Modern day romance 

Alas, life isn’t like the movies. I might never find my one true love and live happily ever after. I might, perhaps, find someone beautiful and then fuck it all up. I might not get butterflies in my stomach at their sight, and I might not get the adrenaline rush of having to defend something pure and magical. Life might not bless me with a romance I crave for. Maybe it’s time to accept the harsh reality and move on. To accept that modern day romance probably won’t accommodate my ideas of love. That I will have to make do with what I get, what I deserve. 

– Midnight thoughts

Ways to make them smile

  1. Leave notes for them
  2. Cook them their favorite food
  3. Cuddle
  4. Plan to binge watch their favorite movies
  5. Plan a night out
  6. Build a fort together
  7. Go on a long drive
  8. Stargaze
  9. Take a trip to the beach
  10. Pick up a flower that reminds you of them
  11. Kiss their forehead
  12. Just, kiss them
  13. Try singing them their favorite song
  14. Set them a warm bath
  15. Click candid photos of them
  16. Run an errand for them
  17. Listen to them
  18. Hug them a little longer, a little tigher
  19. Gift them a good book
  20. Compliment their outfit
  21. Tickle them
  22. Have a breakfast date
  23. Call them and let them know you’re thinking of them
  24. Laugh at things together
  25. Ask them about their childhood
  26. Light up some candles
  27. Hold their hand
  28. Surprise them with ice cream
  29. Share poems
  30. Remember to cherish them

 

Trump Presidency – it’s personal

As I type this, Donald Trump is hours away from becoming the President of the United States. In utter dismay, I scroll through my twitter and embrace myself for the inevitable. I try and find some comfort in memes, but they are failing. A bigot is going to become the most powerful man on Earth.

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Yes, I’m an Indian. I am multiple timezones away from this man, he doesn’t have any (direct) consequence on me. And yet, I feel helpless and caged as I watch the this pathetic excuse of a human being being sworn in. Of course, I have my reasons. Reasons that you have been bombarded with over the months, reasons that have been countered and debated over. There’s those important, rational reasons. And then there’s the personal reasons.

Why should the American elections be personal? I’ve only ever been there for a month, about a decade ago. I can barely fake an American accent, and I hate nutella and Avocadoes. There is nothing, nothing similar between me and America. And yet, it’s personal.

It’s personal because the stories are similar, if not identical. It matters to me because I have friends from the LGBTQ+ community, both in America and at home, who are under direct attack. It hits home because I have witnessed and experienced racism to not understand the repucussions of this election. It scares me because some of my best friends are Muslim, who are utterly terrified of venturing out into public spaces. It hurts so damn much because I identify as a woman, and I have heard the future President contstantly degrade and humilate me.

It feels personal, even though it’s miles away. When he calls someone a fat pig, I am forced to look at myself in the mirror and feel ache and shame. When he talks about periods in disgust, I am reminded of that day in school where I had stained my skirt and had to hide it from the boys. When he brags about kissing someone and grabbing them by the pussy, I relive every single time a man has felt entitled to stare, touch, grope and hurt me. I go through it, again and again and again. For months I witnessed this man so casually joke about and dismiss everything that has left a scar on me. It’s a personal battle for me, and for millions of women.

And yet, he got away with it.

Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America.

Oh, how I wish I could yell and scream at the world, warn them of what’s to come. How I wish I could burn those posters and billboards. I wish I could beg, plead for everyone to understand just what they are subjecting this entire world to.

But I am thousands of miles away and all I have are angry words punched into a laptop. So, here we are. Another insignificant rant, which won’t end up mattering, because I am not a straight white christian male.

To the year unimagined

It’s already the second day of 2017 for half the world, and it still seems strange. 2017 is the year I never really thought about. I had elaborate plans about it when I was younger, plans of graduating and travelling to another country to be one with the love of my life. That was 2017 for me. But when life shook up in 2015, my fairytale was shattered.

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Oh, just one of the amazing 2016 things 

2016 was magic, but magic I can comprehend and make sense of. It was surreal, surreal that I not only survived but flourished through it. I am, infact, very proud of myself. I travelled alone to a foreign country, I made friends across the world, had the courage to let my heart take the leap, and get heartbroken. I started the last year in this god wretched university, deciding on my major. Building Christine a home became my focus for two months, while also somehow surviving through turbulent personal times. We decided to move to France, and here I am, sitting in a   bare bedroom with the view of a fort, waiting for snowfall.

I called in 2017 sober (I know, I’m surprised as well) at an ice ring. Far from the Parisian glamour, in this small town, with people I don’t share a language with. I called in 2017 with drunk millenials and tiny toddlers. It was okay, I didn’t expect anything huge. I was content when I got into bed.

Waking up though, it hit me. My magic year is over, and it’s 2017. I don’t know how it will turn out to be like. The first half of it is predictable enough, in comparison. I know I’ll be busy, with university and with a boi. I will be heartbroken, moving to France for months, and hopefully go to Disneyland Paris (still need to convince dad, fingers crossed). I don’t know what comes after. What am I going to do on my 21st birthday? How am I supposed to spend it in France, when I know about 4 words in French? Will I be in India, away from my family, getting drunk? How about my dream, my absolute dream to travel to Zambia and other countries for a while? And heavens, who will keep me company in this beautiful town? I might need to track down that girl I met yesterday, who spoke broken English. I might need to turn into a stalker. And Lord, save me from the French boys.

See? My mind is a general mess, and I am scared. There, I said it. I am scared for the year I have entered, a full 364 days to live through. I am worried it would break me in ways I can’t handle. I learned to have faith in myself last year, but 2017 might just test that.

Take a deep breath, V. I can’t help but look at the literal winter wonderland outside my room, and be calmed. It’s quiet, beautiful. I’ll survive this place, it’ll be okay. I’ll make it through this year. Hell, I’ll slay through this year, better than 2016. I’ll find a way to travel and to meet people all over again. I’ll decide on a university for postgraduation. I’ll deal with the heartbreak and fall for the French accent in another guy. I’ll sky dive, or I’ll take up swimming more often.

Writing feels good. Coming back here after a month long break feels like…home. As much as this post is a mess, it’s personal. It’s my train of thoughts, raw and uncensored (well, just with a lot less profanities used)

For all you beautiful dolls out there, happy new year. I am thrilled you’re reading this. If you made it through this post, here’s a virtual hug. Thank you for being here, and I hope I get to know you more this year. We’ll make it through together, and hopefully Trump is…taken care of. Much love.

Fidel Castro

At 90, Fidel Castro took his last breath. Although I’m positive it was the political situation of 2016 that killed him, I reserve that as an opinion. There are some facts, however, that I wish to shed light upon in the aftermath of his demise.

Fidel Castro – a villian, a hero. His death is mourned by millions, and is celebrated by millions more. The man who, according to many, was a charasmatic dictator, spreading his socialist propaganda, on the wrong side of history. He led a country that was cut off from the world, he led a generation or two of economically chained and ruined Cubans. It was a failure of human rights, of the right to live to one’s will and nothing else. But here was Fidel Castro, who demanded complete obidience from his people, who kept media on a short leash, who controlled every aspect of Cubans’ lives. And of course, his infamously long speeches.

Criticism of Castro extends beyond the man himself, and goes on to argue that socialism itself is a failed experiment. That socialism is cruel, it snatches human rights and it crushes dream. That socialism leads to death and misery, as it did in Cuba and former Soviet Union. A complete upheaveal and rebellion against the predominant system would do that. And there is proof for that – the death of millions, the utter chaos left all over. North Korea, being a stellar example of how devastatingly so-called socialism can play out. History text books all over the world have examples of the devastation socialism left behind in its wake, so I don’t see why I must repeat what seventh graders are brainwashed into believing.

But then, let’s not deny the inherent flaws of capitalism either, where leaders pushed millions to their deaths. Where famine hit areas were left without aid, very diplomatically and strategically, due to the promiment Malthusian theory. When world leaders and democratically elected politicans decided to let millions of underprivilded suffer so as to “not intervene in the market/economy”, they were never accussed of violation of Human Rights. After all, they were following a theory which had worked well for the economy. And that’s for capitalism as a broad worldview.

When it comes down to individual countries, United States, Britain, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy don’t get to criticise other countries. For once, though, Germany is earning this right through redemption (if I may say so, with Angela Merkel being the only leader making firm decisions).

The aforementioned European countries collectively established an Empire that brought most of the world to its knees, that committed atrocities for two centuries or more, and then refuse to acknowledge them. These countries have the audacity to not teach their students about their feats of colonisation and their shrewd methods. Instead, they’d rather take the credit and gratitude for blessing the world with “modernity” and “enlightenment”. Excuse me, dear countries. You didn’t make the world modern, you simply used the world for your own expansion and modernisation as people in your empires paid the highest taxes and enjoyed the least benefits. The concepts you swear by – those of freedom, liberty and equality – are simply fancy words you use in speeches at the UN, but remain applicable only to your White citizens. As the most affluent, you refuse to accept refugees, while you establish trade barriers against countries who don’t worship you.

United States, hello there. You aren’t far behind. Let’s not even talk about the utter joke that is your healthcare system, the screwed up funding for your education system, the new threat we face, courtesy of your electoral system. Let’s just talk about the impact you had on other countries that you “intervened in”, trying to salvage them, trying to save them from future destruction. How you killed 20 million people since WWII (and that’s being optimistic). Really, USA, do you expect people to believe the complete farce that is your justification for, if I may, a genocide in installments?

So, here we are. I understand the anger against Castro, he didn’t make the mark when it comes to effective and empathetic leadership. He didn’t lead to please his people, and he definitely didn’t lead to please Superpowers. He led with passion, he led with faith in what he believed was right. It may have backfired massively, and there is no denying the casualities that can be attributed to him.Statistically, Castro and his regime didn’t hurt humanity as much as other countries and leaders have, the ones we barely even think about. That doesn’t excuse his crimes, no.

While judging him, now or thousands of years later, we must proceed with caution. Only because Fidel Castro was in the losing, unpopular side of history, shouldn’t be the reason we demonise him and his actions. He is, like all people we will remember in our books for a long time to come, a grey figure.

Patriotism vs Nationalism

When I was in school, I had a subject called ‘Moral Science’, which was a rather pathetic attempt the education ministry made at inculcating morality in children. You know, about honesty, kindness, hard-work, patience, patriotism.

Except, their patriotism sounded awfully like nationalism.

Yes, I know you are confused. If you voted for Trump, you probably believe nationalism and patriotism are the same thing. Allow me to break down the difference for your feeble little mind.

Patriotism is being attached to one’s birth place and reagrding it with much respect and integrity. It is rather emotional, where there is an intense feeling of gratitude to one’s country and also the willingness to work towards the betterment of the said country. Now, I have my own issues with patriotism, but I roll with it. It’s fine to get a sense of identity from your country, because that’s how we are wired. The notion of being connected, of having something in common with millions of other people keeps us sane. Alright, cool.

The problem begins, really, when nationalism kicks in. Nationalism is to patriotism what love is to having a childhood crush. Nationalism is intense, it is often irrational, it involves superiority and an apparent birth-right over every other country in the world. Nationalism is basically having a God-complex on a country level. Yes, your country might be doing well, but that doesn’t warrant you feeling so very proud of your country. It definitely doesn’t warrant you looking down upon other countries and their citizens.

Nationalism and ethocentrism go hand in hand. Nationalism and xenophobia go hand in hand. When you think your country is the best and that other cultures/ countries will destroy it, that’s your nationalism talking. Let me remind you, since you were clearly dozing off in history class, that every single country is made up of exhange of humans, cultures and ideas. We as a species have moved around to occupy the planet. And by the way, the next time you look at an African with dismay, remember that is where you came from.

So, in the light of recent events that resonate way too strongly with those in the 1930’s, take a step back and think. Are you making broad judgements based off the sheer luck in where you were born, or are you taking all factors into consideration?

I know it is difficult, I know it can become a matter of personal conflict when your country is being a douchebag. But you and I have the power to change things, only if we begin to accept things as they are. I now openly admit to my birthcountry, my homeland’s flaws – our complete disregard for the North East, our blatant abuse of human rights in Kashmir. And it makes me uncomfortable sometimes to face the truth. But I know at the end of the day, I’d rather face the harsh facts than be ignorant.

Here are some tips. Research, and don’t believe everything the media blabbers. The mainstream media is manipulative and controlled by the elite. Read the papers of the country you assume in your arch enemy, and maybe you’ll see their perspective. Talk to people who you think you don’t know enough about, or who aren’t represented well enough. When you catch yourself in an act or thought of nationalism, question your motives and justify yourself. Rethink and reimagine.

The world will never be simple enough to navigate, we’re long past those times. Maybe, it never was simple. As much as we boast about globalisations breaking barriers, it has ironically enough made us close into our shells again. As a manner of self defense against the unknown, for the most of us. The only way to be comfortable in an ever changing, dynamic world, is to be open to new ideas and challenges.

It is a struggle, but it is all worth it. It might just be how to stop our extinction, and I suppose the survival instinct surpasses all.

Africa gets in your blood

It was another afternoon around town, from a market we visited to get those beautiful quirky materials – chitenge, if I spell it right. It was hot, alright. The windows in the taxi were rolled down, and I let the wind mess with my hair. I wanted to take it all in, because I was supposed to be flying away soon.

 

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Me, being the cliche Mzungu. Also this one is actually a cub. 

“Africa gets in your blood” an old man said. He was sitting in the front, looking straight ahead. It was unusually quiet for a taxi ride in Zambia, but he must’ve noticed my sad smile. That’s all he really said to me, the most he addressed me. He didn’t really say goodbye when he got down, didn’t offer a comforting smile like most people would, didn’t even turn around to look at the girl he simply threw some wise words at.

 

Africa gets in your blood, it does. It doesn’t touch your soul or win you heart, oh no. That is what any other beautiful place would do. Africa, it becomes a part of you. Africa makes you cry sometimes, and it gives me an adrenaline rush almost everyday. You will stop in your tracks to look at the flowers in Africa, or you might just end up playing football with random kids. Oh, the high-fives you’ll get. You’ll probably end up with a ton of myths and legends, and even more soveniers, because each of them signifies everything that Africa is.

Hell, you’ll want to yell at Africa sometimes. What is even happening with their politics, and why are the people not on the streets already? But then you’ll see the mother who is only trying to feed her three children and get themselves through another day. And you’ll also see the Mzungu (like myself) trotting their privilege around. And just then, you’ll see all the warmth and the affection the locals will shower on you. They will ensure you don’t go hungry, or aren’t lost, or that some heckler isn’t ripping you off.

The sheer vibracy will send you trippin’. And the fools, the fools who generalise the cultures across countries, let alone the entire continent! Every day, you’ll hear a new language, come across new traditions, see from more perspectives. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’ll be more.

A few weeks isn’t enough to know Africa. A lifetime isn’t enough to even begin to understand Africa. Maybe the greatness of Africa lies in its ever so increasing complexity, the intertwining of so many intriguing and strange and even awfully normal things. Maybe, the beauty of Africa is never ever really understanding it. But I promise you, it’s worth it when you try.

And so, this Mzungu isn’t going to give up anytime soon. You’ve mesmerised me, Africa, you’ve gotten into my blood. You’re part of me. And everyday, I long for you.

Until I can have the privilege to emerse myself in you all over again, Africa.