The Change Starts With You

Activism teaches a lot about the world that we live in currently.

Recently, I have been trying to cut out plastic from life very seriously. I also happen to be part of a certain Green Team at work place. In our endeavour to cut down on corporate waste, especially plastic, we told the employees that they won’t have any more plastic cutlery in the pantry once we run out of the existing stock. We also donated silverware at lunch hours to encourage people to start using them. The money collected would then go to an NGO that helps clean our beautiful and suffering oceans.

The kind of people I met were of four kinds. Most of them were going to get lunch or coming back with lunch, plastic cutlery tucked in their pockets. Some had 3-4 spoons and forks.

  1. People who were genuinely happy to see us doing all the work and either bought the cutlery from us, or said that they already bring their own in
  2. People who did not make any eye contact and kept walking
  3. People who made excuses. One man said he recycles all his plastic. I informed him how recycling does not help as much as not using plastic in the first place, and it should be an option only if unavoidable. To that he said – well then they need to make something. It is just not convenient.
  4. One person just ordered a whole stock of plastic cutlery from Amazon and accused us of selling used silverware

It is frustrating, and exasperating. But it helps to remember that the change starts with you. If you cannot make a change, no one can. If on that table we convinced just two people to change their mindsets, that was probably a success (or not, I don’t know). They would hopefully change minds of two and two other people, who would change minds of two and two and two and two, and so on..

Damn Fear

I am writing after a hiatus of a year. I love writing; it’s like talking to an old friend who is also a terrific listener. It makes me vulnerable, and feel strong at the same time. I feel alive. My head buzzes with ideas, possibilities. It makes me think. Why then, did I not write for a year?

My fears took over me. However, the process had started well before a year ago.

Someone I was madly in love with left the country without a single word. I started questioning the gift of intuition I thought I had (I thought he had feelings for me too). I thought I was taking the world too seriously, and reading way too much between the lines. Besides, my idea of an idealistic love story was killed. The second time.

True love comes quietly, without banners and flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked. – Erich Segal

I lost my job. The org I worked for was racist, sexist, and smelled of frat culture. My manager was an outright racist woman. I got no credit for any cool projects I worked on while a white boy got applauded for all it. How can a brown girl ever write a better code and find a better solution than a white boy? When I demanded feedback and concrete reasons, they had none. I told them their reasons made zero sense to me, and just walked out, not knowing what and where my future lay. I knew I was one of their best employees, but they did not. Knowing you are good is not enough. Your humility still makes you question your worth. More so if you are a woman. The org is on the last straw before it shuts down for good (I had predicted the dates for that too). There is solace in knowing that it was indeed operating poorly. Even then, my self-doubt does not go away. And that is exactly how racism, and sexism work.

Oprah Winfrey had said that Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. There are two problems with this. 1) It is not always true – excellence won’t be the best deterrent if you just happen to be in the wrong group/society/clan. 2) You cannot be mediocre and a person of color, or a woman and still hold a normal job. But it would be perfectly fine for someone white, and even better male.

I found a new job, but I lost my visa status. This was unexpected, and I had to pack all my life in ten days, and leave, not knowing again what and where my future lay. I went back to live with my parents. I thought at least I would get to spend some quality time with my family, after about four years. Three months living with parents, especially with my dad, just brought out more PTSD shit, things I had rebelled against growing up. Childhood and teenage fears started raising their heads. Besides, I was livid because of all the sexism in the society around me.

The thing that gets us through childhood is the thing that hobbles us as adults – someone

I am not afraid of knowing less, or making a mistake. I am afraid of not knowing if I know less, or am making a mistake and getting punished for it. My fear is losing my independence. My biggest fear is being in a bad place, and not being able to do anything to get out of there. I refuse to be a victim, and my fear is being one. This fear crippled me, to the point where I became constantly anxious, watchful, and my health now requires immediate attention from me.

I learned that I need to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. I need to let myself be vulnerable. I need not always be strong. I need to surround myself with people who believe in me. If someone questions your ability, ask them for feedback. If they do not give you any feedback, they either do not  have the courage to give it to you, or they are bigoted/jealous. Find out if you are falling in a pattern. I know I lack some things too. I have learned to face things that I have been avoiding for years. I am working on them, and pushing myself hard to face the realities, to change what I can about myself. Things like being more assertive (doing what you want is not being assertive), communicating my problems clearly(I thought being open and honest was good enough), keeping an open mind (I thought I was open-minded, but there’s a long way to go), not ignoring my health (I am 31 now and I can’t run to save my life). I need to get back to painting (still scares me). I have got to travel (another solo trip on its way).

Writing today is one of the stepping stones towards this journey.

The fearless are merely fearless. People who act in spite of their fear are truly brave. – James A. Lafond-Lewis

Getting it all wrong

This life is so much more. So much about what’s inside, than what’s outside. It’s about how you feel, how you want to feel, how you love, who you love. About the relationships you have, about not being hungry. Hungry for food, and warmth, and love.

And still, here we are. All of us. Pinning it down to what the neighbour’s house looks like and how ours needs to be better. About what car we own, and what clothes we wear. About our visa status, and citizenship, and jobs, and degrees, and what not. Struggling to find the right movie to watch, the right restaurant to dine in, more money to earn. Basing all important decisions on very unimportant things. Does it need to be so chaotic?

When I think about it, the best times in my life have been when enjoying cool breeze, feeling no worry about nothing, drinking tea. May be having a smoke. May be alone, or with a friend by my side. Knowing that my folks are content, because I am too. That’s when I feel that I have got it all right. Right here, inside me.

Enjoy a song, that may not be related really 🙂

Poor Little Postman

I was listening to Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes. Some thoughts that came to me while at it:

Poor thing, the postman. He must be in such an awkward position when she keeps accusing him for not having a simple card or a letter, while he passes her by as she is crying. He knows his bag has no letters for her, but she insists that he wait and check for it once more. I feel more sorry for him than the girl. I am sure he tries to be sneaky when around her house, or choose hours that she does not expect him to be around at.

Second chain of thoughts – he must sometimes think, why don’t I have a girlfriend who would feel so strongly for me? Well, it would be weird if he has a girlfriend like that. Would she ask one postman about letters from another? That’s a little messed up, if you ask me..Anyway, enjoy the song

Persepolis – A Thank You Note

If Marjane Satrapi, or Persepolis does not mean anything to you, have you still heard of the Islamist Revolution? Yes or no, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, a graphic novel written mainly from the perspective of a little girl in the war-ridden Iran, is a piece of phenomenon. Immediately after reading the book, I also saw the movie.

Adults end up talking about their own problems all the time. A child’s mind works differently. And then again, privilege of any kind blinds one to the world on the other side. The world, where removing hijab when there’s cool breeze, and giggling with the winds and girlfriends becomes an act of courage and freedom. And things like that.

The playful words of the little girl make you chuckle, and at the same time stab at your heart. Marjane’s extremely few privileges were her super family, her own sense of freedom, and the choices she made. Like her granny says – “Everyone always has a choice. Always!”

While I was reading the book, I wondered if all the progress we are making on one side of the world, all the fun we are having, all the extravaganza, is needed, when on the other side a little girl dies because her father was a communist, a woman dies for having worn lipstick or shown a few strands of hair, or a teenager boy dies simply for being one. And then you see people fighting for their freedom, laying down their lives, so they could wear lipstick, drink wine, hold their lover’s hand, listen to the music they like, and opine their opinions. That’s when you know, that one needs these things, to know their importance. If you don’t, you become North Korea. Before any sort of segue, here’s one of my favourite scenes from both the book, and the movie:

PS: Before you start counting your misfortunes, count your privileges, and know them well.

Dire Straits

Rusty dusty. Very very. The city lights from the window of the aeroplane make me feel something after all. Make me want to remove the book and the pen out of my hand bag and write something. But I look back inside and I don’t feel like doing anything at all, once again. I look outside again. It’s a huge ass motherboard circuit. The aeroplane shakes. May be it is feeling cold. What if it crashes and we all die?

What if, when you die, your pure conscience reaches a place – your conscience, without the body that was anatomically male, or female, or in between… that was conventionally beautiful, or unconventionally so.. that you hated to look at, or adored, by staring at yourself in the mirror.. without the body that you held on to, or that held on to you.. just your conscience, in this place. Where you are shown that everything you did when you were alive was pointless. Totally pointless. All the books that you read or wrote, all the music that you heard or made, all the friends that you enjoyed the company of, all your inventions and discoveries, all the struggles you endured, all the wine you drank, all the places you went to, including moon.. all the food you ate, all the cigarettes and weed you smoked, all the money that made you rich, all the sex you had.. all your guilt was pointless.. all the wrongs you did were pointless, just like all the rights you did.. all that yin and yang blending into a grey dot of pointlessness.. A big grey pointless dot that was yin and yang at some point.. you also realize that all that love that you had or did not, was pointless.. all that love, pointless.. and then you are given a choice to make:

  1. Disappear into oblivion, with no conscience too. What’s the point anyway?
  2. Become a human being again with two more choices within this choice:
  3. – Forget all that you just realized about the gravity of pointlessness of everything; start afresh again. Nirvana is not what I thought.
    – Remember all, and stay a human

What would you choose? Hmm?

PS: Whatever you choose, doesn’t matter. It’s pointless 😉