PET PEEVE: Ignorance and arrogance about said ignorance

I attended the second Marriage Equality Rally of my life in Australia, second year for me supporting a cause which exists only because some powerful people many many years ago decided how other people should conduct their lives. Yes, there are a lot of benefits of leaving everything upto one or a set of people- but without the set of powerful people representing a wide spectrum of ideas, some community or another will always be oppressed.

This rant in Youtuber Lilly Singh’s Vlog (start at minute 4:00ish-11:05ish) summed up a lot of issues I wish people would understand without her having to rant about it. I am often called a spoil-sport, for being able to pick out and be appalled at casually sexist jokes and quips about race or sexual assault or gay issues. Again, I think a lot of people complaining about the cause hold on to a time when communities were homogenous and ignorant about another society- because there was no mingling. Say a majorly ‘White’ America. When let’s say Indians (Not Native Americans- they were there before America was “white”) first went there, they would have 2 options as I see it. Adopt the ways of the majority or stick together. In the first instance, since you are alone and so intent on gelling in. Even if quips and wrong ideas about your culture bother you, you are too chicken to correct them without any support. In the other case, you have surrounded yourself with people similar to you and isolated yourself from those who make the jokes about you. And you probably have misconceptions about them as well.

BUT THAT IS IT!!!!! That was a scenario in the 60s- OR SHOULD HAVE BEEN. We are living in a day and age where knowledge is freely available so we can no longer continue to be insensitive with the excuse of ignorance. So WHAT is the EXCUSE NOW?  Is that what you are defending in your joke? ENTITLEMENT? You feel that you are no longer in power. So let us blame the ‘feminazis’, the youth, the poor, the ‘immigrants’, the homeless. And defend the jokes feeding into the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity and rape culture.

I, a vocal and passionate and mostly unrelenting advocate of many things like science, women empowerment and LGBTQI+ rights, am often asked to not engage older people in discussion because “they are l, they won’t understand, they are from a different time, no one thinks that way in this generation”. And against my better judgement, I believe it. But what about the fact that those illogical, unfounded ideas somehow manage to transcend the generational divide seeping into the younger generation, who by virtue of being energetic are more likely to take it too far with disastrous and violent effects. Because adopting the regressive, ‘tried and tested’ ideas are perhaps a safe haven from a tumultuous adolescence or young adulthood.

Amidst the loud noises of the Brexit-ers, those most supportive of staying IN the EU were the younger people though. People whose lives are most affected by the economic turmoil. PEOPLE WITH LESSER POWER and SOCIAL STANDING. And yet again, ignorance stuck out its ugly head when the people googled what the EU was right after voting on whether to leave the EU. HO HUM! Why are we dumb??(John Oliver summarises– warning-strong language)

It is Federal election day in Australia tomorrow and I was given a sneak peek into the ‘manifesto’ of some of the candidates. A phrase used most often by many candidates is “preserving the ‘Australian’ way of life”. It is funny how a phrase doing the rounds in the United States and UK- just with the name of the country changed. In India too actually. AND the irony is apparent to everyone. WHAT after all IS the ‘Australian way of life’ anyway. Didn’t Australia once consist of Aboriginals only? And then ‘convicts’- mostly belonging to marginalized communities, usually lower class people in Britain? And then things took a turn and the ‘convicts’ along with other White settlers from Britain spruced up and Australia at one point adopted a ‘White Australia’ policy when there was a growing influx of mostly Chinese and Melanesian migrants. This was in 1901- a dark past which will hopefully be decried as racist. The point is- the ‘Australian way of life’ much like the ‘American way’ and the ‘British way of life’ is subjective and has changed over time as has the society. We are no longer silly isolated landmasses and should not be treating some people and their idea of ‘living’ as superior. The “way of life” preservation is a great strategy to appeal to older (mostly straight, better placed along the social ladder) people who are respected in society and feel NOSTALGIA which is usually wrongly attributed to a ‘lack of immigrants or stronger influence of religion’. And the younger people- well, they haven’t seen the bad times, only been told that “those were the good old days”. And like me- they too, despite some skepticism are willing to believe it.

P.S- Yes this is a rant. And it would have been longer if I were to go into the details dissecting the issues in various countries depending on the context. I understand exclusion as a strategy- but think it unneccessary and defending it in the name of ‘religion’ or an archaic idea of ‘way of life’ to be a miserable excuse for ignorance.

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AWKWARD

On rare occasions, I don’t absolutely hate the world and everyone in it. Those rare occasions earlier used to be consistently infrequent. But it is a great time for socially inept people like me to be alive.

For those of us who do not possess the gift of the gab, life can be tough. We have to stick to ice-breakers about the weather and the awesomeness of shoes or coolness of hairstyles and then learn to breathe inaudibly in the silence that follows. For some like me- responding to a simple ice-breaker too can be a feat. I once “no thanks”-ed someone for asking me my name and immediately wished I had just stayed curled up in bed and dealt with the FOMO (fear of missing out) instead of coming to grips with my FOGO(fear of going out) in the middle of a group of strangers. I write down the exact questions and answers I have to ask when I have to call up my internet providers or make an appointment at the hospital (I wish fervently for the good health of my devices, my internet and myself). The worst part is when left to our own devices-we can go completely crazy and not know when a polite conversation may turn into an impassioned speech about the advantages of calling pancakes, flapjacks or a story containing too much information about oozing pus from various body parts. Having a very nuanced sense of dark humour and being sarcasm queen doesn’t help when meeting new people. Neither does being wary of hugs and kisses (which side to lean towards, arms held diagonally? if not, above other persons arms or below…I’m panicking thinking about it).

But this is part of the bargain you make when you move to a new place. And I would not have it any other way. The best way to learn to live, is to fling yourself from the lap of luxurious comfort into the bony arms of numerous awkward moments. I have now over the course of many years managed to survive the ordeal of the introverts, come out with a few ruffled feathers and sometimes a whole new perspective.

I will not say I take big risks. I dance. Dance classes are a good way to socialize as an awkward socializer. You are dancing with different people and can ask recycle your well-practiced conversation points. By the time you are done with the basics, you can move to the next partner or group of people and repeat. Genius!! Semi-acadamic or academic settings also work for me because there is already a set protocol and conversation topics, and usually a deadline so we can get away without sharing too much of our history, wasting too many funny anecdotes (I don’t have any) and revealing our hopes, dreams and secret desires.

All that said, this is a great time for people like us to be alive. Most people are exactly like us if not worse. I have being staying in a building filled with university students who hardly acknowledge each other even when a rare sighting does occur. Everyone immediately looks into their phones, lest we actually make eye-contact and have to actually TALK. The management tries hard to organize social events so the residents interact. The most effective way, to woo these perpetually starved kids with questionable culinary skills would be by offering free food and drinks. Right? No not really. What does happen, is a flurry of activity when the residents rush to get the free food and head back to their apartments by the time you can say “Canaloni”. We always prefer the virtual company of someone we know on social media over a stranger in the same boat. Plus the stranger is looking at their own phone. What a quiet boat. The age of internet trolling and facebook stalking has arisen from a basic fear of confrontation and I am looking at this glass half full before the cycnic in me takes over.

Well, where does that leave me? On cloud nine. I can now take things at my own pace. Not be as intimidated by people. For once in my life- be the initiator of small talk at bus stops (I am the creepy girl talking about pancakes when all else fails). I no longer feel inhibited about moving around alone. I don’t feel depressed about cancelled plans because I am the one who makes or breaks them and it affects no one else but me.

I do not claim to have become a superb conversationalist but I know I’ll be alright.

Things I didn’t do

On a lazy Sunday, watching drizzle become rain

I lie about thinking of all the things I have been meaning to do

There was the book I wanted to pick up, about work done in vain;

Write about what irked me – ‘how to pronounce quinoa’ and regressive attitudes too.

There was this recipe I have been meaning to try;

But assume, the ingredients are too exotic to find,

A song inspiring me to procrastinate less was replayed till I saw my plan go awry;

Watched a series so enthusiastically till my interest declined.

I do seem to have been busy, I don’t remember being still;

I am sure I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs all this while.

But as I watch the swaying branch scratch my window sill;

I think I might be misguided by my own guile.

There was a friend, I wanted to stop from becoming an acquaintance;

But was too lazy to write to,

Because life is a series of strangers is my insistence

Watching the drizzle turn to rain is what I do.

The Friendship dilemma

Isn’t it great when you’ve hit it off with a person you can tolerate? It seems like you could hang out with them without too many uncomfortable silences while you desperately try to remember ice-breakers? That’s something really worth cherishing-particularly for people with Rajesh Koothrappalli levels of social awkwardness.

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But just when you think you’ve finally got it good, reality hits you-as it usually does-hard. Remember the other person you once painstakingly used up your energy in establishing and nurturing a similar relationship with? Yeah, well it turns out they don’t like your new friend, the reason for which is usually given in the vaguest terms without any concrete justification or even evidence. And it’s worse when the second friend returns the hatred for your first friend with seething disgust. And who’s in a pickle but you? You have to sneak around either of them to hang out with one and/or the other. Fit both into your schedule, probably watch a movie twice because they won’t see eye to eye without giving you a migraine.

But then again, I guess knowing at the beginning of either friendships that one friend doesn’t like the other, gives you time to make a tough decision and decide not to invest as much in one of the 2 friendships. It’s worse when two friends did like each other and you (jackpot) but develop a dislike for each other.

My friend (yes I have friends-surprises me too) and I were discussing, how we could do even worse and have friends who were romantically involved and then decided to break up. Being forced into taking sides when things get ugly is the worst kind of dilemma. You once again tiptoe, focus on being politically correct while dropping those big white pearls of wisdom that you tend to drop so liberally. And then, after you’ve been coerced into complaining about each of these friends to the other person-they get back together and then hate you because of all the bitching they made you do. Ah! and you thought living vicariously through others would minimize the chances of drama you would have to directly deal with. Great plan.

I’ve recently moved to a new city (yet again) and while the excitement of moving is a thrilling and liberating experience, making friends is as scary an ordeal as it was whenever I moved schools or saw people on whom I would have to use up my entire arsenal of conversation consisting of the topics weather and education. Again, it is challenging to objectively understand human interaction while swimming in the choppy sea that is human existence, acknowledging the importance of knowing at least a few human beings with whom you can socialize before you finally resort to naming all your future cats and hiding out in your room forever.

Spring Cleaning

Tis a dreaded thing to clear out everything you own

and discover parts of yourself you had locked away

memories forgotten so long ago;

half an earring,mouldy old shoes, a top with a mended tear.

That overflowing cupboard has keys for the lockers of your brain;

And that is why we mostly defer that strain.

Because we must painstakingly flit through each little memory

and realise ever so often that some have faded past recognition or must be abandoned,

Some memories take up so much space and their material manifestations do too

and thus dusty shelves and filled up drawers;

containing news articles you know you won’t read and dried up glitter glue you used on a project in middle school;

must be thrown out and the memories associated with it -either discarded or edited as per your liking so you can look back upon it if it is that precious.

Tis a dreaded thing to pack up and take only things you need:calculating the baggage allowance for souvenirs of your life;

Requiring a mind-willfully forgetful and equally courageous.

And I because I’ve done this many a time should find it easy;

but the time it takes to go through, reminisce, ponder and classify still make me weary.

Worthy of a very special entry.
Worthy of a very special entry-perhaps another day.
Facts
Facts