delhi. and then Arvind Kejriwal resigned.

“WHAT!!” I exclaimed watching the news. “He’s crazy!!” I thought and turned off the television. This was Feb, 2014.

But by then, the world around me, had changed.

History was about to repeat itself.

The same blind following and the same extreme “Mera Bharat” chauvinism had returned.

But this time, it wasn’t AAP. It was BJP.

 

Let me take you back to what I just said. Back in 2011 – 2012 if you sighted skepticism about Arvind Kejriwal, you were deemed “CORRUPT” and in 2014, if you sight even ‘questions’ on the core values of the BJP, you are deemed “PRO CONGRESS” or even worse, “YOU ARE NOT INDIAN ENOUGH” , “you don’t want development for India”. And I have also got the worst-est-est of the kind “Hindus have suffered for so long. It’s time things change”

This time, the patriotism is for Narendra Modi. This time, you can’t say a word against him because if you do- you will be ostracized.

And honestly speaking, I have experienced SO MANY PERSONAL attacks for just raising a few questions, that I totally refrain from talking about my political inclinations.

Last evening at work, I mentioned to a colleague, “We have to go for the Human Chain Initiative tomorrow, to encourage voting!” and he said “Are you going to vote for Narendra Modi?”

I said, “How does that relate to my plans to join the movement?”

He said “Well, if you are not voting for him, don’t bother coming.”

Yes, this is the city where Narendra Modi stands from. Yes, Vadodara is all this alive mostly in support of him. But, why is this ‘choice’ putting us all against each other?

The events of the past few weeks have finally pushed me to the brink, to speak up.

The first thing is, to NOT judge colleagues and friends based on who they are voting for. It is our right to make a choice. We all want the same things – development, peace, prosperity, harmony and success.

The Second thing, I see the same blind movement that happened in 2011. I see the blind following for Bharat Janta Party just because we’re all tired of the corruption around us and we’re tired of seeing a failed government with Congress.

But is it fair to make the same mistake again? To walk blindly in support and not make a well – read choice?

And let me reinforce here, that reading does not mean reading only the posts shared by your friends on facebook. Reading means, researching and finding your own answers.

It is fair if you have read – if not everything, but attempted to learn about your party. It is important, to make an educated vote.

Educate yourself first and then vote.

Read. Ask questions. Find your answers and then vote.

And if you are going to vote only because it’s “your right” or only because it’s such a big deal to vote this time around, then the fact and the truth of the matter is – that your vote is equally biased as anyone who casts a fake vote. Your vote is a fake vote.

 

Now coming to the third part of my discussion. I have an issue with the way the elections are being promoted and the way the parties are branding themselves. With campaigns that run into a good thousands of crores, where does this money actually come from?

Billboards, radio and TV ads shout slogans so much more than actual people. But while we see so much of it around us, it feels like there’s a wave. I quite suspect it now; to be more of what is projected and purchased, than a real moment that garners support and strength with each passing moment. That, I suspect is happening.

The other day I had some official work at Nyay Mandir (The Court in Vadodara) and I made the visit in the rickshaw. We heard some promotional vehicles moving around and that tempts the rickshaw driver to say, “Aa waqte toh madam, apda Modi kaka aj avana che” (This time our Modi uncle is only going to win.)

I ask him in broken gujarati, “Hmmm. Su game che tamne Modi kaka ma?” (What do you like about Modi Uncle)

He says, “Su bole che Modi kaka!! Hasi hasi ne pet dukhi jaye che. Jo jo ne, Delhi ma pan Modi Kaka aj avse.” (Look at how (Narendra) Modi talks! He makes us laugh so much that our stomach hurts. Watch as he is only going to form the government in Delhi.)

01tamashaAnd I wonder. Is that what this election has become about?

Almost feels like an Indian Idol contest where the most entertaining candidate wins.

Maybe I am just being too critical, but the fanaticism is evident.

 

 

I may not get there, but there are a few links I would like to share form my expedition to find my answers. These have helped me form opinions or look for answers.

 

1. CNN IBN Sagarika Ghosh on Special series “Open Mike” from Sabarmati river front, Ahemedabad.

http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/465845/open-mike-is-the-young-professionalbusiness-class-modis-prime-support-base.html?classic

 

2. Headlines Today, Rahul Kanwal on “Election Express” from Vadodara the city where BJP PM Candidate Narendra Modi Stands http://headlinestoday.intoday.in/programme/election-express-reaches-modi-bastion-vadodara/1/355929.html

3. Arvind Kejriwal in an interview “google hangout” with Rajdeep Sardesai.

(Thought i wonder if any other party has the guts to make suche statements. Also, they don’t seem to have any media presence.)

 

4. The events of the day when Arvind Kejriwal Resigned as CM.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Arvind-Kejriwal-resigns/liveblog/30380149.cms

Reading this – from below to top, will sort – of – explain why he resigned.

 

My interpretation of what Kejriwal is trying to communicate is: BJP and congress unanimously supported the prevalent corruption. And so, while Kejriwal was in the formed government, it was impossible to get across, he stepped out of the “seat” to be heard as a “common man”. As a CM – he could be overruled, as a common man, he could stand his ground. I think the whole mess up makes sense to me now! Check the first video in the post

 

And then the media did it’s job of calling him “Bhagoda”, a person who runs away; but going by the things I have read now, make me feel otherwise.

 

Also,

 

5. Have you heard how the parties have been canvassing this time? Somewhere down the line “personal agendas” are mixed with – wining the seat for the party – agenda. And also, “personal attacks” are rampant. The BJP will abuse Congress and the Congress will Retaliate. Then someone will make a joke and some news channel will debate about it. It’s endless.

 

The Contenders
The Contenders

 

But amongst all this, we have AAP. Yes, Kejriwal might be making statements about Ambanis and congress and BJP and black money and everything. But have you seen the social media pages? have you seen the content they share? No abuse. They are speaking the right things.

He makes statements like “We will remove people who have a criminal record form our party (if they have hidden facts and joined us) and cancel their tickets”. He makes statements like “We’re willing to grow”,  he makes statements about “Not being corrupt” and being a “common man” and somehow I tilt towards believing they have their heart in the right place. They just made a few mistakes, simply coz they aren’t really politicians (my school of thought!) I know they won’t win this time, but I do hope that a party like that survives and grows through time!

 

Check all their official pages here:

social-media-elections-001https://www.facebook.com/BJP4India

https://www.facebook.com/IndianNationalCongress

https://www.facebook.com/AamAadmiParty

 

And finally, a debate – discussion can’t end without mentioning this man.

“if you don’t oppose what’s wrong, you’re actually backing it. “ he says.I can’t remember which Arnab Goswami News Hour it was where he made this statement. Here’s one interview which discusses Togadia.

“Do not divide this nation while you try to justify (BJP) Ms. Negi” he says and makes a point.

 

And those are my fears.

With the way Rahul Gandhi has failed to talk any sense on the TV interview, “Secular” and “Woman empowerment” have become abused words. He dodged questions, he was stupid, he was unconfident and he was not well prepared. … Is that our fault? Secularism and Security for women are concerns that need to be taken up with greatest reverence.

One of my greatest fears is divide based on religion and moral policing for women.
One of my greatest fears is education, security for underprivileged and social development will take a back seat.

One of my greatest fear is, what are the children of the country going to grow up learning? Extremist views and propaganda? That’s not what I learnt as a kid and I feel so strongly for it, because that’s what my pride was, as a child. The secular and free spirit that my country gave me; I pride it and always will. I hope we never trade that off.

 

In the words of a friend, a rare kind, non-fanatic BJP supporter said “At least with Narendra Modi up there, and BJP in power, India will be India again. Look at the scams, the corruption, I am tired! At least, they will talk of India as a superpower again, the way they used to a decade ago.”

 

I want to believe that thought.

So yes, what I am going to say now, is Bring it on! I am ready to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Let’s see him bring the development. “How soon he will do it and at what cost, is what we need to see.” said a friend on a facebook status this morning.  “And if things go wrong, we can expect the media and our own energies to be invested in re-defining the government yet again” if the need be, we shall do that too!

 

And on that note, I am going to leave with just one point:

Please do not divide this society/friendships and people based on opinions and choices they make. Please don’t be fanatic. Please don’t attack someone just because they have a different school of thought. BJP will win. Modi will come to power. Let everyone reap and enjoy the benefits when they happen and let everyone stand together if things go wrong. Let’s just vow – that when we go out and vote – we will pledge not to point fingers and not to divide over differences. Amen.

When You Are Still in Love and You Break-up – My EX Fell In Love: Book Review

Love, relationships, commitments, feelings – they happen even without us knowing it.

Of course the movies and culture have taught us – the guy proposes, the girl accepts (Now of course, vice versa too) but most of the time in life, we give away our heart, without even knowing it. It’s not something we calculate. It’s something that happens.

And then we take charge. We say “ Ok. My Heart is stupid. I can’t be in love because I have to study or work or concentrate on business or get this or get that” and our list of “other things” pitted against love goes on and occupies a more important space in our life, in our “mind” to specific”. In such cases, we give up Love and declare the “break up”.

My EX Character - Samantha
My EX Character – Samantha

And then the whole story begins.

Of course, if you’ve fallen out of Love or if there are situations that can’t be turned around – Like one cheating over the other? Like one shifting base? Like barriers you can’t cross? … if it has ended because it had to, you have to move on.

But IF it has ended “just because you want to be practical”, then my friend, the tough part is to say the first half of the book’s Title “ MY EX”.

How do you call a person you love “My EX”? And because you still love that person, the second part of the Book’s Title will haunt you, “Fell in Love”.

So basically, what you’re reading is “ My LOVE, fell in love” and that’s why it becomes the “Title” of a book.  And the basis of this story and that’s why it becomes all the more real.

So – that brings me to “My EX fell in LOVE” 😀 (after the dissection of the title 😉 ) If you’re thinking it’s a serious love stricken book, well you’re mistaken 😀

It’s a comedy of errors right from the minute the ‘relationship’ begins. They say men love football, our hero worships his work. Our girl is simple, not the very different kinds – she’s the girl next door. She’s actually also the girl friend you fear – the one who demands your love, your attention, your affection and everything, yet innocently.

Both have their sets of friends. Both have their own expectations and that’s the whole circle. Many things in the book, just like life – so many things that happen at once!

My EX Character - Vikalp
My EX Character – Vikalp

And in this process, our guy, tries to be practical and gives up on his girl and that when he realizes that he was – indeed – in love. And then the love triangle of the girl – the guy – the girl’s new shoulder to cry a.k.a the New Love and mixed emotions, the confusions and the whole roller coaster ride!

In short, this is a “feel good” book.

This guy – I mean the author here – has it in him indeed. Pick up this book and leave the rest to his skill. He’ll make sure you don’t put it down! 😉

And now for confessions:

I never expected the book to be good: :p It’s a campus love story and I left my campus 4 years back. I’d never pick a book from this genre off the rack, if it wasn’t for Shubham (and I am pleasantly surprised and pleased that I did 🙂 ) – A guy I met over the internet, debating over a blog post, some one and half years back on twitter! How time flies and how friends grow 🙂

Today also happens to be his birthday, (;) :p Modest Mention) and while we’re all so busy in our personal and professional lives, here I share a post I’d written almost a year back, when the book had launched! (Umm.. about 8 months back, the book launched last November.) and never found the right “muhurat” to share the post. ( :p)

Attached is the pick of the first ever copy that this first time author had clicked for the first time and sent over whatsapp for the first person on the list. :p (So I presume and would like to brag about :p)

There goes: My – EX Fell in Love by Shubham Choudhary. More details here: https://www.facebook.com/MyEXFellInLove And finally, Happy Birthday Shubham Choudhary  and have a great year ahead!

Image

For everyone else, thanks for reading 🙂 And yes, this is an honest review.

Cheers,

Apsara

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

HOW TO Guide on SURVIVING 25 – 10 Feel GOOD Achievements every 25 Year Old HAS

So I am turning 25.

Everyone says “Come on! It’s just a number”

And I am like “Dude. It’s not.”

15 is a number.


17 is a number.

19 is a number

21 is a number too.

22,23, 24 are numbers.

Turning 25

But 25 ….. 25 is not.

25 – Most certainly, is NOT.

  • 25 is the number they use in movies to show the hero is grown up.
  • 25 is the number that leaves no doubt on being called “Aunty” irrespective of whether you are married or not.
  • For Men – the 25 year old guy is expected to be earning enough to be married, take care of his bride and plan for his children, their schooling, college, marriage, his own parents, his retirement  his house and everything else possible. (Heck. Even girls need to think of all that these days.)

Whatever it is, you’re labeled. Your 25. On the other side of the threshold, it’s kindda different.

However on the plus side, there are something’s that you will have managed by now.

1. You have SURVIVED the 12th HSC Boards.

2. Heck! You have survived the 10th boards too! Never underestimate the enemy and never undermine a victory! So yes, 12th pass kiya hai; aur 10th BHI pass kiya hai \m/ Yo!

3. You ARE a GRADUATE! No matter how many KTs you have or whichever way you screwed up, you’re sure to have become a graduate by 25. Many become post graduates! Whatever it is – applaud your achievement.

4. You HAVE A CAREER or something that passes as one and nobody questions it. Nobody says “what’s your future plan?” (unless about marriage. And that we discuss some other day) Period.

5. You have fallen in love and had your heart crushed. Now, they say, “it’s better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all” – believing there is some positive in that, here’s a ONE UP – One positive point! We have all go this one for sure by 25!

6. You have EARNED MONEY – Dude! Come on! When you were 15, 16, 17

– you didn’t ‘EARN’ money.

The hardest you worked fetched you 2 marks! But by 25 – you have definitely earned at least something of your own!

You have slogged 10 hours in office, you have worked your ***away for another person’s business, you have felt exploited, you have swear-cursed and still gone back to work the next day – BUT, you have EARNED that living.
So what! if you haven’t saved all! So what  – you have earned. Bottom line. Thumbs up!

7.   You have OFFICIALLY Passed the age of being scolded at home for anything you do.
I repeat – officially crossed the age mark. You Might NOT still get luxurious treatment at home and parents might still continue to ‘discipline’ you – but don’t give up hope. See… in the eyes of the world, you’re an adult! So… rub it in for your benefit!
E.g. Next time they scold you say “Mom, Dad – I am 25 years old for heavens’ sake! Don’t keep telling me what to do!”
Warning: Be prepared to be thrown out of the home for the same :/ make arrangements. If it doesn’t’ work, come back.
But there’s no harm in trying the “I am 25” line to your benefit! Who knows. Might just work!

8.   You once thought you were superman or super woman. Now you know the truth.
“Sala! Apan sab fod lenege.” was what you thought when you were a teenager. You are a ‘wise’ adult now. You have come to terms with what you can do and what you – well – have postponed to later. The good part is – you know 😉 and there is a WORLD out there of teenagers, and early 20s who think they are ‘rockstars’ 😀 I am telling you – sit back, take a bowl of popcorn, watch them and SMILE THE EVIL SMILE 😉

9.   You have been HUMBLED down by life
By now you have seen your set of failures. It’s done and over with! No more failures to be seen!!! \m/
At least it’s good to be optimistic now! Your phase of learning has taught you to be humble (which is why no 25 year old can be proud. Dude! We KNOW what life is, how hard it is and hence, we know we are HUMBLE!)
So, You are a HUMBLE MAN or HUMBLE Woman NOW! Be ‘proud’ that your are 25 and be proud because your are ‘humble’!  \m/

10.  And if NONE of the previous 9 have worked for you, here is something I am 100% sure you have.
At 25, you have your friends for life 🙂 You have met and lived with those amazing people who have seen you through sorrow and shared your smile in the sunshine.
You have those lovely relationships with your elders, where you’re no longer the kid. You’re like a friend.

friends-fingers

You have celebrated many “birthdays”, lived many ‘parties’, been a part of ‘many surprises’ – given them and received them, gotten drunk and talked nonsense (in my case, just the nonsense:P) danced like crazy, sang out loud, driven a bike REAL FAST or sat behind a real fast bike ;), gone on long drives, tripped alone, stayed alone, gone on a trip with friends 😀 (yeah! Did that 😀 You MUST!), had your BEST TEA TIMES and many more awesome tea times to come of course! Oh! And not to miss, had your coffee at the Café too 😉

So, basically you’ve lived 25 years of classic experiences that no one knows but you!
At the end of the day, you have only gained.

You are an adult. Congratulations!

Starting today – men and women alike – will be showered with questions on marriage (all of a sudden you’ve grown up, but you have), starting today you will feel this sense of responsibility – after all! When you’re friend’s kids call you “Aunty” and “Uncle” you’re bound to feel responsible:/  😀

But whatever it is – it will pass 🙂 and it will pass in glory! #AMEN

If you’re turning 25 just like me or have already turned 25, happy 25 to you! 😀

Let’s raise a toast to THAT birth year, which is NOT just a Number 😛 Cheers!

Porn Ban – does porn cause crime? – Part 2

It’s 3.44 a.m. I returned from a gang-wars-movie at midnight and spent some time analyzing the film. I am not able to sleep, so I get up and make myself a Cup of Tea for my tea time conversations.
Yes! It’s time to blog.

The movie was the story of a criminal and his life. The violence and language was all as expected from the genre, but somehow  I am drifted towards to topic of how this all adds up to our society and the way we perceive women. I admit, it wasn’t centric on women or abusive per se, but some scenes  some thoughts stayed to disturb me (and keep me awake :p) and so, with my cup of tea, I am here to finish and un-finished conversation. At least, attempt! 

2 weeks ago, the Porn Ban was quite in focus. People discussing it on all platforms and with difference perspectives. Around the same time, an article that I read, hit me and lead me to ‘investigate’ the subject.

Does porn really cause crime? When I asked my elders, after a few awkward moments of silence, they explained –

Perhaps the educated look at it as erotic pleasure, but there’s a world out there of uneducated, uncivilized people, who only get aroused. It doesn’t matter then, who they see before them. All women, become objectified.

I personally never thought Porn caused crime – going by the online researches and reviews that say porn is a way out for sexual gratification, and in many cases, creating no effect on crime against women or at times even decreasing the ratio of crimes.

When I wrote my post and shared it with a close circle of friends, they suggested I send it to an online magazine and increase the reach. I did so, and the post ” Porn Ban – does porn lead to crime?” – Part 1  – went onto the blogs section on Indian Exponent.

A little while after I sent in my post, and I recieved a confirmation about them publishing it, I found many threads of discussion on the same site.

One particular article seemed to have answers:

Is Majority of India, which is still confused about consent in sex, ready for Porn?

So, what I am getting to is – it’s WE as a society that needs to grow and needs to develop and needs to become stronger. We need to be more rooted about what we think of women and how we want to treat them.

The woman’s individuality has to grow and it HAS to be supported by both men and women!

(yes! We’ll discuss that on another day!)

There are two ways that we must adopt ahead:

1. Education for adults – no! I am NOT talking about computer training and skill development. I am talking about Education on HOW men and women are equal in society. How women and men together complete the world we live in.

What can be done: We could have drives across the country. Every state, every city, every locality – we pick a couple that has lived a happy and successful married life. They become ‘role’ models and their story is reached out to the lower economic strata of people educating them on HOW families should be.  This is just a random idea, but what I am trying to say is, we need drives, we need participation.

(And of course, We also need reforms, stricter laws, stricter punishments and all that. I’ve discussed it even before in the post: Crime Against Women – Part 1)

2. Women turn around and give them that answer 

I have an interesting picture to share here 🙂

Based on the discussion from my blog published on Indian Exponent, we drew observations. I am sharing a paragraph from the article..

 In the patriarchal society –

  • The woman is meant to stay home
  • The woman is meant to hold her head low.
  • She has to hide behind a pallu
  • She cannot say the name of her husband
  • She cannot say “NO” to her husband.

The idea of the woman staying home and the man working can be based on the basic intention of a balanced household – but as time has passed, it has gradually been understood that women are equally competent. And as women began to be educated and ‘standing on their own feet’, the world around us began to change.

As women have been empowered, the men have become spiteful.
As more women step out of homes, more uneducated men become angered.
They look at the modern, educated, well-to-do women as the one who stole their right.
Had she not sat on the same benches as them, they would have got the jobs she did.

Had she not urged forward in a career, they would have controlled the household.
Had she not voiced out her thoughts and made choices in relationships, sexual desires, and profession, they would have easily over powered. They would have remained rulers.
 
As we inch forward to more women becoming ‘visible’, they hold the grudge.
When a woman asks for a cab, that resentful man is disgruntled to take ‘her orders’.
A dear friend once recounted an incident. She was parking a vehicle in the parking lot of a building, and the watchman told her to take it out. She argued that it was her aunt’s building and it was fine to keep the vehicle there, and he retorts “Hamare wahan hote toh aurat hone ki aukad bata dete.” – meaning “if you had been in my part of the country, I’d have shown you women your right place”.
When she reported the disrespect to building authorizes, all they said was, “we can’t fire him. What if the replacement behaves in the same manner?”
And that’s the saddest part. We cringe form taking action and setting examples and every time we fail to discourage dishonor, we’re – as a society, encouraging crime.” (You can read the whole article: here)

And after reading the post, a friend sends me this picture:

Image

I am so intrigued, I ask him to elaborate. He says (and I repeat, ‘he’ says), “It starts from Inequality, goes on to women finding their sense of freedom, it then leads to crime till women react and then the day of equality is reached.”

We are at ‘Level 3’. It’s time to move on!

Send me your thoughts on apsara.iyengar@gmail.com.

And any thoughts? Write in, in the comments below!

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.
Image
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]

That Stranger is Your Friend – Virtual Relationships

My best friend shifted to America two years back. I mentally prepared myself to “let her go” … perhaps, time and space would just drift us apart. But contrary to my expectation, in past 5 years of my life – everything changed – but my relationship with her; it only became stronger.
As I am thinking about this, I recieve a call from my 22 year old “adopted son” and we have a 2 hour discussion on ‘work and strategy’. He was an intern for the organization I work with and we shared a very formal relationship, until the day he left for the States for higher studies. Who would have thought we’d share a common ambition, ever after that?

Woman Looking at Reflection

And right now, I am making a farewell “gift” for one another close friend, who is migrating abroad. That sets me thinking about this post.

My friends are “far” closer, despite being far – because of this virtual opportunity. Because there are these things called – e-mail, facebook, skype and whatsapp and many other things that technology has gifted us.
And then I make another objective observation – I do have a great number of virtual friends. These are people you’ve  met in the not-very-regular manner and they’ve still become your friends. But how honest are virtual friendships?
Forever, we find ourselves debating on “How good is it?” Is it safe to be out in the open? Is it safe to reveal everything about yourself? Is it safe to accessible?

I remember a speech by the fantastic woman, Sheryl Sandberg. While talking of Facebook, she said something like – this is the era where people define their own identity. It’s no longer the clandestine chat rooms of the late 90s and early years of the 21st century, it’s now about the person behind the screen.

I relate to this feeling just like the guinea pig on the experiment table 😛 No.. seriously!
I mean… there was this time when I wasn’t even on Facebook. My work in Radio, demanded that I keep abreast with things around and hence, I made my facebook and twitter account. Twitter became more of use to me while I worked as a music journalist and gradually, I adopted the platforms to enter my life.

I remember the first time I put up a status, just some random thought, and I got some instant likes. I thought “Wow! Why should these people be bothered about what I write?” and many months later, in a discussion with my sister, she said, “well! May be your updates get attention because they are honest, have life and something for the reader.”

I hadn’t even realized it. (Of course, that’s my motto now, for this blog – The reader should have something in it – to take home!) But as I shed my inhibitions, and began to open up, I found great deal of people on the network responding to things I said or did.

My work further propelled me to reach out to a larger audience of people, and I found myself in an all new arena – it’s not just the shows I do anymore, it’s the people I come across and the friendships I’ve developed over the years.

Twitter went from being a research domain, to a space where I just say absolutely anything. And Facebook went from being personal, to a space where I could put up posters and request attention and support for things that needed to be reached out.

And this is the turning point.

If you don’t have a cup of tea in your hand right now, then go make yourself one:D And then come back to read. [Also Like the page on facebook.com/alwaysovertea – because I LOVE to listen! You must connect.]

facebook.com/alwaysovertea
Half a cup of Tea

Now come back and I have some great perspectives to share:D

Now here it is: Two things as always.

Actually – 3. First and foremost – the awesome people, the people you love – your married sister, your mom and dad back home, your niece and nephews, your cousins – all those lovely people from your life – who aren’t exactly where you live; those people who mean the world to you but you as they say, you can’t have everything at the same time. So here – the phones, the internet, the emails and Facebook help us to live those relationships in an all new way. It’s lovely in a way (except when you have stalking relatives who form an opinion on everything you’re doing :p In that case, it’s a little tedious, I admit ;))

Now the two things:

  1. That stranger is Your friend – connecting with like-minded people anywhere in the world!
  2. The New era of Love stories 😀

I am now going to share what I pride in – I have been able to find real people in the virtual world.

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These are people who you’ve never met and yet, you connect. They connect through similar or dissimilar thoughts, the connect through the mind and the heart. And the strangest part is that, I feel a “universal” love for all of them! 😀

I mean.. who said it’s weird to love someone you’ve not met? Dude! On the other side of the screen, is a person just like you – A real person, with real feelings and real emotions. A person who is genuine, who shares your interest to converse and  that stranger is your friend.

And from that point of “universal” love, I am suddenly struck by the “What if?” question 😀
What if you find Love, romance virtually? What if you fall in love with someone you’ve not met?

I asked my friends the question, and they thought i was quite mad 😛

But think about it this way – do you remember the era in the past? the era that talked of rich love stories? The times when people lived far apart, waiting for spouses to return from war or work or travel – and STILL remained in love? That era that our grandparents knew of – loving someone in manner which did not necessarily require a physical presence 24*7 ….

The thought gave me shivers.
We know of awesome couples who’ve met through matrimonial ads in the papers, in just the past decade. Fast forward to today, matrimonial sites have brought people together. So now, that brings me to the question of – virtual love stories.

Is it then not possible to find true friendships and possibly, romances – virtually?
I try to weave a story in my mind – a virtual friend – an author, shared this concept of “55 fiction” where stories with a punch line are told in just 55 words. I try it.

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She re-reads his letter a fifth time and then picks up the phone.
She sends him a text: “I think I am in Love …”
He answers with a question“…In Love with me?”
“No” She replies, “In love with the perception of You, that I have.”
He smiles. And she smiles. In their own worlds.

And as I revel in the awesome story I just weaved, I see this other friend online.
A friend I met on twitter, randomly discussing some random #Hashtag.
I say: Heya! How u!:):) Good?
And he replies: Like never before!

And somehow that livens up that second, so tremendously!rainroad1 I have never talked to him, never met him, and have absolutely nothing in common (except that he writes just as

beautifully as the posts on Half a cup of Tea ;))
All I know is that – he’s a real person, with just about similar challenges as anyone in “our real world” would face, he writes the same exams, goes to the same college as many of our friends, he works in a company where your friend works …

He is a stranger, but…. he’s your friend 🙂

There’s one more thing that’s playing on my mind as I write this post.

A few weeks ago, I had some differences with a virtual friend. We were so close, that I was almost working alongside him, despite the fact that we’ve never really met! Now, in the real world, I am sure I’d have been able to placate; but in virtual world? Virtual networks? How do you do that? That’s when I realized that that is one of the biggest limitations in the virtual world. It’s not just a battle between two people, it’s a battle between two people along with the delete button, power switch and disconnect option! 😛 You might just feel some relationships are so terribly real, some friendships so extraordinary…. but then….

And just as a ponder the questions of “How real I am”, I see  a beautiful e-mail from a woman who tells me, she loved my blogs. And we discuss life briefly. Over the weeks we exchange a few e-mails, and develop a friendship and there I realize, I am a real person in the virtual world as well!:) I am real!

Ah. Finally! So we all do find our own “identity” on the web!

Stranger - 1

Our generation is definitely going to know love and friendships like never before; there once was a time when people probably had to be silent not having found “like minded” people and times and stories, where people would actually NOT have found love, had they not come online (Shadi.com) for instance.
So yes … what we have today, is tremendous.

Besides the people I’ve mentioned above, there are so many other ways in which people touch our lives – and it’s not always the regular way of connecting! A person I met on the bus, went on to make it a point to be present for my first ever Play and got me a souvenir from Dubai! Or my friend’s girlfriend from another city, whom I’ve never met – yet, connect so instantly.

I am sure, you must be having such stories too!:) A friend’s friend, now your friend? A person who you met at a concert, ended up staying in touch? Someone who you met on the train, went on to become a crush? 😛

All I want to say is that, trust this space…. because on the other side is a real person and like I said, our generation is going to know friendships like never before! it’s Tremendous!

And the most important part of my “tremendous” experience is my best friend, whose birthday it happens to be today. (Umm no.. it doesn’t “happen to be today” – it is :p And I’m very thoughtfully posting it on the 7th of December  by USA times :p)

I could have written a post on how beautiful our relationship is, how she has seen me through everything in my life, how my whole life is in the e-mails we’ve exchanged, how time has made us stronger … and loads of personal stuff. But I din’t do that… because this post is not about telling you HOW special such a friendship is. It’s about coaxing you to look into your life and think of the awesome friends you have – And then you shall know HOW I feel about Anne.
And I shall now dedicate this post to her!

Just like they dedicate books? Novels? … well, here’s a blog-dedication! : )

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Happy Birthday darling!
Well, who said Long distance doesn’t work?!! 😉

I’m going to close with saying – That stranger friend……. Exists!  

p.s. doesn’t matter when you read this blog, if you liked it, drop a comment. And, I’d feel super nice if you also wish Anne happy birthday.. Yay! Thanks! 😀

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