Nostalgia

Fighting through the daily grind in the same country where childhood flashed by in an almost dreamlike film-sequence, life is steeped in strong nostalgia.

Suddenly, hipsters lurk in a city that is known for materialism, and they are heart-achingly out of place to everyone but them. Suddenly, TOMS are more in fashion than Louboutin’s, and organic cafes are the chill destination of choice, while Starbucks lies dusty and neglected.

And it doesn’t feel real. It feels like what it is; a desperate attempt to bring a cultural and artistic sensibility to a country that built its fortune on the artificial. While we have spent years turning up our noses at the materialism the country thrived on, we also spent years creating our own nooks of culture and history.

My history doesn’t live in warehouse jams. It lies in portable CD players we took to the beach as we listened to mixes that took a few days to download. My culture doesn’t lie in organic artisan coffee, but in the hazelnut latte sachets we bought as we curled up on couches and watched Roswell on Thursday afternoons. My art doesn’t lie in pop up stores selling handmade wares, but in a Souq that decorated and accessorized us for years.

Everyday, I don’t admire what it’s become.
I remember what it used to be before it tried too hard to be something else.

Fantasies Trump Reality.

There is the reality, and then there is the fantasy. It’s so easy to immerse yourself in the latter. A life filled with the “what if?” and the “if only.” It’s a comfortable way to live. The pleasure of the fantasy has become my favorite home.

The reality is harder to deal with. It tells me that I really am the person I hoped I wasn’t. It shows me that an investment in a relationship doesn’t guarantee any returns. It shows me that despite what I desperately tried to alter, career probably trumps love. A career doesn’t break your heart. Love can, love will, love did.

The fantasy, on the other hand. It’s less mundane, as fantasies tend to be. The fantasy puts me in a new setting, where I can start over. Where I can shed the old personality, and create a new one. I spend hours daydreaming; a foreign city, a place where I know no-one. Transforming loneliness into a new life, and leaving behind the ruins of my reality.

I can’t imagine transforming my reality. I don’t know where to begin. It’s bewildering and is filled with a cast of characters too large to manipulate. The easiest thing to do is move on. I don’t see that as running away. I see it as starting over. I see it as a challenge, and I see it as brave.

And yet, I can’t do that. We don’t choose our reality. It finds us, and it twists itself around our arms and legs. Our reality chooses us. It’s a collection of moments, conundrums and fuckwittage.

I live in my reality. But I’m in love with my fantasies.

Books I Could Write.

1. Solo Dance Parties Will Change Your Life

2. Anger & The Art of Sulking

3. Pronouncing the Unpronounceable

4. Overcoming Season Finale Stress

5. Transform WhatsApp into Productivity

6. The Why’s & Wonders of Curly Fries

7. I Don’t Need a Soulmate, I Have My Best Friend

8. I Don’t Need My Best Friend, I Have Whiskey

9. Love Will Massacre, Career Will Mend.

10. Smoking Makes You Look Important & Other Urban Truths

11. Love is Overrated, Labrador Puppies are Not

12. How to Keep Sane After an 8-Hour Fight

Its 2013, India. How About Growing The Hell Up?

2012 ends today, and all I can think is: thankgodthankgodthankgod.

The past few weeks have been a nightmare for Indians all over the world.  It is when it stuck us with brute force that we are a nation raising monsters. We, who call ourselves liberal, developing, democratic – we’re raising monsters. From the parents who tell us not to talk to boys and then order us to marry a stranger, to mothers who tell their boys to marry only “good girls”, we’re making ourselves a nation of repressed aggression.

We make the children of India sexist prudes, mystifying sex, weaving “sex before marriage is a sin” into every child’s upbringing. We make men superior to women, and tell our men that “good girls” are marriageable, while “bad girls”…they’re easy, fair game. Go ahead, they’re asking for it.

This month, I have felt something deeper than loss. I have felt grief bordering on insanity, because for the first time, I feel ashamed of being an Indian. Of being a part of a nation that can make me sick to my stomach; kneeling on a cold tile floor, heaving out my insides, thinking of all the times I have felt safe in India. Thinking of December 16th, when a girl my age, would never feel safe again. If she had survived, she would never ever have felt safe in her own country again.

I’m an Indian woman. When I’m in India: I wear shorts and revealing tops. I kiss and hug my boyfriend and male friends in public. I have travelled within my city alone post-midnight. My girlfriends and I have stumbled out of bars after too many beers, and sat on footpaths smoking cigarettes. I have lived with my boyfriend, no marriage prospects in sight. I am, by Indian standards, a “bad girl”. Should I be made to feel unsafe in my own country? The country I have carried inside me since I was born? The country I have always called home, despite the cities I have lived in? The country I have always said I would raise children in? If I raise a daughter in India, will I ever sleep again?

It’s a new year, India. Change. Grow the hell up. Realise that modern values aren’t evil threats to your glorious traditions, but are steeped in common sense. Instill sex education into your children’s upbringing. Make it an integral part of their education. Teach them that sex isn’t an illicit&unnatural pleasure, but a human joy. Teach them about safety and love. Teach them that sex is about togetherness and mutual want, not an infliction of power. Teach your boys that they are equal to girls, and teach your girls the same.

You believe in education, don’t you India? You boast of your literacy, of your high standards of education. So educate. Not how to memorize textbooks, but basic rights and wrongs. Of how no means no. Of rational thought over primal urges and what it means to be human.

Change for the savagely damaging beliefs Indian parents have been pouring into their children’s head for centuries. Change for the beautiful&educated unnamed girl in Delhi, one of the thousands you lose annually because your children have been raised all wrong.

I never knew her, and now no-one ever will. But don’t let her die in vain, the way you have allowed thousands to. Don’t let her be just another nasty report in your records, one that is collecting dust. Don’t let her be just another impassioned status update, another candlelight vigil, another black dot of a profile picture, another blog like this one. Make her your symbol for change, make her the reason you rid yourself of the demons of our upbringing.

Make her the reason to make women feel safe and in love with you again.

To You – Because 2012 Is Almost Over.

My S.O,

This has not been a good year for you. 2012 has been a failure of epic proportions. You have known frustration&resentment&disappointment&anger- and you have reaped few rewards. Because I share your emotions, the way I share your french fries, I have known all the same feelings too.

But like I know your bad feelings, I have shared in your good. And I feel that at the almost-end of this terrible year, you need reminding of the good.

*

You should remember the feeling of watching Eminem sing, and how he brought back your childhood in a rush of memory. You should remember that night last weekend, when we drove home at 2-something am, blaring Swedish House Mafia, feeling exhilarated&free, and anticipating a DreamlandDay. You should remember our shared Bombay Summer; the walks and the chai, the coffee & the kingfisher. You should remember how you’re permanently entangled with two of my 2012 milestones; my tattoo and my job. You should know that I never glance at my tattoo without thinking of you; the you who held my hand through it, the you who helped my doodle&draw it minutes before it was inked. You should know that I never come into work without thinking of you; the you who drove me to interviews, waited patiently till I was done and had celebratory smokes with me afterwards.

*

You should remember the old friends you’ve reconnected with this year; the music you’ve made and the conversations you’ve had. The stories you’ve told and the histories you’ve laughed over. You should remember the multiple ways they have individually told you that you were like a brother. You should remember these same friends who outdid themselves buying you drinks for your birthday, ignoring me when I told them to stop, and insisting that is how men show love; piling you with too much alcohol, and none of them what you were actually drinking.

*

You should know that when I said last night that you’re beautiful and that I love you, it was the most honest thing I’d said or thought all day.

You should know that I have big hopes for next year; 2013 has personally told me that even if it doesn’t give you all that you want, it will make you stronger. And that’s never a loss.

You should also know that my 2012 has been wonderful primarily because of you.