Saturday, November 14, 2015

Enough with the Self-Help Bullshit - A slightly incoherent post-modern treatise

The next time someone tells me how something builds character, or what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, or any of those zillion bullshit things that we keep saying because we’ve heard it from so many self-help sources, I’m gonna really lose it. Why? Because the facts don’t add up. 

Seriously, what am I building so much character and inner moral strength for? To write another email?? Or so that someday in some imaginary apocalyptic future, when there are just a thousand of us survivors, maybe it’ll help me live for a few extra months than all those sorry billion plus losers who built all that character and strength just to die as cannon fodder for the first extinction-sized event? No thanks. 

And why do we have so many people (becoming rich) telling us to self-help? Animals don’t do that. They thrive in communities and build a sustainable eco-system and keep a planet running for billions of years. But no, we’re reading productivity manuals and learning ‘manifestation’ and other motivational crap being spewed out by the same community (humans) that destroyed half of the planet’s assets in a tiny little fraction of the time it was here. 

And if someone tells me that this is why we’re the dominant species, I’m gonna tell you to fuck yourself. An unchecked cancer cell growth will also be the dominant species in an unhealthy body. And just like we zap those cells to extinction, our planet’s trying to zap us out. And no amount of positive thinking, manifestation or tantric anything is going to change that. With this kind of thinking taking over the fucking planet, it’s no wonder we’re hurtling towards environmental heart-attacks all around. 

And if someone calls me negative one more time, I’m gonna zombie attack you and see how your positive thinking turns into mulch in another undead asshole’s mouth.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's Hate, And It's Us.

We imagine that hate and love have equal and opposite effects on the people’s imagination. 

We imagine that the sight of a black person being killed can be neutralized by cute videos of dogs and cats getting along. 

We imagine that for every debilitating thing a government does to keep its people down can be erased by uplifting stories of disabled people surmounting all obstacles to achieve amazing feats. 

We imagine that the effect of even one rape can be erased by the “Happy Friendship Day” greetings peppering our newsfeeds. 

We imagine wrong.

We are born expecting love. But we live to learn that we are mistaken. Indeed, we’re vilified if we don’t learn it quickly. Every such lesson we learn is a laceration on our collective psyche, shredding our blanket of love into rip torn shreds of vestigial humanity. And all of us feel it. 

And we see it around us, the effects of this feeling. 

We see it in the numbness we try to evoke through sex, drugs, alcohol. We see it in the way we erupt in rage over some semi-stranger’s social media post about breakfast. We see it in the litany of complaints we make about everything from the state of the roads to the state of humanity. Sarcasm, cynicism and rapier wit stand as defense mechanisms against the torrential flood of tears barely being choked back. We see it everywhere, and we lash out everywhere, leaving tiny explosive scars on anyone within earshot. And they do the same until each one of us becomes a carrier of tiny dynamite sticks, together capable of leveling a city, individually capable of destroying ourselves.

If we acknowledge there is real hate in the world, instead of reflexively jumping to the defense of “But there’s good as well”, then maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to acknowledge our part in contributing to the hate, in the words that we use, in the actions we undertake. And then, maybe, just maybe we will be able to change things around.

Unless of course things have gotten so fucked up that we can’t even imagine what that will look like. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

On the Flip Side...

I was chatting with a male friend the other day where I, in normal sarcastic manner, was chiding him about the entire male species' inability to understand that if we're going out with you, we really like you. There's not a single woman on this planet who wakes up in the morning and thinks, "Today, I won't like to fall in love." So if she's going out with you - and dresses up even a little - it's because she's incredibly hopeful that you're reasonably nice.

But then why do most guys screw up on the date?

My friend said, 'Because if that's what women want, then why don't they just show it?" Before I dismissed this childish attempt to blame the other party, I stopped. I asked him what he meant and he  asked me that if I was a guy looking the way I did - only more masculine - then what would I do to charm a lady. And I was stumped.

The first thing I thought of was - "Jeez! At 5'3, I'm too short." Can you imagine? If I had to date me, I won't be able to get past the height??! How fucked up is that? Then there were other things. Like... I have to remember to be charming and funny. Self-depracatory humor but not so much that it sounds insecure. Ok, I can do that. Would compliment the girl's perspective on something. Ask her about her family - not in an interview way. And when she asks me questions, come up with a story that allows me to innocuously touch her / hold her hand briefly.

I started thinking that I had this whole thing kinda sorted until we decided to role-play. He was going to be the cumulative average girl who's decided to go out with him, and I'll be smart funny charming. I'd like to say it went well for me, but then I'd be a liar. While it did become farcical, what emerged was a much more sobering truth.

As a woman, I'm so used to being wooed that I've never considered the insecurities that the Man comes with to the table. If he looks confident, then he must be, yes? Not necessarily. Sometimes it just means that he's spent a long while in front of the mirror saying, "I can do this." It's likely that almost everything he does is wrong with someone. Should he offer to pay? Did she get offended by him holding her hand? Or NOT holding it long enough? Or ordering the wrong thing? Or not saying a funny enough joke? Or was it so funny that now he's the joker at the table doing knock-knock entertaining? Does she think that people wearing check shirts are a certain way? Should he say he's #goldandwhite or #blueandblack? And all those multiple things that change depending on the woman you're going out with.

My friend continued. "If a guy shows up, it usually means that given half a chance, he'd like to do sexy things with you. And continue doing them over a period of time. But with women, it's like the test begins now and you're already late and we're constantly playing catch-up." The conversation veered to what a guy finds attractive and he said, "You know what guys want? To chill the fuck out. We want the girl to be happy, and smiling and to leave us alone."

I was surprised. I asked, "Don't you want someone to challenge you, make you be better?" He laughed and said, "Yes of course because we get bored with all the incredible amount of support and cooperation we get from our colleagues and competitors, right?" Hmm. I asked myself if I want someone who challenges me all the time and the answer is no. Life is hard enough, there are immense challenges in-built in my world already... Do I want to come back home to someone who challenges me further instead of just saying, "It's not your fault. You're awesome."?

While we sat there listening to music and sipping our beers, I looked at my friend who was gazing at a particularly beautiful girl standing a few feet away. I asked him why he didn't go and talk to her and he said something really sad. He said, "I don't want to deal with the baggage of her exes today." Is that what we are - a walking unhealed wound of Betrayals Past, looking for someone to come and fix us? And then I have to ask myself if I'm capable of offering the same services I'm demanding. I mean, am I in a position to heal their battle wounds as well?

Because then THAT would be a useful partnership

Monday, February 16, 2015


Don’t believe what the others say 
About how life should be lived
How games shouldn't be played
The rules have been written
By those who think they know
Perpetuating their sole viewpoint, 
Thanks to followers galore
7 billion people, and the opinion of a few
Claiming definitions for others
Using perspectives of the minuscule
7 billion hearts, there are 7 billion truths
And no size fits all
Not even one or two
One man’s meat could be another’s vodka tonic
Consuming his truth could leave you hungry or alcoholic
So next time you read
A List of Top Ten Things You Need
to marry, get a job, be loved or breed
Toss out that list because it’s futile
A stranger used his or her life
As the template for your demise

Monday, February 9, 2015

Too Good At Being Single?

Is there such a thing as being too good at being single? Like, "she’s too good at it for it to be good for her”. Or even, she’s too good at it for her to ever need a long-lasting relationship of any kind.

And I don’t just mean relationships of the romantic kind. Recently, I wrote about the changing faces of people I call friends. It wasn’t a happy post, but I ended on a note of it being a workable life. Maybe some people don’t get to have long-term witnesses to their lives. In my case, the ones who do show some kind of promise tend to move to a different country or die or break my heart just when things are getting interesting. And then when you flip through the life updates of mostly acquaintances on the ubiquitous social networking sites, you see that somehow people tend to manage to have those friends and families around them.. the repeat faces at important days of the year, the birthday cakes and the nightclub dancing and at funerals holding your hand. These are the faces that become your family, your support system and your life. 

Except in the case of people who’re too good at being single. Recently I was scrolling through the updates of various people on my FB page and I asked myself, “Who are these people?” I started “unfollowing” people, putting them under the “acquaintance” label and soon I realized that there were maybe 10 people whose access to me I would consider NOT restricting and about 25 more whom I wouldn’t mind knowing about. The remaining 480-something (98% of people on my site are people I actually know and have interacted with) I would put under the label of “Couldn’t care less if I tried.”

And when I looked at that list of 35 I realized what being too good at being single meant. Among those closest 35 people in my life, I realize I haven’t seen them and they haven’t seen me in months (months!) and the only time I thought of them was at 4 am on a Tue morning when I was irritated at my overfilled newsfeed. It means I’m really good at spending hours by myself at home, not necessarily in verbal communication with anyone, and my ‘feelings’ are explored and 'therapized' online in a blog. And when something bad happens and I find myself in bed for months, unable to reach out to anyone, unable to articulate my inner hell, I reach for my cat, a bottle of wine and marathon sessions of sitcoms. 

Because in those moments of silence you realize that you’re in the list of “couldn’t care less if I tried” for most of the people in your life. And for a very select (and probably changing) few, you fall in the 10. And you become good at coming to terms with that.

Maybe just a little too good at it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hello, Mid-Life Crisis.. I'm Searcher!

I was watching this movie called "Laggies" - a super fun coming of age kinda film and one thing stood out for me. The lawyer, played by Sam Rockwell (who knew Sam Rockwell could be sexy??) says this really desolate thing. He says that - I'm paraphrasing - that you think that you'll get to belong somewhere once you have the job and the kids and the family and the house and whatever... and then you realize that you're still just doing it alone.

It was heart-breaking. And sad. That there are so many out there just seeking the sense of belonging somewhere - no, wait - with SOMEONE that any part of the world would feel like home.

Then just now, my twin soul, whom I ran from ages ago in the midst of sexual and contextual confusion, sent me a FB message with a link of "Why you should fuck a writer. The twin soul happens to be married now, and we happen to be good friends, who seem to have left behind all the murky stuff of "what if" in favor of the more doable "this is it" (No, I haven't. I think about it a lot sometimes. Usually when I'm bored and lonely), but when he sends me stuff like this, right after I've watched a rom-com of someone getting their potentially happy ever after, while drinking two glasses of wine (and a beer and some flat non-fizzy breezers), I want to cry. And kiss him. And be held by him.

And then I start to imagine what it would be like if I ever dated a writer. Oh, wait... I did. In fact, a lot  - hmm, almost everyone I've ever dated has been a writer-director-photographer. And I have their pictures and their handwritten love letters to me, and books with inscriptions still stashed away somewhere... and I miss it. I miss the abandon with which I just went for it. I remember the things I wrote for them, this whole blog in fact being about them in one form or the other...

A couple of days ago, this guy I've been seeing  a lot of lately, asked me to ride with him to Bangalore. On his new Harley. The fact that he hasn't made it to even a post on this blog tells me more about our relationship than any therapist could (cheaper too!) but my first thought wasn't about him but about how much my butt would ache on that trip. He said that I wouldn't know until I tried it - and I realized that I've done it. Years ago, Delhi to Dehradun, on a bike, followed by an ice cold wade through a brook that flowed across a road while HE took pictures of me and wrote a piece of poetry for me that he later read while he held my shivering body in his arms and told me that he would love me forever.

A couple of months ago, a drummer in a band decided to ask me out. It was probably a date. It felt like a date. I didn't get dressed up or anything but I had looked forward to hanging out with him. And we did. And then we went to his place, where we ended up talking about our exes. Yikes! Total lady-wood maker because who doesn't want to to rehash your non-finest hours with an almost-stranger, am I right? Nope. And then, once the evening went to the proverbial hell in a hand basket, he made this last ditch-effort move on me. That kiss was inappropriate, hasty and the last nail in the coffin of what could have been. The reason I tell this little story is because he offered to write me a song. I think that  is his move - the song for the girl. And you know what? I've been there too! On the top of a terrace, strumming an acoustic guitar, while we both shivered in too-thin T-shirts but neither of us wanted to leave that terrace even in the frozen chill of a hill-station, HE sang me a song that was filled with love and yearning and I kissed him after that. We both stood there and shivered not knowing if it was the frozen temperature or that strange feeling of being in something big...

Maybe it's the shivering that really gets me. Which would explain why I'm feeling like this right now. It's cold... well, colder than normal, and I find myself shivering alone. If you don't count my cat.

And then I wish that I'd just dated stockbrokers instead. Boring, alpha personalities who have no time for life, happy to carry anyone along for their ride. Nobody would then have ever "got" me and my heart would still be intact and maybe I'd still be able to trick myself into believing that the most fun is still to come. Instead, I'm here, staring at an empty glass of wine, having a drinking-and-writing moment on my blog that a bunch of strangers will read while I wonder which writer I'd like to fuck up with next.

These are very dangerous times.