Draupadi – the name and the shame

 

My mum while recalling her kindergarten years yesterday,  in particular an episode on how the little tots like her were peculiarly punished, she happened to mention the nursery teacher’s name which was a bit strange. However, what was even stranger was the name of the nursery teacher’s sister – Draupadi.

In the nearly four decades of my life with a good proportion of it being spent in three all girls’ school across the Indian states, I have not heard any girl with the name Draupadi.  For those not familiar with Indian epic and mythology and hence with the name Draupadi, it is of a queen from Mahabharta who went on to marry not one, but five brothers. She didn’t marry them out of choice but out of a situation on which she had no control on. She was pre-destined to marry the five valiant princes who later on went on to fight their 100 evil step brothers and reclaim their lost kingdom. So what is wrong with her name? There was nothing evil about her. She was a good daughter, sister, wife and queen. So what shrugs people, including me, from hearing someone named Draupadi? It is the story attached to her. When you think of her, you think of a woman with five husbands which of course means, sleeping with five men (sowhat if it was lawful) and of course we relate her with another disastrous episode from the epic: ‘cheer haran’ – i.e. being disrobed and that too in the royal court after her up-righteous  husbands (though human and filled with faults and we happily name our boys after them) lose her in gambling to their step brothers!  So for no fault of hers and despite having a ‘good’ character she is looked down upon with shame. How typical and in modern lines of getting raped and then having to feel ashamed about it. This is how it was centuries ago and sadly, continues to remain so even now! And then we talk about advancements. Advancements that have occurred only in science and technology. Ever heard of moral advancements?

Mythologies around the world are filled with characters with a dubious biography. But sadly Draupadi got chastened for no fault of hers! Luckily for Sita, she was a mere suspect and she passed the purity test! So we have millions of Sita around us. Suspects score better than victims.

I will be lying if I say that I will not be getting ideas if I come across someone named Draupadi. Deep-rooted myths and culture. Whatever I understand of it. Sad but true.

 

(pic courtesy: https://rrgwrites.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/women-of-india.jpeg)

 

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Freelancing – a retrospection

So when you begin to get congratulatory messages for something you are unaware of, you have to find out why! I figured out a few days ago that I had completed 3 years as a freelancer. Time flies!  3 years since I had broken myself free from the corporate grind or had I?

It was time to retrospect:

  • I became too flexible. Is that what I wanted? I travelled wherever I wanted to. Despite bagging myself a decent and an on-going client at the very onset of my freelancing days who adjusted happily to my travel times, he finally gave up on me! The weekly breaks became longer sometimes and there came a point that I even relocated to another country since I could “carry” my job with me. After all, what I wanted was just myself, my laptop and my sound equipment. The relocation brought many side effects along.
  • I was never the networking woman. And you can’t freelance/ do a business if you can’t build a network. I continue to have twisted logic and possibly ego hurdles when it comes to network building. Obviously, no networking meant no expansion! I  have seen a boutique owner in a mall running behind the mall-visitors talking to them about her boutique and giving her business card to them. Could I ever do this? No. She has done quite well for herself looking at her boutique.
  • I could not promote myself. Imagine being in the online world and looking for work and not having any samples on my profile page to show-off ? Or even having a website (when it is so easy and free to create one). Most of the work that I have ever got is through auditions or sending a hurried cut-paste sample of my recent work.
  • I didn’t work on the job’s limitations. As a voice-over artist having a professional sound equipment but not a sound booth meant that I could only work when there was silence and that is night time and that too very late (and being at the mercy of airplane sounds, security guards whistles, dog barks and what not!). I could give my clients a studio-like quality and I lost a few more projects like this. ‘Studio-like’ after all is not ‘from a studio’. I never took the thought of getting a studio built seriously. I didn’t think big. I was happy with the ‘jugaad'(hack).

Now what?

Ashwin Sanghi’s book 13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck was an eye opener. He referred to a thoughtful theory by Seth Godin from his book, The Dip. It tells you to distinguish in which situation you are in :

1.cliff –  things that are fine at present but will eventually collapse

2.cul-de-sac – things that look appealing but go no where; you have hit a dead-end

3. dip – temporary setback

So I might have reached a cul-de-sac and applying the reverse gear is not what I am good at (literally!)

(image courtesy: http://freelancefolder.com/wp-content/uploads/freelancing-dreams.jpg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In defence of Friendzone

So if you have been friendzoned you will in all likelihood be jeered at or frowned upon by friends. The Internet has articles giving tips on how you can avoid being friendzoned. It is a derogatory word and I seem to wonder why.

Firstly, for those still unfamiliar with the term Friendzone and are too lazy to Google, it simply means a one-sided love/sexual feeling with a member of opposite sex who considers you just as a friend.

The term Friendzone may have been coined in the recent years but the situation has existed forever.  There has been more than one time that I have flatly refused to go beyond platonic with a few dear friends of mine. No, I didn’t look down upon them then or even now. Rather it was the fear of losing them which was greater than any other ephemeral feeling. I can proudly say that all of those platonic friends continue to remain my very good friends even decades later. The bond has only become stronger. And for those few that skipped entering the friendzone, I really don’t know where they are today and frankly, I can’t be bothered.  I remember then shedding tears (and yeah, my wears!) for them then. Over the years it has made me simply laugh at my past follies.  Those ephemeral relationships gave me only headaches and heartaches.

It is awkward dealing with a Friendzoned friend as you are not stupid to not know what is going on with him/her. After much time (hoping that it will be understood), I usually bring the awkward topic up to break the ice. It is not easy. The emotions are running high from one end. There are those deeply rooted ideas that need to be dissected and discarded. It ironically jeopardizes my relationship temporarily with them but I know I will eventually make them see my point.

I don’t see why all relationships, especially with a very good friend should have a need to culminate into having sex or ‘blossom into love’. Are we too tired to have a variety of people in our lives that can fulfil our various needs? Why are we lazy and hope that this one friend can handle all our emotional, physical and other needs?

Nothing wrong in being friendzoned, really!

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(image courtesy: http://www.davidwygant.com/wp-content/uploads/635723523920520029683466699_Friendzone.png)

 

Online Reviewing – the good and the bad of it

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In the world of Internet you are a somebody. A critic, a philosopher, a photographer, an actor, a movie producer, just about everything. I am a newbie food reviewer. I am so close to being a book reviewer as well considering that I read a book daily but it’s my 5-year stint as a student of English literature that stops me from being that.  I don’t want to relive those college moments. I am also so close to being a hotel reviewer with all my frequent random travels.

It is a good feeling when you see your reviews being read by hundreds of strangers and many of them who then ‘like’ and ‘follow’ you on those websites. You feel more responsible for your reviews. You feel empowered. There are times when the management of the joint replies to your review explaining why so and so had happened. Gone are the days when you would simply read and go by a professional critics’ review. They can be utterly biased. The place knows that a professional critic is there at its domain or possibly it has invited the critic. So that critic will be in all likelihood treated like a royalty.

However, the trouble with a just-about-any critic begins when the critic in you overtakes your normal being. So every time I enter a food joint, even if it’s just for a drink, it is at the back of my mind that I have to check the interiors out, possibly take pictures of the place and even of the sole drink and of course then upload it on the website along with my elaborate review.

I have gone past the stage where I simply stroll into a food joint just to have some good time. My eyes are scanning for every minute details that are happening in my surrounding. And God forbid if my coffee is rubbish! Somebody like me who would earlier have just had the drink politely or even left it with a demure comment made to the barista is now fuming internally about it and that politeness is turned to arrogance on the Internet as I know that unlike before where only a few would have known of my experience are now multiplied into hundreds and even thousands of viewers – those thousands that live far-far away from where I had experienced my tiny little episode that now seemed like a nightmare (well, some really are!), who would possibly never even show up to such a city leave alone the cafe!

So the other day when I went for a reunion with a couple of friends I actually rang up a friend of mine the next day to ask her experience with the dish she had ordered. Her simple reply of ” oh baby, it was so good” was not sufficient for me. I interrogated her further. Was the bread hard? Was the topping tasty? Fresh? Tangy?  Was it just enough hot or cold? Well, I don’t know what she made of me but from her voice she seemed nonplussed. Good means good!

Internet is a good place to share your awful and amazing experiences with the world. However, the days of simply enjoying a book or food or just anything and just sharing them with a few friends have seen their days.  The word of mouth is no longer just of the mouth.

(The above image is snapped by me of a local restaurant that I frequent often and yes, I recently reviewed it too!)

Anti anti-ageing

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While scientists relentlessly look for anti-ageing formulae, the alchemy of modern times, I feel at peace without it. Of course, like any normal person, I wish to remain fit and healthy but when it comes to cosmetology I would like age to takes it normal course. I am happy with the wrinkles being added daily to my pushing-40 skin; I am happy with my necklines becoming deeper and I am in no hurry to apply a hair colour to mask my grey hair. No, I am not lazy or being miser, I have just realized something and it took me many years to come to this conclusion.

I would be for once and all taken seriously.

I would be (hopefully) not leched upon or at least the degree of leching would come down.

I would not be told by people especially of my own age on how to go about things just because I happen to ‘look’ younger.

Youth is beautiful undoubtedly but it comes with too many burdens, many of them expressed above. I have come past my youth biologically and really, I don’t miss anything about it. They were the most unproductive years of my life. Useless crushes (men who have now a pot-belly and are bald), stupid fights with sibling, parents and friends and being unfocused was what my youth was all about.

As I am pushing into my 40s, mentally I feel I have grown a lot stronger. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve and Mr. Darcy, I know is just there in the books. Although, a very dear friend of mine refused to let me cross a busy road on my own when I was visiting her place! And she is good nine years younger than I am! Or is it to do with my physical self? Besides being a shorty, the ageing process is taking its sweet time (blame my genes from my mum’s). So I may not be looking say in my 20’s but neither do I appear to be in the reaching-40s zone..yet!

I feel empowered when I am called, ‘aunty’ by my daughter’s friends. It is not awkward any longer. It puts my brain then in an autopilot ‘older’ mode. I do remember how one of my aunts hates being called ‘mataji’ despite being in her 50s! But then, to each his/her own!

So goodbye to all the creams and lotions with ‘anti-ageing’ properties!  I want to walk on the streets comfortably not having to look at my clothes and wonder what I wore wrong that is making these nothing-else-to-do men on the street stare at me. I want to do the telling and not be told( unless of course I am being told by my folks!). I want to relax.  Something that youth denies you.

(image courtesy:  http://www.toonpool.com/user/83616/files/beauty_salon_cartoon_1984055.jpg)

To go or not to go

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Visiting a doctor is a big no-no from where I come from. Basically, just a big no-no from my mum. Going to a doctor, as she says, is like inviting trouble. So, besides visiting the dentist once a year (which I have to) and the optician once in two years (which, again I have to), it is very rare to see us making a trip to the doctor’s sanctum sanctorum. Besides, you do have round-the-clock chemists or even an alternative therapy for the ailment that is causing you misery. Until a few months ago this doctor-visit-phobia was exclusive to my mum but recently it caught up with me too. So much so that my trip to the optician (after a year and a half!) yesterday was filled with extreme horror. I was full of nerves and was just waiting to be told that I would be losing my eyesight soon.

The root of all these awful thoughts got embedded a month ago when I got to know that one of my very good friends, who recently touched his mid-thirties, has a cataract in his left eye! Considering that his eyesight is 6/6! And there were no complaints from him before. And neither did he make a trip to the eye doctor! The eye doctor, in fact, made a trip to him! In the sense, it so happened that there was an eye-checkup camp at his office building a month ago. Just for the heck, he went there along with his colleagues. And it was then that the penny dropped!

So if you look at it, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It would have been much severe later on.  But what if he had never been to the eye-checkup camp at all in the first place? He would have possibly been just like he was now? No? I know it is a contradictory state of mind that is right now hitting the keys.

After months of suffering from an ulcer in the tongue, my father finally decided to get up and visit the doctor. No gel or pill was helping him. And it turned out to be a terminal disease! Glad that he didn’t wait any longer to make that trip!

I still fear visiting any doc for any kind of pain that I suffer from (and mostly, it is in my head), sometimes it’s a lump here or there but it is about time that I start to see the positive side of making a trip to the doctor. And for all the other days, do like my mum says, follow moderation in life!  Life’s dilemmas…

(image courtesy: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e2/bf/8e/e2bf8e4ceb45c2b6273e88d07e370e3c.jpg)

When life gives you limes…

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None of us at home have a ‘green thumb’. We have a small garden attached to our house and a lot of planting and landscaping can be done – be it trees, flowers, plants, vegetables for daily needs, just whatever. The land is very fertile. However, we haven’t shown much interest. We tried to engage a gardener but it was a complete fiasco. He turned out to be very relaxed and the grass that he tried to carpet the ground became patchy in no time. It is not a barren land. There are a few trees and plants in our garden but the credit goes to people who planted them before we started to live here and our house caretaker. Of course, we also contributed a bit towards it – my father got hedges planted around the border keeping security in mind; my mother got a green piece of cloth fixed outside the hedges to make it more secure and stop the pigs and the litter of piglets from brushing past the hedges and looking for their dinner inside; and I, in those once-in-a-blue moon fit got a few flower pots and 3 Ashoka plants from a nursery and on one occasion I picked up a newly uprooted and discarded Aloe Vera plant from outside the local park and resurrected it in my garden.

This blog is not about my ‘green’ challenges but a special tree that made me retrospective. A very different kind of lime tree plant it is (see picture). Mother says it’s called Kaffir lime. For those who don’t know about it, it is not your regular lime which you can comfortably place between your thumb and fingers and squeeze it with little effort to make a tangy lemonade. It is dark green and as big as an orange. It is very sad to see the fruits grow, ripen and rot as the season goes by and the majestic tree must find it disrespectful to see this happen to it year after year. Going waste. We do pluck a few every year and use it for making lemonades. Once mother even made pickles out of some a few years ago. But that is it. Things remain the same over the years but for one thing.

What has changed over the years is our approach to those passers-by who are mostly poor children, who cross by the garden and pluck the limes from the other side of the wall. We cannot see those children because of the height of the wall but their antics are quite noisy. Usually they come in a group and can be heard giggling and challenging others as they try to pelt stones to get the limes. The bitter-sour Kaffir limes that they mistake them for some variety of sweet oranges.  I remember mother howling at them many times from the kitchen window which overlooks the garden and we could then hear them retreating as fast as they could. I also remember telling them in my commanding voice that I would call the security guard that very minute, which again immediately chased them away. All of us at home have fretted over this issue.

This year it has been different. As I answered the doorbell to attend a guest yesterday, I saw two little boys trying to get my attention from the other end of the wall. They complained about some other children who were busy plucking the limes. I looked at the tree. It stood tall. It was laden with hundreds of ignored Kaffir limes which were now turning from firm dark green to wrinkly yellow.  I asked those two boys if they wanted the fruits too. They wondered if it was some kind of a trick and didn’t know what to answer until one of them mustered some courage and said ‘yes’. I then asked my housekeeper to help these and other children with the fruits.

I don’t know if the above episode has taught me to share my other possessions too, especially possessions that I have in abundance. But another episode yesterday morning made me connect the two later in the day and I mumbled thanks to the Supreme. I happened to see a poor man during my morning jog who had just dropped his daughter to the charity school bowing his head with folded hands in obeisance in the direction of the school building. He was thankful. Thankful for the little that he had. Then why shouldn’t I be thankful for a lot that I have…and share.