Being Skinny .

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Let me begin by saying that: Arrey tu kitni patli hai! (omg you’re so thin!) is NOT a compliment. Just in case you said it to a skinny person and thought you were saying something nice. Me, I wanna cry when someone says that to me. In a world full of beauty standards, and matrimonial ads looking for a patli, lambi, gori ladki, it isn’t easy to accept and love your body the way it is. And why do they even say patli in the first place? Why not healthy/fit? The fact that society has set standards in our heads, it makes it generally acceptable to be skinny and not think twice before saying it to the person’s face. Try saying “You’re fat” to a fat person, and then you’ll know. Oh no, but you wouldn’t – because that’s not a nice thing to say? Well, then let me tell you the story of a skinny person’s life. Especially a girl!!!

  • Whenever (okay mostly) someone meets you for the first time, this is the ice breaker:
    Example 1 :
    Random person: Wow yaar, tu itni patli kaisi hai?
    Me (standard response): My mom was also very skinny when she was young. So maybe it’s hereditary. (My mom taught me that, btw)
    Random person: Arrey but Punjabis toh hatte gate hote hain!
    Me (in my head) : Fuck your clichéd ass off please?Example 2:
    Random person : Arrey tu kitni patli hai! Ghar pe kuch khaane ko nai milta kya? (Then giggling to themselves)
    Me : Pretending to giggle along ( To myself: If you asked that – you definitely wouldn’t understand anything. So I’ll save the little energy I have.)

    Example 3:
    Indian aunty : Beta itna patla hona theek nahi. Bacche kaise paida karegi?
    Me : (Pretending to blush. Because aadarsh beti gotta do that when they talk about marriage or having kids (read sex)).

  • Being skinny has a direct effect on how old you look. So if I’m 24, I still look like an 18 year old. And somehow (I’ve been feeling this way for a long time now) I feel like people don’t take you seriously if you’re skinny. (Fellow skinny people – please tell me if you feel the same). Like seriously. Does that have to do something with the minimal amount of space that we occupy in this world? And not to forget: people take it for granted that you don’t need much space to sit. I’ve literally been told – Arrey tu toh patli si hai, kahi bhi adjust ho jaegi and arrey tu toh aadhe bande ke barabar hi hai. Okay I know I don’t take much space, but don’t people think at all before they say something like that? And this is exactly what I mean when I say they don’t take us seriously.
  • Finding the right size of clothes is the most difficult task of our lives. That is exactly why we hate shopping. Who would like looking at fancy clothes and feeling like a hanger in the try room? Or being called a hanger at that! Yeah that’s another one!
  • Weakness is an everyday struggle. Fainting too. Monthly pains are x100 times worse than normal healthy women. If under medication, the appetite is even smaller.
  • Going to a restaurant where you can’t share food – but have to buy your own portion – it’s a waste of money and food – because we can NEVER finish the portion, and it’s the most embarrassing thing on the planet.
  • I think we do feel colder than normal people, but winter is also our favourite season because we can pretend that cozy sweaters are our layers of fat. And for those couple of months, we appear normal to the human society.

 

That said, I wonder why nobody ever asks us WHY we’re skinny. Every question is aimed at us in such a way as if we are giving the other person an inferiority complex by being skinny. But in reality it’s the other way round. It’s because it’s acceptable – like so many other things in society – that we just say it. Nobody bothers to ask WHY? If someone did, we would shed tears and tell them what a pain it is to live in a skinny body – in a world where everyone thinks it is amazing – but only we know how we struggle to eat, how our appetite dies every day (or for others who do eat good portions, the metabolism to gain weight sucks), how we want to, sooooo badly want to gain weight and eat more, but this teeny weeny appetite of ours fails us every time. But, well, maybe if people stop passing it as an acceptable thing and actually recognize that it’s something that needs to be worked on or treated – we might be better motivated. Negative comments don’t treat it; in fact they only make us feel worse about our existence.

Expecting society’s standards to change might be too hopeful.. But seriously – here’s a thought – how about we aim for healthy/fit and try not to say: Mujhe bhi patla hona hai!
 

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La Bise : Culture shock in Europe

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First experiences are special. First experiences of living in a new country can result in serious culture shocks too. Not in a negative way, but in a funny, ironic way. When you leave a country like India to go live abroad, the first experience can be full of eye-widening, thought provoking experiences. One of the major culture shocks for me, was La Bise: The cheek-to-cheek greeting that is so common in France. Growing up back home, I had only seen films stars do the cheek-to-cheek kiss, or maybe others belonging to the ‘elite’ class. Chez moi, when greeting an elder, say Namaste or Sat Sri Akal. Sorted. Look at the person, bow your head a little and say it. With friends, just a ‘hey’ or a side hug works. But in France, there was a completely different thing going on.

It took me a while to understand that the bise is a part of the everyday life, and it can be taken very, very seriously. One person would enter the room, and would do muah-muah to everyone sitting there. Sweet, I thought to myself. After a few days of observation, I realized that they also do it while leaving. Sweet again, I thought to myself. Such an intimate way of greeting and saying goodbye! And now, I thought I was ready to greet in the French way too! But then, I forgot to notice which side you have to go to first. The initial weeks of meeting new people was a struggle in my mind. Left first? Or right first? What if I bump into their face? Should I just shake hands? Or hug? Umm, no. But they’re French – they would go for the bise! So then left first? Or right first? The left and right struggle was solved in its own time – practice makes a man perfect! But there were more mysteries of the bise yet to be solved – It is okay to do the bise with youngsters that you’re meeting for the first time, but what about people older than you? This question still haunts me! I might have embarrassed myself a couple of times by doing the bise with a much older lady that I met for the first time. I always wondered if there were rules about how to do the bise with who!

After living, working and studying in France for three years, I learnt a lot about the French culture and was quite comfortable with the greetings. I didn’t have to think left or right anymore! But outside of France, the mysteries of the bise were new, and more embarrassing! Once upon a time, I went to Belgium, and a friend introduced me to his friends. Friends of friends = do the bise. I did the calculation in my head. Went for it, but was left hanging in the air on the other side. Because, as I would learn later, they do one cheek kiss in Belgium! Ahem. One of the most awkward moments of my life, but a useful lesson learnt. ‘Next time onwards, I would be careful about the nationality before thinking one or two, instead of left or right’, I told myself. But when I met an Italian (Roberto! Yes, you!), I realized that the left or right also had to be taken into consideration: because for Italians, it was opposite to that of the French. We met so often, but never came to the decision as to which side to go to first!

After several awkward greetings and meeting people from different parts of the continent, I realized that the bise was a greeting which is similar everywhere in Europe, but distinct in its own style: quite similar to what we have in India, in the sense that the greeting changes from Namaste to Sat Sri Akal to Vanakkam to Khamma ghani, but the bow of the head or folding of the hands remains similar. However, the most annoying part of the culture shock is that it can linger on for a while, and become a part of you if you live in the place for too long. So now the greeting queries have started working the opposite way: I had never put so much thought into how to greet a person while I was living in India, but now my head starts doing the greeting calculations for handshake/hugs/Namaste on its own.

Dependency is a killer.

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Another day without a single drop of water. The sun was shining bright ; too bright. But the more, the better. Not always though ; not when there was no water to quench the thirst. How they wished they were out in the open. Breathing in the warm summer air. They wish they could look up to the sky, and wave excitingly with the wind, as the black clouds would approach. These days they could still see the black clouds coming and going, but useless. Useless, because there was no way out. The raindrops would smear the window panes for hours, but why would they rejoice? Why would they rejoice when they couldn’t quench their thirst? They would look at the beautiful tiny raindrops. They would call out to them, and probably imagine what it feels like, when they touched. How soothing and refreshing it was. But now, the windows were a barrier. It was as if the raindrops were calling out to them too, but the barrier was impossible for them to break. They questioned why they even had to be alive, when their basic necessities couldn’t be met. They questioned God and blamed him for not making them fit enough to walk, so they could find their own sources of needs. Yes, needs. Why were they destined to be trapped in a world where nobody cared about them? Were they only an aesthetic element that didn’t need care? Or were the people around them so absorbed in their own aesthetic value, that they couldn’t care about anything else?

They wished, time and again that they didn’t have to take birth in the first place. But who was to be blamed? God certainly wasn’t responsible for their painful death. They knew they were wrong to blame him. For they could see their fellow beings rejoicing and growing up in his care, out in the open, under the blue sky and timely rains. Who was to be blamed then? Of course, the human beings who locked the doors, and windows, packed their bags, and went off for a two weeks holiday, forgetting all about them.

Dependency is such a killer. But only if they could do something about it, only if they could make decisions for themselves ; if they could choose where to be ; if they could do what these humans did : talk, walk, sing, dance, touch, jump, run!

“How lucky they are! And how happy they must be in this life!”, the dying rose plant said to the bougainvillea.

Contemplating on the couch .

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Her eyelids were heavy, at the peak hour in the afternoon. Her eyes full of sleep and dizziness, wanting to fall asleep on the couch. She lived in a house with an attic, and watched the raindrops falling on the window, that gave a view of other houses: the houses that she was taught how to draw as a child. Triangles and parallel lines, a road leading to it, mountains in the background, a river flowing from the valley, and the sun setting or rising: you’d never know. The houses were the same, but they were too many. More than she could have drawn in one scenery. Of course, it was when she grew up that she realized that the houses that she drew along the river, were fantasies turned into standards of happiness, that generation after generation would fight all their lives for. Just like the girl with the golden locks and rosy cheeks that she learnt of in stories and recited as poems, would define beauty standards. The world was full of so much bullshit, she thought to herself. She wondered who would shed a tear, if she took her last breath at this moment. She closed her eyes for a moment and pictured herself sitting by the sea. The waves washing her feet, coming and going away, just like her fluctuating feelings about living in this world full of so much bullshit. She wished to stay there a while longer, and understand why the waves did what they did. She had learnt about it in the science textbook at school. But she did not want science to answer her questions about this world full of so much bullshit. Because she knew science could give reason to so much that humans go through in life, but it could never answer the questions that are common to every breathing body: why do we fall in love? What is this pain that the heart feels, when you part ways with someone you loved? What happens to those who die for love? And what happens to those who die anyway? Where are the people who once wiped away our tears? And which lifetime will we meet them again in? … She wants to stay by the sea for a little while longer and watch the waves dancing to the shore and then disappearing on the sand bed. One after the other, with all its force and passion, dancing towards the sand bed, only to mingle with it and then rest in peace.

She wakes up at the sound of her phone notifying her of an email. A deadline for her next assignment. She gets up from the couch to make herself a cup of coffee. Steaming hot liquid pouring out from the machine, turning to froth and bubbles in the blue mug. She sits on her desk to begin with an all-nighter. Meanwhile, the sun dries up the raindrops, and the bubbles disappear in her coffee mug.

To every person I see on social media .

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Image source : weheartit.com

 

Hello,
I never got to know you in person – maybe we texted once or twice – about something that concerned you, or me. The small talk that is now saved in our inbox for many, many years to come.

Maybe we smiled a little at each other’s post, as we scrolled through thousands of lives as part of our mundane routine. Maybe in a moment where you were crying yourself to sleep, I was envying the life you chose to show in photographs. Or maybe vice versa.

Maybe we wondered what it would have been like, if we knew each other. Not like we know each through our job titles and degrees and the places we visited. I’d rather ask you about the job you wanted to get and tried hard for ; the course that you really wanted to do at university ; and how you saved up for that hard earned trip to the mountains.

Maybe we wondered what it would be like – if I knew you, and you knew me. Maybe there was potential in us, together, to laugh together and wipe away each other’s tears. Maybe I was waiting for you to take the first step, and you were waiting for me to say hello.

Maybe we did, and we ended up with the small talk that is now saved in our inbox, for many many years to come.

Just wanted to tell you – that I appreciate you, and the way you’re keeping up with this life that can get so difficult to deal with at times ; I know. But remember, in this world so closely, yet loosely connected, I am just a text message away. Because hey, anyone with that blue badge on messenger – can be reached instantly!

Smiles and love to you!

Simran

When You Lose Someone – ‘Literally’..

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This morning when I sat to drink my coffee, I couldn’t control the tears. ‘Khaali pet chai coffee mat piya kar’, he would say. ‘Don’t drink tea or coffee on an empty stomach!’. 

I wonder if a person really goes away from your life after they cease to exist in form. When you lose someone close to you- literally, you realize that they never really cease to exist in your life.

I don’t know about others- but I’ve always dreamt a lot. My dreams have been too real, and once I wake up, it is too hard to come to terms with the real life. Because what I saw with my eyes closed is as real as what I see with open eyes. This morning it was a pain to wake up again to reality after what I saw in my dreams, and must have been even more painful to start studying for the exam coming up- so I chose to pour my heart out again before I get back to the real life.

This day, last month, was the last day that my dad lived on Earth. He passed away on 12th March, and since that day, I have neither gone to sleep peacefully, nor woken up peacefully. Who said he doesn’t exist anymore? I see him smiling as soon as I lie down in bed to sleep. I see him smiling, and laughing, and cracking his silly jokes over and over again. Some nights I have to shed all the tears that my eyes can shed, to be able to finally fall asleep with tired eyes. Then he comes in my dreams. Who said he doesn’t exist anymore? In my dreams, I see him in new settings, new places, and he creates more memories with me. Memories that are as real as the ones we lived together. But memories that become painful, as soon as I wake up. Because every morning, when I open my eyes, its like losing him all over again.

When you lose someone quite literally, you realize how different it is from losing a friend, or a lover after you break up or choose not to talk to them anymore. That person exists, but doesn’t bother your existence. You hate them for what they did, every bad word they said to you, but when you lose someone literally, you realize that whatever problems you had, they didn’t really matter more than the person itself. You realize how different it is to voluntarily go away from someone’s life, but when someone ceases to exist in form, you want to forgive everything they did and have them back. So I would say, Do it today! My dad always told me ‘Sab log ache hote hain‘ – that every person is a good person deep down. Only situations make them do what they do.. but deep down, deep deep down, they’re a good person. It is only now that I fully understand these words.

When you lose someone literally, you only lose them in form. Who shall take them away from your mind, heart and soul? Who shall erase their words ringing in your head? Everytime I drink coffee on an empty stomach, I hear him scolding me. Everytime I close my eyes, I see him laughing and hear him bragging that he had perfect teeth. Everytime I sleep, I see him. Its painful. Because these are dreams of separation. But people say it’ll get better with time.. Maybe it will reach a point where I live a second existence in dreams, and create happy memories with him again? Who knows what is a dream anyway? Maybe then this waking life would be a happy place to live again.

SO Easy To Tell Lies .

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Image source : tumblr.com

I think we live in a world where telling lies has become acceptable and an easy escape. Well, it’s the easiest thing to do isn’ it? Want to escape an awkward situation? Lie that you have to go somewhere. Don’t want to continue the conversation? Lie that you have to do something important. Don’t know what else to say? Lie some sweet little lies. Couldn’t reply because you didn’t want to? Lie that you were busy. It’s just SO easy!

I think we’re getting so used to lying all the time, that we have completely forgotten that those little lies we tell all the time are directly related to the promises we break all our lives. You lie for the silliest of things and you then you tell someone you’ll love them forever? Duh! Who’s gonna believe you?

Sometimes I find it funny when I watch/read the Ramayana and Mahabharata and the strong determination of the characters to not lie or to not break promises. Like come on! Just because the mother Kunti said the brothers must share whatever they had won, they shared a woman? It would have been so easy if the promises didn’t have to be kept and the word of the mouth not to be respected. The great war of Mahabharata wouldn’t have been fought! And as a result, so many incidents could have been avoided.. But wait.. How would the world be gifted with the knowledge of the Bhagvad Gita then? How would we have been inspired by these great stories then? Wow! So many consequences of respecting the word of the mouth!

So does that mean we humans of the 21st century are smarter because we avoid so many consequences by just telling convenient lies? Well, I won’t give my opinion on this.. That’s for your to judge – whether its right or wrong. But wait, aren’t we becoming a race of the say-it-and-get-away-with-it mentality? .. Let me give you an example.. When you have to console somebody, the first thing you say to them is – I’m sorry.. bla bla bla.. and I’ll be there for you whenever you need me… bla bla bla.
Hello? Seriously? Have you given it a second thought before saying it? Are you sure you’ll be there for them? Are you sure you’ll pick up their call at 3 am when they’re having a terrible breakdown, and you know you’ve to wake up for work at 7 am? Are you sure you’ll give up on your sleep for them? Do you really care that much? Well, maybe you don’t. And you don’t have to say that lie to every other person who is going through a difficult phase.. Because you’re not supposed to be there for everyone. It is okay if you can’t. But by saying that pretty little lie, you kill somebody’s hope for humanity.. So next time you claim to do something for someone.. Think! Will you really be there for them? Or will you text them back in the morning saying that you were busy/ you were sleeping/ or that you’re terribly sorry your phone was on silent…and bla bla bla.

And well, that applies to everything else too. Think before you say you’ll do something.. It’s okay to not say it, than to not respect your own words and continue lying to hide a previous lie.