Why Aarfa is a Winner in Sultan

There’s a thin line between ‘woman empowerment’ and blindly writing off a woman for making a choice that’s not ‘ambitious’ enough. I think that’s where the Firstpost blog on
Sultan gets it wrong, in context of Aarfa.

Sultan-Salman-Khan-Anushka-Sharma-Trailer-Poster-Images3
While Anushka’s character, Aarfa, steps down from a competition to be a mother – it’s a choice she makes. It’s a sacrifice she makes not just for her husband but also weighing what she wants in life.
She has achieved, she has won and now she wants to be a mother. What’s wrong in that?
Writing off a character like that to be sexist is a hugely disparaging statement to thousands of women across India who would do that any day! But what’s empowering about Aarfa is that she doesn’t give up being a “sportsperson”, continues to train and continues to teach.
Being a feminist myself (and feminism is equal rights) I would have reacted to something sexist very strongly, but for me, Aarfa is a winner. She knows exactly what she is doing and where she is life. She is not docile or coy or dominated. She tells her husband on the face that she made a sacrifice and demands him to make one for their sake. She’s outspoken, not defeated and woman who lives by her terms and has the courage to hold her ground and dismiss the man she loves when he’s wrong. And that does take courage.
Sultan by himself maybe sexist. The way he takes her sacrifice for granted, the way he becomes arrogant, the way he forgets his people. But the film in no way endorses it. On the contrary, the film answers to the sexism with Aarfa’s perspective and actions. 
Let’s face it … that’s how we are in love.
All those who have been in love, sometime or the other know. All those in marriages or relationships know it. Sometimes, you want to put the wishes of the one you love ahead of yourself. And so the best relationships are those where both the partners make that ‘equal’ contribution.
And so, if at a point a woman wants to be mom, what’s wrong? How can we look down upon something like that? that’s like going anti-family, anti-men and making another set of rules for women – where she doesn’t even have the right to make her own personal choices! That’s the problem of our society… we judge the woman. Always! No matter what she does.
Some times when we move on in life, our dreams change. Yes, it’s difficult sometimes to accept that what you wanted yesterday… you don’t want today… even after chasing it with all your might! It’s coming of age that’s important and so it can be hard sometimes to accept the truth. For me, Aarfa is wise enough to know.Ranbir-Kapoor-in-Yeh-Jawaani-Hai-Deewani-480x640
When Ranbir’s character in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani decides to give up his dream job to be with the girl he loves, we applaud his journey. But when a woman decides to step down to be a mother, we write her off as “weak” or “dominated” or “Stereotypes”. How unfair we are!
I won’t say Sultan is a brilliant film and I won’t say I endorse Salman’s idiocy. But, I won’t take away from the film what it has right.
I love how Anushka isn’t a broken person, I love how the intent of the film is to show the transformation of the protagonist’s heart, I love how they fight the battle “within”, I love how she says:
“We are sportsperson. We don’t give up.” I love how both of them come back to action after their journey as individuals.
For me Sultan is a feel good film, an Aarfa is certainly beautiful!

Anushka does 100% justice to character. (And she’s just as old as me :/ Damn 😀 🙂 ) Rooting for her, watch it for her!aarfa

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Into The Silence

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Sometimes I turn to my left and silently stare out of the window. Amongst the wind, amongst the sound of moving traffic, amongst the chirping birds, sometimes I hear you. A little bit of our conversations. A little bit of your smile. A little of your cheer. How clear your heart was! How easily you smiled. How much of your chatter had no baggage. How easy it was for you to dream. How every day, you had something new to look forward to. How every now and then, you had something for me to look forward to. I could though, always look up to you. How there was so much for you to admire around; how much of you for me to admire around. Sometimes, I look at silent spaces and I can feel your shadow. Like you exist, still. In my thoughts, in my letters, may be. Perhaps in my ideas and my actions too. Sometimes I listen to the sound of the wind, because it can’t be that harsh. It can’t be that untrue. Could this really be true. Could it be true that I exist and you don’t? Could love end then. Would you never know where I stand, what I feel? Would I never know how your day is, has been or will be? Will you have another day, somewhere? Will you exist, again? In some other universe? Or will you not? Will you cease forever? Will the door never open? Sometimes I look at the path not taken and wonder where you would be. Sometimes, I wonder, if you still exist. If you do, I wonder if you still smile. That radiant smile. The vibrant chatter. That heart full of love and dreams and that bucket full of wish list. Sometimes I wonder, if you were true, if I were true at all. Sometimes I turn to the left and silently stare, out of the window, into the silence and talk to the shadow.

 

 

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

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.

images

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! 😀

THAT Thing about Expectations

The thing about expectations is that, people don’t like it. 

You don’t like expecting things from others and they don’t like that you expect things that they can’t fulfill. 

You don’t like them expecting things from you and you don’t like the burden of their “expectation”. 

For instance, people say “You shouldn’t keep expectations”, blaming the person who owns the expectations. But the point is that, as long as people remain humane, they’ll continue to have emotions and as long as emotions exist, there will be expectations. But, in this world that’s so virtual, understanding valid expectations is only going to become all the more complex. Of course, not all kinds of expectations are valid (take a Bollywood scene where the heroine wants the hero to jump off a cliff for her. No, we are not talking about such expectations. We are talking about little daily life expectations.)

There is no rule book that says, “This is what you HAVE to tell your friend. And this is what you must NOT”. There is no rule book about how to behave or conduct your relationships. They all rest on emotions and hence, expectations. Expectations are just as true as commitments and they happen without words. Yes, even commitment happens without words. You commit to people, you commit friendships, even before you know it consciously because the bonds that we form with each other, happen without any declarations. Think back about your best friends, did you declare ever, “From today YOU are my best friend”? Or did you just realize one day, over a cup of Tea or perhaps, over a discussion of woes, or perhaps with age, that you’ve really been there for each other and that, indeed; YOU and your best friend, are best friends. 

Relationships are things we realize. Connections happen and they happen all the time. It’s all about how we want to take it forward. We can determine the direction and that’s about all we can control. Everything else is real. Feelings, emotions, expectations and commitments – they happen and they aren’t wrong.

So, if you are one of those people who’ve felt, “Hey. She should have told me this.” And then shun it off saying, “Hmm… it’s okay… kuch commit toh nahi kiya tha” (Hmm.. we hadn’t committed anything to each other, so I better leave the thought ignored), then it’s time to realize, it is okay.

It’s okay to expect from people who are close to you.

It’s okay to demand their attention.

It’s okay to tell them about your expectation and talk about it.

It’s okay to explain to them, that some expectations happen without words, and that, they should understand what your feelings are.

However, if there is an awkward void and you don’t know how to deal with it, lie low. If you have expectations from someone, and you think it’s too insignificant to the other person, don’t drag the matter. Bring it up once, talk it out. If the “talking” doesn’t happen or doesn’t work, then let go. This is the “virtual” age. You will meet loads of people, and you will pass loads of people. With the way we all connect now a days, we are bound to find many, many real people around us; many real connections which just may become stronger. And as they get stronger, we need to flexible in two ways:

1. Understanding that expectations will happen. And if, the other person doesn’t seem to be in a position to fulfill the expectations, let go of the expectation. Keep a healthy space and a balanced relationship. 

2. Respecting the other person’s expectation. Understand, that from all the interactions that you have with people, there will be expectations. You have to weigh the expectations against the importance of the person in your life and the relevance and feasibility of the expectation; and then take your decision on fulfilling it. But in either case, respect the expectation. 

So that thing about expectations? THAT thing they say You must not keep?

Well, that’s not right. You may keep your expectations; just understand, acknowledge and respect them.

Falling In Love More Than Once – Part 2

The other night a friend seemed pretty quiet. I was sort of making a few announcements and his lack of response made me wonder what could be more important!:P He revealed soon that the woman he had loved had talked to him that day. They had already parted ways sometime back. She was a good friend.

I sympathized and put the phone down. But there. The thought had happened. The Love angle had re-entered and my pledge to decipher facts began all over again.

They weren’t together, but she still had an effect on him.

I wondered, how can people heal in emotion? Is this the greatest pain besides the loss of loved ones to heaven?

I know how it feels to have a heavy heart. Its 12 am, but decide to make my cup of tea. There’s nothing that works better; it’s tea for me.

I log in to start writing this blog post, but peep into my twitter account and find a similar thread of conversation. The topic of love seemed to have been playing on the minds of so many people that day. (For records, the following day “Love” was trending on Twitter and so was “midnightconfessions”)

So there I was, thrown in the middle of conversation. Somehow, I couldn’t hold back. I spoke. I shared. Even part ideas from Falling In Love More than Once – Part 1. That love happens and that love passes.

We soon had 2 more people join, then 4 more and then a few more until almost 15 people were out there trying to Unravel the idea called love.

Sometimes, all the answers are just before our eyes, but they are just so hard to see.

Like my best friend said in a conversation, “Aps, how can we base our actions on feelings? Feelings can so be crushed, ignored and squashed. “ of course this statement is very open to debate; one would probably talk about the extreme feelings of sadness , anger, happiness – things that we can’t really control. But think closely and see; how do we overcome sadness? In that moment, the world seems to stand still; but then…. Things move. You take charge, may be talk to a friend (or may be discuss things in the open like on twitter!) and slowly get back on the ground.

In this case, haven’t we overcome sadness?

You are angry, you speak or you write. You mediate and then relax. haven’t you liberated yourself?

In a similar way, love can be controlled.

Yes – yet again a scandalous thought. But it really isn’t as whimsical as you think or as movies project it to be. After all, who are the people we fall in love with? The people who we meet in life! If love were to be as random, then soul mates would be across seas, never meeting? Or you might be travelling to another city, bump into someone on the street and fall in love.

No that doesn’t happen. But on the contrary, it can.

I am not trying to confuse you here 😀 what I am trying to say, is that, love is in our control to some extent. We can choose who to be in love with and then give our best.

We can choose.

I remember a conversation with a very dear friend, she said, “There really isn’t anything wrong with arranged marriages or love marriages. It’s all about meeting the right person. You can meet him or her, any way, can’t you?” which is quite relevant. Which means, from all the people we know, we chose who we like.

This is more of a subconscious decision, but it happens.

There are various factors that bring people close together: working together, facebook-twitter, school-college, common friends etc. And when tow people give each other company and communicate, they are bound to form an emotional connects. The emotional connect can go on to be a strong friendship or a romance.

The romance can be brief and only in the mind, or it can go on to be something stronger.

It’s all on how we react to our feelings, how we decide to react to our feelings and what we want form life. And when you give somebody a chance, and take things further step by step – love grows and love happens. The stronger the mind-connect happens, the stronger the bond becomes and the relationship happens.  However, there’s s twist in the story here.

Sometimes, the mind creates a stronger bond because you develop feelings for someone. You think of them and you focus your thoughts on them and before you know it – you’re in love. But somehow, the person doesn’t reciprocate. He or she isn’t on your wavelength but you continue to hold on. And that’s where the one-sided love happens.

So whose fault is it? The person falling in love? The person who isn’t in love? Well…. None.

Sometimes, things really aren’t in your hand. You might find someone very attractive (mind, soul, body), but they might not. And at times like this, you have to respect and let go.

(and right now while I talk about this, it’s romantic love – not the many types of loves that I have mentioned in previous articles)

That brings us to the next aspect – what’s attractive?

Again a mind thing and you really might not be able to monitor that. But like you overcome sadness and anger, you can also address your attraction towards someone if the need be. It’s all about what you want and what you want to pursue.

A friend once told me, many years back, “statistics show that romances happen almost all the time even with committed people. It’s because people live with each other day in and day out; it may not be physical, but the mind does play games.”

And from this point onwards, it all varies from person to person. About how you address this “crush”/love. I know a friend who doesn’t hesitate to step into relationships because she believes in her feelings and she believes in living for herself. She understands and accepts that love happens.

But by now, I must have hurt “religious sentiments”J… No, that wasn’t the intention.

I know how it feels to be in love – the stronger one and not mere attraction – because there is a difference. I also do believe that there is that one person who is meant to be with you – to the extent that it’s for each, his own. But at the same time, I call all these forces drawing people closer together as a kind of love – because it isn’t something to be disrespected. It has a part of You.

It may sound unfair to think about yourself, but that’s how we seem to be conditioned. To think of absolute. To think one person. But before anything else, think for yourself.

With each day, you are a growing person.

Don’t compromise for someone who doesn’t really love you or care for you or reciprocate your feelings – but just don’t hesitate  due to fear.

Someone on the previous blog post asked me WHY I try to decipher these paradoxes? Is it because I hurt in love?

I don’t. And I am certainly not hurting now. (This phase is so beautiful, a post shall appear soon on what the rich experiences are) It’s just that I love easily (and here I mean the universal, all kinds of love) and feel emotion for far too many people. I see people hurting for each other and I wish I could ease it. I see feelings grow for each other, and people not being together because “they can’t” – I see them hurt and I feel this urge to try my best to heal.

I want to decipher this idea so that we understand that love happens. In most cases it hurts because we don’t listen to the heart and we bind ourselves with “norms”. In some cases, it’s because the person isn’t meant to be (the wavelength philosophy).

The main core remains that we need to speak up and address things that affect us. Denial is not a solution. Addressing and respecting your feelings is. If you are a committed person, it doesn’t mean that you stray; it means that you talk to your partner and work out what is missing.

You know what it all actually is?

It’s the heart seeking love and that’s why it gives out so much.  It’s the heart seeking attention and that’s why it likes it when someone pays a compliment or says something kind or listens.

For women, then tend to be vulnerable, often picking wrong men who know this secret too well. For men, they become vulnerable when they love a woman too much, and she just doesn’t understand.

If you are committed, probably talking it out will help you revive what’s missing. If it still doesn’t work, then it doesn’t mean you cheat. And it doesn’t even mean you’ll wonder for ever…. It just means you need to take out time and find yourself.

I am still part that person who uses I love yous very easily. My team with the short film club I work for, knows me as someone who’s lavish with I love yous. But after 8 years, I am a little careful now. After hurting for friends and people I have loved, I am far more sensible now. I understand far many things. I am perhaps an adult! But I tell myself I’ll never grow close to people (the general love) and inevitably I do. However, now on this side of these many “investigations”, I know what I want from life.

I know which friendships are romances of the mind, I know which associations are mere manipulations, I know what “playing is”, I know what attraction will pass and I know which friendships will stay. I know it when people say ‘I love you’ and mean it, and I know who from them must stay in my life and who should leave.

In this bid to discover romance, love, feelings, simultaneous affections, crushes, love for friends, love for people, love for enemies, and love for strangers and virtual friendships, I have discovered who I am.

And you should do that too. In this bid to addressing your feelings, discover who you are. And don’t hesitate to love or demean a past you’ve had – because it has a part of you, and that is worth a lot.

Sharing this lovely scene and song from Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara – I love this scene in particular. She goes out and says, “Mujhe Afsos Karna Nahi Aata” – “I don’t know how live with regrets”.

Anything besides these responses, feel free to post on blog comments:). Plus, Is there anything you want me to write on? Let me know @ apsara.iyengar@gmail.com .

Falling in love more than Once – PART I

scandalous thoughts on how love happens all the time!

I woke up in the morning and found myself thinking about this whole “process” of falling in love.

It really isn’t that difficult, I wondered (having many loves in my, very own, life).  As I sipped Tea, I realised this is a subject I needed to talk about! After all, the tea-time conversations in the past few days were leading up to this one aspect – Love.  A girl-friend talked about ‘Simultaneous’ relationships the other day at tea. She said, “When we have so many friends, so many relatives, and so many people who care and are there for us – then how can we not be in love with more than one person at the same time?

After much thought, I have a few (scandalous) points to present here:

  1. Dukh baant ne ke liye sab hai, khushi baant ne ke liye sirf kuch log
  2. Love comes and goes and happens many times

The literal translation of the first point in Hindi is: there are people to share your sadness, there are only few for happiness. This is contrary to common notion that your true friends are the ones who stand by you when you are low.

Most certainly, I know for a fact, that I would not even EXIST without my fantastic friends who have been by my side through thick-n-thin, good-bad-ugly. But I also know, that there have been times when I have won. Accomplished.  Succeeded. The times when the pain has paid off, when I have felt high and happy. There have been those special people who have celebrated with me. Celebrated my happiness. These are people who don’t just ask for a treat when you get a good exam result or a party on your birthday – these are people who will throw a party for you or treat you to a movie just to celebrate your happiness – your smile.

They are your true friends – the true people who want you to have a good life. They deserve your love.  You don’t lawyas have to express this love that you feel for these ‘special’ people. You don’t need to – they just understand. And they will be there, always.

Generally, the categories overlap. As in – the ones who are there for you when you cry are the ones who are there for you when you celebrate. But sometimes, this doesn’t happen. It is then that people in the second category emerge – The love that happens many times.

This league of friends genuinely feel happy for you and honestly wish to see u smiling. They are the people who you meet later in life. These are not necessarily the people you went to school or college with. They are the people you come across through the journey of life. (A little too philosophical ;)… well… they can be from school or college… sort of like those whom you have lost touch with or those who you connected with much later!)

So, they basically have a different life and a different “Agenda” to fulfil. Something like Kung-Fu panda (If you haven’t watched the films, you should!) – Each has a Destiny to fulfil. So, their ‘Destiny’ is different. Hence, these special people you meet and love may come and then leave; to pursue their own destinies since the purpose of their existence is not the same as yours. Along this path, where we are all set to attain a ‘fulfilment on our personal Agenda’, asking for someone to stay, forever, seems a little unlikely and unfair.

Which is why, you may stand up for them and they may hold your hand and stand by You…. But someday, somewhere, somehow the path will diverge and they shall have to move away. Perhaps with warmth, perhaps with bitterness. But the love does happen and it stays. It remains silent, it probably falls asleep forever – but it exists; it happens and it isn’t dishonest, negative or untrue.

The purists of society will then present their views about the ‘One person’, the ‘soul-mate’, the ‘Alter-ego’ who completes you. That man or woman will join you and complete your life, living with you. There is no debate on the existence of such a human being. If there is someone made for you, he/she shall walk into your life. But, will they just walk in? And everything will be set? Is life really that easy?

Besides, what about life until that person arrives?

What if I am to meet my ‘soul mate’ at 50? Should I not love the universe until then?

This is a choice that we have to make.  We can easily decide to be practical sceptics, and refrain from any emotional attachment. And I am sure, all of us will turn out just fine!

It’s just a matter of choice.

In a situation like this, I’d prefer to love the universe. To love easily. To be hurt, perhaps sometimes – and then heal gradually – because it’s only love that can happen again.

There have been times however, when I said to myself, that I don’t want to be close to anyone. I don’t want to trust – I don’t want to be light, free-spirited and myself.  I have told myself that I want to be an ‘adult’ who is not her true self before the world. But, inevitably, it only becomes harder to not be yourself than to be – it’s harder to stop yourself from being kind, warm and not-restricted. It’s easier to work when you only have your ‘work’ to worry about and not who you are trying to be or hide from the world.

This is why love can happen many times.

The kind of love that doesn’t see foe, friend or gender – I have friends of the opposite gender whom I love very much non-romantically; I have lady-friends who I call my ‘true loves’ because they can always be counted upon and then there are some who I may love and who may not love me back. This class also includes those who have hurt me at some point of time or the other.

Strange as it may sound, somehow, I even feel an attachment for those who haven’t been my strength and support. Well… maybe I shouldn’t call it attachment – but some space in my heart is occupied by those people as well, with whom things haven’t been very ‘pretty’. (This could perhaps be because after a point of time, it’s only the ‘intensity’ of emotion that remains and not really the good or bad? Hmm… too random! Just a thought ;))

So, there are these beautiful and not so beautiful people who enter your life and become a sort-of-love. (We can call them the ‘temporary-loves’ if you want to ;)).

When these relationships end, they may shake us a bit but they leave us with a lot. (again… sounds too philosophical?  But it’s not that complex 😛 ) It is these encounters that help us find ourselves – through tears or through love, thorough pain or through power – people in our lives influence who we are. What I mean here is that, they influence you in a way that you define what your choices are. Irrespective of whether they revoke a positive response or a negative response from you, it is the response that counts. It makes you define yourself.

Now what are these positive and negative responses?

What about the ‘romantic” loves?

Why do romantic loves happen many times? Or do they or do they not?

Can there be simultaneous loves?

Well, if you found this post interesting, stay tuned 🙂

We shall discuss the kinds of love-s and how they happen on another day, very very soon.

For now, I am leaving you with this song that you MUST send to those you love! Go ahead… it’s OKAY to love 🙂

Cheers,

A

All about being a GIRL and Having the OPTION

The most unnerving context in which I have found myself lately, is the : –  “Oh! It doesn’t really matter for you! Being a girl you have the option” – statement . And to add to that, the “Being a girl, you should…” sermons. I am obliged to write today for the very same reason; I found myself with a bunch of long-lost-friends, and one of them said it again, “Being a girl… I just thought I should ask you that…..”. I tried my best not to react, inspiring myself to write about it instead 😉 So here goes! – In the name of all those monologues , which had us biting our teeth in exasperation! Cheers!

My grandmother visits with all the possible warmth. As I sip my cup of tea, she asks me what I am doing these days. I tell her, “Paati, I am working on my portfolio. I left my full-time job a month back.” “But why!” she asks, in dismay. I say, “Well, I hadn’t really taken a break since my grads… So I am working on self-development so that my career prospects are better”. To which I hear the dreaded words “ But child! Why!! Why are you so concerned about your career?”.

I swallow. Look down. Look up. Well, it would be difficult to explain “why”; because it is about me! I battle my words in my mouth. “Because if I don’t care about my career, who will! Da” I think in my mind, but maintain the decorum of the house, keep silent, and with due respect, nod. She says “Being a girl, you have the option. You should stay on to one (temporary) job that would suit you best. You should learn other household tasks; they are (far) more important.”

I bite my teeth. I keep quiet.

My phone beeps one evening. “Wassup?” he says.

“Hey ! Long time! 4 months I guess? How are you :). We are having a get-together at home, right now. Helping Mom. Catch you later.”, I reply and the conversation ends.

Next morning I receive another text, “ Hi. How was your get-together? What did you cook?” I stare at the text for a second, and then reply, “ umm.. cook? You want yesterday’s menu??? ”, weird I think. Why should someone be interested in what we cooked at home! “NO!” He answers, “I wanted to know what YOU prepared for the party”. And instantly I think many things :

  1. How did he presume I cooked?
  2. How did he presume I WOULD cook for a party?
  3. Why is he interested in my cooking?
  4. A conversation about my cooking, after 4 months of silence?

I quit the debate and simplify the conversation, “umm…..I don’t really cook.”.“YOU DON’T!! oh my God” he retorts, sounding almost half heartbroken. “But how can that be possible! You told me yourself that you were helping your mother! What was that then?” He accuses, as though I were caught guilty in crime. Or, perhaps, almost anxiously, as though he were questioning his boss about him being fired. As I deliberate about which of the two suits his tone of question; a worried conversation follows, from his side, persisting almost the entire day about the virtues of a woman and her responsibilities. And finally, on a bitter note he ends, “I pity your husband whoever he is”. “Why”, I think, considering the fact that I don’t even have one! But I preserve the golden silence, despising another long endless chain of messages. But he, nevertheless, obliges. “If you don’t cook, what will he eat! He’ll starve. My god. A girl should cook. My wife will have to. ”, he concludes. And I switch off the phone. A self-proclaimed hero is better far, than near; even a text-message can be injurious to health because a rising B.P and temper does do much harm, even to a simple human being. Medically proven.

I turn to my work, and continue to work on my “full time job”, ME. I have an appointment with one of the companies I freelance with. In a conversation with the director, “But Apsara, being a girl , you have the option. Marry a guy, rich preferably, and you don’t really have to fret over your career!” I choke over my coffee. “I am not sure I have any such option sir” , I reply; to which I get a reassuring answer “ Don’t worry darling! There is someone out there who will take you”, and I think, am I an object?

An ex-admirer calls me, he wants to meet. I prefer a late night call. I return his call, and the conversation is directed to “Being a girl, I just thought you would want to be my wife and give me children. ” ; and I subconsciously check the statement ; “give me children”.Hmm… do people give children to eachother? like chocolates? perhaps… ,my thoughts interrupted, he says “I don’t want anybody to even think about you. I don’t want anybody to look at you. Forget your theatre dreams. Forget your media ambitions.”; “But you are only interested in your career. That’s the only reason we aren’t together. ” He adds spitefully.

I am 22 years old. Old highlights in many ways , while “young” highlights in other ways.

OLD because people all of a sudden feel I am in a “marriageable” age, or at least that I have entered the threshold. YOUNG because my career is only at the start. My dreams are still, a little away from realisation; and my aspirations can fill a novel. And hence, I like to believe I am young. I like to believe I have time to realise my ambitions and live my passions. I like to simply, believe.

Am sorry, but my dream is not about having children or to cook for my husband. My dream is not marriage. These aren’t my “dreams”. I know in my heart, that a family will happen someday, because I have a lot of love within me to offer to the universe. But where I stand today, I have a loving supporting family and my priorities are different.

Strange, but against the popular notion, “being a girl, you have an option.”, I wonder, do I? Do I really have an option?

For girls like me, who have been raised on moral values of equality, who have been encouraged to dream, who have learnt to believe in themselves, who aspire; how much of an option do we have?

Can I marry a guy who believes I am his property, with the prime function to deliver children for “him”? Can I marry a guy who feels I just have to cook every meal, every day. Can I marry a guy who doesn’t let me work? Can I be with a person who doesn’t believe that I am an individual?

The “options” are far lesser, aren’t they? On the contrary I’d have to look for a man supportive enough , who lets me be me, and respects my free will.

The point is, an individual identity exists for every human being. Why do we, then, live in clichéd social frameworks?

I respect all the beautiful mothers and wives out there, form the bottom of my heart, who are full-time home-makers. But, provided, THAT is what they really wanted to do. Every person has desires within. Something that completes you and adds significance to your being. If that feeling of immense peace comes from raising your family, or loving your husband, alone; then, THAT is the best thing to happen to you.

But if that fire burns for more, then you have a different direction to pursue. Not the path where we pass on our dreams to our children in heritage, for our lack of fulfilment, but a path where you pursue your dreams, Yourself!

A working woman, with an intelligence, emotion and creative quotient thoroughly satisfied can be a great mother and wife.

Why even think of giving up one life?

Besides, in the end, the battle is always yours alone. You face the test alone. And you face the failures and rewards alone. With the give and take of affections and warmth, the journey certainly becomes more enjoyable, but still, it IS only your own.

No one else can live your life for you, then why live your life one terms of others?

A healthy blend of compromises on the receiving and serving end, with a rational approach, is what makes a successful life.

And so there is nothing like “being a girl, you have the option”. And nothing like “Being a girl you should….”

There are too many fences we have drawn around us – for men and women, alike. But why live in them?

Life is a journey, and a Life-partner is someone with whom we can cherish, enjoy and share.  An alter-ego or perhaps someone totally unlike you! Only the visions need blend and support. So, let’s just chill and remember that we all have an identity. And our responsibility is, nothing but, to keep that fire burning; to keep that light glowing with peace and happiness . It’s not about the “options” you have; it is about YOU. And YOU my dear, are the priority 😉 !

There is a world out there that is totally liberated. But this post, is a toast to those of us who celebrate the freedom of thought and action. This post is a toast to all our dreams, all our smiles and all our happy-endings 😉 Cheers!

love,

Apsara.

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