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.

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.

Little things

I am not here to write about Trump. Or about India’s demonitisation. About the war raging in Mosul. The terror attacks in Pakistan and Iraq. The Phillipino president. The death of Leonard Cohen.

Here I am, a girl of 20, trying to navigate through the prediction of world destruction and chaos. It’s scary, it’s intimidating. If you’re anything like me, you do recognise the anxiety inside you. I am not well-read or qualified enough to preach about how to stop our doom. But I believe in certain things that add sparkle to my life. As I write this, I hope they work the same for you.

Buy yourself a flower

Give someone else a flower

Stare at the moon at midnight

Remember your first kiss

Have mint green tea

Read a worn out book

Go play with some puppies

Remember to get yourself some sleep

Youtube videos of kittens and babies

Buy a homeless person a meal

Work out, go swim, take that cycle out for a ride

Eat that brownie

Plan a trip to Seychelles

Doodle your heart out

Cuddle with a stuffed animal

Run yourself a hot bath with rose petals

Light those candles tonight

Listen to your favorite music from the 80’s

Spoil yourself and get that item on your wishlist

Message an old friend

Strike a conversation with a stranger about clocks

Do your hair up like Cinderella

Cook yourself a good meal

Smile at the little amusing moments on the train

Give your sibling a hug

Make some bracelets with your friends

Go for a late night drive

Camp up in the moutains

Or, build a fort in your living room

Share stories of personal adventure

Try your hand at origami

Write down your dreams on a post it

Love – yourself and others

 

 

Help Get Christine a Home

Hello, everyone.

I spent my summer in Zambia, teaching in a community school. That’s where I met Christine. She is 20 years old, likes to draw, has tremendous amount of swag. She also has cognitive impairment due to birth complications and other childhood neglect. She has lived in poverty and despair most her life, and the doctor we took her to suspected child abuse in her past. She takes shelter with her ailing mother in an abandoned bar, and they struggle for having a meal

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We managed to get her admitted into a special needs school – which focuses on the intervention she needs and teaches her skills that will help her get some income and sustain herself in the future. She was finally happy, enjoying school, comfortable where she is.

However, I was told that the land owner has asked them both to evacuate. Christine is facing homelessness, which makes her vulnerable (both physically and emotionally). She also faces the risk of not being able to attend school anymore, which is perhaps the one hope for her future.

People back in Zambia and I are trying to find her some accommodation, and we need your help. The smallest gesture on your part could help us get Christine and her mother a roof over the head for that much longer, keep her in school, and secure her future.

Please click here to donate : https://milaap.org/fundraisers/getchristineahome

Do spread the word among your friends and family, and please do not hesitate to get back to me for any questions.

Your help means the world to us.

Edit: All the money will directly go towards their rent. More the donation, the longer we can hope to keep her in school.

Parallels

Looking at every inch of my body, I stood in front of the mirror. My hair dripping wet, I criticised my uneven tan, my arms, and I almost smirked at the scar on my waist. There it was, refusing to fade away. Everyone who knows me knows the story of the cheetah hurting me and the aftermath of it all. I am convinced it was one of those stories people end up narrating to their grandchildren. I, for one, am debating if it’s worthwhile to include it in my resume.

I turn, and there it is. Another scar, the one I avoid looking at. Even after all these years, I’d rather not acknowledge it. In all fairness, though, the scar I refer to are two marks from a man, one who felt entitled to my body. My physical pain, my helpless dissent, nothing was enough to stop him. And although I recovered well, better than I expected, I can’t deny the influence those moments had on my life.

But today, on the day where Hindus celebrate the defeat of evil (my darling firangs, it’s the festival of Dusshera), I celebrated my personal win over evil. However, the irony of the scars struck me. One scar I have  been showing off – guilty of basking in the attention, I admit. I have posted, talked, and talked some more about the cheetah. The other scar, though, I am not so confident about. I haven’t pointed out to it, haven’t talked about that experience, which was arguably equally terrifying as the former. I have been unable to publicly post my experience, to let comments in, uncensored. Because I have internalised the stigma. I know I will be blamed for what happened. Why would I wear a skirt, why couldn’t I fight it off? Not one, not a single soul questioned me when I told them I went up to a wild animal rather carelessly. The same naive trust would be the reason for my scrutiny when it comes to a man, a human, hurting me.

When the cheetah hurt me, it was shooed away, far away from where I was. Three handlers and a friend all rushed to my aid. There were calls made, I was taken to a doctor, I received free medical care. People offered to help me carry a camera bag, asked me if I was okay, ensured I had everything in place. Friends asked if I needed to talk, and made sure I wasn’t traumatised or shaken up. They ensured I had enough dinner for the strong antibiotics I was on, that I was hydrated enough and could go about my life without risking my health. I didn’t have to fight for some basic care and attention. I received all of it, and I deeply appreciated it. But when I’ve tried to talk about my experience with sexual assault, it hasn’t been the same. The focus shifts from care to question. I am grateful I wasn’t gravely hurt because I know medical care would be a struggle to have access to. Emotional care was far fetched. Because let’s not forget, my own mother assumes it’s the clothes that cause the men to lose control.

And oh, how to I forget about justice and the aftermath? That when a cheetah ended up hurting me in her playfulness, an entire organisation was on its toes. I could effectively ask for the cheetah to be caged up for her entire life, and my wish would be granted. I could claim to be traumatised and scared of cheetahs, and people would be understanding enough to shield me from all kinds of cats, big and small. That the legitimacy of my phobia wouldn’t be questioned, oh no. Perhaps I would be suggested therapy to better adjust in the cat-obsessed-internet-world, but my trauma wouldn’t be reduced to something you “get over”. On the other hand, I would have to prove a sexual assault with medical tests and witness testimony. I would have to file a case, find a lawyer, fight my case in the court and possibly in the society and media, and the best I would get is that man going to jail for 6 months and being released in 3 for “good behaviour”. If I had the audacity to claim that I don’t enjoy a man’s touch without consent, that it’s a legitimate fear of mine to be stuck in an awful situation again, people would chuckle. Because it can’t happen that often, that I’m just blowing things out of proportion. He just wanted an innocent hug, he’s a nice man and wouldn’t harm you, they would claim. The world would immediately try to argue back with rationale and statistics, forgetting that my thoughts and emotions don’t need justification.

Yes, the parallels I have run seem ridiculous. Maybe they are. But so is how sexual assault is treated in this world. No, Donald Trump, it is not just a minor distraction. It is a violation of my basic human rights, and I refuse to let you or anyone else treat this as a minor issue. You know when a freak animal attack is handled better than a persistent problem most women face in some form or the other, it is a shame for humanity as a whole. It is high time that we reevaluate the way we handle sexual violence – the way we educate children, the way we prevent it, the way we punish for it, the way we help people cope with it.

But until we address these issues, millions like me will continue to hide their scars in shame. And that is not okay.