Monday, January 25, 2010

That thing called Happiness....

The primary, and if u think about it, the only purpose of life is the 'Pursuit of Happiness'!!! Every damn thing that we do - from the lil mundane to the more important ones - are done in the hope that it will fetch us happiness. We go to schools, graduate from colleges and put up through 15 to 20 years of education in the hope that we will land a job , earn money and be happy. How many of us really go to school for the sheer pleasure of studying? Ditto with every thing we do. We do them in the hope that it will fetch us happiness sooner or later. Point taken?

But what is happiness? Or what gives us happiness? Doesn't everyone have a different reason to be happy? Who are we to judge what gives others happiness? For eg: There could be a woman whose only purpose in life is to get married. Ever since she was a lil girl, she was conditioned to believe that way. She can never get away from it, and guess wot, she doesn't want to. And she eventually gets married soon after her education, has her kids, runs her home, raise her kids and is happy with her life. So what if her talent is going to waste? So what if she is financially dependent? So what if her life is restricted to indoors? If it is a choice she made and if she is happy with it, who are we to judge? It may not be ur idea of happiness, but she has every right to be happy with smthg that doesn't make u happy. Same with the woman who doesn't have a nestling instinct and is too ambitious and career driven to get married. Who are we to tie her down with marriage and the million obligations (and not to forget the million relatives) that come along with it?

Now, see my own case for instance. I have been brought up on the foundation that education is a MUST, career is a MUST and you got to ACHIEVE smthg in life. I'm completely glad that my parents gave a lot of importance to my education, but when it comes to achieving many things to make ur life meaningful, I got to disagree with them. Any day, I would love to get truck loads of money. And 'Vice Prez' does sound fancy enough for a designation. But honestly, I can't care less. I know that If I had put in even an iota of my brains to good use, I would have done pretty well ( not Vice Prez tho;), but guess wot, I dint want to. And I'm happy with that. Why is it so difficult for them to understand that I'm okay with not having a six figure income? Why is it so difficult for them to understand that clinching boardroom deals is not what makes me happy? It sure will give me a high. I'm not denying that. And the sense of power could be overwhelming. But the only power that I really need is the power to control my own life!

Most people in my life - close friends, distant friends, close relatives, distance relatives and non-existant relatives - would have been glad if I had been married by now. And to add to my misery, had ATLEAST one kid. If I hadn't done that, too bad they say! Oh but, since I hadn't done that divine, must-do thing, I should be owning a business empire by now, right? No?!?! What a disaster!! If I was not busy getting married, raising a kid and not running my home, then I would have done SMTHG with my life right? And the next best thing would have been to probably be a business tycoon maybe.Yeah, after 4 years of passing out from college!!!

To all those people, all I have got to tell is that I'm doing what gives ME happiness. I think life becomes rich by the 'experiences' u go through and not by the 'achievements' u make. As I said , Vice Prez does sound fancy, but not compelling enough to chuck the simple pleasures of life. Managing a team of 50 people is great, but I'm not willing to trade that for the utter recklessness that I enjoy. Meeting deadlines can give u an adrenaline rush, but I cannot miss that newly released 'must-watch' movie.

I find happiness in lil things. Being able to sleep those extra hours in the morning with out worrying about cooking for [non-existant] husband and kids gives me immense happiness. A lovely conversation with a good friend, without being interrupted by a whining child can make me happy. Staying up late at night watching a movie, reading a book, writing when the mood strikes, browsing something online or catching up with a friend without having to worry about an early morning flight the next day gives me hapiness. Stepping out of the house whenever I feel like , without being accountable to anyone makes me feel liberated and hence happy. Spending all my money on myself (without guilt) , unless I decide to do otherwise, gives me hapiness. Doing what I want to do, when I feel like it, gives me total control of my life and hence happiness. Now I may not do something wild or outrageous. But I still do what I want to do. And I may not have the best life and I always want mooooore, but I'm still happy with my life. Just that it doesn't conform with ur brand of happiness. Now u got to live with that, don't u???

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When beliefs go to the dogs....

A point has come in my life when I start to think that everything that I believed in was wrong. I spent a major part of my life believing in smthg, and those very beliefs go down the drain.

My beliefs make me. My principles mean the world to me. And whatever people think or say about me, I have always stuck to them. And I have been so proud of them. They defined me. And I never budged from them. Many times people have argued with me and tried to challenge my beliefs and opinions. And it was easy for them to challenge cuz my beliefs were not very popular among conventional thinkers. I have been hurt or belittled many a times just cuz I din't hold popular views. But I stuck to them nevertheless. Sometimes I argued and defended like my life depended on them . But smtimes I chose to keep quiet cuz I knew they won't understand it any way.

And now I have to compromise on them. Tell myself that whatever I believed in was wrong, I was too naive to believe in them in the first place. I must willingly let go of them and accept new ones. Life, I am told , is more important than the beliefs that make it meaningful! Sigh...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Life in Trivandrum and the others....

Disclaimer - I have nothing against Trivandrum. Nor do I have anything against men. Its just the combination that I have a problem with. I know that it is unfair to generalize. But whatever I say here, is based on my personal experience. And guess what, I get to say what I want right? After all, it is MY blog! ;) So pls don;t write in to say how great Trivandrum men are. I'm really not interested in knowing it.

I was working in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. For the benefit of those who don't know much about Trivandrum, it is the southern most district in Kerala, and has the most regressive, perverted men. Now, this is not to say that ALL men in Trivandrum are like that. I repeat, not ALL are the same. But a vast majority is. I live in Cochin, has been to Kottayam, Calicut, Kannur and Trichur and found the male folk to be a lot better. In Trivandrum, me and my friends have been through many unpleasant experiences. There were many girls who worked at Technopark and came back late. They used to get dropped at a stop next to the hostel. And the walk back was scary, and scarier cuz the area was known for prostitution. So a woman walking down alone at night always called for unwanted attention. Then again, many a times I have seen men on their bikes with their wives riding pillion, checking out women. Checking out is very pleasant way of putting it! Ridiculous I say!!! Same thing at the restaurants. They will be with their families, but that will never stop them from staring shamelessly at every girl who walks by. I wonder how their wives take it.

And there was condom machine right next to our hostel. I remember one of my friends telling us about it, and all of us being really curious and making that trip to the "petti kada" next to the machine, just to take a look at it. Or every time we passed that road, we used to crane our necks to take a look at it. C'mon, when did conservative Kerala become so progressive and open- minded? And many a times when me and my friends had gone to watch movies in the theatres, we have seen prostitutes ( I don't know if its politically correct to use this. I think sex worker is a more politically correct term) with their... err.. clients... Now, it may be my over imagination. But what they did in theatre (I'm not going to be descriptive here. I will leave it to ur imagination) din't let me think about it any other way. In almost all the cases the women looked older than the men, but not old enough to be their mothers. Cud be an elder sister, or a friend. But nobody behaves this way with sisters or friends. And the women were all too eager to please. So I couldn't think about it any other way.


It was the International Movie Festival time in Trivandrum and I was desperate to catch it. I had never been to an Int Movie Fest. While I was in Chennai, I got many opportunities to catch foreign movies, but I just couldn't make it. I knew I din't want to miss it cuz 1) I love movies. 2) I have heard that foreign language movies have a great quality. 3) This is really subjective. But i do think there is smthg exotic about watching a movie in a foreign language. 4) My then boss( who is a movie buff himself) made it sound like I will be missing in life if I don't catch it. We used to have discussions on movies and he knows about my love for movies. So it was mostly under his persuasion that I went and got the pass. I talked another friend into it and got a pass for her too. Now the hitch. I used to work from 9.30am-6.30 pm. I had to report back to the hostel at 7.30pm. How would I manage? It is not too difficult to cook up a lie and catch a night show. But,there was no one to pick us and drop us back to the hostel. Come to think of it, there were people willing to do that favour. But lets says, I din't want to depend on anyone. Trivandrum is not just unsafe, but scary as well for women. So all we could do was to catch the show on sunday. So me and my friend decided to make the most of the sunday and watch 3 movies back to back. Phew! Such committed movie-goers we are.

Me and my friend M studied the movie list and I did a bit of researching online and we zeroed in (many movies are played simulataneously in different theatres) on this movie called "Whispering of the Gods". My research told me that it is a controversial movie on the happenings in church. I was extremely interested. This is the kind of movie I would love to watch any day. And my over-enthusiastic brain failed to read too much into the word "Controversial". Once we got into the theatre, we saw that there were just two of us girls, rest all were men. We din't think too much about it, cuz women in Trivandrum din't step out much anyways. So we set to watch the movie. The movie began with a steamy scene (this is an understatement.I don't know what better word to use. And even if I know, m not using it cuz my family is reading it) and that did make us both very uncomfortable. But we acted totally cool. U see, we are educated, liberated women and we should be totally okay with a scene like this. And we are true movie lovers and we should be able to appreciate every scene in a movie. And honestly,I think I would have been okay with it if I weren't surrounded by men. That too in THRIVENTHRAM ( as pronounced by my Oriya friend M. And she says "Parrram pori" for "pazham pori". But thats another story)But then we let it pass. I thought it was just ONE imperative scene in the movie very crucial to the plot. But fifteen minutes into the movie, I was almost sure that it was a porn movie. But I was still hopeful that there will be a twist and things are going to be better. But half and hour into the movie, I lost hope. I started squirming in my seat, scanning at the audience, trying to gauge their reaction, but not daring to make eye contact with them. I wanted to run. And we did consider it. But we realised that we would end up attracting more attention. To truly understand my plight, you should understand the cultural context. Now I started wondering if this was the reason why only men made it to the theatre. I din't even spot any female journos. Why din't my research let me in on this info. Cuz I suck at research?? Yeah! Anyways, we sat through the movie somehow and was relieved when it was over. We were too embarrassed to step out and I behaved like I was talking to my shoes ( looking at my feet and refusing to make eye contact with anyone), carelessly ( very carefully actually) covered my face with my messy (on purpose) hair and got out of the theatre unscathed. I remember texting my friend N ( not the one I mentioned in the previous post) about it and she texted back asking if there were subtitles. I think her hubby wanted to know it. :P

Anywyas, I go to work next day and meet a very embarrassed looking boss. I act normal.. cuz I was feeling normal. After discussing this and that for a while he asks me

"Did u watch any of the movies yesterday".

Me - Yes

Boss - Did u watch "Whispering of the Gods"

Me - Yes ( I din't let my Yes give out anything more)
Boss - How was it?

Me - (Now I'm totally confused. I din't know how to answer that qstn without feeling embarrassed. But I keep a straight face and said) It was a rated movie.

Boss - What? (Smtimes he doesn't hear what I say. So I gotta repeat. So m hoping it was same in this case too)

Me - It was a rated movie

Boss- (after a short silence) I was there too. (And immediately added)But i dint sit thru the complete movie.

Yeah rite!!!!, I thought!

I almost choked on my laughter. So that is what it was. He saw me at the theatre and was embarrassed about it. If I had probably lied and told him that I din't have gone to movie, he would have kept quiet about it too. But now that I told him the truth, he was forced to make that confession :D

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Train Journey - 2

The post needs editing.. pls bear with me...

Less than a month back, I found myself travelling to Telechery (North Kerala) to attend a friend's engagement. I'm not very familiar with route, but was determined to attend the engagement, so went ahead with it. I was assured by my friend N that I can travel comfortably cuz it is a Sunday ( and since it is an executive train , people shuttling between cities for work travel in it), the train would be empty. I bought the story and made no attempts to reserve the tickets. Now, at this point I must confess that I'm a fussy traveller. I WANT a window seat! Though I'm perfectly alright with non-air conditioned travelling, I always go for one during shorter journeys( During longer journeys, I mostly stick to the second class tho), cuz the seats are too cramped in the general class. But since I was assured of the seats, I din't bother to book. While my Dad was driving me to the station, he kept on asking me why I din't bother to book the tickets. And I told him N told me there will be seats. Dad din't think so, but I guess he was too sleepy ( what do u expect at 4 am? ) to argue. But as soon as I reached the station, I realised that the train was packed. My Dad looked at me and said "kando, njan paranjille??" meaning "Look, din't I tell ye"? (The man is right most of the time, that is why I rarely argue with him) So what do I do? I just go for the ONLY window seat I find and sit there. Its a 3-seater and immediately 2 men join to give me company. Now I wanted to scream, but I sat there like a happy girl cuz I asked for it. My dad says : see, I know better than N". I din't have a choice, but to say cheerfully "Its okay Daddy, it is just a matter of (and i counted the hours with horror) 7 hours. I think my voice cracked when I said the word 7!!! After that I tried to squeeze a bottle of water on my seat, but I cudn't do that without poking the guy sitting next to me. (due to space constraints) Now the last thing I wanted was the guy to mistake me that I was feeling him up or smthg. So I gave the bottle back to Dad saying that I'm not thirsty and don't think i will be thirsty during the entire journey. My dad obviously doesn't get it and tries to push the bottle through the window sill. I push it back. This game continues for a while until the train is about to leave and my Dad gives up. And then begins the torture. The 'lets get to know each other' session. So as practiced, I take my book out, ( unfortunately my ipod was not working, so nothing to plug into my ears) and stare at it. Now I was too sleepy to read, too uncomfortable to sleep, so I stare out of the window again.

And then the conversation begins. The 'friendly' guy wants to know where I'm getting down, and whether I travel this route often and if it is work related. Now, usually I'm really good at giving those ugly stares that shut people up. But I guess I have lost that art.Or maybe I was too sleepy to even frown. So I tell him very politely ( and this is not an exaggeration, I was surprisingly polite that day) it is not work that takes me to travel. So obviously he wants to know why I'm I tavelling. His expression tells me that there is NO reason I shud be travelling now. I tell him I got to meet someone and again continue staring out of the window. And again he tries chatting up. He wants to know where I work. At this point I really lose my patience. Why are fellow travellers so interested in knowing personal details? Esply when u don;t show any interest. So I just tell him I work for the newspaper. And he wants to know which one and I look straight at him and say Indian Express. Not that Indian Express has any potentional to scare anyone ( but media means power) , but I guess it is the way I said it, the giy stretched his back , got up and jsut disappeared.

So the fellow sitting next to him moves closer to me (sigh!) and gives space for another woman who was standing there. Now the routine questioning begins. But somehow I took an instant liking to this guy. No, I din;t fall in love with him. But he was obviously more easy to talk to. So then the work question. Where do u work?, he asks me? I say Indian Express. And he turns to me very excitedly and say, "Wow! I.E? I work for abcd (a malayalam daily).. So do u know Mr XYZ who works there? Ofcourse I do, i say promptly. So which section do u work for? Now I think hard to come up with smthg that wud intimidate him. I almost said crime beat and stopped short of saying it. I said features instead. So he asks me my name/. And I cook up some name. He tries to recollect if he has seen it smwhere. And then asks me who the current Chief of Bureau is? I know m lost there. So I just ask him if he knows the guy who sat next to me. When he says no, I confess. I tell him I no nothing about I.E and i was lying cuz he asked me too mnay qstns. So he bursts out laughing and tells "Vanitha police aanenu parayaamaayiunille". I laughed at the spontaneity of it. But more at the relief that i don't have to lie anymore. But guess wot. I laughed. And laughter means fraandship. So I had to answer all the questions that followed like it was a pleasure. But thankfully we had almost reached Telechery and I din't have to endure it for long.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Train Journey - 1

The below post requires editing... wil do it sooooon :)

I was traveling from Cochin to Trivandrum by Intercity on a Wednesday. Tuesday, being a holiday, I took Monday off as well. And since I have an instant fear of strangers, I always keep to myself when I’m traveling. Add to it, the fact that single women are more at a peril, I decided to keep to myself. But my fellow passenger din’t share my idea. A young, educated looking man went on chattering from one thing to another. I might have been interested in the conversation if only he hadn’t bragged so much. Sure, he looked well educated and well-travelled and I would have been impressed. But the very fact that he was trying too hard to impress made me unimpressed. I Pulled out my ipod and plugged it into my ears. I took a book out and started reading it with great pretensive interest. Since the book was uninteresting, I kept staring, sometimes at the book, sometimes outside the window. But he was not the one to give up.

He – “They sent me down from Mumbai to Kerala just because of my surname ‘Nair’. I’m a malayali, but I don’t know the language, so whats the point.

Me ( Gives a very understanding, empathetic look) – Oh! That’s tough!

He– These Malayalis, I hate their bloody attitude. Tuesday is a holiday, fine. So let them enjoy Tuesday. But why take off on Monday? Many called in to say they are sick

Me ( This time neither empathetic nor understanding) – Even I took off on Monday

He (completely dismissing it) – So these Malayalis, they don’t do any work. They want the office boy to do everything. Can’t even clean their own tables

Me ( gives a very disinterested look) – OK!

He – I told them I will fix a vending machine or 10 vending machines. Let them drink coffee. But let them make it themselves.

Me (Today I see the point in what he said. But back then I failed to see it. So again a disinterested look) - Hmmm

He – They make the office boy do everything

Me (Without taking my eyes off the book) - Alright

He – They used to think that what does this ( pointing to himself) guy know. He is just another MBA guy. But they changed that attitude when they heard the name of my college.

Me ( Knowing very well that he wanted me to ask the name of his college, made me very determined not to ask. I was definitely not going to give him another opportunity to show off) – Blank stare


Me ( thought slightly impressed, but gives an uninterested look neverthless) - Okay

He ( goes on and on about pathetic Kerala and Keralites…)

Me( buries myself in the book)

He – I din’t ask your name. What is it?

Me – Neetu

He ( trying to be funny) – Neetu Singh?

Me ?( Totally not enjoying the joke) – Neetu Singh is an actress. I’m not HER. I’m Neetu George

He ( now really worried and surprised) – Are u a Malayali?

Me – Very much

He ( Silence)

Me ( really happy that with this silence)

He – Kerala is a beautiful place

Me – What???

He – Kerala is a beautiful place

Me (aghast) – really???

He – Yes. Have u been to Kovalam? It is a really good beach. And Alleppey is amazing. And I went trekking in Wayanad and faced a tiger.

Me – And the tiger ran away seeing u?

He - I have been told that when one comes face to face with a tiger, just stare at the tiger. The tiger obviously doesn’t know that you are dying with fear . Saying this, he bursts out laughing

Me – Very good idea that was

He – Yeah, I have traveled across Kerala and it really is a peaceful and serene place

Me( very sarcastically) - You just love Kerala, don’t u?

He – It is heaven!