What would be your reaction?
Fight or Flight?
© Shivani | forewordMarch
I always thought that life of a celebrity must be difficult; no privacy, always camera-ready, always appear pleasant, cannot go out in public as and when heart desires, anyone and anybody can write anything about them and then they have to go in PR mode.
An acquaintance and I were discussing celebrities, sharing who had spotted whom and when. He shared his experience of a known and popular festival in Maharashtra (India). There was a lane kept for VIPs and two other for general public. He and his friends were standing in the regular people’s lane almost in the front of the stage where the idol of Ganesh ji was set. A young movie star made a rapid appearance from his rapid VIP lane, and the (women) shopkeepers went berserk. They leaped on to the stage, from either sides, to take a look, possibly get an autograph or a picture. My acquaintance told them that it was a day for Ganesh bhagwan and not the movie star, to which they replied, “bhagwan to har saal aate hain, film star Nahi aate” (God makes an appearance every year, film stars don’t).
I was frankly shocked and a little amused at hearing that remark. God had become a common feature. The festival and his presence was no different from the usual, for those people.
The conversation drifted back to celebrities and I made the general observation written above, about difficulties of being a celebrity. How they can’t even visit a place of worship without getting mobbed.
To that my acquaintance said, “Isn’t that true for us too? We also try and maintain composure within our little world; we too keep a face. You and I both stay away from our families. We, regular people, too stay away from our families, sometimes for longer, because of work. We too travel a lot. Anyone can now write and share anything about us on social platform. Facebook has given us a page where people follow us and check about us and write about us. Our life is also like theirs, maybe not at that scale, but it is.”
Not only was it true, but also sublime. Aren’t we all mini celebrities?
Such a beautiful potent thought. Such a powerful mantra if read the right way. When you feel people are talking about you or behind your back, just think that “YOU are a celebrity.”
Chin up, flash that smile. Bring up that confidence. The world is your oyster. You are awesome!
You are a celebrity!
Today is Dussehra, also known as Vijay Dashami, a Hindu festival that marks the win of good over evil. Lord Ram, seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, decapitates the demon king Ravana, who had spread a reign of terror and had captured Lord Ram’s wife, Goddess Sita. Ravana, with his 10 heads, was blessed by Lord Shiva, for his devotion, that made him invincible.
Lord Ram steps in not only to rescue goddess Sita, but also to help those who were terrorized by Ravana and end his egomaniacal reign; a mission, in which he was assisted by Ravana’s own brother amongst others.
The holy day is celebrated in India by burning the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarana and Meghananda, signifying the victory in the war against evil.
While we celebrate the festival every year, how many of us take in the metaphorical teachings that it embodies?
There is a Ravana in today’s world, very much alive, in and around us. The ten evil sins resides in us all, that of – lust, sloth, gluttony, anger, ego, adultery, deceit, arrogance, pride, wrath.
Do you recognize them? Do you notice them peeking out every once in a while? Would you purge them? Would the good win over evil?
Let’s try and kill one ugly head at a time. Ready to cleanse yourself from the sins? Let’s begin.
© Shivani | forewordMarch
Why should one marry? What do you think should be the reason for marrying? Does any of the following sound familiar?
– You have a job. What are you waiting for?
(Life mein aur kuchh hai hi nahi. Job lag gayi, why wait?)
– You are going to get ‘overage’. Who will marry you then?
(Just like perishable items carry a ‘best before’ date)
– Your younger sister is waiting in line. Your marriage will clear her way?!
(Like you are some sort of a roadblock; which makes wedding a bulldozer. Perfect!)
– You are getting fatter and losing hair. Marry soon before people turn you down.
(And I would want to marry someone because they like me thin??? Hear yourself.)
– All your friends have gotten married? Why don’t you?
(Yes. You got it. We all move in tandem like conjoined twins!)
– Get married soon. I need to show your aunt that my kids are better.
(Great! Make me your winning horse now. Since you are at it, why don’t you place bets too?)
– Oh! Oh! We have for an excellent ‘rishta’. They are ready to give 10L in dowry, a big car and gold!!
(So that’s my value? Whatever happened to calling people invaluable?)
– Don’t you love your parents?
(Ha Ha Ha. So you want me to get someone with whom you would later fight with for my attention? Smart thinking!)
We have all been there. But really, when you do get comfortable with the idea of marriage and think you are ready to ‘settle’, what are your reasons? What do you want in your partner, unless of course if you are in a relationship? I sincerely hope it’s not because your ex got married and you want to too. Or simply out of boredom. Or, because you are away from home and want someone to take care of you and your house. Girls, he isn’t your teddy bear. Just call up your girlfriend or mom if you need a good talk. And guys, she isn’t going to be the second version of your mother; so don’t expect her to ‘take care’ of your house. Marry for the right reasons! Don’t give in to any of the reasons listed above. Please don’t!
Marriage, above and before anything, requires companionship. Very few people marry someone who was a friend first. But those who don’t, they must try and form a friendship before tying the knot. If you can’t communicate, can’t discuss most basic things comfortably, then how on earth do you expect your marriage to work?
They say, ‘when weddings ends, marriage begins.’
It’s not all about bringing money, spending money on bills etc, bearing children and attending family functions together. It’s so much larger and stronger than that. It’s the everyday, the mundane, that consumes and challenges you. This person you marry will be with you through thick and thin and if you both don’t even understand each other at the most basic level, how will you make it work when times tell? And times will test you. Don’t be an ostrich; pretending nothing ever will go wrong with you. Every married couple goes through a lifecycle; there are good times and bad, trying times that test your patience more strongly than it tests your love for each other. Times, when you would want to be alone and when not. If your partner can’t understand that and if you can’t give your partner that space, then there’s something fundamentally wrong between you two.
Take a pause and think. Have a discussion with the one you intend to marry. Discuss everything under the sun. Sometimes even the most simplistic stuff can tell you a lot about the other person. You don’t need to find your replica. Just find a friend who understands your thought process and knows who you really are. Give it some time before you decide. Of course you may end up not liking the person, but the time spent in getting to know her/him would be a small sacrifice than a lifetime spent in unhappiness. It’s easier to look for a friend anyways than to look for a spouse. Don’t treat marriage as some big evil lifetime social pressure that you need to go through. Treat it as a lifelong friendship and be in it with the one who makes your marriage feel easy and light. It shouldn’t need too much work and if you think it will or it is sapping all your energy then you are in trouble dear friend.
You may ask how exactly can one go about it, and that’s a tricky question. One can never make a complete list of attributes that one would want in a person. Even if one does, then it is liable to change as one ages, according to change in priorities. But what one could do is to ask oneself what are those issues that one is absolutely firm about – things that invoke principles. It can be anything- politics, religion, work related, family set up. If you find yourself not agreeing or compromising on those crucial points then it is better to come out in the clear and not go for it. You will be doing a favour to both of you and your families too. As someone once told me, “Instead of looking for all that is ‘right’ with the person, look for all that you absolutely can’t do without.” It’s a pragmatic approach and sensible, to say the least.
Understand, respect and learn to care, before you wed. If you don’t have a love of your life then find a friend and you will get a partner back. Else, don’t!
We have all been at the receiving end; we have all said these at least once in our lifetime to someone and most likely continue to do so. Are you wondering what am I talking about? It’s unsolicited advices.
Not all are bad though; in fact, I think that most are helpful if taken and seen in the right light; but, sometimes, it can bug you to no end, especially if it comes from someone who does not know you well enough.
I can enlist a quiver full of these when I try and recollect, ranging from general opinions, judgement about your person, gossips and rumours and so forth. People have told me what to eat, what not to eat, how to think, what to say, how to say, what to wear, what not to wear, to tone down my temperament, to be patient, to exercise diplomacy, to be dishonest if need be, to do this and that.
How can I be myself if I alter the very core of me? Is it ever possible to do that? Should I do that for anyone? Should I treat myself as a work in progress till it’s time to say goodbye?
When you are at the receiving end of it, what do you do?
I don’t yet have any answers. Do you?
© Shivani | forewordMarch
It’s that time again. The time of duct tapes, bubble-wraps, boxes, trunks, newspapers, markers and, well, packing. Although it’s premeditated, but still, it is no different. As I strip my home, one article at a time, it feels exactly how it felt the first time – a feeling of sadness mixed with excitement; the feeling of ‘end of an era’.
The trunks and boxes are filling up and so are my eyes. They (tears) come and go, but the feeling remains.
Why is a move so emotional? It’s not like I am going away forever or that I don’t know what’s in store in near future, then why? Maybe it’s because no matter how much you try and keep your head in order, make yourself understand that the accommodation is temporary, it’s still home and will always be that- in your photos, albums and heart. You tried to restrain, tried to teach yourself in the past that less is more because in two years you would be cursing yourself while packing for accumulating all that stuff which has no real function other than to add to the persona of your home, but you still buy, you still collect. Those little trinkets have a history. Those miniature boxes that can’t hold anything worthwhile hold stories. You remember the time and place when you bought it. You remember the discussions you had with your partner about it. You remember the way you hemmed and hawed before picking those articles, picturing in your head where to place and which one would match better, and then smiled to yourself while placing and positioning the chosen ones. You remember the proud feeling when people came visiting and admired those little no-goodies.
The persona is getting boxed up though and the house is getting barren. I can’t help it. The walls that are now picture-less have a stamp of existence of those frames. Maybe the walls are still getting over the fact that the relationship is over. It’s okay. They will move on as soon as we move out; a fresh coat of paint and the traces of the two-year relationship will be swiped clean. Whoosh. Gone.
I wish I could lift this house that I call ‘home’ and install it on the next location. I wish my house had wings and it could fly. I wish I could magically make it appear every new place we get transferred to. It’s that time again. One of those times when I wished I weren’t a muggle.
Swish. Swoosh. Done!
There will be another house. This time will also come again. Until then, I will take away a glimpse of my house captured in these images.
He : Ahem. Hello?
The Voice : Yes, I see you have arrived.
He : Arrived? Oh you are mistaken. I think I am at the wrong place. I do not recognize this place and I don’t remember setting out for here.
Can you tell me where am I and the way to go back?
The Voice : Calm down son. I understand your confusion. The questions are always the same, but so is the answer. You, my son, have ARRIVED.
I hope you had a good vacation. Now that you are back, let’s get to some work. Shall we?
He : (trembling a little) I am sorry but I do not understand you. You say that I have “arrived”, but where? You said that ‘I am back’ but, I have never been here. You must be mistaken. I am not the person you were waiting for.
The Voice : I am never mistaken. You do not belong to the place you come from; the place called ‘Earth’. It is a short vacation that everyone gets to go to once they complete 1000 years here. Your journey on Earth is similar to what earthlings call ‘vacation’.
You would not recognize anyone here who came back from Earth, for they are faceless, just like you are.
(At this point the listener tried to move around to feel himself, but he couldn’t do so. He couldn’t see himself either, not because of absence of reflective surface but because his limbs didn’t guide him at all.)
The Voice continued-
Earth was made as a break from this neverland, but even there people couldn’t stay happy. They talk of struggle when it’s they themselves who created it. I tried to create an ideal world. There was everything of need provided to the vacationers. If only they knew how and how much to use. If only they learnt how to peacefully coexist. If only they knew that happiness is a state of mind, that they can’t be happy until they want to be happy. If only they knew that it’s up to people to make their vacation heaven or hell.
Hope you used your time well.
(The Voice faded away.)
© Shivani | forewordMarch