മനസ്സിന്റെ ഒരു കോണിലേക്ക്
ഒന്ന് മാറ്റി ഇട്ടതാണ്.
I noticed this cartoon of the Indian Coffee House with a cute caption sometime in February. It brought back memories of some of the best times I spent in there with my lover. The hot masala dosas and coffee were my favorite as always. The bustling that was for a change, soothing, and the different aromas. The normal branches to the spiraling towerheads. The secret getaways to the oh-so-what casual brunches. The Indian Coffee House has seen it all from our end.
Talking about ends, what hasn’t the Indian coffee house seen! Born out of the grand geopolitics that excluded the natives to coffee that flourished in Chennai (then Madras) and Kolkata (Calcutta), the India Coffee House gave way to the Indian Coffee House in 1957, now run by 13 co-operative societies affiliated to All India Coffee Workers’ Co- operative Societies Federation. And now for over a decade above it’s golden jubilee, the Indian Coffee House has catered to the tastes of the tongues and hearts. It has seen numerous political discussions, both wise and haphazard decisions taken, the wanderlust wayfarers, the rushing workers gulping down their breakfasts, the unassuming couples, the occasional dreamers, the exhausted families with uncontrollable kids, and what not. It has an interesting time travel that has woven itself into the heralds of history.
The Indian coffee house has forever been a nostalgic memory for me. Sitting in one of the tables and swilling in the world around, I find myself feeling smiling at all the emotions hanging in the air. Every one who walks through the doors are high in anticipation. This coffee house has to it a certain magic that pulls in more of the self-reflecting crowd than any other food chain in this country. However, looking at it now, I see that with the boom in the hotel industry, the indian coffee house is slowly taking the backseat in it’s journey. The awe for the seeming luxuries have pulled crowds to different directions. Well, the varied tastes in food too
I’ve asked my man to take me to one of the Indian coffee houses sometime again, without the kids. Just to reminiscence. Just to look into his eyes and see what else flows from this heart…
At a time when I was too lazy to even acknowledge my laziness, I dropped two sites after gathering a decent number of readers, and began this one, finally vowing not to let Poetry Palette go. But then, I used to write only poems and discarded the rest midway without ever posting them.
But now though, I’ve begun writing serious stuff too. And have posted them here as well! So for my and my sake alone, I’ve opened another site for all the serious stuff, and will retain this one for poetry and fictional work.
So those who did take the time to read through till here, do also follow me at http://www.thecognitivemiss.wordpress.com
Came across this one in Facebook recently A friend of mine had posted this late night in her wall, wherein she also referred to him as ‘kozhi’ (translated as rooster, and a … Continue reading The Shameless Shaming- Continues
“…the only question remaining is whether My messages will be heeded. Most of My messages are not. Some, because they seem too good to be true. Others, because they seem too difficult to follow. Many, because they are simply misunderstood. Most, because they are not received. My most powerful messenger is experience, and even this you ignore. Especially this you ignore.” This extract is, interestingly, from ‘Conversations With God’, written by Neale Donald Walsch. Interestingly, because God seems to be the one caught in the tug-of-war.
The past many years have seen a sharp rise in religious intolerance and conflicts around the world, be it the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar, or the violent outbreaks between Christians and Muslims in Africa, of the recent increasing spurts(seemingly) of Hindu-Muslim violence in India. We may have made our peace with it as long as we aren’t the victims, but the undercurrent is a barefaced wolf.
There is presently a sharp contrast between what we perceive and what is bulldozed onto us. We exist in a post-truth society where emotions and the unbodied are of significantly more consequence than logic and reasoning. Everyone caters to feelings- either of others or the self. This is threshold of logical thinking. You decide if you want to give it a try, or go with burst of sentiments and persuasions. And it is precisely this moment of indecision that is manipulated by engineered doctrines of religious sects for their insidious means. How much ever people claim that we must grow beyond castes and religions, most of them are only skin-deep articulations and nothing more. Religion and caste are iron-clad in most of humankind. It is this potent emotion that is exploited by not just the victims of the technological boom, but also by the easily susceptible and the masked men of means. This is why a Ram Rajya became inevitable in a secular India. This is the fight of a religion which feels perilled by time and space. This is not the culmination, but rather only the beginning if not contained immediately.
The economic crisis and simple logic are not even discussed. Remember!
It was a few years ago when my second baby was just a few months old and I was almost always ravenous. As a hirsute child who was constantly body shamed for being so, I was already dealing with severe inferiority complex that I hardly ever let show. While I’d begun waxing my visible body parts, at this time, I was mostly short of time and also gaining weight for two reasons- one, I was feeding my kid and always hungry, and two, I was facing an emotional breakdown on the personal front and dealt with it by eating indiscriminately, especially huge amounts of chocolate. It was at this time that a retired colleague, on her visit to office, asked my friend if I was pregnant yet again. Even with all the troubles I was dealing with, I found this very wrong for many reasons. For one, she was referring to my body and the extra fat I’d put on in the waist and tummy, as if being thin and curvy was the only acceptable body on someone. Secondly, she associated my body shape to being ‘pregnant yet again’, and made it sound distasteful, implying that gaining weight was only for the pregnant.
Body shaming can only be understood through an intensive historical analysis (not going into that now though). If we look at it on a general plane, we’ll probably find domination and roleplays (assigned and accepted) on the forefront. Over centuries, we’ve developed an idea of accepted physical appearance, both culturally and otherwise, which subjects us not just to body-shaming on a regular basis, but also compels us to maintain that ideal figure just for the sake of others. We worry too much even about a little extra fat on the waist, or a little body hair in our arms. And many times, we confuse this with healthy living, not realizing that we may be in fact abusing both of body and mind. The key is to maintain ourselves without exerting any more pressure than necessary to the extend that we are indeed happy.
While the main victims of this phenomenon are women, no one is truly exempted. By and large, the parents and immediate relatives are the main perpetrators of this ‘unorganized crime’. In my own country, after the daughter reaches a certain age, she is paraded in weddings and functions, dressed up modestly and introduced in a casual and noncommittal way. For this same reason, I’ve seen such girls laughing or complaining about how their mothers restrict their food intake to maintain their ‘figure’. Over the course of life, these kids feel that they need to keep the compliments coming in throughout their life, even at the cost of their personal comfort. Which often forces people to take extreme diets rather than eat healthy and happy, and workout to support the system.
Don’t we have celebrities who have been body-shamed? Vin Diesel, Vidya Balan, Selena Gomez, Celine Dion, Leonardo Di Caprio….the list goes on. No one is spared. We have concerned family, relatives and fans worried about the too little or extra fat in us, when more often than not, they’re nothing more than empty vessels making noise. It’s high time we begin looking into ourselves, and not into others for more than what is required. The body may be the evidence of life, but the mind is the evidence of actual living!
I’d begun believing I should finally go steady with my on again, off again relationship with writing. It seemed I wasn’t serious enough and had to do something about it lest it slip entirely away from my hands. That’s when I decided to give my blogs and pages a boost. I created what I didn’t have, customized them, began reading others earnestly, and indulged in binge reading. I think I may have been feeling insecure about one of the few things I love and enjoy doing.
But it didn’t take me long to realize that for some people like me, writing does not come by forceful intervention. Try as I might, I end up gaping at the ceiling like a half-frozen tongue-tied doofus! And worse still, anything of consequence comes to me in the middle of a deep sleep or while finding peace in the toilet, when I just can’t be bothered to be shaken out of my stupor to pen them down.
So here’s the deal I’m going to make with myself again like everytime. Scribble and ramble only when I feel like it. No scrambling around for ideas. Unlike taking a break from writing, I’m going to be that girl who writes to take a break. I’m just going to accept the fact that I’m too weakly corded with the world of words to make others inspired. The only one who’s going to be inspired is, um, myself.
It’s like a social media orgy. (Almost) anything that doesn’t put you under the legal lens seems to go in there freely. Everyone’s the expert, the judge, the saint, the teacher. Suddenly everyone has an opinion and everyone has the answer. So what’s wrong in having an opinion, when that’s what we are taught to have? There’s absolutely nothing wrong.
No there isn’t. But still, there is a slight problem that taunts the human in me. People now seem to enjoy shaming, either by unthoughtful and sloppy comments, or by raising an issue in social media before approaching the right persons first. Let’s say a married person runs off with someone else. Or worse, it’s a woman with kids whose partner works abroad. The moral soldiers come flying down like a pack of vultures ready to peck away any last bit of dignity left untouched by the news media. The comments are worse than the news itself. Surveys state that at least 55% of the Indian men and 56% of the Indian women have had relationships outside marriage at least once. And that’s the count not counting those who have not been reached and those who have not disclosed the fact. And let’s not even begin with the infidelity of the heart. This would mean that a good number of the self declared righteous people would have had extra-martial affairs, but can afford to make insensitive comments because it isn’t them in the news.
Now take a quagmire that’s been raging in Kerala recently. A transgender woman happened to notice that the son of a well-known actress had sent her obscene messages over Messenger three years ago. She posted it in social media shaming the actress and son, and the grand brigade took care of the rest, with more women coming out saying he’d sent them messages as well, and many others shaming the mother for not raising her son well. I’m going to give the gender microscope and other debates a pass. What bothered me was the fact that a complaint with the cyber cell wasn’t lodged first, giving the accused a chance at fair trial. Yes, fair trial. He deserves to get it, and if he has indeed committed the crime of sexual harassment over social media, it needs to be proved, especially because the victim has noticed it on her messaging app, and there is a possibility, however thin, that the account was hacked or someone else has been bothering her under false pretences. This is just a possibility. All I’m trying to say is that there are such cases happening around the world, so directly attacking someone online is not always the best option. And I wouldn’t be saying this if the guy had harassed her in person. That’d be a whole different story.
Many years ago, my father frantically called me one day and asked my if I’d lost my mind to post such a religiously offensive picture in FB, and whether I knew I could be even killed by extremists for that. I was shocked because not only had I not posted anything of the likes online, I was brought up to respect all religions and place humanity above man-made divisiveness. And moreover, I consciously keep away from even debates that may have any religious tint. So I immediately logged in to my account, but found no such content. But my father insisted that it was there for everyone to see. So I asked my mother to check my account and there it was! An extremely offensive picture of an animal defacating over the photo of a religious place. I again logged in to my account and posted a message saying that there is something like this in my wall which isn’t visible to me, and that I haven’t posted anything like that and requested everyone to let me know if they find anything else of the sort in my account. I also immediately reset my password, after which the offensive picture became visible. I immediately deleted it and apologized again. I don’t even want to begin to think what would have happened if this had taken place in the recent times. I could have been subjected to a lot of difficulties and even physical torture before proving that my account was hacked. But then, the damage would have been done. It’s pretty easy to defame, but very hard to regain the name lost even to fabrications.
There was another case recently when a woman posted a complaint along with the photo of two guys sitting behind her in a conference hall, and speaking among themselves with a tone that she found irritating. There were speaking only among themselves and not about her or anyone else in particular. The post quickly escalated with the viewers attacking the guys and the organisers of the conference putting out a formal apology to the woman. But when one of the guys, who had a mother and 3 sisters to care for, lost his job, the media quickly switched sides and began accusing the woman of unnecessarily creating an issue which she could have easily ignored. Now, it was the turn of the woman to lose her job. The situation turned sour for everyone caught in the eye of the storm.
All that I’m trying to impress here that ever since the world has been reduced to a micro-globe and accessibility has increased, most of us have consciously chosen to act and speak before we think on everything under the sun. We lash out and comment irresponsibly because we don’t have to face the other end. We become overly spontaneous and pass on to the next post for offering our fancy opinion. We fail to separate logic from feelings. We have become insensitive to the decorum that builds solid relationships.
We’ve ended up as our own personal emotional baggage.
There’s one thing we worry too much about- Doing it right! And there one thing we fool ourselves about- honest feedback! We work to our best capabilities(oh we do fool ourselves there too), churn out starburst creativity and scrape out any scrap leftover from our days of labour to present the sweet fruits of sweat and sleeplessness in all it’s virtue we deem it to have. The world(blaahbook, blaahgram, bloohtube, blaatsapp, blik-blaahk, ble……hlo, blablublebaaaaaa….aaaa) is enlightened by the newest feather in our cape and we finally sit back for our well-deserved rest, awaiting the honest critical feedback for future improvement, because, well let’s face it; Who doesn’t want a honest feedback? Who doesn’t want to improve? Who doesn’t want the chance to doll-up in that serious expression of impartial acceptance????
But that’s exactly when the real shit hits. The abstinence of mortal emotions in the face of feedback is tested to its pinnacle. Now all the innovator cum formulator cum spawner cum developer wants is to hit back with a braced defence of why what happened the way it worked out. The more you dole out your own inspirations for improvement using intelligent sounding ideas, the more the listener wants to rip off your actually-uncalled-for-you-should-have-realised-it advices. But then, you are to blame anyway. Why in the world would you jump in to offer your honest opinions unless you are one of those pseudo-intellectuals who bask behind the mask of friendship? Why the heck would you be that unfortunate soul who tried to be the ideal booster? Because you misread the request big-time. It was your honest-to-suit-the-hearer-opinion that was called for. Honest-to-suit-the-hearer-after-researching-the-whys-and-becauses-of-the-situation-opinion. In short, you fell even shorter because you weren’t capable enough to understand the circumstances encountered during creation and distribution. BHOOOM! There shatters your well-meaning interference. And now what you’re left with is a concealed rip in the fabric of good intentions and assurances of normalcy since it was all impersonal. It ends with the biggest bluff of the whole exchange, leaving the rest of the what-should-have-been-said to the cerebral screenplay.
So here I am, ready to give out my not-so-honest feedback to anyone who wishes for it. But beware! I have a face and a voice that I’m constantly in conflict with. So either go by my polysyllables or be ready to fight the battle with this worthless opponent (smirking in arrogance)
‘Petals and Bruises’, anthology of poems compiled by Aarthi Sampath and published by Unvoiced Heart Publications, featuring two of my poems has been published today, on 11.06.2020.
The book will soon be available for sale on Amazon.
The links to the published poems on my blog:-