09 December 2014

'boys don't cry'

i was so happy to see this new #vogueempower ad on indian tv the other day, about changing the way boys are raised, in order to eliminate domestic violence. the ad goes through many situations in a young boy's life, where he is consistently told that 'boys don't cry'. it ends with him as a young man, trying to control his emotions while twisting his female partner's arm. 

the ad is a refreshing change for indian society. i have two boys, and i will admit that i am terrified of them growing up in this patriarchal society, where they are already being told that they shouldn't cry or freak out 'like girls', or shouldn't dress like girls or play with 'girly' toys. this is a society where violence against women is always prevalent, both physical and emotional. where swear words/phrases are largely gender discriminatory. where the phrase 'be a man' has overt sexual innuendo involved.

the ad also recalled another awesome video by always, on doing things 'like a girl'. that video is one we should all watch. seeing those little girls run, throw and punch made me feel so proud and sad at the same time. they were not doing these things 'like a girl', i,e. badly. they had so much confidence. and yet, this taunt will at some point come to haunt them.  the message at the end is simple: 
I mean, yes, I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl, and I walk like a girl, and I wake up in the morning like a girl because I am a girl. And that is not something that I should be ashamed of, so I'm going to do it, anyway.
i am glad that these videos exist, that some are even indian made, and i hope that by the time my boys are old enough to understand these films, the gender balance will have evened out more..

#microblogmondays

02 December 2014

to honour hearing


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” King, a great champion of nonviolence, wasn’t advocating rioting, but rather honoring hearing. 

Even long-suffering people will not suffer forever. Patience expires. The heart can be broken only so many times before peace is broken. And the absence of peace doesn’t predicate the presence of violence. It does, however, demand the troubling of the comfortable. When the voice goes unheard, sometimes it must be raised. Sometimes when calls for justice go unmet, feet must meet pavement. Sometimes when you are unseen, you can no longer remain seated. Sometimes you must stand and make a stand. 

No one of good character and conscience condones rioting or looting or any destruction of property. Those enterprises aren’t only criminal, they’re fruitless and counterproductive...

But people absolutely have a right to their feelings — including anger and frustration. Only the energies must be channeled into productive efforts aimed at delivering the changes desired. That is the hard work. That is where stamina is required. That is where the long game is played. 

As the old Negro spiritual proclaims: “Walk together children/Don’t you get weary/Oh, talk together children/Don’t you get weary.”
these words could describe violence and conflict almost anywhere in the world. they sound vaguely like all the statements and analyses and press releases that i work on at an asian human rights ngo. in fact, they are part of a piece about the reaction to the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer in missouri, usa. it was not the specifics of the case that struck me however, but these general words. 

to listen and to speak: both are important, and both must occur equally. and so we go on, working hard, playing the long game..

hugs


i miss hugs. adult, girly, i-know-where-you-are-coming-from hugs. toddler hugs and kisses are awesome, and definitely lessen all heart sores, but today when a friend sent me this adorable image, i felt the pang of missing girlfriends. all those friends i left behind, all those friends who have moved away.. all those hugs that i can no longer reach for.

technology is awesome. but at times, i want a real hug.

#microblog mondays

24 November 2014

introverts are cool II

the other day i stumbled upon a list of introvert quotes, my favourite of which was the following by susan cain:

“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

spot on awesomeness :) and it reminded me of an older post, when i first came across research on introverts and extroverts:
carl king has this awesome list of myths about introverts, based on a book 'the introvert advantage'. as he puts it, "I feel like someone has written an encyclopedia entry on a rare race of people to which I belong." most importantly, the book reveals that introverts are apparently people who are over-sensitive to dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. this is exactly how i feel about most social functions/engagements, and until now i thought t s eliot was the only one who understood:

"In our rhythm of earthly life we tire of light.
We are glad when the day ends, when the play ends; and ecstasy is too much pain."
introverts rock :)

#microblog mondays

21 November 2014

solitude and going for a drink/meal alone

i went to sit alone in a mcdonald’s the other day, while the twins were at playgroup. i ordered a coke and fries, enjoyed the air conditioning and solitude, wrote a few work emails and read the silkworm. it was awesome. while it is common in hk (and many other parts of the world i’m sure) for people to go to coffee shops/restaurants/parks (and many other places) alone, in india, it is weird, slightly scandalous. so in my four years here, i have never been to a coffee shop or restaurant alone. (thinking about it, i never even see people grocery shopping in supermarkets alone!! women even go to the market in pairs..) 

i so needed a break that day, and just wanted to get out of the house and sit with my kindle, alone. and the lift in our apartment had broken down, so i had a convenient ‘justification’ for not returning home in between dropping off twins and picking them up again. i was slightly apprehensive about doing this on my own, and initially i was the only one not part of a couple or group. within a short time however, two other women came and sat on the tables next to me, both on their own. one of them started making notes after finishing her meal, while the other was busy with her phone. it all seemed normal. not as strange as four years earlier perhaps. and the best part was that there were more women/girls there than men, which helped my comfort levels. i look forward to doing this more.. and venturing further afield (i used to go to the cinema alone in hk too. that might be a bit of a stretch here though..!). i can see myself walking in a park though.. well, certain parks at least :P 

17 November 2014

hindsight, wisdom and the law of repetition

"wisdom that isn't distilled in our own crucible can't help us" (the palace of illusions, chitra divakaruni)

how unfortunately true this is. and this is exactly why hindsight is so pointless as well. seriously, of what use is hindsight when i cannot go and change the past? we may like to think that we could avoid a recurrence, but that is largely wishful thinking. (borne out by the characters in palace of illusions. but all that karma, destiny and inevitability is for another post.)

i find myself increasingly thinking of my younger self these days, and wishing that i had not wasted so much time and energy on angst over a million trivialities. and yet, this does not stop me from doing the same today. i have less energy and time to waste, but still, i know that i spend too much time thinking, dwelling, feeling guilty..

perhaps it all comes back down to ben okri's law: "every experience is repeated or suffered until you experience it properly and fully the first time"

now if only someone would guide me through these experiences, H and i might stop having the same fights on a routine basis :P

#microblog mondays
 

13 November 2014

twins: 26 months

in the middle of being totally exasperating, m nudges me over in the thaal the other day, places his cheek next to mine and says, 'mama, i want to kiss you'. while telling him that he could kiss me after i finished eating, my heart was melting. this seems to occur on a daily basis these days -part fury, exasperation and part melting heart. or part laughter. sigh.

the twins are growing. they speak in sentences, they wear their shoes on their own, eat with their hands, wave goodbye and happily head off to playgroup. they also scream, run off at inopportune moments, explore totally unnecessary things and behave in public like they have just been released from a cage.

they have a new found love of slides, tunnels and playgrounds, which is wonderful to watch. they like riding their bike, playing with a ball, jumping and dancing atop their dad. they also want to do things on their own, particularly m, which gets quite frustrating for me, and them!!

i am terrified that one day all too soon, they will not need/want my hugs and cuddles, they will not wake up looking for me, they will not want to follow me around everywhere.