Thursday, 19 April 2018

30 days writing challenge - day 2 - About Betrayal

I am trying to write more regularly. I am trying to write not just for work, but for myself too. For my own sanity, for my own memories, my thoughts and more. It's a purely self-indulgent exercise for myself. Thankfully I have some of you who manage to read my writings and share feedback with me.

So recently, meaning just today, I posted a whatsapp status, inviting people to share that one emotion or that one story that they want me to write about. I wanted some cues for my writing challenge and I will ryu to write about 30 different things and then share the post at least with the person who suggested the topic to me. I have done that in past too. I have curated topics from people and been unable to write about them. This time, I hope to rectify that.

Whether my thoughts are broken, vague, disorganized or disoriented, I am going to write nonetheless.So yesterday, I wrote about the feelings and the memories that the a relatively new song evokes in me. Today I am going to write about one of the themes that one of my friends asked me to write about. He wanted me to write about betrayal. And here's the first song that came to my mind.


This song portrays at the most basic level, everything that we seem to trust, someone's smile, their eyes. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul of a person. However, it is surprising that  the same eyes have been known in the Indian social system to do black magic or woodoo. The same eyes that are called to be the tool of the revelation of the true nature of a person, are also known to hypnotize a person, eventually in the longer run betraying them.

There are other songs related to the betrayal of friends, family, brothers, sisters, lovers and more. However, for a change this time, an old melody didn’t hit my brain. Neither in terms of the music, or the lyrics. What did hit me though is another possible truth.

What exactly is betrayal? Is it really cheating someone of what they deserved, or hurting them for no reason? What exactly constitutes of betrayal? Let’s look at it example by example.

So, a brother cheating another for the share of property. A not giving B what was B’s by law and by right. Is that betrayal? Well, no, it’s just cheating on a very transactional level. A lover sleeping around with others behind their partner’s back? Or being in love with others? However, that could simply be one’s strong polyamorous leanings, at best promiscuous behaviour and at worst, adultery. That said, I still fail to define betrayal through any of these incidents. All these are nothing but incidents where someone wanted what wasn't theirs.

In my opinion betrayal is the inability to speak of this desire. The inability to tell the other person that you want something that's his, so bad that you won't hesitate in hurting / harming them. The inability to feel restraint and compassion enough to not steal or cheat or manipulate.

I have no intention of going into an academic inquiry of what a certain moral value is; in this what betrayal is. I am simply saying that betrayal is not any of the acts that we seem to identify it with. 

Betrayal is in truth, robbing one of the most fundamental level of bonding with another human being – trust. When you break someone’s trust in any way, you betray them. Whether you betray them to themselves, or to yourself or to themselves, basically what you’ve done is you’ve broken their trust.

Betrayal is robbing a human of their ability to trust in future. It’s by extension robbing a human of their ability to love unconditionally. It is in a way, perpetrating the simplest and yet the most destructive crime against the humanity. Betrayal is the perpetration of distrust, suspicion and by extension distancing a human from another.

Baki to, Naina to thag hi lenge.Aur hum bevakoof khud ko thaga bhi lenge. Khushi khushi :D

© Anupama 2018

Songs and Windows - Sanwaar Loon

After a long time, there’s a contemporary song that makes me tap my feet to it. It almost makes me dance in my chair as my typing speed increases on its own. The playfulness, the snippets of the story, the snippets of the conversation in the original video almost makes one crave it.

Unlike the stereotypical zero-figure model-type actresses, here we have a full-bodied, curvy lady who can make us go ‘pak-paka-pak-pa-pa’ as the song plays. I am looking at so many dance performances on the song and all I see is folk dances, and such convention pepped up by the so-called contemporary. On the other hand, the song reminds me of of the legends of the industry. In fact, funny as it is this song reminds me of:

  • Kanchi re
  • Khil rahi hai kali kali
  • Maine poochha chand se ki dekha hai kahin?

And even,

  • Mera mulk Mera desh
  • Pukarta Chala hun main, to a certain extent.

What is more interesting is that I ran into the song when I was watching coke studio and landed on a youtube video that showed Amit Trivedi’s ‘Sounds of Nation’ performance and heard a brief snippet of the song by the choir. Result – I deep dive and hunt for the song and it wasn’t too much effort to be honest.

Result, I have Sonakshi Sinha on loop for three days now. Just like the old times when I used to record audio cassettes on the tape recorder during 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm as old songs played on Jaipur Radio. Mom used to love the show and I enjoyed her humming. Now that I think of it I was not as fond of the show as I was of my mom moving around our one-room home and humming and occasionally smiling at me as I recorded cassettes after cassettes, sitting on the side window slab.

Today if you ask me that window slab was the one unique feature of that small home which forms 25 years of my memories. A perfect spot for mom to sit and look out for dad in the evenings after putting me to sleep and having finished cooking. A perfect spot for us kids to sit and watch funeral pre-preps and the lifting of the dead body in the open area, when an old neighbour died.

Sometimes I wonder how just 11 years of being in Delhi and 9 years of being in a different home in a different area has faded my memories that were so strong at one point that I seemed to almost want rid of them.

That perfect spot that hosted our computer accessories till the computer was in that room, rather than our rented room. That perfect spot seems to have faded from my memories. I crave for those memories at some level and this song seemed to invoke those memories, all of them. At some deeper level the song triggered more responses in me than I had imagined.

It looked something like this:

Now, I almost crave to go back there, for us to be young again, for me to watch my mom move around the household, for me to identify her by the sound of her anklets. I mean she still walks the same way, still wears the same kind of anklets but she moves slowly and softly. The house is larger so the sounds of the anklet bells are softer.

Similarly, I would give anything to trade for the times when we would wait for dad to return and we wouldn’t be waiting for him waiting at the door but instead at the window from the perfect spot. He wouldn’t ring the doorbell but instead we would rush off to him yelling ‘papa aa gaye’ (Dad’s home).

All we had to do to call my brother from his playground, was yell at the top of our voice and someone or the other in the ‘mohalla’ would listen to it and within 3 minutes he’d be home. There were no mobile phones and no need for them either. Oh, I am not saying by any means that they are not needed or shouldn’t exist. Just that we belong to a generation where we didn’t need them at one point in our lives.

I crave for how the youngest one and I would create drawings sitting in the sun in the windows, just outside the perfect spot. Oh, the perfect spot was our window not just out of the home but also inwards. That window has impacted more than I can imagine apparently. It’s only in retrospect do I realize the amount and the intensity of the impact on our lives. I am planning to discuss with my brothers if they feel the same way About the window or did I hog all the space, including theirs too. Sometimes I wish there was so much I could do differently about my childhood but that’s a subject for a different post.

Tab tak ke liye, wo khidki nahi to uski yaad sahi. Yadon ki khidkiya sundar lagti hain mujhe.

© Anupama 2018

Monday, 19 March 2018

When an Uber Driver Teaches Me Acceptance

So, some of the most interesting conversations I have had are conversations I have had with Uber drivers and my co travelers in shared and pooled cabs. These have been conversation around society and politics (yes, you may wrongly thing that almost all Indians are politically aware people). These have been conversations around work, around the ecosystems, financial implications of companies like uber, ola, oyo and more.

However, the most impactful conversations, most raw stories, and most emotionally moving and empowering stories are those of these people themselves. I am learning to listen better, not just because my mentors kick my ass to do so, but because these stories, these personal truths are so profound, that there's nothing else one can do but hear them without missing a beat.

A driver telling me how his wife died 8 months ago because she didn't get good treatment in a hospital, doesn't just give me the shocking reality of the medical system in the country.My heart breaks as I say sorry to the man for his loss and  he responds with a gentle, sad smile, trying to make light of what he has been through:

Bhagwan Ki Ichchha ke aage kisi ki nahi chalti madam. Wo bahut achchhi thi, bahut sundar bhi thee , shukar hai mera beta uske jaisa lagta hai. (We humans are helpless against God's will. She was very good, also very beautiful madam. I'm glad, my child goes after her, rather than me )

He smiles with such gentle emotions in his eyes as he talks to his 6 year old son on a whatsapp call and goes on to tell me that the child now lives with his family in the village. He goes on to explain the intricacies of the marital system in India and the fact that his child isn't entirely unhappy because he lives with his uncle and aunt and double cousins.

The serene, calm, sad acceptance of what has disrupted his family, chokes me. I wish I had that grace and that acceptance for so many things which are far less significant and not worth cribbing for.

I am humbled and honored by his authenticity, respectful openness, vulnerability and the ability to still look beyond his personal grief. And I whisper the serenity prayer in my heart for him, for myself and for everyone:

Thank you my Uber Driver, for sharing with me and reminding me another life changing truth, your personal truth.

© Anupama2018

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Maan Kehti Hai....

माँ कहती है सुन मेरी रानी
तुझे सुनाऊँ नई कहानी
जो कहती थी दादी नानी
वो तो अब हो चलीं पुरानी।

न तो तू कोई राज कुमारी
न परियों की तू शहज़ादी
तू वो हिस्सा है दुनिया का
जो लगभग आधी आबादी।
नहीं ज़रूरत तुझे भीख की,
छीन के ले अपनी आज़ादी।
जी ले खुल के तू मस्तानी...माँ कहती है...

मैंने तुझे कोख में पाला
ये कोई अहसान नहीं है।
तू मेरी औलाद हमेशा,
तू कोई सामान नहीं है।
तेरा मालिक परमेश्वर है,
और कोई इंसान नहीं थहै

जा छू ले आसमां दीवानी... माँ कहती है...

© Anupama2018
I'd love to hear what does / did your mother tell you?

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Currency Change in India

The decision to account for the 500 and 1,000 Rs. note, the new counter-feit control measures in the new currency, the entire set of plan, the obvious and the not so obvious is all welcome as a national and political decision.

However, pessimistic as I am, here is what I feel about the very compromised state of democracy in India, in general and I do not think any currency reforms can change this.

Chand kaagaz ke tukde the,
Suna hai ab bekaar honge.
Kya fark padta hai yaar,
Pehle 1000 the ab 2000 honge.

Mujhse poocho to lagta hai,
Sirf dhandhe ki nayi tazveez hai ye,
Pehle chhote khareedar the,
Ab mote dukaandaar honge.

Dhandha to tab bhi chaalo rahega,
Imaandaari ka, neeyat ka, ehsaas-faroshi ka.
Kya hua gar kuchh log,
Kuchh gaahak imaandaar honge.

Ahle-hukum koi bhi hon,
Aur faisla kuchh bhi karein.
Ghulaami barkaraar rahegi,
Koi na koi to sarkaar honge!

 चंद कागज़ के टुकड़े थे 
सुना है अब बेकार होंगे । 
क्या फ़र्क पड़ता है यार 
पहले 1000 थे अब 2000 होंगे ॥ 
मुझसे पूछो तो यूँ लगता है 
सिर्फ़ धंधे की नयी तज़वीज़ है ये । 
पहले छोटे गाहक थे 
अब मोटे खरीदार होंगे ॥

धंधा तो तब भी चालू ही रहेगा 
ईमानदारी का, नीयत का, एहसास-फ़रोशी का । 
क्या हुआ गर कुछ लोग, 
अब की तरह तब भी ईमानदार होंगे ?

अहल - ए - हुकुम कोई भी हों, 
और फैसला कुछ भी करें । 
ग़ुलामी बरक़रार तब भी होगी, 
और कोई न कोई तो सरकार होंगे ॥

© Anupama 2016 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Questions, answers, Shikwa and Jawab-e-Shikwa

Kyun Ziyaankar Banu, Sood Faramosh Rahoon?
Fikr-e-Farda Na Karoon, Mehw-e-Gham-e-Dosh Rahoon?
Naal-e-Bulbul Ke Sunoon Aur Hamatan Gosh Rahoon?
Hamnawa Main Bhi Koi Gul Hoon Ke Khamosh Rahoon?
Jurr'at Aamoz Meri Taab-e-Sukhan Hai Mujhko!
Shikwa Allah Se Khakam Badhan Hai Mujhko!
(Muhammad Iqbal)

The first time, I ever heard a musical rendition by Tina Sani; of this beautiful piece of poetry by Iqbal and also the story behind it from a friend of mine, I instantly gravitated to read the whole text. Since I cannot not read Urdu, I read translations after translation, only to find myself getting attracted to this profound dialogue between the man and God.

I could relate. I felt betrayed after a series of accidents, a lot of debt, careers gone for a toss, family scattered, drinking sinking in me. I felt desolate. I felt deserted. The God that I believed in, had prayed to, for years, suddenly felt non-existent.

Iqbal seemed to be asking the same questions as I had, in different context though. Jawab – e- Shikwa seemed to be answering the questions the same way, as I answered my own. It sounded hollow, it sounded fake, it sounded incapable of providing me with the much needed solace.

It just wouldn’t get fixed, until last year. However, accept it or not, even when life wasn’t turning around, I was apparently constantly dropping pins all over; dots that I now seem to be connecting slowly. Life is slowly turning around and it seems that finally answers to my questions are coming through as well.

Over years, I have also realized that the ways to find answers to questions are varied, diverse and specific to each individual. For some answers come through meditation, for others through activity, for more through chanting, deity worship, astrology, art, science and what not. I still don’t know what helps me find my answers, it’s such a mess at times. As long as I find them though.

I have further realized that everything in this world must be questioned. If it is meant for you and if you ask the right questions, the answers will come. As I ask my questions, I hope you ask yours too and find answers to those questions that really matter.

And of course, in the meanwhile, here's the Tina Sani rendition that got me hooked to the beautiful verses above. Enjoy!

© Anupama 2016 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Latest Achievements and Projects

It is interesting how life has taken a turn in an unprecedented direction. This blog was originally meant to be a journal, then a place where I could collate all my writing as a central platform and now it seems to be that one space where I share with the world a summary of all those bits and pieces I keep sharing at all other places.

A lot of good changes have happened over the last few months. This post is meant to count blessings :)

  1. I managed to publish 3 books in the alternative lifestyle space. I am working on three more.
  2. I also managed to quit a full time job and sustain for six months while working on some extremely exciting projects.
  3. I continue to ghost write and build my writer portfolio, but I finally have a vision and a clear sense of direction.
  4. I am taking up a few new projects and once they reach their first milestone, I will love to share them with you all.
  5. Most importantly, I'm able to make a living through writing and also able to be with my loved ones. I am able to pick up my life where I left it almost a decade ago :)

A big thank you to all of you who have stood by my side in solidarity. A big love you to all those who've stayed on the fringes while still watching my back.

Do keep reading and sharing feedback. DO keep requesting for what you would like to read.

© Anupama 2016

Sunday, 8 May 2016

5 reasons a socio-culturally messed up nation like ours should not celebrate mother's day!

"Happy Mother's day Mom ! Is there a small gift I can give you today please?" 

My mom hugged me, smiled in my eyes and shook her head. Next I knew we were playfully bantering about how it should be me getting gifts for being her first child and thus causing her to be declared a mother once I was born. Dad, brothers, all of us busy teasing her. I digress, I will return to this at the end of the post again.

Later that night, I wondered if it really made sense? All this mother's day hullabaloo everywhere. I'm not going to go all fundamentalistic, only because I know I would be judged, but here are a few questions:

  • Indians celebrate two navratras and Durga Pujas. Do we really need an extra mother's day? Even symbolically, I feel more connected and more child - like to the divinity that a lot of us Hindus call 'Maa'. We have The Yashoda Ma, The Sita Mata, Mother Mary, Mata Parvati, Maa Saraswati. But we also have Maa Lakshmi, who does not have a mythological son. What does that indicate?
If not symbolically, what exactly is it that we do to feel entitled to celebrating Mother's day? We're socio-culturally messed up as a nation! I wonder if we even deserve to have mothers and if we do, then have we earned the right to call them parents. For those of us who ARE mothers ourselves, are we the mothers that deserve being called mothers?

I see facebook pages swarming with mother's day posts; I see various organizations with a mother's day theme, I see businesses trying to sell me pizzas, cakes, flowers, cards, food, clothes, interior decoration, health check ups and what not for my mother; I see friends flaunting how their kids cook for them. I mean serious ladies? A lot of us used to cook AT LEAST 3 days a month for the whole family in tier 3 cities, even if our moms did not let us cook the rest of the time.

Even beyond all this, I personally feel that as a community, a nation, a people, a society, we've lost the right to celebrate mothers and motherhood, here's why:

  • We do NOT WANT or DESERVE mothers to begin with.
With female foeticide and infanticide rates still on a high, do we really want mothers in our society? I mean keep killing potential mothers even before they are born, and then go around selling to me the concept of 'Happy Mother's Day'! And don't even get me started about mothers who abort their own girl children! Hypocrisy much???

  • We do not want to talk about how girls actually become mothers.
We do not talk about sex, periods, menstrual cycles and pregnancy. We do not prepare our girls to be mothers. We believe in - 'bachchha to time aane pe ho hi jayega'! With that sort of hypocrisy, a lot of women are not even prepared to be mothers. Forgive me, but no matter how happy motherhood maybe, unplanned, really?

  • We HAVE FAILED our mothers by our inability to provide proper maternal health.
Oh, I wish I didn't have to mention this one! There may be costly nursing homes, doctors, experts on prenatal, neonatal and postnatal care, but what percentage of women actually have an access to the maternal care before, during and after their pregnancy? Read a report here1 But so what? We're better than Pakistan! Yo baby!!!

If businesses had SOME shame, their products would be around cheaper sanitary napkins, easy access to medical facilities, provision of transportation in rural areas for pregnant women (do you hear the Ola and the Ubers of the world?) I don't think so. We claim we respect mothers? Like, really?

  • We discriminate against our mothers!
Oh yes! We do that all the time! I've seen caregiver discrimination of this form for so long. We want women to be machines producing babies, taking care of them AND performing the best at work. Yet, we continue to be prejudiced against working mothers.

Oh the child's skirt isn't the best pleated? 
"Iski maa ko naukri aur office se fursat mile tab to!"

There's food to cook, homework to finish, bag to pack, lunch to make AND a job to do.

Maa to Main hi hoon na!
And at office?
"Kya madam, apko itni chutti kyon chahiye? Abhi last fortnight to PTM tha na! "
"Please make sure we don't end up hiring someone who's planning pregnancy or is returning a short while after their maternity break!" (Internal hiring discussion)
"Oh you've just returned from your maternity break? Wonderful!". After 3 more rounds of interview - "Sorry, but the Ops manager has rejected. Better luck next time!" 

I mean woman, was your ops manager not capable of reading the CV when she'd applied?

  • Most heinously? We discriminate among our mothers!
Widow mother? - Bechari dukhiyari!
Divorced Mother?  - Pati ke saath rehti to bachchhe to nahi bigadte!
Single / Unmarried mother ? - Saali Besharam! (oh and do grind your teeth and grunt a bit when using this language)
A working mother ? Kya ghar ka dhyaan rakhti hogi yaar!
A woman who doesn't want to be a mother - irresponsible, selfish bitch!

I mean wow! Perhaps I'm pessimistic. I have loads of happy friends, happy to be mothers! All power to you ladies! However, a batch of 100 women I know isn't sufficient percentage for me to celebrate mother's day !

I told you I will return to my family banter again at the beginning of the post. Here's what happened...

Me: Dad, is it not hypocrisy to be celebrating mothers' day when we as a society are so messed up.
Dad (sigh): Unfortunately, yes it is.
Me : I am sorry mom, I took so much time to actually realize your value in my life. Now that I do, will you be happy if I still did not wish you a 'Happy Mother's Day!"
Mom (with a smile) : I'll be happier if you wish me after earning that right like you say. Go change the world, talk, write, do something. Do your bit and then come and wish me, I'll be happy!

With this thought, on this day - A Very Happy Mother's Day to All the Struggling Mothers out there! May you shine and May you help your sisters shine!

©Anupama Garg 2016, May