Lockdown Post 2: Are You Safe And Sane?

For someone who blogs regularly, it is difficult to not blog at all.

But it is difficult to choose a topic during lockdown. Sometimes I feel like writing about something and then I wonder is the topic even worthy of a discussion during the lockdown ? Because the truth is all we think about is corona! After avoiding to talk about corona for fear of spreading negativity, came post 1. Here is the second post in the series.

Few random thoughts:

1. Sanitization

It happened more than once that I tried to wash a newly purchased packet of rice / something else with water and soap and the water went inside. This was followed by leaving the contaminated product out in the sun if the damage could be mitigated (in case of rice) or throwing it out completely (in case of Maggi). I mourned for quite some time as everything is precious and scarce these days. The sanitization itself is an additional chore, and also its aftermath.

2. Fruits anyone?

I have stopped buying fruits. With vegetables, at least you have the consolation that you can cook them. With fruits, no matter how much you wash you will still feel scared. Not you, I mean people like me who are paranoid. Fruits and salad were part of my daily routine. I am missing them. Also missing sunlight and walks. I am having rice twice a day because I am too lazy to make roti on a daily basis. I do make puri or paratha occasionally.

3. Fried stuff

Nice things like chicken nuggets were out of stock on Milkbasket for the longest time. Then one day I discovered that it was available. So were frozen French fries, veg nuggets, sausages. I ordered those because I was so tired of my cooking and wanted something ‘nice’. I usually never keep such stuff at home. I buy it for parties only. But this has become a habit now. My husband and I have tea in the evening and he either fries these frozen things or makes some pakodas. Today, I decided to skip the evening snack. Thought this was an unhealthy habit to indulge in. But I started feeling hungry, and then gave in to the temptation. I felt  that maybe I should just worry about staying sane these days and if anything is helping like chicken nuggets or vodka so be it! (This thought keeps changing depending on how free I am. Sometimes I reflect upon long terms effects on health and other times I just think that I should worry about surviving corona for now).

4. Maids and cooks

I so badly want to call them. But I am too scared. I will wait. Maybe I will think about it after June. In every society whatsapp group, everybody has been fighting on this topic. My maid made the dilemma simple by announcing that she does not plan to work in my building anymore! Apparently, she got new jobs during lockdown and decided to fire her least favourite employer! I don’t know how I will find a new maid in lockdown! The corona induction which will be challenging even for an existing maid will now become even more challenging with a new person. This time, I was smart and instead of asking on the society whatsapp group and getting judged, I directly checked on Mygate to see which maids are coming. I managed to do an interview on the phone and got a new recruit who may tentatively join from June 1st. The maid’s husband who was helping with the translation told me that she will work for a month and then “decide” if she wishes to continue!! Beggar me cannot be a chooser so be it! I will have to be on my best behavior for that one month and control my corona OCD and regular OCD if I want the maid to consider me after her one month probation!

5. Exercise

I have a cross trainer at home which I had not been using in a while. I have finally started working out regularly. But sometimes my energy is so low, and I get tired easily. I get breathless. Then I wonder if the breathlessness is because of the exercise, or corona! After I torture myself with that thought for some time, I move on to make dinner and worry about getting corona from vegetables!

6. Cooking

A lazy and incompetent person’s daily menu looks like – khichdi, tehri, pasta, fried rice, maggi, repeat! I think I already mentioned that I am making rice twice a day in some form because roti is too much effort. Pre-lockdown I ate lots of green vegetables. Now paneer is the savior and potato has become a staple. I have realized cleaning green vegetables is such a task, and husband never liked them anyway. So let’s just stick to chhole, paneer, aloo.

Chicken gravy is suddenly not that appealing as I have to be the one cleaning chicken. It reminds me of some twenty years ago when our family had moved to New York. My mother used to get the whole chicken and clean it and cut it and after doing all of that, who would look forward to eating it! Now I can understand that was probably the time she stopped eating chicken completely. She cannot even eat it in a milder form like nuggets! Of course, we are responsible for it!

The cooking and the impact it has on a couple’s life inspired me to write a short story, ‘Marriages are made in kitchen’ which I published on Kindle.

7. Netflix / Amazon Prime/ Hotstar

I have been watching Homeland. I do not watch much of anything else as my attention span is low. I do find myself playing songs on Tata sky – 9XM, B4U music, and MTV beats a lot and put on Crime Patrol on Sony while doing my work. It reminds me of the time I studied for my CA exams, and I needed some noise so I used to put on music or some channel which I was not really watching but it used to be on.

Speaking of CA Exams, I had a dream recently that I failed it. I qualified as a Chartered Accountant eight years ago, but I continued to dream about failing it even after passing the exam. The only difference is I had this dream after a long time, maybe after 1-2 years. The hopelessness I feel in those dreams is always very real and when I wake up, it gives me great relief to realize that I am a CA. I have also been dreaming about getting admission in a college!  My husband finds this very funny. Because of my father’s constant transfers, getting admission into a new school was a common thing for me, and I always dreamt about being in a cool school / college / institution. But those dreams stopped once I finished college.  I also had a dream about meeting guys for marriage! There was no guy in the dream just the process (Again husband finds this amusing. He says he doesn’t dream about such things. Rather, he doesn’t even remember what he dreams). And today morning I dreamt that my father was asking me to come home, and telling me my mother was waiting for me and I told him I was having ‘difficulty’ travelling. When I woke up, I was completely confused. Which city was I in? Which city were my parents in? Why was I not visiting them?

I guess the lockdown has ripped us all of our identities. Who are we? Where are we? What are we doing? What stage of life are we at? The subconscious mind is trying its best to place us somewhere in our life. It has no idea of the future. So it has returned to past.

8. Thappad movie

Some of you have mailed me to write about the movie. I have watched it but honestly I did not find it too convincing. There was a video that Tapsee made for promotion wearing a purple salwar kamiz in which she is talking about some taunts we may heard before – Something like thappad ki salami. I found that video better than the movie. I will write about the movie some day. Like I said, I am finding it difficult to focus on anything.

9. Way of life

I watched some viral videos wherein they say that work from home will become the norm. Companies will realize that the rent was unnecessary all along. People may move to smaller towns since working in big cities will no longer be attractive. Of course, even if this is true it will be a gradual process. But still, it is scary. Working from home especially for women in India is so challenging. Some stay with in-laws and have enough to deal with. Even if that’s not the case, the expectation is that the woman should do all the house work and take care of everyone. Going to office, meeting friends, stepping out makes the day livable!

It was nice to wear nice clothes, put on lipstick, meet people as opposed to changing from one pyjama to another! Hope the world as we knew it does not change drastically once all this is over (whenever that would be).

So this is it for now. Please share your thoughts. Would love to know what’s keeping you going.

P.S. Title Courtesy: My sister who told me that in the U.S. when they are emailing, they are writing ‘Trust you are safe and sane’.  I told her here we just write, ‘Trust you are safe.’

Sanity was a luxury even pre corona…

Corona: How Is The Lockdown Treating You

Where do I start this post. I did not want to write on Corona. I wanted to write about it but in  the past tense.  Once it is over. Once we know we survived it.  I was too overwhelmed. I have not written anything in a while.   But before I write about corona let me tell you what kind of a person I am since most of you do not know me personally.

My usual routine

The following are things I did in my every day life (even before corona):

  1. Washing the hands 100 times a day for more than 20 seconds easily. I remember one time a girl in my office washroom told me “Tanvi, that’s enough! Your hands will fall off!”
  2. Not touching elevator buttons directly. Ever. I use keys. Or even better. Wait for someone to press it whenever possible. Use office ID card if there is no key.
  3. Speaking of office, incidents where people come to my desk with prasad or sweets are absolute nightmares. I cannot put something inside my mouth without washing my hands.   I cannot tell them, ‘Hey wait. Let me go to the bathroom and wash my hands while you can still wait here.’ Not taking something from colleagues is considered rude so I have no option but to take it. Actually any kind of food sharing is very difficult.Some people take sweets and put it on their laptop. How could they!
  4. People coming for handshakes. Again. Nightmare. I go wash my hands immediately.
  5. People using my laptop, my phone. Traumatic. I clean it with a tissue. Too bad I cannot wash them with soap.
  6. You should watch me go for lunch. I wash my hands. Then go to heat my food. Then I wash my hands again because I cannot possibly eat after having touched the microwave. So then I wash my hands again. I open the washroom door with my left hand. Then I balance my lunchbox, phone (which is lying on a table outside the washroom) in my left hand , follow the elevator protocol as mentioned in (2) all to make sure that I do not touch anything with my clean, right hands until I touch my food. If I have to lift the chair before eating, again I use my left hand.
  7. I go to theatres fully covered. Full sleeves.   I do not want germs on my body. Gold seats are difficult because then you have to remove your shoes. So I wear socks.
  8. I have to take a shower every time I come back home from anywhere ‘outside’.   So, if on a week day I go for a movie, I have showered thrice. Once in the morning, once after coming back from office, then after the movie. It does not matter if it is a night show and 1 am.
  9. No ‘outside clothes’ can be mixed with home clothes. ‘Outside clothes’ go in the machine. Nothing is allowed on the bed. Nothing. No purse. No mobile. No outside clothes.
  10. If I take a cab, those clothes also go in the machine immediately. I do not sit on the home sofa with those clothes. Basically anything that has gone out of the house needs to be disinfected first.
  11. If I come back from a vacation , I have to shampoo my hair and wash all clothes immediately before I do anything else.   Even the clothes I have not used. Yes, there are extra clothes because I always overpack. I put things that I do not necessarily need but pack them anyway thinking what if my stay gets extended for some reason. So, if I have travelled back from ‘foreign’ after a 36 hour journey I will still follow this routine, shampoo, wash clothes and disinfect the suitcase before doing anything else.
  12. People putting suitcases on the bed is a sight that haunts me.
  13. Grocery jhola gets washed each time and hung out in the balcony. So do purses.
  14. Eggs, milk packets also get washed.
  15. I wash my glasses with soap twice a day.
  16. If I drop anything on the floor like a hair clip it’s pretty much discarded.
  17. I cannot do things like having chips in the car during a long drive, or in the plane.
  18. I have a sanitizer in all my purses.
  19. I never eat sauf in restaurants because I believe people would have put their hand in it.
  20. My domestic helpers are not allowed to bring their phone inside the kitchen. They have to leave it on the shoe rack.   If they get a call that they have to pick up, they must wash their hands again. I monitor this.
  21. Most of my maids quit.

This was me. Pre-corona. You have OCD! Are you crazy! What’s wrong with you. These were the terms people used for me.   It was a good life.  People were normal. I was different.  I was okay with this.  It is not that I wanted to be like this. But I could not help it either.  It was like a disease.

Post Corona, other people became like me. They were advised by credible people – doctors, leaders,  nurses to be like me. If my normal was like this, what should my corona version be like? When the world is coming to my level, what should be my next level?

Insanity

Yes. This is the only word for it. The term ‘paranoid’ reached new levels. Two weeks ago, I had cough and cold and shortness of breath.   The last one has been a sign of the dreaded virus.  In my case, it was because of my anxiety.  My husband also had a cold.  I kept watching news from Italy.  Videos of people dying.  People begging other people to stay home. To be scared. I cried.  I told my husband I was scared to be in quarantine.  I was scared of the hospital washrooms!  I was scared to be alone for days and then die alone.  I told him  to not take me to the hospital if I get sick and let me die at home.  He told me these things are not a matter of choice. If you get too sick, you have to go to the hospital!  I told him I will get corona  by going to the hospital.  A cold is infectious. So is insanity. Soon, my husband and I were having conversations about what to do in case one of us dies – how much time to wait for before remarrying, taking care of each other’s parents, investments etc!

Two people stuck at home  sharing the house work with no maid, no cook and no distraction.  I was running out of essentials.  The thought of my husband going out to get something made me more anxious.   The thought of not having food at home was not comforting either.  Anything and everything made me sad.

Physically, I recovered quite quickly. So did my husband. Gargling and steam helped.   I started feeling better. But palpitations, and shortness of breath continued.  I had to make a very conscious effort to tell myself to take it easy. Whatever will happen will happen.  I spoke to a few friends, and I am glad they made me feel better. But here are some things that I noticed during this time:

  • Maids and cooks

I saw a lot of posts about women putting each other down . Saying things like ‘So and so woman is still making her maid come. How lazy could she be.’ ‘Such and such woman doesn’t know how to cook, her poor husband! This serves her right!’ ‘Apne ghar ka kaam karne mein kya problem hai!’

There is a reason our society is patriarchal. Women!

First of all, cooking and cleaning is not a woman’s sole responsibility. Why blame only the woman!  Why shame only the woman!  Maybe she gets no help from anyone else in the family.  Maybe she is lazy.  Big deal! Mind your own business!  This was not the right time to speak ill of other women’s cooking and cleaning skills. Actually no time is good to do that.

Also, some went on and on about giving ‘paid leave’ to the maids. Some said that maids should be ‘educated’  to not travel to their hometown as it would spread the infection further. Such discussions soon turned into unpleasant arguments in society WhatsApp groups.

  • Senior citizens

This is the most vulnerable group. A lot of us live away from our parents.  With online players not delivering in time,  how do we get essentials to our parents so that they don’t have to step out?

The people in my parents’ society delivered groceries to their doorstep, so that they didn’t have to go to the society store.   Someone or the other would call them to ask them if they needed anything. I am grateful to them.

  • Scarcity

I never knew I will count the laung and elaichi and decide that the evening tea was not worthy of it, only the morning tea. I never knew I will put less tea leaves so that it saved one extra trip to the store.  I never knew I would say things like ‘I will not put lauki in the pulao, as I have already put aloo. Let’s save lauki for tomorrow’. I had never thought I would be delighted to find something as undesirable as lauki available in milkbasket, add it to my cart before it gets out of stock as if it is the biggest delicacy.  I never knew that the chilli garlic sauce I bought by mistake, and was too lazy to return will become the savior of the fried rice for days to come.   I did not know that my habit of being lured by the ‘one plus one’ offers on phenyl will turn out to be a wise decision.

  • Cooking

I once watched an interview of Vidya Balan in which she said that she disagrees that cooking is a ‘life skill’. She said when people say  what will you do if you have to cook, she responds, ‘duniya bhar ke restaurants kyun khol rakhe hain!’  I applauded her for saying my man ki baat. In normal circumstances, I cooked only when the cook went on leave.  Even when I did, it was fancy stuff. Chicken. Chilli paneer. Lots of spices. Lots of sauce.  Lots of good things.   Cooking is bad enough.  Cooking with limited ingredients is like a sure shot failure.  I am calling my mother every day, and asking her what would be the best use of what I have.

Travellers

I was upset that India allowed international flights. That’s how it came here.  I wanted the Government to ban flights coming into India for a very, very long time.

“Why do these people have to come here and bring the virus! Everybody stay where you are! ” I said to my husband.

And then I thought of my family in the U.S. My sister, niece and her husband whose visit I am looking forward to. My mother-in-law who is stuck and wants to come home badly. When those ‘travelers’ are our family our thoughts are different.

You and I in this beautiful world

So yes, I am surviving like most of you. My hands have cuts.   I think I need to reduce the hand washing.   I want boroline.  I want Vicco turmeric.   I want green chilli.  I want more green tea.  I want maggi. Those things are not available. Maybe they are.  But it means my husband has to walk to a supermarket.  I am trying to save him that visit.   But he may need to step out tomorrow to get lemons. And eggs.  I drive him crazy once he comes back. Wash your hands. Wash your legs. Shower. Shampoo.  Put your clothes in the washing machine.   Don’t touch anything.  I used to irritate him pre Corona too. Until now, my husband used to complain about how I drive him crazy with my weird habits and he just cannot cope with it.  But now, I have the license to impose all of this on him!  My sister was telling my mother how I have prepared for corona all my life.  Well yes, being me is finally paying off!

I was telling my husband they should create some more wards in mental hospitals also because I will surely need one soon. Staying at home,  not being able to do anything nice,  zero interaction, zero sunlight, fear and panic is making people sad.  If any of you have anxiety like me, please hang in there. Stop watching the news. I did that. And it made me much more peaceful.  You don’t know what will happen next anyway.   Irrespective of corona.  There was a lot happening in the world.  Even before corona. Don’t overwhelm yourself. If you cannot handle it, it is okay to accept that. Do the sari challenge if it helps! I did that too. Distract yourself. It does not make you insensitive or stupid.  Do whatever it takes to maintain your mental health (also).

My gratitude to doctors, nurses, police, delivery people, sanitation workers,  drivers, grocery store owners, and everybody else who does not have the privilege of sitting at home right now. You guys are heroes! I have no words for the grief of people who have lost their loved ones because of this. It is too painful, too unreal, too unimaginable. We had read about the Spanish flu. The plague. Those were things that happened in olden times. In a different world. To people who lived long, long time ago. It could not possibly happen to us.

I was praying to God the other day, ‘Please, we are sorry.  We are all sorry for everything. Now please end it.” Wish that you and your families are safe. No matter which part of the world you are in, I pray that this ends soon.

Writer Shilpee Prasad’s Review Of Dance To My Tunes

Book Title : Dance to my tunes: A collection of short stories
Author : Anthology by Tanvi Sinha
Price : ₹ 150
Note: The cover is as beautiful like the stories dancing in 105 pages inside.

The categories of story is close to my heart, woman centric ones. During my teens, I was like, “writers are Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan and the league”.

As I grew up my prospective changed. And the list outlined. Tanvi you helped to revamp my interests and love for books.

Full Review on the link below:

Dance to my Tunes

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: Would You Let Your Kids Watch It?

Yesterday, my cousin told me that she wanted to watch this movie. She was not sure if she should take her eight- year-old daughter. She told me that mothers on one of the groups  were judging how some people got kids for the movie which was not ‘appropriate’.

I think I have been living under a rock. I had no idea about this movie until yesterday. But more than the movie, I was curious to find an answer for her.

Can she take her kid to watch it?

My take on the movie

First of all, I would like to say that the movie was not that great. It was very entertaining in parts. And of course, we have to appreciate that Bollywood has dared to be so bold.  I felt that Ayushmann Khurana’s Karthik Singh was too filmy to be believable.  He was a let down. I know they had deliberately kept the movie light so that it does not get preachy. But even still, I think the overall package did not conclude well.  For example, ‘Badhai ho’ was the right amount of drama, emotion and comedy.  But this movie was made in a rush I feel.

Aman Tripathi who played Jitendra Kumar did a restrained and expressive performance.  His family consisting of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao, the couple from Badhai ho, and extended family of Sunita Rajwar and Manu Rishi did a brilliant job. Special mention for Maanvi Gaagroo who played the woman who could not find a groom.  The family dynamics was far more entertaining than the actual plot of the two men being in love and trying to convince their family.  In fact, by the end of the movie, I felt more for the poor Goggle than the lead pair!

Acting by everyone (except Ayushman) is awesome.. This was certainly not Ayushman’s best.  Neena Gupta is getting prettier day by day.

But nonetheless, this was an important film and just because I did not like it so much, does not mean it does not get credit for the message it wished to convey: Homophobia.

Can’t they just change?

When I was 11, my family had moved to New York City. Prior to that, I was studying in an all-girls convent in Patna.  It was a big change for me.  In the next few years, I would hear new terms such as ‘gay’ ‘lesbian’ ‘homo’. At that age, kids even in a developed country like the United States would use these words to insult their classmates.  I was dumb when it came to sexuality even by Indian small town standards. There was no way I could compare to the exposure these kids had.  I had a friend who was born and brought up there. Intelligent, sensible and empathetic, she used to be my ‘go to’ person for all the questions.  I have blogged about her before.

Me: Why do they have to have such strong feelings. Why can’t they at least try.

Sarah: Try what?

Me: Like assuming a girl is a lesbian. But she is still a girl. Why does she have to like a girl only!  Can’t she at least try to like a boy!

Sarah: Can you like a girl, no matter how much you try?

In my defense, I was just 13-14. But I was lucky to have someone at that tender age with whom I could expose my ignorance, and not be judged.

The movie has done an excellent job explaining what I had asked my friend about 20 years ago.

  • Can kids watch this movie?

The movie has a U/A certificate which means parental guidance advised below the age of 12 years.

My cousin’s daughter is 8. What should I advise her?

 What Bollywood offers in abundance:

Kissing

There are two kissing scenes between the lead pair. But do we not have kissing scenes between the hero and heroine? Do we not take kids for those movies?

Item numbers

We expose  children to songs like ‘Main to tandoori murgi ho yaar, gatka le saiyya alcohol se.’ It is so normalized that we do not even give it a second thought.

Crass humour

Bollywood is full of movies that makes fun of fat people. Dark people. Slapping women was common until now, thanks to Taapsee’s upcoming movie. All Bollywood heroines are so beautiful.  Romance movies which is what Bollywood produces the most are about pretty people falling in love. We expose kids to fat shaming,  skin-color shaming, and the idea that it is important to look good to find love.

When so much of wrong is okay, what is wrong in a love story of two men with a good message?

If I take all this into consideration, I do not see anything wrong in letting kids watch this movie. At least this movie conveys the right message. I hope this is just a start.  There should be so many more.

A plus point for the movie was the way it started.  The lead pair was a couple in love living in Delhi.  There was no explanation. No justification. They were who they were. Without making a point.   I hope there are many more movies that normalize homosexual relationships and not just ‘coming out’ and acceptance.

So would you take your kid?

The only thing that one should consider is if your kid is at an impressionable age, would this be the right medium to expose them to homosexuality? Would you first see the movie yourself then decide? Would you give your child a little background first? Would you let them watch first and answer the questions that get triggered? Or would you do what Indian parents do the best – Forbid them from watching such movies, and convince yourself that they will never get to know about it anyway!

I have also heard  people say that talking about something to children means ‘encouraging them’ so they would rather ignore the topic altogether. Also, I am sure some people feel that kids may get some ‘ideas’ that would end up shaping them so better not take a risk.

I loved a dialogue from the movie.  “Hum na gande log hain na acche log hain. Hum bus log hain.”

I would like answers in the comments. I don’t have any answers because I don’t have children and have no idea how to deal with such situations!

But I do have to give an answer to my cousin…

 

 

How To Survive Valentine’s Day!

Statistics suggest that so many break-ups happen around Valentine’s Day. This day is not just torturous for single people, but also for people who are in relationships. Expectations, unnecessary comparisons and social media declarations of ‘Aww!’ ‘I am so lucky’ ‘I have the best husband/boyfriend’ can make people feel quite miserable about themselves. The only people who actually benefit from this day are businesses that sell teddy bears,  cards , roses, chocolates and other gifts.

If you are feeling low before Valentine’s day, please read the following. Hope it makes you feel better. 🙂

  1. It is just another day

I don’t remember the story behind Valentine’s day. My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day are from my college days when I was teased that my birthday (14th November) comes nine months after Valentine’s day! I also remember a teacher accepting that he could not possibly teach on this day because it is like a “tyohar” for us!  I think the first time I heard about Valentine’ day was when I was a teenager.  This day should be celebrated if it makes you happy. But if it is an add on in any way,  then please choose to ignore it.  It is not at all important and probably people in the generation before us lived happily before knowing about it!

2. Don’t expect much from your partner

Anniversaries are important. Birthdays are important. But if he/she does not give you a gift or  forgets about Valentine’s Day, do not make an issue out of it.  There are bigger things to fight about!

3. Being Single

If you are single, and you feel bad looking at couples on this day, just remember you have something that these people don’t have. You have hope. You have hope of meeting someone.  You have hope of finding love.  Enjoy that thought!

4. Don’t be harsh on yourself / your partner

No matter who you are, whether you are in a good relationship or a bad relationship, you are about to dump someone, you are newly single or single for a long time, just remember that another human being, even someone you love or is supposed to love you is just another human being. Human beings have limitations. They will hurt you, they will not understand you, and they will do things that you don’t understand.

5. Love yourself

Valentine’s day is about love and we start analyzing our love life more on this day than required. Please don’t take drastic decisions on this day! And if you are worrying too much about how to spend the day when the whole world seems to be screaming about celebrating it, and you have nothing special planned just do something nice for yourself. Like a spa!

Most importantly , don’t feel bad.  No matter who you are and what situation you are in. Relationships are tough. Always.  Don’t let this day make it worse for you.

For all those who have plans for this day, wish you the best! Have fun!

Image source

Mashroof Zamana Mere Liye Kyun Waqt Apna Barbaad Kare!!

Kal koi mujhko yaad kare, kyun koi mujhko yaad kare,

Mashroof zamana mere life kyun waqt apna barbaad kare

Story of every artist. People say a piece of art is like having your baby. Your creation.  You love your baby so much that you don’t want to believe it has any flaws.  It is so precious to you. Everybody should find it cute. You know how hard you have worked on it!

A writer is no different from any other artist. But the current  writing industry currently makes you doubt your baby.  Doubt yourself. There are high chances of you believing your work is the least wanted. So why go through it?

What makes authors take the plunge?

Past few months I had been working on “my book”. The same book I thought I must publish in 2019.

These are real files on my computer:

  1. Fiction book
  2. Non-fiction book
  3. Final 2019
  4. Indian woman healing book
  5. This time I will do it pakka
  6. 2020 Final autobiography
  7. Short stories final draft version 8

Other than the above weird collection of short stories and blogs, I was also working on two novels – one full fledged fiction thriller. Another one was a children’s book. My mind was a mess. So was my writing folder. Finally, I decided to focus and publish the fictional short stories first. Then work on the rest.

I have done so much of research recently, that I can write a blog on how to publish a book!

But that would come later.

First I want to write about the things that keep somebody from publishing a book:

  1. It is very difficult to complete a book

Most of us manage to write good things in parts. But to make it flow right with a good beginning, good middle and good end is hard to achieve. Also, should you know the ending before you write? I have always gone with the flow. Short stories is therefore a popular choice for new author.

2. Who should read and give you feedback?

Once you have finally completed a book, the next thing you do is you ask your friends to give feedback. Now, everybody has a different opinion. Whose opinion should you consider? Just when you thought that you have finally completed the book, you will get more confused with different views and may end up chucking half of it!

3. New draft. New editing

Now you have a book that looks very different from your first draft. Edit it. Grammar. Spelling. Punctuation.  Then you get some more ideas and change the plot. Kill a couple of characters. Edit again.  Add a romantic angle. Edit again. You edit till the last minute!

4. Fear of failing

I think this is the single most thing that deters people from publishing. We are so full of ourselves. We want to be liked. Praised. Nobody likes to be criticized.  Nobody likes to get judged. Nobody likes to not be good.

We get judged everyday.  By people we know. People we don’t know. People we work with. People we are related to.

Why add an additional, totally avoidable reason for someone to tell you – Hey! I don’t like what you did!!

 What if my book does not sell!

What if people don’t like it!

What if people laugh at me!!

What if people think I am dumb!

What if I fail miserably!

This is the number one fear to overcome. Technical problems, laziness, lack of time, financials constraints have a way of working themselves out.

It feels good to have overcome that fear.

So, cheers for all of us who dare to follow our passion. I request everyone to do what they like. The outcome does not matter. Just start somewhere!! Your passion is important for you. And you matter:

With that thought, formally introducing my book on my blog for the first time! Sharing the link:

Please do read. Please do read. Eagerly looking forward to your feedback! 😊. Share your views. You could reach out to me directly. Tell me what worked for you. Tell me what did not work for you.

Now do me a favour. And do that one thing you had to for yourself that you have been pushing for a long time.

 

Good Newzz: Indeed Good News For Bollywood. Ghost Stories Is Disgusting

Good Newzz

Without wasting any time, Good Newzz gets straight to the point. Kareena and Akshay play Mr. and Mrs. Batra, an urban working couple who has just started trying for a baby after giving necessary time to their careers and marriage.

In India, good news is synonymous with pregnancy. Everybody wants to hear the good news the moment a couple gets married. Is this term used so generously for pregnancy in other countries also? I don’t think so.  The title therefore is apt.

As with most couples today, once they start trying they realize that it is not easy.  As you would have seen from the trailers, a mix up happens during the IVF procedure, and the sophisticated Batra couple are introduced to the loud Batra couple, played by Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh. The premise is fresh and gives enough scope for comedy and drama. Here is what worked for me:

  1. Real couples

Akshay and Kareena’s characters are constantly bickering. I hate mushy mushy romance movies that Bollywood does not seem to grow out of. Here we have a real couple with real problems. The relatives hovering on Kareena during a family wedding, giving unsolicited advice on visiting doctors and babas, Akshay Kumar wondering if they really want to have a baby or just want it for society because it is the right thing to do, it is all very realistic.

2. Natural reactions

All four characters seem justified in the way they react to what has happened. Nobody is good or evil. All are just regular people trying to deal with an unexpected problem.

3. Superb performances

Akshay Kumar is very spontaneous. I wonder why he has to do movies like Housefull when he can do good comedies like this. Kareena is effective. I liked her speech on pregnancy. Kiara looks very pretty. The last time I saw her was in Kabir Singh where I found her annoying. She seems at ease with a comic role. I saw Diljit in a movie for the first time. He is a gifted actor . Very expressive. Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra are entertaining as the doctor couple. I liked the fact that Akshay Kumar has a crush on Tisca Chopra, his doctor! It was a welcome relief that the a Bollywood actor liked someone close to his age, unlike the stupid movies which show 45 year old men lusting after 20-something girls.  Tisca looks beautiful as usual.

Overall, it was an entertaining, light movie with songs, and the emotional drama was just the right about. It never went over the top. It was better than most recent movies.

Ghost stories – Netflix

  1. Zoya Akhtar’s story

This is the best story in the movie. In fact, it would be a good idea to stop watching after this story. Jahanvi Kapoor has done well. Surekha Sikri is a brilliant actress, so no surprises there. The story has some meaning I guess.  The two women are waiting for someone who may never come and wasting time . Time which is precious because youth and life, once lost never come back.

2. Anurag Kashyap’s and Dipankar Banerjee’s story

I don’t have words to describe how disgusting I found these two stories. I had my eyes closed during Dipankar Banerjee’s story. It was supposed to be some kind of a metaphor I guess for how rich, powerful people destroy the poor. Whatever, doesn’t matter. The visuals were vomit inducing. I love watching Netflix because it is not censored the way movies in theatre or television are. But for Anurag Kashyap’s movie I wish they had cut out Sobhita’s bathroom scene. It is embarrassing that such weird content is there on Netflix and people from other countries can also watch this non-sense and judge us. They could have done so much better with all the creative liberty possible and this is what they come up with!!

3. Karan Johar’s story

Silly as always. No matter what the genre is, Karan Johar manages to maintain the silliness. There is a marriage, a big family, and a song!  I guess it is all about loving your grandparents!

A horrible movie to start new year’s with! Don’t watch if you haven’t already!

 

Why ‘The Sky Is Pink’ Will Make You Cry

It is based on a true story

Aisha Chaudhary was a real person, born to Aditi Chaudhary and Niren Chaudhary, and sister of Ishaan Chaudhary. Google her name and you will find images and videos of this cute and strong girl, and her loving family.

There is no limit to tragedy

We like to believe that we are not those unlucky people to whom bad things would happen for no reason. If something does happen, one at least hopes it is the only bad thing that would ever happen.

But is it true?

There is a scene in the movie when Aditi holds baby Aisha. Well-meaning and wise elders comfort her .

“He is God. He will not give the same pain again”.

They are wrong.  Aditi and Niren lost their first born, a daughter at eight months to the same illness to which they would lose their third child, Aisha at eighteen.

We hear about people. We know that lady who lost her husband. And then her son the very next year. The man who got divorced. And then killed himself because he was too depressed when his second marriage did not work out.

Life is beautiful. But it can also be very cruel.

Being positive does not cure, but it helps

The movie will remind you that being optimistic helps in dealing with things better. It helps you make the most of the days. But whatever is meant to happen will still happen.  A sweet girl like Aisha would not survive as much as everyone would pray for her.

However, some experiences in life truly makes you feel alive and happy.  For example, when Aisha goes sea diving even if it was for a minute.  Maybe we cannot control what happens. But we can try to increase such moments of joys.

Umaraan main sariya jee leeyaan

The song at the end

I was already crying a lot by the end of the movie. When they started showing real pictures of the family, it was just too sad. The song played in the background was composed by Aisha’s brother. I am sharing a link which has the lyrics.  It is a beautiful song with great music and uplifting lyrics.

Other things

In the movie, Aisha refers to her parents as Moose and Panda. I found it annoying. She also keeps mentioning their ‘sex life’ which I found annoying. That’s it. No other negative points.

Everybody has acted very well. Priyanka Chopra is more expressive.  Farhan Akhtar is restrained. Together they make a great couple. The movie follows their life from the time they are in their 20s till their 50s. But other than the hairstyle, they both look the same. Maybe that was still better than coloring their hair grey and giving them glasses like most other movies. I don’t know.

There are no unnecessary songs. The movie shows the struggles of the family in a very genuine way. It looks very real. The impact is effective. It will stay with you. Long after the movie finishes.

Aisha’s Ted Talks

Do watch it when you get a chance. I especially loved a line where she says,

When you fail at everything in life, get a pet’.

I watched some videos of the Chaudhary family. Hard working, loving, brave parents who gave the best possible to their daughter.

Aisha’s legacy continues. With her book, ‘My Little Ephinanies’ .  With the movie, ‘The Sky Is Pink’. With her Ted Talks. With her parents. With her brother.

With everyone who is thinking about her.

 

What Do You Believe This Christmas

Christmas is my favourite time of the year.  I think it is because I was educated in a convent school in my childhood. And we celebrated Christmas more than any other festival.

27 years ago: A typical Christmas:

Socks would be hanging in the balcony.  I would wake up to find lots of presents. Little things.  A double decker pencil box.  A hair clip with a butterfly on it.  The eraser in the shape of a cat.  The giant pen. The sharpener that looked like a house.

I would go to school.  The Chapel would be decorated. Sisters would be singing carols. Santa would come in his red clothes and white beard and big belly.  He would shake hands with all of us. And give us toffees.

We would sing:

Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open sleigh

One time, one girl told me that Santa was not Santa.  It was one of the Sisters who dressed up as Santa.

How can a lady Sister be Santa!!! I laughed at that girl. She told me that the Sister puts on a red suit and a fake beard.  I did not believe her. I told her Santa comes to my house also.  How would Sister know my house? She told me that it is not Santa who leaves the presents but my parents.  Her parents do the same for her.

Now, this made me a little suspicious. How was it that Santa knew that I wanted the same things that I used to tell my mother? Could she be right? I thought for a moment.    And then solved the mystery.

God always listens to us.  So when I would tell my Mom what I wanted, God listened and told Santa.  That is how Santa delivered the presents.

I was five. I believed what I wanted to believe. Nothing could change it.

Past few days

November 30th was the first time I read about a girl who got gang-raped and burnt.  I could not think about anything else for a long time. Every day I would post about her.  There is no such thing as justice when a young life is snatched away so brutally.  Even if the murderers would be raped and burnt alive, she would not have come back. But still, we screamed justice. So that it would not happen to anyone else.

A week later, the “accused” were killed in an encounter. I was very happy.  Again, there was a divide. People said:

It is the job of judiciary to decide who is guilty and who should be the punished.

What about human rights.

What if innocent people get framed like this and die.

What if the rapist had been rich and powerful?

We got into online debates.   Real debates over coffee at office.

I hoped that this was not the end. A great beginning but not the end. That the law would change..

But soon after, another law was passed.  One that became very controversial.  There was a clear divide. The supporters. The protestors. There was violence. There was destruction.  People like you and me may not have indulged in physical violence. But the words exchanged were harsh.  The people who were “silent” were not left alone either.  They were shamed for “not speaking up” and called spineless.  As if we owe everybody views on social media!! There was madness around as people got into spats and unfriended each other for difference in political views.  I sometimes feel that during such times, people get a reason to be obnoxious to someone they are jealous of, by taking a morally high ground of “beliefs”. It is just an excuse to tell people what you always wanted to tell them.

But one thing is consistent.

Both sides feel the other side is too dumb to understand anything, and there is no point offering them any logic. They are blind!!

We all believe what we want to believe.

But with all this negativity, anger and sadness, the holiday season is here.  Tomorrow is Christmas. Christmas has always meant everything nice. Everything beautiful. Everything magical.

I know most of us have been very unhappy lately.  Everything has been unpleasant. Even hopeless.

On this Christmas, I wish you hope. Spend time with your loved ones.  Be with your family. They are the ones who matter.  I also hope that things cool down in our country and peace is restored.   Till then, I would like to believe,

The six year old girl who believed in Santa no matter what anyone said.

 

Hold On To Your Anger! Never Forget!

Two days ago, I read that a woman, Priyanka Reddy was gang-raped and burnt alive. I am scared of fire to the extent that I do not use a match-stick.  I thought I could not read more about it. It was too horrific.  I avoided thinking about it.  I had no words. We don’t like to think that something like this could happen to someone. It is too inhumane and too barbaric. We like to also believe that nothing can happen to us.

Finally, once I mustered up the courage to start reading about what happened to her in detail, I was so, so furious.  As I read more, I am full of anger and hatred.  From having no words, I now have a lot of words.  My words will not stop.  My rage will not stop.

What fails us again and again.

Rape law

“To make sure something like the Nirbhaya case never happened again, the government wanted to amend the existing laws to cover ALL crimes against women and make punishments as harsh as possible. This led to the 2013 Criminal Law Amendment. Under this change, new offences such as stalking, acid attacks, and voyeurism were added into the definition of rape. Even the threat of rape is now a crime. The minimum sentence was changed from seven years to 10 years. In cases that led to the death of the victim or the victim being in a vegetative state, the minimum sentence was increased to 20 years. This was the first time the vegetative state was included since the landmark Aruna Shanbaug case.”

Source: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2018/08/indias-anti-rape-laws-the-evolution/

Long story short:

Minimum sentence for rape – 10 years.

If rape leads to death – minimum sentence 20 years.

Is it good enough?

NO!!!

Rape = Hang the rapist.

Gang rape = Hang the rapist.

Tried to kill her = Hang the rapist.

Whether she died or not = Does not matter. Hang! Hang! Hang!

Actually, hanging seems too merciful. The punishment should be same as the crime. Insert a rod in their private part. Burn them alive.  In fact, no punishment is enough for such crimes.  Any punishment possible under the sun seems less.

Violence against women – Acceptable!

I am sharing the link to the verdict of Pallavi Purukayastha’s murder. Her security guard had deliberately disconnected electricity of her apartment at night. When he came inside the house he took the keys without her knowledge.  He then broke into the house later at night with the intention of raping her.  She resisted.  He killed her.  The judge, let me reiterate, female judge held that “16 times stabbing is cruelty but not extreme cruelty…” (to merit death penalty)!

I have just one question for the respected people who are entrusted the responsibility of making decisions of life and death – How much cruelty is extreme had it been your daughter?

The verdict has words like ‘not planned for days’ (only planned that night), ‘got excited seeing her in scanty clothes’. It is embarrassing. It is infuriating. The young age of the murderer was also taken into consideration.  The fact that so much analysis was done to find reasons to not award capital punishment to the man when the woman is dead. Brutally snatched away from her family.

This murderer got life imprisonment because the cruelty was not extreme enough in the eyes of the judge! He jumped parole and was rearrested. Why did he deserve parole in the first place? Why should our tax money be used to feed these beasts? How had Pallavi’s parents felt during the time he jumped parole? How do they feel everyday?  Even if this man would have got capital punishment their daughter would not come back. This is the LEAST that could be done.

Change the law!

Every country has its own problems. In the United States, it is their gun laws. Any crazy person owns a gun and goes on a rampage to kill people.  Maybe mental illness is an issue.

In India, such people get the right to rape and kill because they know nothing bad will happen to them. They probably know their friends who boast of getting drunk and beating their wives. They may even have friends who have raped and got away with it.

People are talking about how the mindset needs to change.  Just change the law and see. Castrate one rapist. Hang one rapist in public.  Mindset will change automatically.

Dear not all men brigade, this is not the time to worry about your fragile egos. This is not the time for you to worry about what will happen if the colleague you slept with and dumped decides to falsely accuse you. If you see, the rapists in Jyoti Singh’s case and Priyanka Reddy’s case were caught with evidence, and they confessed.  So, unless you are planning to be a rapist, you have nothing to worry about. Moreover, I would like to focus on things that have actually happened, and women who are dead. Not about your hypothetical, superficial concern about what could happen. So please do not make this about you.

Are these humans in the first place? Why do they have rights?

Dear Human Right Activists,

I know you care a lot about criminals. You cared about Kasab. You care about the not so minor ‘juvenile’ man who inserted a rod inside a girl’s vagina and pulled her intestines out. That girl died in pain you cannot imagine. Her parents and brother have to live with that memory every day. Did she have any rights?

If you care so much about rapists, and murderers please strike a deal with the government. Please keep them in your house and care for them. Work on them. Give them another chance.  Let your children play with them.  Please confine your sympathy to your house.  Please do not let these beasts into society so that you can feel good about yourself.

Sob stories of rapist’s mother

Mothers of rapists do not have my sympathy if they are trying to give excuses for their sons.  Even if they are suffering, they are suffering because of what their son did. They better not give interviews about how the monster son was the only bread earner!  Get a job! We don’t need such monsters to roam freely so that their mothers can get do waqt ki roti!  I think about Priyanka’s mother and their feelings are nowhere in my thoughts.  No family can survive this.  I do not wish strength to Priyanka’s family because no family should have such strength.

Yes. I am very angry. Anger is all we have got right now.  We tried in 2012.  The law did change but it was not good enough.  Hold on to your anger. Cling to it.  Please share link of any petitions, or protests you are aware of.  We will never forget. We will never give up.