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

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.

polls_anime_friends_fav763461_1412_842143_answer_7_xlarge

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! : )

182605_181992965170684_5950304_n

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! 😀

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi – A Real Hero?

So I am having my morning tea with Mom and Sis and there’s this news that I have been uncomfortable about. I am more disturbed because every two days we start celebrating someone as a hero just because he does something against the ill “corruption” and I am just not in favor of it.

Yes, on Half A Cup of Tea, I seldom show very strong opinions, but today is one of those days when I do.

I look at the news once again, and decide to do the check.

Have you ever wondered why R. K Laxman and UNNY have not been jailed? It’s not like they haven’t made cartoons against corruption. Here are some examples:

R.K. Lakshman’s Work  and UNNY”s work (Respectively shown below)

And the said “hero” Aseem Trivedi was jailed.

But how many of us, have taken the trouble to see the said cartoons. And okay, you saw it but did you rationalize? Did you judge whether or not it is acceptable? Here are the images for your reference:

Cartoon 1:

What it depicts: The Indian parliament as the “National Toilet” and the constitution being urinated on.

Are we okay with the world looking at this Image of Our country? Is this how we represent ourself? Is THIS our triumph?

Cartoon 2:

What it depicts: The ashoka chakra – the dharma chakra with “Sataya Mev Jayte” inscribed is re-designed with wolves and the emblem as a skull.

When cartoons are about the “corrupt” and about the “human” corrupt – we can pass it off as opinion. [Like the ever popular cartoons about the various, specific, government officials]

But this – this is representation of the country. Someone is mocking our country and we’re supporting this representation.

Have you ever wondered that the shoulders we’re leaning on (and every 6 months we run after a new hero) and the triumphs that we are celebrating might just as well be another way to get victimized?

I don’t really see this whole attempt as a celebration. I don’t view these pictures as something called “Freedom of Expression”. I think they very well condemn our dignity.

When asked to comment he says: “When wads of currency are waved inside Parliament, scams worth crores of rupees are carried out, when parliamentarians watch blue films in the House and then you decide who is insulting the national symbols. Why are you asking me?”

And that reinstates my apprehension.

While some loot the country with the deep rooted culture of corruption, we have others who abuse our dignity in the name of “creative expression”. And sad part is, THIS abuse is so widely accepted and applauded.

As for these images – they enrage me.

Where are his cartoons taking us? – Besides the instigation

They’re right when they say the “negative” gets publicity.

I am now provoked enough to take a step. But I look around and see – THERE is no step to take. There is absolutely no direction. We’ll shout, abuse the government a little more and then carry on with our “every day” sins.

Yes – SINS that we are so used to living with that we don’t even consider them as crime enough to create a hue and cry.

Your cartoons are super effective, right Mr. Azeem Trivedi? Then why not make cartoons that make us morally better people?

For instance – the Guwahati criminals out on bail. It kills me to see that our country is okay with that.

It kills me when I read blogs where women confide to dialy molestation and people watching and laughing. It kills me to see movies that use “rape” as entertainment. What are we doing in daily life?

In daily life – we’re reading cartoons that “rape” the country in visual representation; that BRAND INDIA in the eyes of the world in such manner and we applaud it saying we’re against corruption.

And still –men will not protect the women, still the children will be forced to child labor, still the poor will be exploited, still idle will mock the country. And we will applaud. Why not make cartoons that can change the world?

 Why not use “freedom of expression” to do something productive? But no. That won’t become just as popular as this because the positive and productive will never get so much attention. The “Freedom of expression” only seems to instigate and not inspire.

It’s like teaching a child to speak but the child only keeps swearing. The child soon forgets dignity, respect, the lines that honor the freedom of expression and the child just grows up to become one – of – those – people. I fear that happening to my country.

 We just enjoy grumbling, making excuses and BLAMING someone or the other.  We just enjoy blaming and celebrate the one who is the “most creative” in playing the “blame game”.

We need to think beyond.

We need to be wary of abuse,

We need to be protected from being used,

We need to muster courage and vision

When need to think beyond,

We need to begin.

We all want to same things – peace, prosperity, honest functioning, freedom from corruption, freedom from crime, freedom of expression – but in the bid, let’s just be careful, we aren’t trading ourselves off.

 

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 .

Unraveling The Idea Called Love

I want to embrace that feeling,

That brings me near me;

That tells me who this person is;

Or those living within me.

I fear who I may discover,

I fear being bound;

I know not where this may lead,

I stand silent without sound.

I want to go back home,

To sharing joys and sorrows;

I want to lay below the stars,

Not worrying about tomorrow.

I want to live in this moment,

Though knowing it may end;

I don’t want to travel on that road

Because it may end.

If I were another person,

I’d perhaps not move with thought,

I’d let this moment live as it is,

As with destiny it’s brought.

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

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

Case 1: Love – the other side of the person

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

Case 2:  Love – the more than one, simultaneous

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

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

Case 3: Love – the mistaken belief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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