“Sab kuch commercial ho gaya hai yaar”, she says and waves her hand nonchalantly.
Her friend, sitting across from the table, nods solemnly, sipping expensive wine in an expensive glass, a trademark of being in an expensive hotel. The conversation was about art. Or was it about fabric? Did it matter? They were just whiling away their time, splurging the cash that would last them up until the next ‘job’.
Both of them were high profile escorts. Important men would routinely ask especially for their company. Rita, the one who thought that the world is rapidly becoming commercial, was a favourite of one of the important ministers these days, thus the expensive meals so often. The only problem though, was that he was becoming too attached. He was paying the agency money so that they would not ‘employ’ her anywhere else.
But she could not devote herself entirely to him, despite that. This is why she had called her friend to lunch – to tell her about this development. She had met someone. She had gone to accompany a friend who was a struggling actor to one of the auditions. Often these girls make do in between acting jobs by becoming escorts.
When her turn came, she was to give single auditions and group auditions and many other formalities. She said she would take long. Rita had spotted a guy from one of the ‘parties’ and was uncomfortable. She decided to go to a nearby mall and wait for her friend to get done. Rita crossed all the clothes’ shops with only a quick glance. She needed to dress well for her work, but right now, she needed to indulge her mind.
She went into a book shop. Rita had a fantastical idea that knowledge would save her. She would read anything and everything. From trashy romance novels to those discussing the economy or philosophy or religion, she would read anything she could access. She would become a transparent being in this world of words, symbols of her freedom. She would absorb what others had to say, and form an idea only after she was done reading that book or piece. This helped her to acquire a non-judgemental, and to some, an opinionless taste in books.
But she did have her favourites of course. She did not side with a particular opinion, but rather, some ways of expressing opinion opinion appealed to her more than others. How could we describe it? She did not like it when the writer tried to hoard readers by mindlessly introducing sex or some other desirable trait in the book, neither did she like extremely technical writers who would be very dry regarding what they had to say.
She read them all nonetheless, but she loved those the most who could charm the readers simply, without jargon or glamour, or mindless rubbish. It didn’t matter what these writers were saying, were they anti-religion or pro-religion, whether they were feminists or patriarchs. What was important, was this – they way they spoke their mind. Isn’t that how we function in life, too, Rita would think. There are many things that are not good for us, but we do them because they come across as appealing.
One such writer had just released a book, and there was a huge crowd in the bookshop. Rita just remembered this, and cursed herself for not coming sooner. She ran into the bookshop and asked for a copy of his book. Why was this writer special? He never put up his picture, and most people assumed that the current name was not his real name either. His books were about nothing in particular, and everything. It was a commentary on various aspects – on the social world, the political system, romantic love, the efficiency or inefficiency of Greenwich Mean time.. about everything under the sun. Why people liked him was often a mystery to critics. But it was true that his opinions were informed ones, and he was well-read, and if possible, had worked in multiple fields to know so many things so well. But he told them like you would discuss the weather over chai.
As a result, the readers did not feel overwhelmed and reduced to nincompoops. They felt like they were talking to a friend. A wise friend. And because he often jumped topics, yet linked them well, in so obscure way, they never got bored. When his first book came out, the publishing house that supported this venture was ridiculed by the who’s who of Literati. But later they realized that this small little publisher was growing, thanks to the sales by this writer. They were solidly guarded of his identity however. No matter how much the newsfolks tried to dig, by hook or by crook, they would not let go.
As a result, this writer had become a new-age guru of some kind. The critics slowly started to accept that he was influential. Often, they would fight over the genre he wrote. He used fiction too sometimes, at other times it was narration of his own life, or his observations, or hard facts broken down for understanding. Such was the enigma who’s book Rita wanted to buy. However, she saw that there was only one copy on the shelf. She ran to grab it.
However, she saw that the other end of the book was grabbed by someone else. A moderately hairy arm, it was a man. Youngish – late 20s, glasses and a creased shirt, with cotton pants. He looked like a voracious reader. He was about to say something when Rita interrupted him.
“Can you please let me buy this book? I may not be able to go out for several days after today, and this is the largest bookstore and they are running out of copies. Please? I’ll pay you double the amount of the book so that you can buy two copies for yourself, tomorrow? Let me take this one?”
Many things went through the young man’s mind. For instance, what was the logic behind buying two copies? He shrugged it off. Maybe the girl was just flustered. He said he would let her have the book, if she had coffee with him. Rita was taken aback. Nerds had social skills? Lack of opinions meant that Rita still hadn’t challenged the stereotypes in her head. She agreed. It was a small price for letter her have the book.
They discussed about many things, hit it off, and one thing led to another, and they ended up exchanging numbers, fixing a date to meet again. He said he was a product designer. She nodded vehemently, not sure whether this was the right time to ask what products he designed.
“Is that what you told him?” Rita’s friend asked, almost near the end of her wine, gesturing the waiter for a refill. “You told him you’re a struggling actor?”
“Well, am I not? I sleep with important men, just like struggling actors have to do. I put on a face with every new man. And if outside of my knowledge, if one of those creeps makes a video of us fucking, it’d complete the story, would it not? I hardly lied,” Rita said, smiling wryly.
Note – I would like feedback if I should continue this story, with a part 2 or end it here? I have several endings in mind that I could use in part 2, if I were to write it.
I’m going to talk about periods.. those who feel uncomfortable, better make themselves comfortable. What’s the point of making a common biological phenomenon such a taboo?
Many of my female friends and acquaintances often complain how horrible are their periods for them. The first couple of days are really bad for the most. They get enraged at whisper wishing us a happy period. Stupid company, right? Wrong. You can have an easy, happy period. Even without Whisper.
I was once the lot who had it real bad too. Going to school and college was scary because of the constant threat of a stain. Sports were out of bounds during those days. I felt all swollen, stupid and ugly. In a world where the appearance of a woman matters so much that we internalize it, its a tough phase to go through. Add to that the fact that your hormones go haywire, and you crave fatty food, and are irritable and angry.
What changed? I had visited a gynaec, but only as long as I took her medicines, would my periods be fine. She had said that the hormonal imbalance was also the reason for my weight gain, and so I did complete the course of the medicine. But periods were still bad later.
Then I started to work as a content writer, and had to read a lot on health in order to write my articles. I’d started working out to lose weight, and I was also more conscious of what I was eating.
I realized that if I worked out for roughly 21 days a month, and ate good food, I didn’t face a painful period. Now, I work out even during the periods, except on the first day. It is advisable not to do weight training and abs throughout, though. Now the periods come and go, and I’m least affected. How?
1. Eat right – Make it a habit to eat as much home-cooked, and fresh food as possible, all the times, not just during periods. It’s great for the skin. But if you can’t at least during the periods, avoid processed food. The more processed food like wafers etc you eat, the more your body has to work to digest it. It’s like giving a sleep deprived person another night of work. Make it easy for your body be eating fresh food, foods containing fibre and protein, and lots of water. You might want to reduce on the caffeine as its a diuretic and may hold water in the body, increasing swelling. Alsi seeds soaked in water overnight are a good home remedy if swelling is a recurrent problem.
2. Exercise – Most women I know don’t exercise outside of the little walking that they have to do in order to get to and fro the workplace/ college. It’s a pity because I can’t stress how important exercise is, in order to feel good. Especially during your periods, it helps the blood to flow out easily, and thus the pain in the lower abdomen that may happen due to blockage will not happen. I know, it is difficult to think of exercise when you’re writhing in pain, but just some walking or jogging for half an hour will also do. When it becomes a habit, it will be your first response to periods-pain.
3. Take care of yourself – All said and done, periods are still a stressful time for your body. Take care of yourself. Use massage and heat to release the pressure wherever you feel pain. Lighten the workload in possible. Rest adequately, try to indulge in things you like. My mom would go on a rampage during her periods and clean as much as possible – leading to pain and swollen feet. I know periods give you free time, but use that to rest and be happy.
4. Talk to the men – Most women say that doing all the above will only make them feel good, but what about external issues, when people misunderstand them? and in my experience, by people, they mean men. The day a man automatically gets what it’s like to have a period is the day a women gets how it feels like to get kicked in the balls. Not gonna happen. So, TALK TO THEM. Tell them that you may be irritable around your periods, but every time you are angry, you’re not menstruating, so that they do not trivialize justified anger.
I’ve done all this, and believe me, life is a lot easier. Go on, make it easier for you too. You deserve it.
After having obsessed about my life in quite a few posts, I will veer my attention to my fellow male counterparts in religion – Muslim men. Although I know very few of them – the few Muslim friends, male cousins and brothers, I have grown up to notice a peculiarity in them. They are rather good looking. Especially those from Kashmir, Turkey, Lahore or Karachi. Though Saudi isn’t far behind. Remember the guy who was kicked out for being good-looking? (http://chicwithwords.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/men-kicked-out-of-saudi-arabia-for-being-ridiculously-good-looking/)
And further more, age doesn’t really do much to them like it does to us poor women, who are hit by a zit, pimple or wrinkle when least expected. What is surprising is that they don’t really take any efforts to maintain their looks. Some focus on exercise, and some on what they eat, but the majority take life as it comes and still look rather healthy and glowing. It kind of scares a control freak like myself.
These are the next gen young Muslim men, so what they perhaps do right is – know what suits them. From haircut, to clothes, to presence or absence of beard, they are very careful about what shows on them. Many or most of these men pray, and very few have an addictions. Some may smoke but that’s about it. I think both these things help them have a nur on their faces. (nur – nice, divine glow).
Many of these men are studying or earning, and making their families and countries happy with what they do. They have hobbies that engage and keep them happy. And being men, Muslim men, south-east Asian men, derive a great satisfaction from having balanced their needs and others’, this makes them happy, and that shows in their being.
I have seen in these men the ability that I have not seen among many of my female cousins – the ability to forget, forgive with a hug and move on. When one does not carry emotional baggage, one feels happier and lighter, and it shows.
Please note – this was not a sexist post. It’s only that I have seen these qualities in my male Muslim friends and cousins more than in females, and it is specific only to the people I know. Women have many great qualities and I do address them in my other posts. But on the occasion of eid, and of seeing these men in their pathani suits, and still look as dashing as in western clothes, I thought I should pin down my observations.
Okay, so most of my posts tend to be philosophical. But that’s how I am, no, while the bus maybe jolting away to Deonar,or back home, I’m pretty much restructuring the social world I live in and getting amazed (and appalled at times) by the new things I come to know.
I’ve been anxious about many things lately. It took me a pretty good number of coffee cups and jolting in non-AC best buses, to realize that most of these are pertaining to the future.(If AC buses led to revelations, they wouldn’t charge us so much for the escape they provide).
Another revelation that kind of tallied along with that one like a pesky relative, was that all anxiety is about the future. For the past, its regret. I’m anxious because I don’t know how I will balance my domestic and professional duties, and whether along with that, the reading, the painting etc will happen. Marriage talk increases in the house as my brothers and I reach the golden period called marriageable age.Golden quite literally, looking at how decked up the bride is supposed to be. So much gold, it would put alibaba and the Dollar to shame.
With the Fc classes at tiss, you get a macro view of society and all the senseless Norma become less mystified. You come to know the economics and politics behind seemingly innocent traditions and practices. As enlightening as it is, it gets ugly. Now you know it’s fucked up, but can’t really lecture other adults or something else, that would change things. So, you’re already a rebel, and your college is now giving you a logic to back that stance. Awesome.
I also came to realize that in doing many things, I maybe compromising on the quality. I’m specializing in something, and the time for generalities is gone.
The one common thread through all these issues, is the fact that I want to run on power-saver mode always, stopping myself from.plunging fully into rthings. Whether it is aassignments, questioning social prevalence, or work life balance, I need to really start doing things. When I am doing a task, focus on that completely.
Multitasking is a stupid gimmick that our head isn’t made for, and like the latest fashion trend, it will die out soon.
The task is to let the smartphone do the multitaskikg, while I sign into life, completely.
Before humanities students (like myself) read the title and run away, and before physicists start to take a deep interest (although I’m sure there are no physicists reading my blog) – a clarification. I’m not talking of time and space in the sense of physics, but in a more personal manner. What do you expect? I’m studying to become a shrink, after all!
So yes, I started studying for my masters at TISS, tadadada.. all that which I have been incessantly blabbering about in my previous posts. But, the fact of importance is, with time, I’ve eased into things. They’ve become more handleable. I think that the passage of time is a gift that gives you the opportunity to find yourself in whatever you decide to do.
I used to think that, if I’m in college or travelling from around 8 to 5, when do I be with myself? And with a jolt in the bus, I realized that, to be with myself, I do not have to be alone. Yes, alone with the self is the best me time. But still, I could be connected to myself even during college hours. There is no need to switch off the inner connection and just be ‘a student’.
As might be expected, the academics is so much, I do not get time for extracurrics. I regret that. Being at TISS and not participating. But I’ve made peace for myself – to keep that reserved for festival days. For others, academics and resposibilites towards my family are more important.
Talking of family, I do not think that they want hours from you. Somewhere, they realize you are busy. I used to sit with my mom for half an hour before too. But my tiredness showed on my face, and my face buried in my phone. Now, I sit with her for like 10 – 15 minutes, but I give her my total attention. Sometimes, her complains about the maids, relatives seem redundant. At that time, it is very easy and tempting to act all uninterested. But no. With just a little effort, I show genuine interest, and it makes her really happy. I think somewhere, I’ve practically started to apply the counselor qualities I’m learning.
College will become all the more busier when field work starts, which is almost at the same time that Ramzan starts. It’s a combo like mutton biryani and keema paratha. It’s bound to make you anxious. But belief motivates unlike anything else. You become used to it after the first few fasts. In fact, research indicates that formation of a new habit, for most people, requires that they consistently do it for 40 days. This is the maximum. You may form a habit in even lesser days.
And of course space. Not only is it important for others, in relation to them but with yourself. Give yourself space first. I’ve been stuck on the last 5 kgs for quite some time now, reagrding my weight loss regime, and the negativity had somehow creeped in. Although not so much overtly, but somewhere, I was getting very critical of myself. But it was important to stop that. Peoples’ weight loss plateaus have known to be on for years too, I’m just stuck for months. Besides, a positive outlook is the best atmosphere to trigger change. So now I’m focusing on just liking what I do and doing what I like. Being happy.
Space for others. Despite knowing how important it is, I still slip sometimes. I forget that space is letting the person be, and not hold some secret resentment towards them. Yes, its difficult to not talk sometimes. Especially when your friends are far away and you don’t know what’s happening to them or what they are going through. But that’s exactly when they need to sort things out in their head, and my experience has been that when they get back, they really appreciate being given the required space. Because giving space is showing trust. There’s nothing more loving than that. Let’s hope this holds true for further experiences.
As much as i have loved writing this post, it has become rather long. Although it has confirmed my beliefs which I was starting to doubt a bit. And then I’ve gone a bit overboard and signed on for two courses on coursera that begin in September, as that’s the last month of my 1st sem. So human of me.
She looked at herself in the mirror. Her weight gain was not a lot, women of her age did gain that sort of weight, especially after two pregnancies. She looked at the Newspaper. There was an article on her husband. As usual. And his new wife. And how he still ‘maintained relations’ with the children of his first marriage. Her children. Their children.
Things were obviously going to fall apart. He was from the film industry. She was not. It was naive to think that he wouldn’t fall for one of the women from the sets. But what happened surprised her more than shocking her. He had fallen for the director, a hard-working young woman, and not the scintillating actress, his co-star.
They had married when he hadn’t even worked in his first film. People advised her not to. What if he ended up being just a junior artist all his life? But she believed him. She believed in him. And he succeeded. The more his profession took off, the more their marriage failed. She should have known. She never understood how the other star-wives managed it. She didn’t want to. She wasn’t one of them.
She had given the marriage all she could. Perhaps too much. But she was thankful he ended it when he was in love with someone else, although, it still was extra-marital, and she could never forgive him for it. The kids had grown up. She had hoped that they would not join the film industry. But it looked to her that her son was inclining that way. Well, it was his choice.
The only mistake she thought she had ever made was let the marriage and her husband define her identity so largely. Now she had found herself, and did what she want to. She turned the page of the paper. Something caught her attention -
A young actress, who had done a brief role in one of her husband’s films had committed suicide, and abuse by a boyfriend, another actor’s son, was said to be involved. No doubt her secretary would put a call through to her soon, from the deceased relatives. But she could not wait. She picked up the phone.
“Hello? This call is from the Director of Protection of Women in the Entertainment Industry. I was wondering if this is a good time to talk about your daughter, the deceased Miss Khan? It appears to me that the case needs probing.”
It is twelve thirty in the afternoon, yet, the dense cloud make it appear like early morning. It’s pouring outside, with just the hint of breeze that I like. And there’s purring inside – two kittens we have recently adopted (Fem and Nur) are talking, in their sleep. My tortoise, Neo, is eating his lettuce and taking a walk in the rain. An unfinished painting is staring at me, competing for my attention. I will finish it and put it on my painting blog today. (http://20days20artworks.blogspot.in/)
A bookmark is poking out of the initial few pages on the book I’m currently reading, The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard, suggesting how far behind I am on my reading goal. But, i give my self the allowance for lag, because I’ve been busy – not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I have gone through a roller coaster ride of worry, sorrow and anger ever since February, and it took me this final exertion to realize a few things.
To realize, that we can’t control everything, and to try to do so would lead to frustration. What we could do instead, is want and wish for change so bad, that it has no choice but to happen. To realize that, if you want things and you wish for them in the right way, you get them. Maybe you do not get them in the exact way that you want, but the Universe/God works its mysterious ways, and gets you your wish, by an albeit unconventional route. To realize that, to be happy, you need nothing else, but the wish, desire to be happy. The desire moves you to do things that makes you happy. Happiness is that simple, and that profound.
A new phase of my life begins tomorrow – Masters. I am going to meet lots of interesting, hard working people, and its going to be a great two years, academically speaking. Many of my friends are interning, working, going out of town, coming into town, breaking up, getting into relationships, taking a break from their partners, taking up celibacy (!), marrying, engaging – it seems like movement of tectonic plates – so much change!
These 5 – 10 years will be full of change, and if I wish to be happy, I have to accept things as they come, and realize that troubles once over may surface again; That nothing ends once and for all – including joy, happiness.