My heart is pounding in my chest so hard that it physically moves me. It makes me oscillate with every beat. I feel it banging. It doesn’t want to be here. I’m far away from home, questioning my life choices and wondering how I got here. There are no answers. It’s a mix between something I have to do and something I decided to do long ago and I continue to do so. Logic and reasoning don’t work here. They don’t apply right now when I’m in a state of pumped up emotions. I can’t control them and try as I may, I cannot commandeer them. I sit on this hotel bed looking out the window knowing that any second the phone will ring and I’ll be put in a cab and driven to the ship. I don’t know how I got here. I’ve been numb since I left home. Reluctant feet have walked and walked and have taken me further and further away from my own little world.Nothing appeals right now, nothing can change how I feel but my own reluctant acceptance of my new surroundings. For the first time in months I find myself alone and the silence that I craved back home now haunts me. It’s all I can hear and i cannot unhear now. It acts like a constant reminder of where I am and what I’ve done.

It is a long road ahead before I can even think about returning back to my old life. Yes, the heavens and all the signs from the universe have been helping me so far. I feel there is something or someone out there who is watching my back while I deal with what’s ahead of me. The same driving force that stood with me while I ran my first 5k, the very same that made me win the football tournament. I feel it around me. I’ve been feeling it for a while now. Like I’m being pushed in a direction and something out there wants good things for me. Trusting that same force, I have brought myself to the other end of the world. While my emotions destroy every dam I build, the force behind me continues to make its presence felt. I feel it.

I feel a change coming. Of course in obvious terms there is a change coming but I am talking about a change in me. A different way of looking at things. For now all I can do is trust the process and put one foot in front of the other and see what happens. Trust is all I have right now and that’s what is keeping me going. My heart still beats loudly, yearning for that friendly face.

Any ideas?

I see broken hearts all around me. I see wounded souls breathing, but barely living. I see conscience numbed with pain. I see the fear of falling in love and being vulnerable again. I see the skepticism. I see everything.

I’ve had tons of examples of such stories and instances with people around me. I too was once a part of this conglomerate. I sense an inertia, an unwillingness to reach out and stand out in the sun again. I see it everywhere. I feel it all round me.

These are wounds inflicted by people themselves to each other. And the brave wounded souls who do manage to get past the tunnel of darkness, emerge only a shrivelled version of themselves. Living in the safe comfort of isolation. Living untouched and under the shade.

But are you really living? Are you really happy? Yes, you’ve managed to find a shortcut to short term happiness through social media and like minded friends who stick around for now. But confusing this with something real is a mistake. It is an artificial hit of dopamine and it quickly turns into an addiction. Yes, being hurt sucks and it is a risk you take every time you make yourself willingly vulnerable. I have been at the receiving end of this so i know that very well. But, it is only when you rehabilitate yourself and build yourself again that you feel indestructible against the forces and the people of the world. If you decide to remain broken and refrain from any form of intimacy then you will forever be broken.

It is sad really. All i can do is hear them out and offer my support. I do understand how they feel and why they do what they do. I cannot rush them or force them to change their ways and snap out of this fear of relationships. I cannot even get through to them. It isnt in my nature to leave something unfixed and unattended but this time i dont really know how to go about fixing this mass epidemic that has seemed to infected everyone. I am sure that something needs to be done because this is far from ideal but i am not sure what exactly it is and how to go about it.

And ideas?

The Indian Woman

Some would argue that women today have reached a point where they enjoy the same freedom their male counterparts have. And they would be right in saying so as the evidence is right in front of them. Compare the lives of women now and a hundred years ago and the difference is obvious. In fact we dont even have to go back a hundred years to make a comparison. Talk about the last 20-30 years and there has been a paradigm shift. Women have made some incredible leaps and bounds and they alone should receive all the credit. But that’s not really what i want to talk about here today. Surely women have accomplished a lot by themselves and their talents; we as a society have almost always been a hurdle in their path. Every success story has met with resistance at some point or the other.

The image that people have of an indian woman is that of a simple person who “enjoys” domesticated living. The roles aren’t specified here really but she is expected to pick up the slack domestically where men have the freedom to do whatever. And the sad truth is that if there is any deviation on her part from this expectation, society is quick to stamp a stigma on her. That she is somehow at fault for not willing to be confined and perhaps her parents must not have raised her well. While she may be “allowed” in some cases to pursue her dreams and get the level of education she wants; deep down it is seen as a boost to her profile for marriage suitability. It is not met with the same seriousness as a man’s ambition to succeed at work. It is often seen as something she does, but eventually gives up post marriage. because thats where her focus should be. Having babies, raising a family, doing everything alone and never raising any questions.

What troubles me most is that women themselves forget to fight for their own daughters. It is quite the opposite. After having lived a life of oppression in the past, they force the same life right back on their children. Women themselves want their own flesh and blood to give up on their dreams and bend to the patriachal ways of the society. Just to avoid jabs from onlookers and worrying about what people might say, they join the ranks on the opposite side and add to an already tough life. People who have no business interfering with her life and who have no direct consequence to her. Forget family members and relatives, even the people you live around start talking about this person if she refuses to get married by a “respectable age”.

Our mindset and the mindset of our judicial system and law enforcement is outdated to say the least. There was a case in New Delhi a few years ago where a young girl was physically abused inside a moving bus for hours. This caused a large scale rebellion and everyone was outraged. However, we had government officials, holding important posts saying,”It was her fault because she was out late at night. She had no business being there. Women, in doing so, invite rape upon themselves.” And this isnt the first case. And that’s the problem. If we refuse to acknowledge a problem, if we refuse to see that no one invites rape upon themselves then what the hell are we doing? Safety of women isnt really a problem for them because they believe that a woman should be inside her house before sunset. We live in a country where women have to fight to be heard. What troubled me the most is that when the accused was questioned, he was puzzled and he had no idea what he was being held for. In his opinion he had done nothing wrong and that’s where the problem lies.

When you view women as objects then the crimes committed against them become invisible. A young lady was very recently threatened with rape for speaking her mind on social media. It was all over the place. The police were handed the names and details of those threatening her but in the end nothing was done. Eventually she had to withdraw her protest and disappear. Another victory for the patriarch, another crushing defeat for women everywhere.

And the trouble begins at home. Right there. It is right there where these values are neglected and children aren’t taught respect and sensitivity right from an early age. It becomes a problem when women themselves force their own daughters to wilt away under pressure from society and accept their outdated ideas. It becomes a problem when you see don’t take their ambition seriously. It becomes a problem when you see the modern indian woman with the same eyes as she’s always been seen. It becomes a problem when you refuse to grow up and move with the times. It becomes a problem when you sit back and enjoy your freedom and do nothing while women worry about their safety every single day.

The indian woman has a lot of pressure riding on her shoulders and it is considered her job description to appease everyone. Her husband, her kids, her in-laws, her neighbours, her relatives and it appears no matter how much she tries, there is just no one on her corner. The world stands against her with judging eyes, careful scrutiny and a moral whip. Yes, times have changes and the things i have written here dont apply to everyone but this is the large scale demographic.

When you acknowledge a problem, when you start realising that basic human rights are being denied, only then will something be done about it. Turning a blind eye to issues such as these is root cause for their sustained survival. Educate your children to treat women with respect and then when you are done with that, take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and change the way you see women. It is time to change your perception and it is time to defend your daughters against these parasites who contribute nothing but devour every single ounce of human spirit. Bring about a change, and start with your own household. Start with yourself.

Indian parents.

it is known world over that indian parents have a tendency of being overly involved in the lives of their children. while some would argue that it is good thing because there is a constant support system available all the time, others would say that being too protective often interferes with their freedom. It is hard to say which is right and which is wrong. In the end i suppose everything they do is out of love. Who wouldn’t want to see their children succeed and prosper in front of their very eyes? It brings about a sense of pride and accomplishment for them as well. On the other hand though, it may not come across as the same way.

Right from the start, there is an extreme parental pressure for doing well at school. Trouble here is that parents just want their kids to learn what is taught in school and very little emphasis is laid on other activities like say learning a new language or taking up a sport seriously. While they may act supportive and play along to let you indulge in their whims and fancies, deep down they see all of this as time wasted because it doesn’t feature in as a career option for them. Thats the thing again, everything is about planning your future and preparing for it. Any deviation from that is a waste of time. There is limited freedom provided for a child to develop his/her skills outside the realm of textbooks. And parents will go to any lengths to have their children do well at a school. Even if it means burdening them with additional coaching classes after school that pretty much leaves no time for anything else.

Talks about career and future feature early but they pick up traction right around the time you reach the 10th grade. Parents push for a stable safe career option which involves engineering or being a doctor or something. With a total disregard for the child’s aptitude and interest in those subjects. and the children, who have never had the chance to make a call about their lives till now, just blindly accept what they say, assuming they know whats best for them, which isnt always the case. I have known instances where parents have stopped talking to their children and disowned them for choosing subjects they didn’t approve of beforehand. This in my opinion is being a bully. They withdraw support and unload a constant barrage of taunts and demeaning jabs. There is no self confidence left in the end but parents dont see that. They only see mistakes and provide criticism without taking a second to analyse and provide encouragement.

Stepping into college is another major hurdle. While earlier they dictated the choice of subjects, this time they insist of choosing your college for you too. And again, you run the risk of facing their wrath if you dont make it to their choice of college or if you decide to join a different college instead. Kids at this age enter a rebellious phase and may take a wrong decision based on pure rebellion. Since making a choice for themselves was never really an option; when it does become an option, the choices made post that become reckless. Indulging in drugs, hanging out in the wrong crowds etc are acts of rebellion in most cases and those smart enough soon withdraw from these but there are many who continue.

The next step is marriage. It is much more difficult for an indian woman in this case. Right after entering your early twenties, the topic of marriage suddenly pops up out of nowhere. Parents add enormous pressure and they are backed with relatives who had no role in your life till now but will show up giving unsolicited advice. Not only do they want you to get married early, they want you to get married to someone they approve. Some one they pick. And their checklist and yours for a suitable partner may differ drastically. While parents focus on religion, parental backgrounds, income, looks, caste etc, you would rather focus on compatibility, intelligence and well, looks too i suppose. And you cannot talk them out of it. You cannot even try to explain your side of the story. You cannot get through to them that maybe your point of view should also feature in this process. Again here, i have known cases where parents disowned their children for marrying someone they didn’t approve because of some bullshit reason. In many cases in north india parents have gone ahead and executed their own children and their partners just because they went ahead and did something that was against their wishes. these are of course drastic and lunatic cases but i have known cases where parents have stopped talking to their own children because of this. I honestly fail to understand this. The modern age refuses to even consider someone else’s religion before falling in love with them but apparently that is a deal breaker in itself for parents. Right off the bat, even before meeting someone they out right reject the idea of marrying someone of a different religion. How important is religion really? And what if you’re the kind of a person who is born into a religion but dont give a damn about it? Should it still factor in? Or is it something stupid like rejecting someone based on the colour of their eyes; because in both cases, you’re born with it. Then why? Parents seem to have it all figured out but if you really dissect what they say, you’ll find that there is no sense or meaning behind it. It is true for them because that’s what they were taught before and thats what they are teaching you now. Divorce rates and unhappy relationships are off the charts. And women are pressured into continuing in an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage out of more parental pressure. We live in a very chauvinistic society and a woman is expected to endure everything and not complain. Her own parents turn against her which is the saddest thing i have seen.

It doesn’t end there too. While parents tend to relax and back down after you get married, shortly after that they want you to have children right away. Because it is the right thing to do apparently. Because thats what they were taught so that must be right. And with no logical reasoning they yet again turn up the heat to force their agenda. So now you’re in a loveless marriage which you didn’t want and there’s a kid who will grow up neglected because you didn’t want that either. Days go by, months turn into years; nothing changes.

But all of this happened because you listened to them and gave in. You were the one who decide to sacrifice your own freedom just to make them happy. Their happiness lies in you making choices in your life that they think are correct according to them, based on what they think is right and that may not necessarily be right for you. But they dont care do they? You risk being bombarded constantly with criticism from them and your relatives. All for nothing.

I am sure no parent wants to bully their children but thats pretty much what goes on in most cases. If you chose and unorthodox career, they aren’t happy and want you to switch. If you spend time learning new skills or indulging in something you like to do, they think its a waste of time. if you love someone they dont approve, its wrong and you’re naive. If you dont have kids right away after marriage, you’re making a mistake. It just seems like there is no pleasing them no matter what you do. And if you do follow their lead then you end up somewhere barely recognisable, next to someone you may not love or have anything in common with, living a life you dont want, unhappy and lost.

You can either choose this life or design one for yourself. And if in doing so you piss off some people who dont understand you then why not? Why the hell not? Living in fear gets you no where. Saying yes under parental pressure, gets you no where. Being a coward gets you no where. Believe in yourself and the choices you make. Do what you want to do, not what someone else wants you to do instead. Marry or date someone you want to and if your parents dont approve then it is their problem. They are the ones who will have to deal with it, not you.

you can do anything you set your mind to…

Missing out

It has been a weird day really. I consider myself lucky enough that i was around for a family event this time. Usually I’m away at sea in more than half the cases. But this time i was glad to be there for the birthday party of my niece. She turned 4 yesterday and she is the cutest thing i have ever come across. I dont think she knows exactly who i am because we haven’t really met as much and there are usually large intervals in between. But she shook my hand and gave me a smile.

Most of the relatives who were in town made it for the party. These are faces I’ve been able to recognise since i was 5 years old. They’ve been omnipresent in my life behind the scenes and they always open up their hearts to me when i meet them. I noticed today however that there was a difference. The laughter had faded, their words were now reduced to the bare minimum and their movements restricted. Their hair had turned white, thick glasses now framed their faces and they just sat quietly by themselves. I realised that the picture i had in my head of them was almost 20 years old. 20 years had made me go from 7 to 27 but they had aged too. And the signs were there too. Someone pointed out to me that my dad had thinned out too. And it wasn’t until then that i noticed and they were right. Dad, being an army man had big biceps and broad shoulders but now his entire frame had shrunk. Today was the first time i noticed the difference. Mum too had a tough time holding the heavy ceramic plates while having lunch standing.

I met my uncle and my cousin brother later who couldn’t make it to the party. They too had changed and i was surprised how i had never paid enough attention to notice these changes in them. A sadness descended on me as i witnessed the change. These faces that were once bright as the sun, now had their brightness fading away slowly. The laughter had gone, the jokes had gone, the fun had gone and all that remained was a mere shadow of their own self.

The previous versions of them had gone and i was sad that i wasn’t around more. I was upset that i didn’t get to spend enough time with them. I was upset that i was so preoccupied in my life that i didn’t even notice that changes in my mum and dad.

I always thought i had life figured out. But all of my plans were about how to move forward and get on with it. I never realised i was missing out on what was already in front of me and around me. I have already missed out so much. I wish i hadn’t.

Moral fiber

A video surfaced on my Facebook feed today. An Audi had a minor fender bender with another car. This other car was driven by a man in hurry as he was driving his pregnant wife to the hospital. The lady driving the Audi, took away the keys of the other car and demanded that the driver pay up or suffer the consequences. Cops arrived on the scene and were helpless as they were dealing with a lady and they couldn’t persuade her to give up the keys. It appeared from the video that the lady knew that she was in a position of power and no one could do anything to her. While all of this was going on, the pregnant wife sat in agony in her car. Soon a mob circled the scene as it always does in India. They pressured the Audi driver to give up the keys, shouted at her and threatened her by waving cricket bats. The lady realised that things were no longer in her favour so she threw the keys away in the distance and drove off.

Another incident happened in front of me a few weeks ago. I was returning back home from my ship and i was at the immigration counter at the New Delhi airport. A crew member was travelling with me and he had a connecting flight from Delhi to Mumbai. Trouble was that the flight was from the domestic terminal and we had landed from Singapore at the international terminal. so he had to clear immigration, collect his bags, take a cab to the domestic terminal and then check in again. To make matters worse, we landed half an hour late due to bad weather in Delhi. By the time we joined the massive line at the immigration counter, his flight to Bombay had already started boarding. I told him to cut the line and explain that he was in a hurry or else he would miss his flight back home. He was a bit nervous to do so since he wasn’t particularly fluent in english so i promised to assist him incase any trouble arose. No one said anything but right at the end there was a lady standing there who raised an objection. She spoke in a harsh and a crude tone and I explained to her that the man was going to miss his flight from the domestic terminal and he had to hurry. She refused to listen and said that that’s not her problem and no way in hell would she allow him to get in line in front of her. So I asked the man standing behind her if he could join the line there and he agreed. He stood behind that lady for the next 10 minutes. I don’t know if he made his flight in time or not.

The reason i am writing this today is that this behavioural trend is on the rise. Putting yourself in front and above everyone else. It has become a character trait for the people these days to feel that they are entitled to every thing. They can say anything, they can do anything and anyone who stands in their way is forbidding them from being free. They feel they have the right to do whatever they want and theres nothing the rest of the world can do about it.

Here’s the trouble. I am all for freedom. But you cannot give it to the people. The people dont know how to handle freedom. People need rules and regulations. They need laws. They need to be told to put compassion for others before self love. In the final Batman movie, when Bane handed over Gotham city over to the people, they all turned into savages. They all wanted things they couldn’t ordinarily have and they were ready to turn inhuman for it. Like in the case of the Audi driver, she should’ve been fined for holding up traffic straightaway. Thats the language people understand. People understand fear, they don’t understand freedom. They dont know how to deal with it.

Moving on from laws, there is a moral code amongst us humans. These aren’t rules that have been written down somewhere but we all know them. Like for instance, you offer you subway seat to an elderly person or a disabled person perhaps. Like in the second case, we were all standing in line with no particular hurry. Due to no fault of his own, the crew member found himself in a bit of a situation and needed our help to cut through the line so he could make it home. It is in these times where we have to show our maturity and our moral fibre. It is no secret that the number of people on this planet has far exceeded its acceptable amount. We cannot rely on law enforcement and the governments to sort out everything for us. Thats where a moral code comes in. Fine i bumped your car and it was my mistake, here is my insurance and here is my phone number. Lets settle this on another day, for now lets not hold up traffic. End of discussion. A mature reaction and a solution that works for everyone.

Why is it that people never work towards conflict resolution? Why does it become a matter of ego and revenge? There are billions of people on this planet and there are bound to be conflicts amongst us. It’s normal. But what we can do is deal with these conflicts like human beings and not take our claws out like animals. It is choosing between being sensible and being nonsensical. That matter with the Audi could’ve been cleared up within 5 minutes and in the other case the lady would’ve had to stand in line for another 2-3 minutes but she would’ve helped a fellow human being. But no.

Maybe the world needs dictators to slap some sense into people. Things are getting out of control and people are living with their feet off the ground now. Head among the clouds, posting pictures of themselves every day, in every place, every hour, all the time. This has to stop. A simple solution is start fining people. for everything. Even if you cause a public nuisance. It needs to be done otherwise people will just take advantage of the system.

Immigration ban

I knew early on that Donald Trump would be a popular candidate because of his theatrics. Although the media was quick to make jokes and write him off, he proved that he had what it takes to fight a campaign against a tough opponent and win. I mean Hilary Clinton was a clear winner and everyone must have been busy preparing Trump jokes a day before the actual results were declared. I had a feeling that on some level people were buying what he was saying and they wanted him to lead the way. Agreed that Obama had a popular tenure but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a successful one. In my opinion, all people want is a steady source of income and food on the table. Foreign diplomacy and attacking other countries in the name of peace is all well and good but in the end it is money that is drawn out from the taxpayers and spent elsewhere. Manufacturing moved elsewhere turning big cities and towns into empty jungles. It is understandable that the people were pretty upset and Trump knew that very well. He was smart and realised that the people need a change from mundane politics and promises and needed something dramatic and radical. Using fear as a weapon, he managed to edge out one opponent after another and won the presidency. I told many of my friends early on that Trump was going to win even when it was unthinkable. Yet here we are now.

It has been just over a week since the Trump era started and my god has he managed to shake the world. But i am not surprised by that at all. He is doing exactly what he has been talking about doing in his campaigns. The people voted for him, they knew what he was capable of, they decided that they wanted him in the driving seat. I don’t understand why they are surprised now after the decisions he has made and the executive orders he has issued. It’s like that time when people in UK were voting in the favour of Brexit but didn’t know what exactly would follow. There is a video that has surfaced covering all the things Trump has done within his first week in office and the list is pretty long and controversial. I won’t talk about all of them but i will talk about the one thing he has done to collectively upset a vast number of people. I am of course talking about the immigrant ban on 7 countries citing reasons of national security.

Now understand this. It is pretty plain and simple. The people voted and gave him the power to do pretty much anything. They knew all about him and the media had fired the warning shots well in advance but no one listened. He is now incharge of a country that has everyone’s attention. Everyone wants to be a part of the American dream and make it big. And yes, it is true. Many immigrants have made it big in the United States. It is a country built by immigrants. Trace back the pages of history and you’ll see that the native’s of this vast land looked nothing like the picture of Americans we have in our minds today. It has become like the go-to destination for professionals, entrepreneurs, students, artists and pretty much everyone. With the recent immigrant crisis happening followed by the sudden increase in the number of terrorist attacks in countries in Europe and middle east, it has become a tough call whether to provide shelter and asylum to these refugees while endangering the lives of your own people. The 7 countries mentioned in the ban have zero records of attacks/killings of American people on American soil. the list seems rather arbitrary.

I didn’t really care about this problem. It didn’t concern me, it didn’t affect me. I have no intentions of going to the United States for employment or otherwise and my country has not been named in those that have been banned. I did however came across a video of an American man or Iranian descent crying his eyes out at the airport. He said that they had fled their country many years ago and he was now a legal American citizen. He said he was a contractor and he worked hard building houses for the American people. However, his brother who had done nothing wrong was now being prevented from joining him in the United States following this ban. He correctly points out that the issues are between the governments of the two countries and that the individual people had not done anything wrong but were the ones who have to face the consequences of this order.

Now i few questions arise here. Why must America bear the burden of providing shelter and a fresh start to these people? Yes, they were born in a country which has been torn apart by war for decades followed by years of dictatorship. But is it America’s obligation to provide sanctuary? Doesn’t America have their own people and their own problems to deal with? Yes, speaking from a humanitarian point of view we must all take care of each other. But ideally we live in times where one has to make room for another person to join in. And that sometimes mean leaving someone else out in the cold. out of a job, left to deal with unemployment. So what must one do? The reasons he has cited are baseless in my opinion. Citing reasons of curbing terrorism and shutting doors in the process are questionable and the world has reacted to this.

The people can’t really complain now that they didn’t see it coming because this is all he has talked about in his campaigns. The immigration ban has met with strong criticism and objection from virtually everyone. In his theatrics, innocent people like the Iranian man at the airport get affected and separated from their families. There has to be a better way to serve the interests of the people and deal with issues of terrorism as well. Instead of shutting doors completely, if one was to carry out extensive background checks, interviews with relatives who are legal citizens of United States, plan of action while residing in the country, having them report to the local immigration office or the local police station every week or something to that effect then why not? It seems like a fairly smarter way to proceed. I am sure there are better ways of dealing with this situation. All we can do for now is revolt and make our voices heard. Hopefully this ban would not be permanent and the doors would reopen to those fleeing areas of conflict for a chance at a better life.

For now though, we wait…