Story of a lost journalist

November 24, 2016

Understanding women

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 01:25

It is true what they say. What men say. Women are hard to understand. I know cause I am one and if I stepped out of me and tried to look at me and understand me, I wouldn’t.

I will tell you why.

Women find it easier to be indirect in their ways somehow. It is not a ploy. It is not deliberate. It is somehow the natural course. So when we want something, we don’t think of saying we want something. Especially if there is a man, we think they should get it on their own that we want something. They should understand it because of something we said about in the distant past, should remember it and do the needful. I know.

Ok, this becomes easier to tell with solid examples. I once fought with a fellow cause he didn’t call me to watch a movie with him – even though it was a movie I didn’t want to see. My argument was that he had to still call and see if I wanted to come. Here, if I step out like I said before and looked at my reasoning, I won’t get it.

In a conversation we may go on saying things that are not real and the poor men will go on thinking we mean all that and the poor us will go on hoping they get what we are not saying. (Classic example was shown in a movie when the girlfriend declares she doesn’t want a birthday gift, the boyfriend believes her and gets none, and she is hurt he didn’t get it that because of her being so nice as to not want a gift he should have gotten something really special. He gets dumped of course.)

Now I am finding it hard to understand why we do this. Why should we constantly want us to worry about things that aren’t even real. Creating issues, imagining them – all of that, I repeat, without the least bit of intention. Subconsciously I wonder if deep down we like trouble. Maybe we don’t like peace. We want disturbances. Turbulence. Shakiness. So if we can’t find them today, we will dig up the past and find an old forgotten day when something was wrong. And fight about it all over again like it’s new.

I envy men. How nice it must be to be so simple all the time. “I want tea” means I want tea. Not “I actually want coffee but I am testing to see if you remember that”. Or any such complicated thought.

I believe I am lucky to have got a little bit of a man in me after all. Cause I have found myself not understanding women and even men friends sometimes when they are not direct. I don’t get clues. Things have to be stated to me, plainly. Or can never imagine double/ hidden meanings for any words or actions of anyone. But then, they say there is a fine line between being a man and being stupid. I mean being simple and being stupid.

Disclaimer: By women, I don’t mean all women. By men, I do mean all men.

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October 20, 2016

Being an idealist

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 02:32

When arguments break out at the office – as offices are supposed to function – I end up getting this one label at the end of it all – idealist. The world I talk of and the arguments I make are too idealistic, not real. The stuff I don’t want, do exist, they say. I still shake my head vehemently – is that the right word? – as if that would make it unreal. Because when you have no more words to make your point, you shake your head. You will not give in.

And then yesterday came and I read this article. It was about a Muslim and a Hindu sharing this apartment together as a kind of social experiment. I read how they were both coming from conventional households, how they are strong believers, and how they had always lived in neighbourhoods where everyone belonged to the same religion. So it took a lot out of them to decide to do this, and it worked. It’s been three years now, says the article. It is on The Wire, if anyone wants to read it.

The point is, I read it and I had to agree here was reality. I couldn’t shake my head at it anymore. At the office when I fight for ‘all is one’, and there shouldn’t be anything separating man from man, I get “but it is there. It is actually there.” My wanting it is not going to make it happen. So, very reluctantly, I am trying to see religion as a reality. Even as I type this, I have a finger twitching towards the backspace button. Maybe if I just pressed harder, it can still go away. I really don’t want it to enter my mind, my thoughts. But then idealism is only so good, it can’t make things happen. It’s just a happy belief that will make you feel good. Or is it?

I am trying to picture religion as a philosophy. People could have different philosophies. Or ideas. Or opinions. Say, take a movie. I could believe it is good, my neighbour could believe it is not. So this is about people liking different things. Some like one religion, some like another. That could happen. People are not the same, they are equal. Problem is the other differences do not separate them. They don’t turn people into “you” and “us”. Those differences come only in a few conversations, forgotten about at the end of it. But differences of faith linger. Putting people into brackets, as soon as a name is heard. And my mind will not allow that. I refuse to agree they exist. Because if I could shove those away, so can everyone. If I don’t think of a person by person’s religion or caste, it means that it’s possible to do that. You can just think of the person for what person is, without brackets. Out in the air, out in the open, free.

And if it is possible for one, it is possible for all. One day the brackets may stop to exist only because we refused to accept they are real. Idealism may still have a chance.

February 12, 2016

Sabarimala, a fight for no one

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 22:39

Questions of equality struck me later. At first it was accepted, the inequality – I mean of the genders – and frowned upon like a bad fact of life. That it can be questioned didn’t occur to me. It’s the same with faith. At first you accept it, like the sights you see and the sounds you hear, you think of it as a belief to believe in. That it could be questioned, again comes later. Now I put the latter under the category of feelings. Faith is a feeling, like love, like hatred. You can’t choose what to believe in, you have to feel it. Nobody can make you.

And here at Sabarimala, both these questions come together. That of equality and that of faith. It just became one of those things I wasn’t concerned about. And that’s strange, that I wasn’t. Now I have mentioned my problems of being identified a feminist, if only for the strong reason that the word is highly misconstrued. But fact is I boil every time I hear about some kind of inequality – big or small. I don’t believe you have to be the one discriminated against to feel the injustice. But when it is a woman we are talking about, I can’t help it. I would have liked it if I were a man when I boiled. But never mind that. Point is I can’t take it. And that’s earned me the feminist tag that I am not fond of. The cause of equality is lost if you add a fem to it. It can’t be fem, it can’t be masculine either. It should just be.

So that’s why it’s strange I didn’t boil for Sabarimala’s women. When I heard words like tradition, I may have twitched an eyebrow but that’s about it. It is somehow not my area of concern. And I could brush it off as my agnosticism coming into the picture. Perhaps that’s why I am not boiling. And then again I hear it is the atheists that are actually “causing trouble”, raising voices for the women. I can see where that thought comes from. Women of faith – of the extreme kind who want to go through the pain of climbing the sloppiest slopes of Sabarimala – possibly also believe in the traditions handed down. Which is to say Ayyappan, the lord worshipped here, doesn’t wish for their presence. So then they make that sacrifice of not making that sacrifice they so want to make.

The atheists now are mostly rationalists, strong believers of equality and boil like I said I do. It’s plain discrimination, they feel, even though they probably have little wish to go themselves. They are fighting for the women believers who do not want to go against Ayyappan’s wishes. It’s not irony, it is not catch-22. It is just a fight for no one.

Fundamentally, I should be against it. And my question to those raising the argument of tradition is, if that were so, the temple entry proclamation could not have happened, and people of lower castes would still be standing outside, untouched. If traditions had not changed, there’d be sati still, child marriages, education a taboo for the antharjanams, and on and on and on goes the list.

That said, I somehow still feel we are fighting a non-issue here, despite my strong feelings for equality. Because those who care for rights, do not wish to go, and those who wish to go, do not wish to go.

October 11, 2015

My speech: It’s so easy to be happy

Filed under: life,My Musing Moments — Cris @ 18:38

Some day if I get ‘high’ enough to be an orator, I am going to speak about how easy it is to be happy and how we like to choose to be not. Like Dupree has his ‘ness’ speech in You, Me and Dupree.

Here’s the idea.

(Gee, I have imagined this so clearly, that I actually feel the initial reluctance you’d have if – and that is a big if – you are up on a stage, about to talk).

The idea, people, is as simple as it says it is – it is easy to be happy. Now, I am talking about everyday happiness, not the big hurdles that come to your life with truckloads of agony.

I will take an instance. Say, a friend of mine says we will have lunch together today. Later, she calls to cancel. Now when I hear it, I don’t feel bad, I say alrighty and cut the call. So my natural reaction is to go on being happy – or rather, status quo. But here’s where the second part of my speech comes – how we like to choose to be not happy. So I will sit and think. I will think why is she cancelling on me like this, this is not very nice. I will think will she do it with someone else. I will think she is doing this because I don’t mean much to her, I am not important. By then, I would have lost my train of thought, and all my focus would be on being irritated/ upset. It’s almost addictive. You get addicted to becoming unhappy whatever way possible.

This is a vague instance I quote. But I am sure everyone would have something to relate this with. Something microscopic in the large picture, something that probably never bothered us in the first place, but we focus so much on getting angry or unhappy, we forget it.

And this tendency to choose the unhappy route is something that develops in you as you grow older. I mean, you don’t see kids walking angrily, thinking thought after thought about something someone said and later seemed like a good reason to be mad about.

No one would agree easily, but really this is what we do day in and day out. So much that it’s become a habit with us. We could ask ourselves honestly – and this would be hard, the honesty part – did that something I got so upset about today really bother me in the first place? This would be difficult – getting ourselves to admit that it didn’t. Like I said, we really like our unhappinesses. For some strange reason.

The secret lies in figuring this out. Cause however much we like it, unhappiness is a pain in the neck. Kicking out is a lot easier than we think. The minute we sense our mind trying to get upset, just ask if it really matters to us, if we are just making an issue out of nothing. And very importantly, be honest to yourself. Really works wonders, I tell you. Though the adult inclination is towards unhappiness, once you choose the happy path, it is really so beautiful, like a new landscape you discovered, that you’d want to keep going back to it.

September 5, 2015

To small-talk or not?

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 13:52

Say you need to ask someone something. So you make a call. What’s the first thing you say after hello?

Here’s how I work. I say hello, and then I say this is why I called you. Right on to it. Not that I believe this is the way it should be. I am bad with telephone manners. I am bad with any kind of manners. And if I try any other track like ‘how have you been’ or ‘so long now, isn’t it’, it would sound absolutely artificial coming from me. So artificial even to my ears that I doubt if I would do much more than cackle and make strange sounds. Hi, cough cough, how, cough a lot more, are you.

Now, a lot of people are good at this. They call a rare call and ask you how you are, what’s up with you and all before they tell you why they called. They are comfortable here, but the question is, is the person they called comfortable. Sure it is done with exactly that intention. That people think it is bad to call out of the blue when you need something after not calling for so long. So they make the compulsory small talk first. See, we care about you, we are not just calling for our needs. And while that good intention is appreciable, I really wonder how the other person – the receiver – finds it all.

If he is a bad phone person like me, he would be uncomfortable. He’d prefer the hello and the why after that. That way, you can just talk about that. Oh, that’s why you called, oh yes, we could do that, or we can’t do that. It’s easy, see, matter of fact.

The argument now that could come is, what if the small talk is genuine. What if the caller, despite calling for a need, actually wants to know how the friend has been, what’s been going on. That it is only the busyness of a busy life that’s kept him from calling before, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. They’d like to know for real.

That could be true now, but my counter argument is, if this need had not come, or the need is no longer there, would you still make the call and ask? Clubbing the small talk with the purpose seems somehow the preferred choice.

Because see, if the random just-for-talk calls come too sometimes, it sounds more genuine. I wouldn’t say the bad-with-phones person would find it comfortable. But it might grow on her, and she’d learn to be comfortable with the person. I talk from examples in my life. There is this friend who used to call at first and I would never answer. Or say flimsy excuses like ‘work’ (yeah, right!). But later I’d pick up, at first be very uncomfortable, conscious. Then somewhere along, learned to be myself, blurt out if I want to cut the call and go. That was easier. No different really from real life talks. But won’t work with everyone.

So erm, I don’t really have a concluding point here. I guess if I am the caller calling for something, I’d just get straight to it. It would definitely work with friends you call often (even when you don’t need anything). And it would work with the rare callers too, cause my guess is they’d prefer it, even though they would tell at the end of the call – Selfish brat, don’t call all these months and calls now when she has a favor to ask. But that’s going to come anyway, small talk or not. With small talk, that line would be – Selfish brat, calling me now after all these months and trying to pretend she cares!

July 7, 2015

Why I fast for Ramzan

Filed under: My Musing Moments,Personal — Cris @ 13:40

This is the fifth year I fast for Ramzan, my fasting not all that proper (I take water). I have been asked a lot why I fast, for I declare most fervently I don’t belong to any religion. And that is exactly the reason I fast.

From the time I did not quite know the meaning of equality or the idea of fairness, I have quietly murmured when I heard lines like you are a girl, go help in the kitchen. And it is exactly those words that made me stay away from the kitchen for so long. I refused to wear earrings and deliberately kicked stones when I walked because someone would then comment that’s what boys do. There has always been the strongest of feelings to do these, and not fall into a stereotype.

When I grew up, I understood there was nothing wrong in thinking the way most people did, in being a cliché, as long as it was original, genuine, real. So if I wanted to cook, I could. Clean, or love dresses. Be pink. And if I wanted to play video games all day or watch a cricket match at 3 in the night, I could do that too.

The gender stereotype was easier to solve, at least in my mind, but the religious one, not so. All through my adult years, I would cringe every time I heard the mention of a religion. When someone would inevitably separate a small group sitting with their coffee, into many – “You Muslims, We Hindus, You Buddhists, We Christians.” Stop with the yous and wes, I would grit my teeth and not utter my irritation. But it would swell up.

I hated even giving my name because immediately, they would associate me with a religion, or maybe a caste too. I now watch happily when confused brows go up and down, hearing my name that could belong to any religion. Some would then ask my parents’ names. And when I keep declaring my non-religious status, they dig all the way to my grandparents and great grandparents. “Surely, someone would have had a religion?”

There was this urgent need in me to disassociate with any particular religion.  So I would visit churches, wear sandal paste on my forehead, and fast for Ramzan. The following of rituals is more in need to disassociate from every religion, than to follow one. The labels just had to go. Only ‘human’ should remain. To be one in a world without religion or colour or caste or race or gender or class or the many other differences, one John Lennon dreamed of. I hope someday you will join us, and the world will live as one.

January 25, 2015

To the bosses of this world

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 16:10

This that I write, I write to the bosses of this world.

Here I speak only to the typecast, the rude and unfriendly, strict and over-disciplined, screaming at the drop of a pin (or is it hat?). I speak because I am baffled. I don’t understand, I don’t ‘get’ perhaps is more like it. In one word and one punctuation, why?
Why bosses, do you boss?

Too obvious, you think? Let’s assume it’s not. Let’s assume one of you said bosses raises hand now and says, to get the best out of the employees for the best of the company. I haven’t been to business schools, so I don’t really know what people teach about leadership. But to lead, to guide, to get this ‘best’, you cannot be an outsider. We talk about racism, we talk about the things that put two humans at two places and we call it unfair, we fight for justice. So when we create bosses, I assume, we are not creating a superior race, not a dictator before whom the rest stand with bowed heads and ready for orders. We call one of us a boss, not an outsider. One we think can be the person we run off to with our problems, one who is going to sit with us and take us out of it. Not one who stands apart and points fingers at you, not that forever-blaming guy you, bosses, have become.

Our boss is obviously going to have smoke coming out of ears most times of the day, lose that ancient temper once or twice. Yes. The screams for dropped hats we spoke of earlier. We take it, we get it, when we feel he is with us, among us, for us. But the bosses I write to, you forgot the purpose of your creation. You walk ahead, turn your head to look at the non-bosses, and think ‘Here’s a bunch I can scare the s**t out of and make work’. You do, somewhere, have a good interest. You think fear could make people work. No, bosses, it doesn’t. You scare one, you take a chunk off his confidence, and you get less out of him. Nine out of ten times, I predict. You do, the opposite of what you intend to. Create lesser productivity.

You yell and punish and ‘show ‘em who’s boss’. You become a superior race. I don’t know if you enjoy it. But you stick to it. New rules just form out of nowhere. There is a way in which you should talk to your boss, there is a good time and a bad time to approach him, and above all, there is an ego. The you-can’t-talk-back-to-your-boss, the you-can’t-question-your-boss, the he-knows-everything… all new rules, not written anywhere, but to be followed through night n day and thick n thin.

When, I say when, did a boss become a category that is different from the mere mortals of this world? Why is it ok for him to do things but not you? Why can’t you tell him your final word like he says his to you?  Why is he not, a human like you, anymore?

I am baffled. I don’t get.

PS: This I write, is not to the poor, friendly, nice bosses of this world (sadly, a lot of these folks are taken advantage of for their poorness, friendliness and niceness, which could answer all the whys I have asked here. But I refuse to see that.)

PS2: I have given ‘he’ to pronoun the bosses, I know there are hard-hearted shes out there, but I chose he, because it is one letter short and so, easier to type.

November 2, 2014

Kiss of Love

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 18:35

(Kiss of Love is a campaign in Kochi to protest against moral policing, a protest for the right to express love)

Colleague A asks me why Cris, do you support, the kiss of love campaign. I ask why not. He says it all started from that attack on the Calicut café where young couples apparently kissed. I nod. So do you think it is okay to have such spaces allowed for young couples to come and kiss? He asks. I say it is not that they (the café people) “allow it”, they just don’t interfere, there is a difference between the two. Ok, he says, but what about the lots of exploitations on young girls taking place at these spaces. One, I say, it is not that the couples chose this space in the first place, they are forced to, because they can’t even sit next to each other in a public place, forget kissing. Two, I say, if it is an adult male and woman, it is not exploitation.

A father himself, A asks, but is it not right for parents to be concerned. Yes, of course, it is, but drawing boundaries around a daughter and putting her under a curfew is not how you solve the problem. You solve it by accepting (even if not agreeing with) her decisions, trusting her judgment after years of growing up with your principles at home. She is too an adult like you. You warn her, but you don’t stop her. So she knows she doesn’t have to fear about her freedom, and can be open and fearless, when her parents are with her, even if the rest of the world isn’t.

Mistakes, yes, can happen, cheating, yes, can happen. The woman, or the man for that matter, may be ‘exploited’, ‘harassed’, ‘cheated’. Like in every other grownup activity – in jobs, in businesses, in relationships. So do accidents on the road, but that doesn’t stop you from stepping out of your home every morning. And is there any point even talking about caution, about staying “safe” when assaults now come from the fathers and brothers of this world?

April 22, 2013

Mystery Man

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 15:52

It’s funny, what things could surprise you sometimes. Let me tell you about a person I know. I have somehow accepted this person as a really vague character. So the other day when he said something as ordinary as ‘I like antiques’, it shook me. Why, I do not know. I just didn’t expect him to behave human-like. I thought he just existed, doing a job and then going home. That’s how I had painted his picture in my mind. I looked at him surprised and said Wow you talk like a normal guy. ‘I am a normal guy, Cris’. And now I am curious. Not just curious. I feel experimental. Cause now he has again gone back to being vague. So I wish to unearth a human beneath all that nonchalance.

Does he have a favorite dish or does he just go sit down to eat when it’s lunch time? Does he change consciously or wear the first thing that he sees? Does he read his morning paper? Does he look outside the window and wonder about the red sunshine and the blue plants in the garden? Does he smile when he sees a baby on the other side of the street? Does he laugh on hearing a Jagathy joke? Does he feel upset hearing a neighbor cry? Does he stretch out his hands in the morning and think about a girl he likes? Does he think at all? Or just exist? Lost in a piece of music he found for himself a long time ago, when the human still surfaced…

August 30, 2012

Men

Filed under: My Musing Moments,People — Cris @ 12:09

There are all sorts of men.

Sensitive men… They feel for everything too soon. For good and bad. Like a button the things around them can turn them on happy and sad in a second.

Insensitive men… nothing means anything for them. I am never sure if part of the don’t-carishness is fake. If it is, they carry it well.

Inquisitive men… a new type I have seen. They need a why for everything. I sit, why? I stand, why? I look, why?

Prying men… not the same as above. These wanna know everything that’s happening in your life. Good thing about them is they are not secretive about it.

Spying men – these are the secretive versions of prying men. They secretly investigate your life and your life doings.

Contradictory men – one minute they seem like something, the next minute they are something else altogether. Don’t think it is hypocrisy.

Extra expressive men – yea I didn’t write about expressive, cause I haven’t seen one. It’s either no expressions or too many. And I don’t trust the extra ppl. They are usually the biggest cheaters.

Principle men – emotions never rule them. They don’t have any ‘moments of weaknesses’. They have decided what their life is going to be, and they will stick to it no matter what.

Momentary men – they seem most caring the moments you spend with them, then they forget all about you. Maybe this is what you call flings?

Comfortable/easy men – this is my favorite kind, where you can be totally comfortable, and be least conscious of what you say or do or act. Prolly I am defining a friend.

Funny men… another favorite when funny is just funny and don’t go overboard to be annoying.

There are lots many more, the commitment-phobic (that’s like inbuilt in all men I suppose), the dreamy, the ambitious, the preoccupied, the absentminded, the affectionate, girly men(!), the rarely-sincere and on and on. I will need volumes to finish them all. There are all sorts of men, but then again, maybe there is just one sort.

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