A girl can dream!

99/100

Almost there. Almost!

Freely walking down the road at an odd hour,
destination is a little too far,
but to go there I’ll need no team,
Certainly, a girl can dream!

Attending parties at our own discretion,
late night movies will be a viable option,
not missing out on life’s cream,
Atleast, a girl can dream!

Won’t be blamed with no fault of mine,
he’ll be punished, that idiot swine,
to be heard, i won’t need to scream,
Yes, a girl can dream.

Born to a king, married to a prince,
practices of dowry won’t make me wince,
I won’t be pushed to the extremes,
Wistful as it is, a girl can dream!

I’ll be treated as an equal,
Not degraded, if not special,
to be looked at with deserving esteem,
Of this, a girl can dream!

My birth won’t be seen at as a burden,
the shrewd thinking boundaries will widen,
for us with pride all parents will beam,
distant though, a girl can dream!

Misogyny will be abolished,
love and peace established,
of this yet, I see no gleam,
But still, a girl can dream!

Blast from past!

28/100

Sharing a piece I had written in 2019 as a snippet about my thoughts on girls going on solo trips. I did not touch on any details, just wrote a small summary. Hope you guys like it.

‘Why are you girls always so angry about feminism? You can talk nicely also na’. Said a dudebro who thought Arya Stark killing the Night King was unrealistic. Why can’t she? Why can’t people move out of stereotypes? How long do women have to keep proving for men to find it ‘realistic’? Then, there is the fact that when we do ‘real’ things, no one makes it easy for us. Men (even some women), there is a whole lot of your brethren who have messed things up for us over years.

‘Why don’t more women go solo anywhere?’ some may ask. Allow me to answer why. ‘Madam, aap akele aye ho? (Madam, are you alone)’ Said the autorickshaw driver when I reached Udaipur alone for my first ever solo trip. This was right at start. A chill ran down my spine and I had to lie that my father is waiting for me at the hotel to simply avoid the situation which, by the way, did not even exist. I was proud of my quick reply. Autowallah was just asking so that I can use his service to go around in Udaipur. I have known so many scenarios of random men being creepy that I couldn’t bring myself to trust him. So to answer my very first question, that makes me angry. The oppression on women and the ingrained patriarchy and misogyny has made me angry. The constant realization of how privileged men are does not let me talk nicely.

Quite contrary to what I have heard, I never faced a pervert situation on my solo trips. Grateful for that, it does not mean they don’t exist. I had to research like crazy to ensure my own safety. The hotels I stayed at, the places I visited had all the people who wanted to help me and they encouraged me by praising that it is amazing I am traveling solo. Did that help me take my guard down? No. Did that encourage me that the situation is changing? Yes. There are so many kind people in this world, so many amazing stories that people tell you, so many places that encourage women travelers, you’d be amazed. I have only taken two solo trips so far; Udaipur in 2017 and Hyderabad in 2018. If I say solo traveling for women is easy, it would be very wrong. The fun, findings and musings that happen in the process though are totally worth it. I had to research way more, be vigilant always, avoid sticky situations but I’d do it again because I get to do what I love the most, which is to travel.

What made it worth it? So much. If I did not travel solo I’d never know that people at ‘Ramoji film city’ are super kind. They made sure I am taken complete care of as soon as they got to know I am traveling alone at the start. How else would I have met the little girl working as a guide at a fort in Udaipur in her after school hours. She told me she loves Snapchat and helping her mom do all the work? She let me in on a secret, the boys older than her who worked there as guide didn’t allow her to work because she was a small girl. ‘Wahan nahii jayenge didi, woh log mujhe nahii aane denge’ (Let’s not go there, those other guides won’t allow me as a guide). That made me angry. I tried to help her, she said she’d only take money if I allowed her to show me around. I am so proud of that little bundle of wonder and she is always in my thoughts.

I missed a lot of late night things at both places because I was alone. I skipped a lot of ‘less crowded’ places too. I mean ‘akeli ladki, khuli tijori’ and all that jazz. I got to do a lot even after those exclusions and that made me happy. I made my mom proud, I think I made my friends proud too. It has given me confidence of not being held back because I am alone and definitely not because I am a girl. If I want to eat at someplace, take another trip or simply muse around somewhere, I’ll do it. You know I think my mom wants to tell everyone around her that I went alone and had a blast but she doesn’t, she thinks people will tell her she is wrong to allow me and that makes me angry. I am grateful that I could take these trips but the fact that it has to be such a hardship for girls makes me angry.

I want the girls reading this to know that my anger is directed at those filled with patriarchy and they are not changing overnight. But out there, the world is not all bad. There are so many good things that make this so worth it. I want you guys to see the fun I had and someday I will pen down the entire journey. If it helps even one girl to take the trip she has been postponing, I’d consider it a success.

Arya Stark, Geet, Jane Sloan, Meredith Grey, Hermione, Katniss..

10/100

This was the topic I wanted to write on as my first post of the 100 days challenge. However, I knew it would require research and time so I did what I do best, procrastinated. I have decided to pen this today. What essentially am I talking about you ask? Men writing women.

What exactly do I mean when I say this? Here are some of the common screenshots and pictures shared by people on internet that will show you the problem and then we can discuss it further

Let me start by mentioning something that I read and found very interesting. If you want to investigate how women have been written by men, start at the start, how “eve took the bite forbidden fruit” thereby blaming her for every sinful deed after that. Funny how what Adam did was not forbidden? Or maybe we have heard it in the manner where only Eve was criticized. You can take up so many books and you will find men objectifying women as mere sex objects. Is it really THAT difficult to write a complex woman character that goes beyond your bed and household? Sure, there are some who have got it right but we are majorly just sex objects. I mean “BREASTED BOOBILY”? Just write a book on boobs and get done with it. From the reading I have gotten done, writing women in third person is one thing and men achieve that easily, telling us how they think of women but to be her voice without knowing how females feel ends up being gross.

Women on other hand have proven to do a pretty nice job of writing male characters, no surprises there as we have all grown up reading male authors so they can place men better – case in point, Gone Girl. It has a story from both men and women point of view and both are amazingly justified. I am, by no way, suggesting that femal authors should be forced to write female characters that are strong. Everyone please write what you wish to. I don’t, personally, think gender has to do much with it as much as talent. All we want is for women to be real human beings in your stories, is that too much to ask? Make an effort to study the character you are building in your story, women are way more than their body. There have been researches put in place to suggest why men cheat, really astounding how many articles you will find on that. It is to tell us that it is done by men who are not emotionally stable. Yet, a woman character cannot be researched? If you have a character who is a housewife, ask them their thoughts? Don’t just make the character what you think a housewife is. Similarly, a teen girl is NOT JUST ABOUT HER HORMONES, nor is a teen boy. Teenagers have so many struggles but we see shows and books that speak only of hormones. There are good books that have actual stories but are they as famous as those about sex? I guess not.

If men want to write about women having sex, atleast ask women what they like rather than writing what you think women like! Make it a pleasurable read for us too. So far, all I have felt is gross. Sure enough, there is progress being made and we are seeing people write up characters of women as not just a piece of meat and I only hope the coming generation of writers do a better job.

Two cents on being judged!

So, I was having a very pleasant day today after a harrowing and mentally exhausting Friday evening. I was looking forward to the day, it went much better than I anticipated and I was super proud of myself for getting through it making everyone happy. It was a day of mini milestones and a lot of “firsts”. Yay to all those.

As a part of the plan, me, my would be husband and his father went to get some bookings done for our wedding. We want to have a small wedding, considering the circumstances and so we were just trying to convey the same. Everything was going good except one thing. Me (29) and my boyfriend (31) were asked about our age thrice by the same person. Each time the question that followed was “Is this your first marriage then?” We patiently answered each time as “yes”. It really does not bother me that as per him we are marrying “late”. What does bother me is that he thinks he has the right to judge us? What entitlement! My mind is blown. Oh and it did not end there. We were asked to fill a form and we reached a section which said “income”. My bf asked what are we suppose to specify there and he told him “please write your annual income” and told me “you can leave it blank as you must not be earning”. So not only did I disappoint the guy by marrying late but also by being someone who is financially independent. What a bummer! He must be having such a hard day, since I failed him at so many levels? Hah!

I agree we stay in a society, the purpose of which is to help each other grow and support people. Much opposite to that, all it has become is a tool dragging people down and tainting them for something that is completely irrelevant and baseless. Marrying before 28 is okay and so is marrying after it. Being a housewife is okay and so is doing a job. Someone wanting kids early is okay and someone not wanting them at all is too. Every decision an individual takes is subjective, it does not HAVE to be in a particular way, just because some people decided what is good and bad for all. Even if you do believe you know what is good and bad for all, how about you let people do “bad” if they wish to? No lives are lost, no one is getting robbed because I am marrying “late”. Let people be, live and let live!

What’s also disappointing is that I am probably the only one who noticed and cared. Being subjected to judgements since forever now, my bullshit radar is high and I can spot some from a mile away. However, this was right in our faces and people still didn’t catch it, somehow I feel that’s one reason bullshit spreads too.

Stating the obvious!

I keep saying this out in the universe, what are we going to do about men? We need to do something and we need to do it as soon as possible. The entire MANkind overall is pretty lame and the issues they cause are pretty irritating. I am not even talking about the grave ones right now. The little petty things like unwanted advise, entitlement without cause and just evident patronizing are downright annoying.

What I am particularly stating in this post is how men think whatever women do is for them. How self consumed can one be? Women have literally moved on from pleasing men, and talking about those who were doing so earlier. There are many women who have never cared and are yet told by men how something they have done or not done is bothering them. Oh and how they can do it better. A man who has never held a brush before telling a woman who earns by doing makeup that “she is over doing it”. A man who has never worn a saree telling a woman who does fashion that “this saree is not correctly draped”. I just want to ask men, do you know how utterly foolish you seem when you are “blessing” women with these comments? If you guys do it thinking you are teaching women something, then situation is far worse than I’d like and the only way you guys can save some dignity is by shutting up. Consider it, just don’t opine until asked.

Look now, amongst us women we have bad apples too but easy to ignore one or two. How to ignore men in such huge numbers? The worse thing to have happened is internet being given to men who have an opinion on things they have no clue about.

Lastly, Dear Men, you don’t run the world, women don’t do things for you and we don’t need you to survive. Thank you.

A bad apple!

“Hi doctor”.

“Hi, so what’s the issue”.

“This is my regular check up. No issues per say. Although my periods are delayed but that is because of hormonal disorder for which I am already being treated”

“Late hua hai period? Are you sexually active?”

“Yes and yes (beetroot red)”

“Are you married?”

“No”

“Pregnancy ho gayi toh kya karogi? Test kia hai? Shaadi kab hai?” (All this after I have mentioned that I have been diagnosed for hormonal disorder)

“I–” (I was too stumped at the questions so literally dumbed out for a min)

“TEST KAR LO BETTER HAI. Now, anyway, let’s do your regular checkup”

I awkwardly stared at the other girl (probably a nurse) to leave before my check up starts.

“Wahan pant and panties utar kar let jao” (yep that was her sentence).

I highlighted that the door is not locked, upon which the nurse went and shut it. I am till date thankful to that girl who was nursing there as she made sure I had (whatever little) privacy I could get. I went to the farthest corner, undid my pants and laid down for check up (this was obviously my first time with this doctor and I was scared to death)

She came, checked my clit very roughly and started taking out medical instruments which looked very scary and when I said “give me a min to process and tell me what you are doing” she said and I quote “sex kia hai na and iss se issue horaha hai”. She went on to do the checkup without pausing.

Post which she just went to clean her hands and asked me to get dressed. She simultaneously called for next patient, while I was still on the stretcher, half naked. Nonetheless, I dashed for my clothes and out of the room once I wore them within seconds.

It was not hurtful, physically I mean. Just scary and traumatizing. Just. Till this date, I have no idea whether I can say with assurity that I was violated. I felt violated, that is for sure. But was I violated? I don’t know. Why am I unsure? Let’s see, so she was a woman, a doctor and the last person I should have to lie to or hide facts from. Yet, I felt that I was judged, manhandled, humiliated and insulted. What deductions do I make? The only thing which seem to have rubbed her the wrong way was me having sex before marriage.

Now, hear me out. I am a girl, judgement and bias is nothing new for me. People have been biased AGAINST me a lot of times. I have expected it and handled it. Maybe even given it back to them then and there, whenever situation allowed me. So yeah, I am not timid. I know how orthodox mentality works. Still, I could not tell her how wrong she is. Because her stature caused me to doubt myself. What shook me and has me still shook is that she is educated, knowledgeable and her job is to treat me WITHOUT bias or judgement. The same is the condition with a lot gynaecologists in india and if being at such responsible job cannot make them understand, with what hope do I expect the ‘mohole wali’ aunty to be non judgemental?

I want to be hopeful and I want to understand where her judgments come from but my empathy is failing me here and I am not sure what to do about that.