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Posted in confusion, head and heart, love, movies

We accept the love we think we deserve

Sam: Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we’re nothing?
Charlie: We accept the love we think we deserve.

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How many times have you asked yourself, why do I always end up with the wrong guy? Every one of us, at some point or the other, has settled for someone. We reason out with ourselves, count the positive traits of the person, hope to change the annoying ones and most importantly, fear that we wont find anyone else. It probably is also the fear of being alone that makes us chose the wrong person. Sometimes, we think ” may be I have set my standards too high ,I should go out with this person and who knows, I might end up liking him/her”.

It doesn’t quite work that way, does it?

Initially we accept the differences and adjust but very soon we start cursing ourselves for taking the wrong decision and try hard to change the person we are with- to make him/her someone, we feel, will be a better match for us. In the start, to keep us happy, they always listen but soon they give up pretending to be someone they are not. (Which, I think, is only fair.)

All that’s left then are two unhappy people in a sad relationship. Sometimes, by the time we realize this, the person is so deep seated in our lives that breaking up becomes extremely difficult- not the process itself but because we think it would be a great deal of pain to break the routine of being with them and because of the thought that the next person we go out with might be even worse… Once a girl I know had said,” I want to break up but I don’t think I’m ready to find someone new and put all the effort to get into the comfort zone I’m in now with my current boyfriend.” I had flashed her my been-there-done-that smile…

Last night, when I heard the quote above in Perks of being a Wallflower, I released that is the answer to all our doubts and confusion. We accept the love we think we deserve. When we doubt our worth and what we deserve, it’s easy to end up with a person just because he/she is willing to be with us (in the fear that we might not be good enough for anyone else or we might not find anyone better in the near future). Definitely not the right reasons to be with someone…

That doesn’t mean we should go back to fantasizing about the “perfect” people from the chick-flicks (or about Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey!). Thanks to Disney and all the Romantic Comedies we start making images of the perfect man who’ll ‘come and sweep us off our feet’ from a very early age. Right from high school, we decide on our “type” and wait for someone like Landon Carter ( from A Walk to Remember)  to come and solve all our problems and give us “endless happiness”.  When we don’t see that happening, we panic and that’s when we start taking the wrong decisions. If you do find your prince charming in real life, you are probably one of the very few lucky people. For the rest of us, then starts the weighing of options, categorisation of ourselves into a “league” (so as to decide if the next person we meet is in or out of it) and realisation of the fact that perfect people exist only in fiction. It often becomes very difficult to understand if we are expecting too much or if we indeed deserve more. This is the part that we need to figure out ourselves. No one else, even parents and best friends, with our best interests in their hearts, will be able to help us with this. This is when we need to clear our heads of the fairy tales and think hard about ourselves and what kind of person would compliment our nature and make us happy.

So the first step to finding the right person for us is to know our own selves. Everything else should then fall in place.

(This article was published in For Any Woman (a digital magazine in the UK) in their July/August Issue. www.foranywoman.com)

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Posted in travel

Crocodile Bank

Yesterday marked 3 months of my officially moving to Chennai and with the husband being a little less busy than usual we decided to make a short trip to the crocodile bank near Mahabalipuram.

Surviving on a meager income from low-cost entry tickets, the crocodile bank seems to be making just enough to stay afloat. The place doesn’t get the amount of attention it rightfully deserves. Even though a board inside the premises showed that they have received donations from a number of organisations but with ticket prices as low as Rs. 50 per person, I’m sure they are not left with much after feeding the reptiles, to promote themselves and increase footfall. Although to be fair, we spotted a couple of freshly painted “selfie walls”, so, clearly they are starting to think about ways to get the attention of the youth.

Anyway, so as we entered, to our left there was a passage leading to a chamber where according to the board outside, were several venomous snakes ready for venom extraction in front of viewers. Entry fee Rs.10! So, we got our tickets and went in to see an area the size of a big room with a waist-high wall around it, full of earthen pots with their tops tight shut with pieces of cloth. There were three men inside the structure – two of them getting the snakes ready for the aforementioned act and one telling the audience the purpose of the exercise. I was happy to note that he was also debunking myths about snakes that a lot of people have come to believe from watching films (because what better source to get your information from than movies, aye?)

We were quite happy to learn that the men handling the snakes are members of the Irula tribe – the snake-catching tribe from Tamil Nadu. To combat the shortage of antivenom serum available in our country, a co-operative was formed with these men which led to the setting up this system of them capturing snakes, bringing them to the Crocodile Bank to extract venom from and supply it to the laboratories for antivenom production. After three extractions, the snakes are released back into the forest to ensure sustainability.

After watching venom extraction from three snakes, we moved on to watch the crocodiles. It was a pleasant surprise to see so many of them and how well the enclosures were maintained. It is obvious that the people in charge are really passionate about the place. We learned about and observed not just several different kinds of crocodiles and alligators but also some turtles and Komodo dragons!

I was rather disappointed that we couldn’t spot Jaws – the 17-feet long star crocodile of Crocodile Bank, as he had decided to not venture out of the small lake in his enclosure, but given how exceptionally hot the day was, I don’t really blame him.

At the end of it, we decided to grab a quick lunch and head to Mahabalipuram for a beer on the beach. Before heading to the beach, we decided to look around the ruins and did a bit of climbing on the boulders near Krishna’s Butterball.

However, we had to cancel our beer on the beach plan when a friend called to say they are coming over to our place. But I’m sure we’ll be going back to Mahabalipuram pretty soon for that beer!

Below are two of my favourite photos from the day –

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and

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The second one reminded me of this meme 😀

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Dirty 30

When I was at uni, I had a clear vision of the timeline of my life. Kickass job and a doting boyfriend by 25 followed by years of traveling around the world and making new friends. By the time I would reach the ripe old age of 30, I’d have bought a house, making a truckload of money, have set foot on all the 7 continents, and maybe have a daughter!

I turned 30 this week and I have utterly failed the 22-year-old me. I have achieved none of the things I had on my list.

We have all heard (and learned to believe) how age is just a number and you are only as old as you feel, but when you are crossing over to the other side of 30, it dawns on you that you’ll never be 20 something ever again. For a birthday, it doesn’t feel much different from 29 (and I’m guessing 31 too) but the knowledge that you will never be a vicenarian is what triggers the meltdown. At least that’s what happened in my case.

As you go on the wrong other side of 25 you start realising that your body has suddenly stopped behaving the way it once did – it takes you longer to recover from a night of revelry and you start imagining being curled up in bed during a night out that goes past midnight – among many other such small little things that you learn to accept as a part of adult life.

As I inched towards the end of my 29th year of existence, I started having thoughts about my impending mortality, or rather the slow decline of health that I should now expect. I started thinking about how our time is running out and we must try and cram as much as we can in the coming years. I couldn’t help feel this extreme sadness (nostalgia + longing + grief(?)) about the years that have gone by. It was this nagging illogical emotion that won’t listen to any reasoning.

On my birthday I tried to avoid calls and msgs in an attempt to not be reminded that I’ve just turned 30. Yeah, not a great plan. But I just wanted to put a pause on all these thoughts about the fleeting nature of things for a little while. Speaking to people would only make it more real.

I’m only just starting to feel okay about the whole deal and beginning to accept that *maybe* this heavy feeling won’t go away, I just have to make my peace with it and find a way to be better for it.

Maybe I should use this as a reminder that the clock is ticking and I must appreciate the people around me more, consciously make an effort to do more fulfilling activities, and try to be more mindfully happy every single day – instead of just idly letting the days pass by – because I’m pretty sure in the blink of an eye, 40 will be upon me.

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‘To msg or to keep swiping’ is the new ‘To Be or Not to Be’

It was 2 am on a Wednesday night. I was on FaceTme with a friend ranting about my hectic week. Our daily calls are pretty much always during ungodly hours given the fact that he lives right on the other side of the world and our waking hours overlap for only about 30 minutes each day.

On this day I was ranting about how I’m sleep deprived and always exhausted when he cuts in – download Tinder.

Me: What?
M: Download Tinder and meet new people. You have not been going on dates for a while now.
Me: It’s a hook up app. I’m not looking for flings.
M: It’s what you make of it. Download it and give it a chance.
Me: No. It’s scary. What if I match with a serial killer? What if I get kidnapped? What if I get killed?
M: Just chat with them, don’t meet them till you feel sure that they are not serial killers. And then meet them for coffee in broad daylight. We are not as bad as you girls think we are. Just download it already.

So, I did.

I lasted all 3 days on the app and below are some of the many thoughts I had while being on it.

– It reduces you to 5 images and 500 words. Definitely not enough to know if you would enjoy an evening with someone.

– It’s like a mindless fun game that is strangely addictive.

– If a guy is too hot, my instant reaction was to cross him out. Somehow we/ I have learned to believe that super attractive guys are very likely to be players. Generalisation and judgment galore, yes – but stereotypes form for a reason and I was not willing to go out and find out who’s an exception.

– I realised if a person only had selfies in their images, it was somehow a turn off for me. Self-love is great, narcissism, not so much.

– I took an instant liking to founders/ co-founders/ self-employed and people who seem to be playing some musical instrument in their photos!

– I was instinctively being very observant of the backgrounds in the photos, sometimes even more than the subject himself. I wanted to see his living space or the kind of place he hangs out at.

– What if I were a lesbian? Why was Tinder not showing me any female profiles?

– I didn’t quite like the idea of being shown who our mutual friends are on Facebook. I do realise this can be a handy feature in certain contexts, but I was not too keen on it.

– Gym selfies got the quickest left swipe.

– I swiped left just out of habit a few times – more like my thumb was in the momentum of left swiping and my eyes were working slower than my thumb – and you can’t go back unless you pay for a price plan.

– I SUPER LIKED SOMEONE BY MISTAKE. -_- I CANT EVEN TINDER CORRECTLY.
Thank God there is a way to ‘unmatch’. I could finally breathe again…but then I started feeling really bad. The guy must have been excited to see a notification that someone had super liked him, only to open the app to find that the super-liker had changed their mind. (Sorry, random Tinder guy, my thumb is to be blamed, it got lazy and hit the blue star by mistake.) 😦

And then, I got bored of the app and deleted it.

PS: I’m going to order my crazy-cat-lady-kit later on today.

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Just Keep Swimming

I’m just going to ramble about life in this post. If you are not feeling particularly philosophical right now, this is your chance to escape and waste your time elsewhere on the internet.

So… after a journey from hell, when I finally landed in Mumbai last weekend, it was a relief to have a close high school friend, Gitangshu, meet me there and we spent hours just talking about life and how we can better arm ourselves against disappoints. It taught me 2 things:
1) I enjoy these sessions far more than any other ways of “chilling out” with friends.
2) You are going to be very disappointed if you try to look for sense or justice in life.

The first confused, sad, and lonely phase for most people occur during their mid-adolescence. For me, it came quite late. When I was around 25, I started getting the feeling that I was losing control over my life.

Before you step into adult life after college or university, your life is pretty much on the beaten track – primary school, high school, college, and then uni – you feel like you are at the wheel of your life. No wonder I used to walk around with an “I’ve got this figured out” air, but once I was out of university and at the end of my first job contract, I realised life does’t give two hoots about my plans.

I was struggling to find my next job, I did not know whether I wanted to go back to India or stay in England, I had a fall out with my best friend, and where the hell was the charming and funny boyfriend I thought I would have by then? So, with life feeling like sand between my fingers (sorry, cliche, I know, but that really would be the best way to put it), I was starting to feel helpless as this felt vey very scary – not knowing what to do, not knowing where I was headed.

Then eventually things changed and they started looking up. I got a great job, moved into a beautiful apartment in a picture postcard town, sorted things out with my best friend and started going out with someone. And just when I thought my life was back on track … BAM… another of those depressing phases was upon me. Issues with the Home Office (UKBA), grandmum losing mobility, grandad getting Alzheimer’s, having to quit my job, and a few other awful things happened in a very quick succession and pushed me back into depression.

I started wondering if this was the Universe’s way of balancing things out: super high followed by super low, in a loop. It might have been a good enough coping mechanism but it was doing no good to prepare me for what was to come.

Looking back, I can’t remember when but I started reading a lot about life and soul and the meaning of life and every article seemed to say that life doesn’t make sense because we think it has to make sense.

During the past year, while coping with deaths in the family, I realised why people become exceedingly religious at difficult times. It is indeed much easier to tell yourself that someone up there is looking out for you and he/she has a plan for you and is only testing you now and very soon you will be given the gift of eternal happiness. Being a spiritual rather than religious person, I am quite skeptical about accepting that but I must say that if it helps you through tough times, by all means, go with it – because in the end what matters is the fact that you made it through it.

During our conversation that evening, Gitangshu and I agreed that life makes zero sense and we should really stop trying to make any sense of it anyway. What we need to do is remind ourselves that times change – good or bad – they will never remain constant and the quicker we adapt to it, the better it is for our sanity. He also taught me a very good way to deal with anxiety and a trick to heal heartbreaks (but that’s a story for another post).

He said he has stopped believing that everything happens for our own good but does still believe that everything happens for a reason and we get to know that only looking back later on in life.

So, there, that’s my two cents on living: just go with the flow or like Dory says, “Just keep swimming…”

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Finding the perfect lemon

This morning I went to the supermarket to get some vegetables and miscellaneous grocery stuff. I must have looked really clueless standing on the vegetable isle as an elderly man looked at me with pitiful eyes and said, “Don’t take the ones that are bruised. Look for perfect yellow skin with no brown stains. The green ones wont have any juice. They are ‘kacchcha’“. He was describing to me which lemons I should pick from the massive pile laid in front of us.

I put down the pair I had casually scooped out to put in my basket and started looking for a few that would match his description. But it was no mean feat- every time I thought I’d found one flawless lemon, the last turn showed a brown scar which made my shopping mentor shake his head in disapproval. After a while, he joined the search and realising the supermarket may have run out of flawless lemons on this fateful day, offered me 4 lemons out of the 8 he had carefully picked for himself. I refused to take them saying, he must have taken them because he needed them. But he insisted he’ll come back tomorrow and look for more perfect lemons – 4 would be ok for him today. I thanked him about a zillion times as I took them and put them in my basket and we went different ways to finish our shopping.

It was only a small act of kindness and for something as unimpressive as lemons but it did go a long way to make me feel welcome in Bangalore. It felt like a sign that I will probably not have much trouble fitting in. It confirmed my notion that people in the south are very hospitable and generous. He also reminded me of my grandfather. With a dot on his forehead from some religious ceremony and lungi clad medium stature and skinny frame, physically he was very different from my grandfather but his kind gesture was what made them alike. For a brief moment it felt like I was spending time with grandad like when he used to show me how to plant different kinds of flower plants in our farm house.

I came home and started making myself a sprouts salad- I was starving. As I held a lemon between the knife and my fingers, they felt special. Handpicked after careful scrutiny through the thick glasses of an elderly gentleman who decided to give his prized selection to a clueless girl in the supermarket.

Day 1 in Bangalore, sure gave me the warm fuzzy feels.

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One year just flew by

This time last year, I was sitting in our Kolkata flat, deciding on what I should pack for the 7-day trip (starting the next day) to Noida to see my brother. It would be a good distraction from everything that was going on for the last few weeks and it would be so good to see my brother again after so many months – we could plan some trips to nearby touristy places and try to feel normal again.

The next day I would wake up, make myself a big bowl of muesli and start packing clothes into my suitcase with my favourite Christmas song “Christmas Wrapping” playing in the background (and of course me singing along) when I would get a phone call that will turn my world topsy turvy.

It was a call from my aunt asking me to come home as soon as possible and that could mean only one thing – after being comatose and hooked up to life support machines for three weeks my grandad had finally lost the battle.

Three weeks before that fateful day I was watching Hang Over Part III on the telly after work, when I got a call from my uncle saying grandad had a stroke and was in the hospital. That was the first time I experienced what we watch in movies- how our brain shuts out everything else in a situation like this – it felt like, someone had turned down the volume of everything around me- there was a ringing silence and even my uncle’s voice on the phone sounded like it was coming from a distance. All I could feel was my heart pounding so loud that it could probably be heard on the other side of the phone too. But he reminded me that grandad had survived a couple of strokes before and every single time, he recovered with no visible or permanent negative effects from them. Remembering that made me feel a bit better , and by the time he hung up, I was feeling much better and in fact, I even finished watching the movie, albeit with a heavy heart and a nagging feeling in my mind.

On 2nd December 2014, around mid morning, after that call from my aunt, I was in an airport bound taxi checking available flights on my phone. Not being able to get one of those would mean not being able to say my final goodbye – as, in our religion we are cremated within a few hours after death.

To give an idea about the distance between my hometown where my family lives, and Kolkata where I was on that day: it takes at least 15 hours by train to cover the 680 kms. If I was to take a one-hour flight to the closest airport city, it would still take me another 4 hours by car to get to Cooch Behar – the banes of living in a massive country.

Thankfully I did manage to get a last minute flight and I had a car waiting for me at the airport (thanks to my uncle) which took me home. I got to spend only a couple of minuets with grandad before he was taken away. His hand felt cold and unfamiliar already. With the problem of being able to get home on time taken care of, the magnitude of the situation was finally hitting me. I had not allowed myself to grieve on the way as I needed to keep my head and analytical thinking goes out of the window when your brain gives in to sadness.

It’ll be one year tomorrow since that incident and not a day has gone by when I have not thought about him or felt a knot in the pit of my stomach when I would go to bed each day thinking “He’s really gone – I’m never going to see him again.”

We are all alone in the world – alone to fight our battles, fight our demons and face the world which – let’s be honest- is not very kind most of the times. However, thankfully, we all have a handful of people who would be willing to go any lengths for us. Just knowing that there is someone with unconditional love in their heart for us, is a source of strength in itself. And when you lose a person like that forever, you feel even more lonely.

I can’t say that I feel him around me and I can’t bring myself to believe that he’s watching over and protecting me, but every single day I feel grateful that I had him in my life for so long – and most importantly I’m grateful that he led a virtuous life that inspires us every single day to selflessly do good for people.

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“So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish”

So, I recently read (only about a quarter of the book, if I’m honest) Douglas Adams ‘s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I must say it’s a little too random for me and I found it impossible to sit through the whole thing. Embarrassed for not having managed to like this super popular book, I decided to watch the movie hoping it’ll help me understand what the deal here is and I can go back to the book again and finish it.
Nope. That did’t happen because the movie only reinforced my belief that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is just not my cup of tea.

Having said that, I think there are two things that I’ll be taking away from it:

1) 42.

Here’s the extract from the book when Douglas Adams introduces 42 into pop culture:

Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.

“All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought (the supercomputer).
“Tell us!”
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Yes..!”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Yes…!”
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Yes…!”
“Is…”
“Yes…!!!…?”
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”

“Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”
“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”

We chase things without even knowing why we are chasing them. We spend a lifetime looking for answers when we don’t even know the questions.

2) The short existence of the sperm whale & the petunia pot

“Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.
And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.
This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.
Ah … ! What’s happening? it thought.
Er, excuse me, who am I?
Hello?
Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life?
What do I mean by who am I?
Calm down, get a grip now … oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It’s a sort of … yawning, tingling sensation in my … my … well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach.
Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what’s about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that … wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do … perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What’s this thing? This … let’s call it a tail – yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn’t seem to achieve very much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now – have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?
No.
Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation …
Or is it the wind?
There really is a lot of that now isn’t it?
And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like … ow … ound … round … ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground!
I wonder if it will be friends with me?
And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.
Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was ‘Oh no, not again’. ”

The petunia pot and the whale both has very short life spans and they were both falling to enviable doom. What was different was how the 2 chose to spend that time during the free fall.
The whale chose to be wide eyed curious, trying to find its purpose in life and name everything around it. It was looking forward to living forever and learning more about this new environment. And the petunia pot just sighed, “Oh no, not again.”

It’s the same with us, how we are going to look at life, because much in the same way as those two, we are free-falling towards death with every passing moment.

I know these things are open to interpretation and may be the author had something totally different in mind when he wrote these things, but hey, I (almost) sat though a novel that I borderline hated, so I take what I want to take from it 😉

 

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Let’s get this straight once and for all

Of late I have been reading (and hearing) a lot of people say, “Oh God! I’m not a feminist. I don’t hate men.”

That, to me, is pure unadulterated ignorance. I saw a post on Facebook the other day, that said : Saying that is like saying, “I don’t want water, but I would love some H2O”.

So I wanted to list a few things that DON’T make you a feminist:

1) Hating men

I do consider myself to be a feminist but why on earth would I hate men? There are some absolutely wonderful male friends and male relatives in my life who I am very thankful for and no way I would want to replace them with female counterparts. (Hate patriarchy, not men. If a lot of men have learnt to think in a certain way that’s detrimental to women’s progress, we have society to blame – and there is no denying that both men and women of earlier generations try hard to uphold them even now). Only women, more precisely, mothers, can bring about a change by not favouring the male child over the female child like it happens in a lot of families in India even now.

2) Being a lesbian

I call myself a feminist and I’m pretty sure I’m straight and I have homosexual friends who proudly call themselves feminists. So you see, sexual orientation has nothing to do with your association with feminism.

3) Believing in supremacy of one gender

It’s really not something so shallow and silly like 90s Bollywood songs “girls are best/ jaan lo/ boys are best/ maan lo”. Each gender had its strong and weak points. We must accept that and find ways to utilise the differences to compliment each other instead of arrogantly claiming one gender to be better than the other.

4) Saying women should rule the world

Erm… pretty sure that’s not one of the tenets of feminism. But yes, women definitely want to be on a level playing field when it comes to running for that position.

But feel free to declare that you are not a feminist if:

1) You encourage female infanticide

If you are in favour of killing a foetus just because of its gender, you are a horrible person. Please do not get married; please do not multiply. Period.

2) If you don’t think women should work in offices because they “belong” at home

Stone age called, they want you back 😎
I will never understand why women are/were not allowed to work after marriage. Double incomes mean luxuries that you could never afford with a single income hence better standard of living; and with a social life of her own, a more harmonious relationship. However, I do know some women who would rather be a homemaker, and that’s absolutely fine because the right to decide what a person wants to do with their life, is entirely theirs (as long as they are not doing anything illegal, of course).

3) You don’t believe in equal pay for equal work

For example, say a male colleague and I are both Marketing Managers with the same firm with the exact same responsibilities, why should he get paid more just because of his gender? I’m all for performance based payments / incentives, but getting paid more just because you are a man, is unfair.

4) You truly believe in male supremacy

I’ve got nothing for you. Your issues are too deep-rooted for anything I say to make you open your mind and think at all.

I know, over the years some people have used the word ‘feminist’ to mean ‘man-hater’ which has resulted its developing a negative connotation, but anyone reading this has had the privilege of education and has the ability of thinking with clarity and reasoning. About time we put that to good use because feminism is everybody’s business – irrespective of gender.

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Your Value ≠ The number of likes on your Facebook photo

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Raise your hand if you are sick of all the self obsession on Facebook these days?
If your hand wasn’t raised, this would be a good time to X this tab and read something else on the internet as this article would be a total waste of your time.

For those who had raised their hands: you can keep reading:

When the selfie trend started I, like most other people, did not think much about it and even occasionally  indulged in one or two myself. Very soon profile photos changed from group photos with friends and family to webcam selfies (complete with the blue reflection of the screen on the faces).

Not too long after, our news feeds started to get flooded with selfies and selfie collages (because you know, just one photo wont do justice to their beauty- pout, duckface, alien eyes, goofy face and a cute smile: all these had to be covered).

And that’s when it started getting annoying.

We started to see the narcissistic and self obsessed side of the people we call friends and it wasn’t pretty (ha! see what I did there?).

But you know what I find MOST annoying- a selfie with a pout captioned “I look horrible today” (the posted photo being the best out of probably 30 more taken in the past very-productive-15 minutes).

Even before they put the phone down comments like “no babe, you are so pretty”… (mainly from friends of the opposite gender) would start pouring in and after a few of those ego boosting likes and comments the person who posted it would feel confident enough to get on with their lives (or at least that’s what I imagine in my head).

We all (or may be I should say most of us) have this inherent desire to be liked (in real life, that is). We mostly do or say things that would make us seem like a ‘likable’ person. Even while arguing, we use diplomacy to make sure we still receive a level of “liking” in spite of our differences – but may be social media has pushed us to take it too far?

I have had people sending me private msgs requesting for likes on their posts and photos. Ignoring usually does the job, but what makes me really angry is people tagging about a hundred friends in their selfies forcing you to see it (and hopefully press that thumbs up) and later bear with the annoying notifications of others’ comments. Isn’t this equivalent to going up to someone and saying “Hey! have you seen my face? Isn’t it pretty? Do you like it?” And then sending a letter to them saying, “Hey! Don’t forget to like my pretty face. *wink* *wink*”

Yeah, awkward.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want people to feel great about themselves – (heck! I write articles after articles on how we should all be happy with the way we look), but please let’s do away with the desperate need for acceptance and attention from others to feel good about ourselves.

And while we are on this subject, can I just put it out there that “liking” your own photos make you seem like a total loser. Sorry, but it’s true. I can almost hear you say, “God! I’m pretty.”

Okay, pet peeves aside, let’s talk about how the selfie obsession is affecting our social lives, not the virtual but the real outside-the-computer social lives.

I have personally witnessed a couple hanging out when all the girl wanted to do was take a selfie for Facebook, stick a cheesy quote on love and post it to prove how awesome her love life is.

Drastic times, call for drastic measures, eh?
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The internet is full with photos of groups of friends lost in their phones while sitting at a restaurant in an supposedly hang-out/ catch up session. Also, what about all the photos submitted by fellow diners where a young group would have all their phones out taking photos of their just served meal before digging in. But, it would be only fair to say that I love taking photos of my food too. Gah! Double standards, I know!

I think we all thought that the selfie trend would eventually die out like ‘planking’ and ‘owling’ but thanks to beauty product brands and their adverts, this trend is here to stay. A surprisingly high number of TV spots currently aired in India bank on the hunger for “likes”. Most of the beauty products assure you that the number of likes on your photos will increase if you use them. A few companies take it too far – like Myntra which uses the tag line : “Live for Likes”. Say what?!?!?!? Not love, not even chocolate for that matter. But live for how many people casually tap that thumbs up on your photo on a virtual networking website.
I think this is when we start worrying about the priorities of our generation.

Because really, think about it: do you want your kids growing up conditioned that their self worth is equally proportional to the number of likes they receive on a social networking site?
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Disclaimer:
Having said all that, I must make it clear that I am NOT against selfies. I’m just not a fan of the psychology involved behind ‘most’ of these selfies.

Some times, it is kind of necessary- for example when you are travelling solo. The safest option is to take a selfie with the landmark in the background because in some countries, it’s not a bright idea to hand your camera over to a stranger for a photo. In some dodgy neighbourhood in India, that person might run in the opposite direction as soon as you hand your expensive camera over to him or if you are in Egypt, they might ask for a ransom if you want your camera back.

Another instance justifying selfies is when you are in the fitting room trying on clothes and you are not sure which dress makes you look *ahem* less fat, and you don’t want to give the shop attendant that kind of power over your wardrobe, what do you do? You take a few selfies and send them to your besties and they vote on which dress you should buy. I do this ALL THE TIME.

And now check out this super-adorable selfie:

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is take selfies all you want but don’t let others’ reactions to it have any impact on your self-image.

Fun fact:
A study by Spredfast shows 11% of photos using the #nofilter hashtag on Instagram actually have a filter, a percentage that adds up to roughly 8.6 million photos.

I thought I was the only one who got annoyed with the no filter lie, but that was before I found out someone took the trouble of creating a “faker catcher”. Check it out here: http://filterfakers.com/catcher

Further Reading:

If your eyes are not tired yet and your brain can take a little more on this topic head over to this page where they brilliantly explain the psychology behind each type of selfie. What Your Selfie Says About You: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kaitlyn-wylde/2014/07/selfies/

To make-up for the super-long post, here’s some light entertainment for you: