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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do we want to give up?

And then again, why do we want relationships?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It does.

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

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

But will I compromise my relationship? Maybe.

Should I? May be not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that pricked.

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

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

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

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

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I HAVE Lipstick Under my Burkha.

I HAVE #Lipstick Under my Burkha.

Yes I do.

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I am not fake, I am not cold, I am just me, under many layers that exist because I care. Yes, I care about what people think about me, I care about being judged, I care about the choices I make, I care about being cool enough, I care about being liked enough.

 

But the whole point is…

Why can’t I just live with the fact that people don’t like me? Why do I have to be likable? Why do I need to fit into a definition of “successful”, why do “I” need to be defined?’Why do I need to bother about what answer I will give to someone somewhere 20 years later about my relationship status – it’s existence or lack of it? Why do I need to explain what I do, what I feel and why I feel it? Why do I need to justify my emotions, for that matter, my existence?

And #Lipstick Under My Burkha is that mirror.

lipstick-under-my-burkha_article-image

Through 4 women – different ages, different situations, and different personalities – we see a reality that we would casually chose to look away from, always.

Be it Rihana entering her room and dancing to beats of her anger, or Shrin’s expectant eyes when she is seeking appreciation for her work, or Leela’s desperate attempt with pout filled selfies to chose a lesser life with more ‘chance’ or Buaji’s simultaneous acceptance and rejection of social judgements on choice of her interest in ‘literature’ …they are all small details that will linger with you after the movie, and make you wonder what’s right and what’s not … and even as you answer the questions in your head, you will be surprised at how entwined in patriarchy we are and how dominant the male perspective has been, before, now and forever known.

The very fact that the movie makes NO STATEMENT whatsoever is its greatest strength!

It doesn’t say women should wear lipstick or dress bold, or work or stay hlipstick-under-my-burkha-plays-iome, it doesn’t fight for right to education, it doesn’t fight for ANYTHING and in doing just that, it wins.

I am amazed at Alankrita Srivastav’s craft in simplicity and detail, a narrative with such depth – that speaks less but says more; it manipulates you too. Yes it does! It leads you to think, question and figure out things that you would never bother about, and while you figure it out, you slowly unveil ‘feminism’ in your head, which is nothing but, a quest for equality.

What a genius! What a gift.

Majority of us, do have a burkha. And the realization in itself is empowering, it has hope in the knowledge that it’s still in your hand to lift up the veil.

Will the women in the story, do that? Will they survive it? One can’t be sure. But #LipstickUnderMyBurkha is a reality check which draws our attention to the subtle inequalities, that we could all work towards bridging.

P.s. with all the talk about the movie being too feminist, I became the censor board myself, wondering whether men  can watch it at all. But watching the film made me realize what an elegant piece it is. Yes its sexual. Yes, a little explicit too. But haven’t we seen tonnes of that already? Only the tone of the storytelling is from a female point of view this time. And when we haven’t been offended for so long, why be now?

p.p.s. I think I will take my male friends to watch this one 😉 will be an interesting experience. #WhyNot #LipstickSide #MustWatch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many cases will we report?

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

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

An interesting read. Says –

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

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

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