June 28, 2014

My 'Other' Happy Life..

Disclaimer : The characters are purely fictitious..

Tomorrow is our mortgage due date and it marks 5 months of my husband’s unemployment. I re-read the email stating my PF is already overdrawn. I know mummy can help again, but she will suspect something is wrong with Karan’s job. I really don’t want them to feel less of him and my choice.  I didn’t want to go home and start the conversation about how Karan had the opportunity for a foreign assignment last year and why I was the reason he didn’t take it.
My hands tapped on the favorite spot voluntarily. The Facebook app opened up.  I scrolled down to see yet another series of posts from my friends telling how happy they are in their lives. Everyday someone checks in at the ‘Eiffel Tour’ or some exotic resort. Everyone looks so happy in all the pictures. To stress on their happiness they post infinite number of emoticons. The only sad faces in the feed are when their favorite Soccer/ Cricket Team lose.  I looked again and again to see a face that resembles my state of mind. I viewed my profile. The most liked post was an ‘Aunty Acid’ post about marriage, “Marriage is the only war in which we sleep with the enemy“. The last time I updated my profile picture was when someone clicked a picture of me and Karan at our annual office party. My profile looks as dull as my life. A series of unanswered candy crush requests and ‘You viewed my Profile’
I scrolled again and to find one of my school mates is now the President of a reputed financial Institute. I still remember how he was de-promoted twice and I could feel a jealousy creeping inside my head. I feel more low every day after going through these happy achievements, baby pictures, vacations, restaurant checks ins, sexy selfies what not.  I fiddled around to find the deactivate button in Facebook.  But then someone gave me this motivational idea. I decided to be happy in this new world.  To show the world I am just as happy as everyone else. I took the first bold step. I posted my first very check in “Enjoying a relaxing dinner with my hubby at Taj-Malabar- Feeling loved”. Thank God Karan is not in Facebook. I closed my app and headed home with a sense of unknown happiness.
I woke up with couple of red notifications on my Facebook profile after a really long time. To my surprise my posted was liked by 13 people and have a handful of ‘aww’ &  ‘enjoy’ and ’ Stay blessed’ comments. I felt strangely motivated. I feel refreshed like I really had a relaxing dinner last night. I wanted something nice to work today. I decided to try a dress which I had kept aside to return. I didn’t bother to wake up Karan to ask if I look ok. I felt confident for some reason.  On the way, I noticed a group of school kids taking a ‘selfie’.  I was in the lobby and happened to see bright red roses.  I stopped by to try taking a selfie.  I was not sure how to do that camera angle,   was proud of myself to figure out my phone indeed had a front camera, and then I clicked. I could see my face and my dress and red roses on the background. I was happy with my first one. I headed to my desk feeling like a teen who was told by someone she looked pretty. At break, I decided to check Facebook again, I have likes from even friends I don’t remember being in my list. I felt I am now a member of the happiness club. I decided to post my selfie. To my surprise, within seconds, I started getting likes, my ex- boyfriends also in the list. I decided to be thankful to these likes and comments.This is a give and take world. I randomly started liking and commenting on my friends posts. My feed started getting more active, so did my profile. I started getting personalized messages; invitations to various closed groups, whatsapp messages form those ‘happy’ friends asking ‘Wassup’. I felt like the newly inducted babe in the club. I decided to update my pseudo life. I made sure I had a weekly post on how we ‘enjoyed’ some activity. I managed to find all the pictures of us together and started posting them. I even wanted to be happy with Karan in real life. I started talking to him about my friends and his friends and things we could do. Clearly he is perplexed at my changes. I started posting pictures of the ‘ordinary’ home food which looked fab in the Instagram. My likes and comments skyrocketed and I continued reciprocating those. I started molding my life into a series of posts.  My dress, my food habits, my shopping, get-togethers, I made sure those are Facebook worthy. I didn’t want any repeats on my pseudo life. What I missed, I gained in my other life.  I slept hoping for more notifications and I wake up excited to see those. I am nauseated in the happiness and attention I receive in my virtual world. I am addicted. To be happy and to hide what I am in my real life.  I wonder how many are like me in the real world. I wonder. ..Miles to go before I update my next post on Facebook.

March 6, 2014

Why I might say goodbye to Facebook..

As a self-proclaimed social media addict, Facebook was indeed a part of me. Like rest of the world, I was excited to post pictures, share my thoughts, updates and life events.  Facebooking was like the happy-hour at the end of the day. I used to look forward to open Facebook and see my friend’s walls, their pictures, fun videos they post, find long lost friends, read movie reviews, recipes and what not.  I even get to know world events even before I get a chance to read the news.
But like phase after the honeymoon, the bitter reality strikes.  I remember my mother telling me not to pay attention to certain things people post on the walls (I mean the actual walls and hoards back home). I guess it’s time for me to be prudent and filter out what I need and what I don’t want to read in the virtual walls of Facebook. With the entire generation on Facebook, friends ranging from your 8 year old niece to your 80 year old grandmother, it is difficult for me as a person to post something universally acceptable. I have to screen and sensor and even think about the consequences of the wide range of friends seeing what I have to say or what I promote. There is too much information to process. From a social media its now like being in a public chat.
This thought struck me after I started seeing a lot of political/ religious/ cult postings in Facebook.  The so called ‘Friends’ promoting their religious beliefs on their wall, feeding these posts on the ‘trend’, ‘Friends’ promoting their political beliefs, fighting on the ’walls’ in support of their individual political beliefs.  A very unhealthy religious promotion is happening in this virtual world of FB. A competitive and dangerous tone is seen in many posts and people who share it fails to understand that simply by clicking a ‘share’ they are being judged and assessed by people like on their interests, beliefs and even their outlook in life.  I was shocked to see this ‘other’ side of people. I even wanted to remove a few from my list not to come across certain foolish postings on my FEED.
Interestingly, if you take my FEED for this week, the most discussed things among my friends are
•         Aravind Kejriwal – AAP People promoting this, people tarnishing them.
•         Narendra Modi- Modi Fans, Modi Haters
•         Amritanandamayi – Exposers and supporters
•         Film Gossips-Celebrity Private lives, divorces, breakups
To all those people who are in this heated discussion on Indian politics, be it be AAP Fans, BJP Fans, Congress Fans or the ‘X’ party Fans, How many of you have actually voted even once? How many of you are planning to vote for these upcoming UPA elections. When I took a survey of my friends who regularly post promoting their political ideology, I realized that most of them live outside India. I myself has never casted a vote in my home country.   Can they really get their feet dirty and go to India and promote what they believe rather than sitting at the comfort of their homes and posting stuff on Facebook at the cost of their Wi-Fi connection? You can have a political opinion, freedom of expression, but can’t we just confine it to separate groups for such discussions?
Coming to religious beliefs - I really don’t know where to start. From atheists to extremists to moderates, everyone is fighting hard to mock at each other.  All the religions teach us acceptance, patience and tolerance. I am disappointed to see people my age bluntly post such derogatory comments without a proper understanding or research on their own belief.
If you really want to have a good laugh, you should read how common people advice the celebrities on their personal choices. I have been following this Actress who is believed to be separated from her husband. I was ashamed to read the comments of certain male chauvinist. People advising her to do with her life, how to be a good wife and even cursing her decision to come back to films just because there is a rumor she is separated from her husband.  I was so curious to know what people comment on her husband’s Fan page. Surprisingly except for a few comments, his page doesn’t have anybody advising him on his decision to separate. I found this very interesting. How much ever we consider us to be educated, there is always a stigma for the woman when a separation happens, but not for the man. Having said that do people really think, these celebrities are going to read these comments and take advice from you? Seriously?
I think it’s time for a transition. I am still in Facebook for my own reasons. I want to know where my friends are, see the happy things they do in life, share their happiness. But I doubt I will be able to filter what I want to see and what I don’t want to see. May be I should just remain a silent spectator. See the world go by and even see the demise of this giant empire of social media.

August 21, 2013

Ashamed!



I am ashamed after reading this. But if not for an incident last year, I would have thought isn't all this a bit exaggerated?
Like any other woman, I lose my wits reading about the rapes and atrocities happening to women in my country. But then those feelings are short lived and I move on as if it’s something happening in some corner of the world which wouldn’t affect me. I sometimes wonder how the so called society be so wrong.  It’s not only about India, but we find rapes and kidnapping of women happening all around the world. I confine my sympathies and those few minutes of agony to myself. I was selfish thinking I am safe and this will not happen to me.
But one day changed it all. Last year on my trip to India, I decided to head to Bangalore in an overnight bus. I have been travelling alone since I was 18. I have lived in three different countries and mostly did all the travel myself. So a 10 hour Bangalore trip was not a big deal. To my surprise I saw the bus was empty. Besides me there were just 4 men and 2 bus staff. I thought more people might board in the next major stops. I was a bit taken back when the bus cleaner announced to everyone that there is only one lady travelling in the bus. My heart started racing and started taking the occasional pushing from the ‘Uncle’ sitting behind me. Since I am a bit over imaginative, I told myself not to freak out and just concentrate on what I was reading. Then came the real freaky part. Whenever there was a romantic scene in the movie which was playing in the bus, I could feel more intense pushes on my seat. Then later I could actually feel some slimy thing on my back, I jolted and tried running my fingers in the seat to check what it was. It was not a cockroach or a rat, it was a human feet. I just couldn't believe it. I looked at that uncle in shock and words were not coming out. I thought he might just withdraw his legs or apologize. But nothing. He was staring at the TV. I wanted to yell at him. Wanted to shout at him! Twist his bloody head! But I just couldn't utter a word. I was a helpless girl there. I had to take a moment and think if such a yelling might put me in more danger. I even started imaging the other people in the bus might be even more evil than this man.
Till that day I believed, I was a smart and bold lady who could react to such situations. My mouth was dry, all I could do was change my seat to the next one and keep all the bags I had behind me so as to shield any such flesh hitting or poking me. My next fear was about the other 4 men in the bus. Will they do something to me in the bus? I checked my phone, it didn’t have range either. All I could do was not wait and keep praying! I realized how crippled I was in a situation like this. If I had stood up and complained to the driver, what is the guarantee he is a nice person?

I did not sleep at all. I got outside the bus and wanted to talk to this monster. Before I could give a piece of my mind, he just vanished in thin air.  I was happy to see my cousin at the station. I didn’t know what to tell them. I could still feel those nasty fingers on my back. I still remember that man’s face. He would have been my father’s age. I wonder if he had a daughter my age. Will he let her go through such a situation? How would he have reacted? Is he a loving dad at home? What will his daughter feel if she ever comes to know about this? I keep thinking. I know most of us who live/ lived in India have much horrible stories to share. I don’t think I will have the guts to take an overnight bus in India again. 

March 27, 2013

Letter to My Amma

Note : This is a very personal note of mine. I contemplated whether it would be right on my part to publish this in an open space like this. But I thought maybe for those people out there who take their parents for granted should stop their busy independent lives for a moment and appreciate what they have with them. I was one of those unfortunate ones who never got a chance to appreciate the worth of my dear Mother. But I  hope you are not one like me. I always thought the hugs and sweet words was not a necessity and they are just phony ways. But today I realise maybe I was wrong.


Dear Amma
I know I cannot begin this letter with those clich├ęd questions asking how you are doing and hoping you are doing good out there. I sincerely don’t know why I decided to write this letter to you, but suddenly yesterday night I wanted myself to know how much change 7 years has brought in me.
Everyone tells me that you are watching me every day and you still take care of me like you used to. If it’s true, then you must be happy to see me married to someone who you would love more than me , which would have made me so jealous and kept me complaining that you are partial to him. Balu is like those students of yours who you always talked about at home, hardworking, research oriented and at the same time very much a family guy. He is so like you in many ways and I find it hard to keep up with his optimism and finding happiness in small things which is what you tried to instill in me. I should admit that I was attracted to him for the qualities you liked in a person much more than I liked.
I am embarrassed to admit that I still call him ‘Amma’ when I wake up in the morning because even after 7 years I still feel that you are the one sharing my bed. I still sleep talk, cry and kick in my sleep and Balu is also finding it difficult like you used to.
You should be happy to know that I have gained around 6 kgs since you last saw me. Unlike past, I eat better quantities and you should be proud to hear that I eat almost everything I hated then; especially the vegetables. Today I realize  how wrong I was wasting all the food you used to make for me and fighting with you almost every day for wasting all the homemade food. After you left, I craved for your cooking and started appreciating all food. Ever since I started cooking, I realized how hurt you must have felt seeing me waste the precious food you used to make after your tiring day at work. I am really sorry for giving you a hard time at home.
I still remember the days when I hated attending Guitar classes and you used to drive me saying I would appreciate learning an instrument someday later. I really regret not having taken your words seriously and today I realize what a loss of opportunity it was. Even after being a single parent you gave me lot of opportunities to learn and advance and I think I did not appreciate it then. But now I realize how hard it must have been for you raising me and working full time. Though I must have ignored your advices then, I try to instill me in those things you wanted to see in me. Better late than never.
As promised to you, I have never colored my hair. I can think of only very few promises you wanted from me and I am really proud that even after seeing this generation kids, you gave me all the freedom, facilities and opportunities which I am really proud of. I am really happy that you celebrated my 19 birthdays and never ever deprived me of a birthday fun. I still am lazy to wake up early in the morning and I remember those incentive plan you made if I get up early and study.
Balu’s mother (I call her Amma) is like you in many ways. She also talks a lot and has so many friends like you. I am sure you must have been good friends. I did go to the church in Kollam where we used to throw coins when we go in train. It was really nice to go around the places where you spent your childhood. I used to make fun of you when you used to talk nonstop about Kollam. But today I do the same about Calicut.
I should admit that I realized your values much late in my life and I never appreciated even once or cared to give you a hug and say how much I love you. Almost every day you are in my dream and I dreamed a zillion times that you came back to my life. I hope I find a good career soon and make you proud of the education you gave me.
Sometimes I wish you are just a call away and you hear all my complaints I have to tell you. I really miss gossiping with you and watching all those Hindi serials together. I am only happy for one thing. I didn't have to leave you behind alone after I got married. But as days passes, I realize how nice it would have been to have you in my life once again and share those beautiful moments together. I know how much you wanted to be a mother to my husband and a grandmother to my kids. I shall miss you in every walk of my Life. I am really grateful to the new people I have in my life and also the ones who we had in our life for trying hard to keep me always happy like you wanted to see me. I miss you Amma!!

February 22, 2013

What you can DO on a H-4.

The word H-4 might be a dream and at the same time a nightmare for many. For those who is not aware of the term H-4, this is the visa category  for all those dependents who come on H1-B ( Work visa in US). There is another work visa called L1 and L2 ( Spouse). But there is something really special about H-4.Unlike L-2, you are going to be crippled and be forced to stay at home for an infinite period till your better half gets his Green card approved, which would take an average of 4 years.
Many of us leave a promising career and pack our bag to US with our spouses thinking the journey will be exciting in the land of opportunities. Little do we know we are going to be in a very tricky situation in future.
I have heard many assuring their wives about finding better jobs in US forcing them to resign their jobs. But here are some facts you should keep in your mind before making such important decisions
  1. You CANNOT work on your H-4 Visa. Can start working only after you find a company who can sponsor a H1-B visa for you.
  2. It is really difficult to find a job that will be ready to sponsor you. For eg : Assuming you find a job in Jan-2013, You will have to wait till April to file your visa and you can start working only in Oct-13.
  3. You can enroll for a masters degree. But if already have a masters or a PhD, then going back to school might be a difficult option.
  4. You cannot take up any kind of job which would earn you a salary. You cannot even do an Internship.
  5. You can DO Volunteering. But you can do only in a Non Profit Organization and also those kind of volunteering that the institution would normally hire a full time or part-time employee.Which literally means we do not have many options even for a volunteer work.
  6. You can apply for a Driving License. This is the only attractive thing I could put here apart from the option to study.
  7. If you are in IT field, there are many agencies willing to employ you illegally and later give u a H-1. ( Which is a very dangerous thing to do ).
  8. Attend social clubs, learn dance music or any kind of art.
So now you must be frowning thinking what do all those people do there on a H-4? Well, the majority enroll in a university for higher education and change their visa status so that they find a job after their graduation. For those like me who already has a masters and is not mentally ready to do a PhD this is what I do which I hate to admit :(
  • Keep applying for jobs like a wild goose chase
  • Watch TV, Read books
  • Cook, Cook and make your husband happy
  • Crib, cry and complain about not having a job and make your husband sad.
  • Volunteer in those agencies which is ready to accept you with your visa status
  • Look outside to see the piling snow and realise you cant even go out for a walk.
  • Write blogs and help others make a wise decision before they pack their bags. ( I am not asking anyone not to accompany your husbands. But if you are coming here for a short assignment,Please do not resign your job).
  • Enhance all your hobbies and do everything you wanted to do when you wished you had some spare time.
  • Learn new languages.
My intention was not to demotivate anyone to come here, But to give a heads up on your life here. Having said that many have been successful in a finding a good career, exploring their hidden skills. I myself have seen many come up with innovative blogs on cooking, art and many more. Good Luck to all those on a H-4 here. Hope we break our handcuffs soon.


February 14, 2013

Back!!

Hey I am back after a long break. I realized I write decent when I am depressed and I fail to deliver when I am normal ;).
I just wanted an ice breaker. So here goes one .Excuse my terrible writing, I am having the worst word block ever!!!!

Facebook has become a part of out life. Mostly I even get to hear flash news through FB posts. I am connected to 1023 people everyday, I am following their personal and professional life closely. But when I realized the same 1023 people are following me, It was a bit scary. I do wish a privacy, so I try not to use 'Check ins' , frequent status updates and even bring a control on who can view the pictures I post.
When u buy a product,when you eat out, when you stay somewhere all that I say these days are 'Please like us on Facebook'. Again if I do that the 1023 so called friends are intruding into my privacy. I am not a celebrity whose day to day activities would be any interest to anyone, But still when I see the FEED with people liking stuff I know this is how I people judge me!

Unlike past today I know where my friends are,who are doing what, even when I moved a new place all that  I did was search for friends nearby in Facebook.Yes I am definitely on advantage when it comes to networking because of social medias. But I should admit that I have been agitated on various occasions reading posts about religious beliefs, post supporting their religion, post preaching their religion and then a bunch of atheists mocking at all this (My husband is one among them who is a very enthusiastic atheist who always reads and posts about atheism ).But when u are ready to accept friends from other religion and having brought up in a secular country I dont understand why would anyone use this 'Social' media to discuss our beliefs. I understand that FB is reaching out more people than Television, but do we actually need to promote religious beliefs or your personal religious practices when there are many around who believes in something else. I believe if they do why not just make it visible to your personal group. to an extend its not the friendship which is celebrated here. Its is a kind of competition. In my personal opinion if you call yourself someone who tolerates all the beliefs, then please avoid such postings and discussions.
 
I hope to get over my writing block soon :) and oh yeah Happy 'Love' day people!!

July 4, 2012

Power of being a Woman

I  always underestimated my powers.Right from childhood,I just wished hard I was a boy not a girl.I was not very friendly with the male community and I remember having lot of fights with my boy classmates just because I always thought that the entire male community was so arrogant and spiteful.Thanks to my father who left me at the age of 6 in pursuit of independence.
I don't call myself a Feminist,because I never believed in the 'feminine' self of mine,but right from childhood I was curious about the injustice by nature and society on the female community.When I was in 3 grade,I remember asking my History teacher why we always learnt about 'early men' and not about 'early woman' in textbooks.
As I grew up,I began to realize my boundaries,my constraints and my limited physical strength.I used to curse being a woman during the celebration of womanhood and still consider the monthly painful torture to be a very prejudiced selection by Mother Nature.I never enjoyed dressing up,trying to look beautiful rather always had an inferiority complex of being an average looking petite being. But then beauty is not what I could tune into my strength.My versatility in conversation skills,my ability to connect with people made me happy.I enjoyed the people near me.I enjoyed being in company and talk endlessly on anything under sun.Conversations,friendships,sharing life stories,traveling,tasting cuisines and above all trying to start a conversation with any person I meet gave me a lot of Power.A power to understand me,my threshold and above all the versatility I had.I owe most of it to my womanhood,my genes and the so called tiny little things in my brain which now makes me a proud woman.
After a Gap of 20 years I started living with a man under the same roof.Contrary to my imaginations and the advice from experienced hands,the transition from an independent career oriented girl to a home maker was easy.Thanks to my laziness I could easily blend in and start enjoying the fact that I could get to sleep for another 2 hours after my husband leaves for work.
I am someone who hates to sit idle,not even enjoy reading books for a long time.I get suffocated seeing the echoing walls around me from morning till evening laughing at my misery of stuck at home cooking and cleaning,But I should say the womanhood is really powerful,After the initial panic attacks you tend to learn to keep yourself happy.You walk around and find stuff to do,You look at yourself and feel content for nothing at all.You learn to be happy on the success of your partner though you might be really jealous at your unmarried friend who is having a good career.You tend to take the power of the house,make yourself believe you are going to take the lead in this family.You take care of your husband and his family with a belief you are the bond that keeps it strong.When you see your husband addicted to laptop and movies you shout at him for no reason trying to make him realize the sacrifices you did or you are doing adapting to the new environment.You are the one who remembers stuff,co-ordinates things,assures the loved one,welcoming and hosting loved ones with a smile and above all believes that whatever hardships you bear is just those tiny bumps on the long smooth road to happiness and being content.My Best friend left her job to takecare of her baby just because,she doesnt want to miss watching her angel grow up.
Tomorrow I might be having a very busy career,But I am sure the woman in me would balance the homemaker and the career with right blend of confidence and power that I will always be proud of myself.But like the saying I always believed 'Strength is a virtue always admired,never desired' .


NB: For those of my readers who might think I am happy with being a homemaker,You are wrong,I am so desperate to start working :D