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.

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

Writer’s Block

I have always tried to remain neutral when it comes to writing things which are open for public viewing and this one of the most difficult things for a person with many opinions.

But as much as I love poking fun at the expense of things, I try to be super careful while choosing my words and ideas, because let’s face it-I’m horrified at the prospect of confrontation-even via internet (gamergate, almost any time someone writes about the ‘glass ceiling’-to list a few…well two).

Off late- I have been experiencing a horrible case of writer’s block. My resolution “I shall write a post atleast once every fortnight.” has long been forgotten,lying behind the other mangled literary-corpses, those belonging to ideals I once upheld and stories I once treasured.

So, I kept thinking all the while that I must find the reason for this feeling of not being able to come up with a single little idea that I could use to write about. Things seemed to be happening all around me- there’s sights, smells, feelings, people dying, crying, loving, lying. All wonderful things and there is, if not total silence- this white noise,making it difficult for me to elucidate one single notion I could possibly use.

I read a lot of books, short stories, scanned the web-got a terrible case of TMI(Too much Information) and was still not able to think of an appropriate , mostly uncontroversial thing to write about.

Over many weeks, I came to the conclusion that I must write to express my moods. I must start taking responsibility for my actions (and words) and yes- bear the brunt, if I court controversy.

More importantly I realised that I should not be under the assumption that I am the most impactful writer out there just because I happen to write.

If I SCAN atleast a few dozen articles daily other than the news, videos of cats and celebrities, OTHER PEOPLE DO SO TOO. By the end of the day- my words are probably(at least hopefully) lost in somebody else’s brain thanks to the avalanche of information they suffered that day-for no apparent reason other than- “This seems interesting and might be valuable some day-just like all the other stuff I went through today-Eg:’What colour is my aura- really?’ “.

So here I am, ready to take the flak along with a few fans while I await the rise of my buried words to awaken my figertips.

P.S- I know what colour my ‘Aura’ is 

You got: Yellow Aura
Your aura is yellow. You can always be counted on for optimism and encouragement,and you have a knack for saying just the right words at the right time. Those with yellow auras tend to have great health, probably in part due to their pleasant disposition. Though you occasionally over-analyze situations, you only mean to make yourself and others as happy as possible.”

AIRPORTS

Yes, having established that everyone including me is a little crazy-lets talk about something which makes everyone a little nervous-                 Airports.  (This Post is about anxiety in social settings not First world dilemmas)

Now, dying in a crash or sudden terrorist attacks are a constant nagging fear but they are somehow not as crucial as the following conversations I have with myself. Please do not be alarmed or feign surprise at the knowledge that I have conversations with myself.

Step 1. Show Passport and Ticket at the entrance

Oh man…My face does not look like this. This police guy thinks I’m trying to impersonate someone else. He’s not going to let me go. Why’s he looking at me like that!

Ok ma’am- go!

Step 2. Check-in Baggage:

Wait, why is this person smiling so deviously. Are my bags over-sized or overweight. will I have to open my luggage in front of everyone and transfer things into my cabin-bag? This weight limitation is so stifling. Will someone help me if I can’t lift and place my bags onto the conveyor belt?

You’re good to go Ma’am, her’s your boarding pass and tag for cabin bags.

Step 3: Immigration/Passport Control

Why is my line the only one that never moves. Did that woman and her entire family just get to go ahead of me because she has a baby? Wait, I just let this old lady pass and now her battalion of  relatives want to go with her?

Me:Hi! How are you doing today?

Officer:Passport?

Wow this person hates me like one hates reaching cores of apples to realise that there are worms in it. He/She definitely thinks something’s fishy.

Officer: Are you traveling all alone? Whom are you going to meet?

Why is this barrage of questions scaring me? I’m 20- I can travel all alone on an airplane with a hundred other people and travel from one major city to another without crying. It’s you who’s scaring me with your crazy mustache and nonchalant gaze as you flip through my entire life history that is my Passport.

Me: Yes, to meet my parents. My face hurts from smiling so much and not looking menacing-the least you can do is acknowledge my effort with a nod.

Officer (Nods)- Go

Step 4: Security!!

Okay breathe. This is silly, calm your nerves, you no longer have to remove clips, you have no liquids in your handbag and no laptop you need to take out, you are wearing non-leather shoes and kept you phone inside the bag. Why isn’t my bag coming through- have they stopped the carousel to specifically single out the contents of my handbag. I knew I should have kept my camera separately. Had I taken the sanitizer bottle out? Is there a pair of scissors in there?

Officer:OK madam- thankyou!

Step 5: Boarding

Is this my gate? Do I feel too cold here? How long before we can board the plane? I’m always too early and the passengers from the previous flight are sitting at my Boarding gate.

Boarding has begun. Finally the torture ends. Oh no! I have to now smile and share pleasantries with the cabin crew and if I get someone chatty sitting next to me. WHY????????????

As I repress the fears and shivers of boarding on one side, I soon will have to face the exact same thing on arriving at my destination with the added responsibility of identifying my bags. But traveling is when you observe human nature at its best and its worst, be it an irate air-hostess or a thoroughly confused foreigner from a country with a fancy name. Traveling alone- is an exhilarating quirk all of us should experience, no matter what the mode of transport.

Paranoia 2- TEA

Of the few things that completely un-nerve me;
There’s nothing scarier than the knowledge that someone’s coming home for tea,
It makes no sense that I should clean my room,
it is my sanctum-hence mostly neat, you’d presume;
and rightly so, but the question here , more divine
is why someone, be it a relative stranger (or a strange relative) would enter this sanctum o’mine.
 
 
Because, I am now old , I must be a picture of grace and sensitivity;
I learn to swallow my pride and my urge for naiveté;
When the guests discuss so-and-so’s daughter’s matrimonial suitability
I know not to chide the hypocrisy of our petty society.
When a mother is ridiculed for her irresponsibility;
I must decide not to question the accusers’ ability.
When matters slip into politics, religion or the weight of a member of the glitterati;
I must learn to bite my tongue till I am asked for an opinion- to observe nicety.
 
 
I must listen to how someone’s child I have never met has been admitted to MIT;
And learn of someone’s daughter’s friend’s husband known for his notoriety;
So to avoid any and all problems, I decide to smile and recede to the kitchen to help with the tea;
The snacks accompanying the tea will need to be served to display a large variety.
And hence that is what I do- serve and feed to avoid all social faux-pas
I pretend to be interested in the features of that amazing new car.
 
To stop myself from ruining my image of sweet serenity;
I stuff my face, as gracefully as possible, with biscuits and treats
To not be berserk about this situation’s gravity;
I fuss over how tea grows cold and the foodstuff’s rancidity.
 
 
Mostly as I sit and smile, silently losing all mental faculties of mine;
I hope that the guests don’t stay back to dine.
Yes I understand the place of tea and gossip in the web of life;
And with great difficulty-explain man’s love for strife.
As the tea is stirred- the murkiness brings clarity;
I believe I slowly begin to understand this ritual’s necessity.

Paranoia 1

I have decided that we are all a little crazy about some obviously random things in our daily lives. What better way to encourage people to be comfortable in their own skins than to write about some of my pet peeves. The things which irk me are sometimes silly and sometimes serious and the extent to which I worry about them most likely borders on OCD.

So here’s the first one that comes to mind:

BEVERAGES: You know how we tend to cover cups of tea or any beverage with a beverage-cover, a coaster or some article to prevent things from falling into them or to keep them warm. WELL I DON’T. Yes, I now admit that I have a fear of covering my cups and glasses with ANYTHING.

I have this immense fear that the liquid inside- if hot-will condense on the underside of the cover and mix with the dirt, grime and what-not and fall into my beverage. If the beverage is cold-the condensation phenomenon is similar and similarly nerve-racking.

I have often tried to reason that its better to have some dust and dirt in my coffee than a drowned fly. But I somehow have not been able to get over this peeve of mine. I have even resorted to cleaning the surface of the covers, sometimes, magazines, yelling at people who were just trying to protect my Sharbats or green tea.

On rare days when I am in a good mood, I will be extra cautious as to the drinks being served to me, will prefer to make it myself and drink it as soon as it has been prepared with caution. For now  I do not know what else to do about this problem of mine