Thursday, October 27, 2011

Winter is here....

The Sun seems to start bleeding a little early these days. November is coming. Darkness has started spreading its wings and must be settled in a short while, yet the woundingly sweet chill in the evening air entreats one to keep walking.

Kamla Nagar market has always been a mood lifter for yours truly, but for some reason the appearance of sweaters, stoles, skivvies and sweatshirts in place of the summer apparel is particularly pleasing to the eye and the heart.

There is a tingle of mucus in the nose and one craves for the divine tasting tomato soup in the Nirula's campus near Arts Faculty, almost as a reflex action.

Distance blues. Idea dropped. However, the roadside momos with hot chutney are not any less inviting.
And today they seem to taste a whole lot better. Yes, this is a sure sign of the winter being here.
One more thing that tastes infinitely better and supremely divine in the winter is Chole Bhathure in Chache di bhatti, Kamla Nagar.

No student in the north campus will fail to sing its praises, with one plate of chole bhathure being amazingly pocket-friendly at Rs. 22 and sufficient for a hearty lunch. The sad part is it closes by 2 p.m. and so one misses out on a lunch from here most of the times due to college.

Talking about street food in Kamla Nagar, the Chole Kulche  and bhelpuri are also not bad.

And with one plate of Chole Kulche coming at Rs. 15, every north campus student, at least once, must have run into one of the stalls between lectures.

Being a vegeterian, of course I haven't tasted it myself, but the most popular street food in K.N seems to be shawarma.

One also picks up a couple of maggi packets.
After all, no hostelier's late night study in winter is possible without a plate of piping hot soupy maggi.

Of course, one's maggi can't taste like Tom Uncle's Maggi, yet one does try to make it as yummy as possible with loads of green chillies and sometimes with oregano and chilli flakes.

It is difficult to point out what exactly one likes the most about winter. Is it the calm and serenity around? Or sleeping under cozy blankets? (last year it was my first Delhi winter experience and even 3 blankets had difficulty keeping me warm in early January!). Is it the expanded choice of cuisine? (I love everything spicy and what season is better than winter to tingle your taste buds while your eyes are brimming?) Or the perfect weather condition to go visit monuments and parks or simply for evening walks? Or is it the guiltless late-to-bed, late-to-rise routine? Or the vacation and then the DU Fest?

As one basks in the warmth of the happiness emanating from inside at the thought of Winter, one is also reminded of the number of things one would need in winter viz. body lotion, moisturiser, lip balm etc. Yes winter brings with it so many little little sources of happiness. But it also burns a hole in one's pocket with the routine cravings for something hot and spicy and the winter care toiletries lol.
However that in no way takes away from the fact that I just love the Delhi Winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Self centred and Loner.....or simply Individualistic and Introvert?

"Not going home? Diwali in a pg, all alone??"
I answer with a cool "yeah and not alone, with 2 others" plus a reassuring giggle at her childish concern. But my friend is not convinced that I can be happy celebrating alone. (When did I tell her by the way that I enjoy celebrating festivals?). I defend my case saying that a 3 day holiday (1 mass-bunk lol) is not meant for travelling 1300 km and back and somehow hoping to squeeze-in a day's puja and a night's celebrations, that exams are near and so I can't afford to skip lectures in college if I am to further my stay, that I am saving a lot of time in which I can read at least 2 novels (already done with one!) and write something (the two things I enjoy the most, far more than any festival) blah, blah, blah.
To no avail.
She is convinced that I will be badly missing my family, that no novel is a sustitute for the on-goings of a family in the days leading to a festival and that I am only putting up a brave face since nothing can be done now.

Now the last one, in the language of psychoanalysis, is the defence mechanism of 'denial'- refusing to accept that the problem exists, to do away with the associated anxiety. The moment I come to realise this, I know I have to make her understand.
Of course I could not straightaway tell her that a fiercely individualistic person like me accidentally took birth in a collectivistic culture (harmony with in-group members is a more central goal than developing autonomous individual entities) of ours and not in some Western country that knows only individualism , and that my individualistic instincts keep finding an outlet for their expression no matter how strong my aculturisation. That is the explanation I offer myself for my actions. If I say the same thing to anybody else, studying psychology will be seen as having done more harm than good to me. 
So I carefully avoid the use of any term with psychological strings attached and make her stand a 15 or 20 minute long lecture on why I am the way I am and why I feel the way I feel, trying every trick in my hat to avoid sounding either self-glorifying or abnormal. At the end, just to make sure that her 'education' doesn't ring hollow and that she too can lecture somebody on the same topic in the future, I bequeath her the term 'individualistic'. And guess what she says. "Your good old technical jargon again Sudha, this time for self-centredness". Hung.

And I used to believe that only the male chauvinists, who are obsessed with controlling the social lives of women and the previous-generation females viz. the mothers and mothers-in-law you see in daily soaps who glorify family honour but, paradoxically, are blind to individual dignity, are anti-individualism!

Imagine a 19 year old educated, urban girl equating individualism with self centredness and detesting it!

Perhaps I shouldn't forget that I am,at the end of the day, still in a collectivistic culture. In a culture where fitting into the group is the only way acceptable. In a culture where behaving in ways that are in line with the social norms are the only 'normal' ways of behavior. In a culture where group solidarity is more important than personal achievement. In a culture where people, especially females, are supposed to gain a sense of identity from being a part of the group and hence no priority to personal goals over socially expected goals is appreciated. And in a culture that detests most of the Western concepts. An individualist like me who defines her own identity, and doesn't want the society to do it, and who does that according to her own personal behavior and attributes is bound to be ridiculed.

And in my case, the problem turns more severe since I am also an introvert. And you can only understand what battering we introverts receive at the hands of well-wishing and concerned relatives, if you yourself have suffered the same fate. If you are an introvert, taking birth in a joint family can be a curse. Thankfully, mine is a nuclear one. Yet the 365 festivals in a year hardly ever let me have my way for a good, long period. Some or the other 'important' festival would arrive-bringing with itself all my preaching relatives and the 'friendly' family friends and neighbors. 
I often picture a festival as a lovable monster that comes with its devillish laugh (muhuuhhaaaahhhhaaahhhaaaahhhhhaa) and enjoys poking its nose at my personal space, grinning all the time at my pitiable state yet bringing joy to all the people around me.

Much ado about nothing, did you say?

Well only a fellow introvert can empathise with what an introvert one feels when expected to be with people, of all shapes and sizes, all day round, to talk to them, entertain them, bear their stupid jokes and silly gossip or else be tagged as arrogant and loner. 

No denying that the atmosphere is of joviality and mirth.
But what if the same jolly atmosphere pinches you? What if you just want to be left alone with a book on the couch or a pen and a notepad in the balcony? What if you just want to watch a movie on your laptop, alone, as you want to study the dialogues and expectedly your well knowing relatives are bewildered as to why someone would like to watch a movie like 'Khuda Ke liye' or 'Bol' since movies are supposed to be stress busters? 

Hold on to your wish and again you will be tagged as a loner or too arrogant to mingle with those around.

Guess what? It is the insensitivity to our personality and interests that hurts more than the boisterous atmosphere.

Of course the society is changing. Yet nothing has changed.
By the way Happy Diwali ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just beyond....just short of.....

My brain thundered
"Stop sabotaging yourself.
You don't even know him properly."
My heart was indifferent.
"My joy is in burning.
And so I burn."

Ok let it be but at least make sure
that the other person is worthy enough."
"Make sure that the other person is worthy enough!"
And the whole process of
'I love him'.'I love him not'
Started all over again....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Narcissist Speaks

"Error!Hello, Narcissus! Unfortunately, you cannot add your own profile to your network, no matter how much you love it."

This was the result of my carelessly clicking on the + shaped icon in my Indiblogger profile which stands for 'add to network'. Had no intention to blog right now, was just checking out the number of votes my last post had managed to gather and whoa!! This super humorous message that happens to have a personal relevance for me, popped up, out of the blue! 
Now humorous, understandable. But personal relevance? Well yes, not-so-long ago, a friend bugged up with my narcissism (inflated sense of self importance and extreme preoccupation with oneself, in case you wanted the dictionary meaning ;)), had called me a reincarnation of the Greek hunter Narcissus, in a female form, the only difference being that his object of obsession in himself was his beauty!

Back then I didn't know the origin of the term narcissist or who Narcissus was.(If you also don't know, here's a link) When I did come to know about it, I had a hearty laugh of course. But I didn't fail to see what the intended message was as well. To be wary of overconfidence, of unintentionally and unknowingly irritating people with a barrage of I, me , myself stories, of self-centredness blah, blah, blah. No denying, taken to extremes, everything is bad- ati sarvatra varjayet. But that doesn't take away the benefits of having a quality in the right proportion. Now I can see you frowning and saying that narcissism by definition is extreme. But ask me, I can find just the right proportion in that as well lol.

Yes I am narcissistic, but what's wrong with that? After all, as long as a person does not love himself, how can he ever hope that somebody else will? In fact if you ask me, I see so many narcissists all around me. There seems to be either a narcissism epidemic or it seems to be the characteristic feature of the youth. Now how cool this phrase sounds 'narcissism epidemic', doesn't it? lol

At times when I feel like somebody else's life is all hunky dory, somebody was born with a silver spoon, that somebody has more lustrous hair or a better rapport with her classmates, I just make use of this really powerful affirmation "I am privileged to be me". And it works wonders for me. The room for improvement should always be open, admitted, but one needs to guard against changing oneself for every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes along. Not taking it too far, yes, is important and it is the responsibility of my common sense and conscience, and having it in the proper balance is, I believe, absoloutely healthy. That I love myself must be very evident to you if you have explored my blog a bit. This page does an amazing job of being a manifestation of my narcissism and in any case, every blog post of mine has something or the other to speak about myself :D Coming back to the benefits of narcissism, it certainly helps you to make you mind when you are about to take a risk, to tread the waters of uncertainty. Being also occupied with images of fantastic grandeur and superiority, a narcissist is relentless, tireless, driven and very competitive. He is a go-getter, 'strongly compelled', when the people around him might at most be just 'motivated'.
And herein comes the necessity to distinguish pathological narcissism from healthy narcissism.  

"Healthy narcissism is a mature, balanced love of oneself coupled with a stable sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Healthy narcissism implies knowledge of one's boundaries and a proportionate and realistic appraisal of one's achievements and traits."

So go pamper yourself, bask in the glory of being who you are and indulge yourself in some healthy narcissism. Happy self-love ;)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In love? Or not in love?

It all started with a 'naughty' and somewhat out of place compliment. 

The person was told not to make fun of me, not to make me feel awkward, to tell me directly what it was that she desired from me as I could only see it as ingratiation. Sadly it didn't work. 
The compliment seemed to have no ulterior motive lol. 
So I politely asked the person to explain herself, to elaborate on what exactly she meant by that for I could not accept it applying to me in any manner and at last, exasperated, to explain how exactly she came to having that perception.

The final of my questions, to which she was ready to give an answer was another question! And just see what it was- "Are u in love?" 
Caught offguard yet having an answer ready due to earlier experience, I said yes! That I was very much in love with myself, the way my life is going on....and here I was halted abruptly. There had to be some person I was in love with. I said yes there is....she again interrupted and reminded that she knew me too well and was only asking about the person I love the most next to myself, "I know u love yourself the most" :D. Me being me, I said why only 1, I love many like that, all writers whose writing I come to admire....again my train of words was stopped and I was told to take names of 'real people'. I knew what she wanted me to say by using the word 'real', yet I was having fun and didn't want it to end so soon. So very enthusiastically, I said that I again had many names...Dravid, Nadal, Messi, Villa (and had she showed more patience, I had many more names, and not just of sports persons). 

Bugged up, she left with "ok, don't tell me. Only ask yourself and make sure you yourself know the answer."

Something on similar lines happened a couple of days back when a reader of my blog, on reading this post of mine asked me whether I was in love and having got my signature answers, said that she was sure I knew that I never answered the question she intended to know the answer of...that simply put, she didn't want me to tell her about my love for writers, philosophers, or witty and spiritual people! 
I had however answered her interesting question with a simple answer (going against the grain of my usual dialogue, "interesting questions often don't have simple answers")- that I had not met anybody 'real' to walk in the rain like that." 
And guess what? She commended my imagination as she believed that "such feelings and emotions could only be expressed when one had experienced the true state of love". 
Either she is a simpleton or simply very nice to have rested the case like that.

Now these two people have really got me thinking whether I am actually in love with some 'real person'!

 Of course even if I am, I may not accept it consciously for my 'ideal partner' is too ideal to exist.
And even if somebody that perfect exists, I haven't come across one. 

Here I would like u to know what response this defence of mine elicited from the friend I was talking about- that she had read somewhere, "love is not about finding the perfect one. It is about loving perfectly". Cool but to my idea of how my life should be, impractical. Like any normal tween, I did have puppy love. Like any normal teenager, I did have my fair share of infatuations and relationships. But love, true love....difficult to say if I have ever been in sometime.

In any case, I don't believe in marriage and I am not the kind not to think of 'what next'? So the other person really needs to think along my lines for the relationship to amount to something. 
And that's not the only issue. I have so fixed ideas regarding how I'll live my life that I won't let any ****ing mother-in-law or some sick  male chauvinist relative telling me what I need to do and the way I should do it. 
If the other person is not fiercely individualistic (and joint-family phobic) as well as an introvert, I know we won't be able to go too far together. 

So it might also happen that I unconsciously resist my falling in love, the moment I sense I am attracted to some well read, witty, well mannered, spiritual guy for I am not very sure of the love being successfully translated into a successful relationship and taking the risk sounds too uncharacteristic of me in such a context. 

And let me tell you I am very good at resisting things lol. 

As I keep telling my friends, I am too complicated in matters of love. Turns out, complicated for myself more than for others. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Side effects of the Anna Wave

The Anna Hazare episode, for a number of reasons, had a lot of personal relevance for me.
Firstly, I got a wonderful topic for my social psychology project, working on which gives me genuine satisfaction since I have always been interested in the goings on in the society much more than pure bookish knowledge and it feels great to have such a topic that helps me understand more and more about the psyche of the society. Of course social psychology is all about society and every single theory, every single chapter is on decoding our social behavior. But what I like about my topic is, its scope is much beyond the textbook. There is political science, management as well as crowd behavior. Even writing a couple of lines on it has got me all excited.
Secondly, I came to know many people from a different angle. Discussing the complex dynamics of the Anna Phenomenon with my project teammates Miss S and Miss B made me understand them better.
With one, I came to discover many similarities in thinking pattern and the kind of attribution I usually make that till date I had not been able to discover due to our outer dissimilarities. With another I came face to face with the differences in our perceptions, the superficial similarites notwithstanding.
Then there were friends who were frantically supporting Anna and whatever Anna was saying. Such people engaged me in a lot of debates both online and offline and I came to realise how poorly informed at times the youth is about what it is proud to flaunt.
One characteristic that emerged from my interactions with such Anna supporters was "either you are pro-Anna or insensitive to corruption/have an elitist attitude/corrupt yourself/a hopeless and a mindless UPA loyalist/traitor." There was this "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" tenor of Bush in their language.

With such people around, you were not allowed to use your mind, deliberate and say that both the bills have loopholes and we actually need a better bill, a middle path. You were not allowed to say that you were all for a strong Lok Pal Bill and that you do not bother whose stable it comes from. You had to be either Pro Anna or Anti Anna. And if you were anti Anna, you faced situations like 6 likes and 70+ comments (60+ of them negative) on your status update about Anna. You faced situations like having to defend an article you wrote for an online magazine from the midnight till the wee hours. You chose to observe strategic silence for a couple of days till you decided people were being misled and were being too naive. When you again started posting links of articles that pointed out the flaws in the JLPB or were against Anna'a tactics, by and by people socially boycotted you. You were muted.
Interestingly, gradually there also came out people who realised that the concept of Lokpal rooting out corruption is more wishy-washy than practical. But now that the bill had been tabled, they had to take a stand. Such people didn't find it difficult to see the flaws in both the bills. Some of such people supported only Anna'a protest and not the bill per se (amusing I know, probably it ws sadistic happiness at seeing the ruling party battered) and some who found fault with the method itself and not much with the bill.
Unlike the initial days of the protest, the country's intelligentsia seemed to be finally voicing their dissent,  openly criticising team Anna's method, its inflexibility, its obstinacy, its unreasonable demands and finally its provoking language.
I chose my side after doing my bit of research on Anna and the movement. On particularly that whether fasting is the right way to go for the fulfillment of demands. And I had cautioned my readers in my previous post on Anna's fast that there may be copy-cat fasts, with less worthy motives but with as much popular support and the leader having as much moral uprightness as Anna. And in hardly two months, we have been given every reason to see in reality the manifestation of that fear. I am referring to the Kudankulam Protest in Tamil Nadu. A slightly different situation but one that still entertains the same fears.

Around 106 villagers are on indefinite hunger strike demanding an immediate halt to the project in which 1 unit has already been completed. Protestors have blocked all entry points to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Now I won't go into which party is right here. Neither will I explain my stand on the issue of nuclear energy. What brought my attention to this issue and made me blog on it was that I came across this news report about a thousand people trapped inside the power plant complex without much of their food and water supplies left. These are the contract workers and officials as well as their respective families who cannot venture out as their gate passes are being snatched away by the protestors so that they can't return to the complex. Even before the protest started, as one worker rues in the report, there was an air of animosity towards their like. They were socially boycotted and the shopkeepers refused to sell them groceries.
 And now this fast. How morally upright is it exactly?
Emotional blackmail while at the same time being insensitive to the fact that there might be children and elderly starving inside the complex, not out of choice but out of the virtue of having no way out- a classic case of the end being good (at least for them it is) but the means not. Isn't it ironical that whoever fasts cites the example of Gandhiji but fails to take into account his stand on ends and means. Gandhiji believed that means are the seeds of which the end is but a natural flowering. Simply put, he was against the dictum of 'means justify the ends'. But in today's world, starting from the supposedly Gandhian Anna Hazare, means are given a backseat (yes I include Anna Hazare here due to his utopian thinking that he can bring law making to the streets by fasting and can get away with any law he brings up by virtue of having popular support, exaggerated by the media and in any case, the support constituted mainly of pathetically uninformed supporters).
Sad, but true-Gandhiji is only being exploited to give a touch of morality and integrity and to make the message and the messenger more appealing. On the Kudankulam issue, it grieves me no end to ponder over the fact that the non-violent method of fasting (but i also feel that fast unto death is violent as it amounts to an attempt to suicide) is being simultaneously used with something as violent as having 1000s trapped inside a complex with their food and water supplies running out fast. Newspaper says the agitation will resume tomorrow. Let's see what happens. Protests are a part of democracy but when things go overboard and people refuse to think with their mind and don't budge from their stand inspite of logical arguements and written assurances, it doesn't leave a very good taste in the mouth. Anna Hazare anyone?

Monday, October 17, 2011

All messed up

There is this one thing that I don't seem to be able to master. This one thing, though always welcome, brings with it unspeakable agony to me (there's no way you can sympathise regarding the gravity of my anguish if you haven't been in a similar situation, so don't you dare tag me as melodramatic down a couple of lines).....first making me blush, and my friends will tell you how red I go when I blush,  then 'senti' and then fumble, dismissing the otherwise worth dying for comment. A perfect recipe for spilling the beans that you just let yourself be made a fool of by your very own modesty. Made a fool of. Yes. By yourself. Now how does that feel?
I am talking about praise, or rather its troublesome offshoot- handling praise.

Before you start telling me that I am just a normal case suffering from low self esteem, I might as well tell you that I suffer from a superiority complex, a severe one, however contradictory to your common sense that might sound in the present context.
So no question of feeling awkward with a compliment that has no sign of ingratiation.
But i do feel awkward with a genuine praise coming my way (and so many do, when you are sorrounded with juniors for most part of the day). In fact, I am better off handling flattery. No awkwardness, no fumbling. I let the ingratiation go on and when it comes to an end by itself, I duly give a return gift with a return compliment that smacks of as much exaggeration as the original one ( and I am really talented at resisting a hearty laugh and maintaining a super cool, poker face) or just say something sarcastic. That seems easier to do than genuinely accept the praise with a smile and a thankyou without giving the unnecessary return compliment.
 As I was explaining, I am not low on self esteem. In fact I am this big fat narcissist who can go on and on and on while talking about her prized characteristics. It is just that what I seem to be able to carry off so brilliantly, I don't let anybody handle it that well. Massaging my ego, that is.
Studying Psychology was supposed to enable me to decode my enigmatic self. Alas! in this case, it has only made me more confused with its barrage of stuff unrelated to my problem (I was just going through an article 'the science of praise' in Psychology Today). Increasingly able to deconstruct people's personality, but nowhere close to demystifying my own. Huh.

Ok as I type this with my eyebrows relaxed now and my lips curved, I am actually reliving some of the best compliments I have ever been given- "my role model" (by a classmate and a roommate), "my angel" (by a friend)"a sure IAS officer in the near future" (this one by many), "a pure soul" (by a classmate), "a great one" (Dr. Khosla) and many others (no pleasure in making you think, "Oh this girl has a serious obsession with herself") by many special people, some sadly forgotten. And guess what? It doesn't matter that I didn't handle those very gracefully. What matters is they carved their little own places in my heart very quickly, to be ever present and give me solace when another such compliment comes my way and I mess it up, yet again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A walk to remember

A long winding road in front and nobody in sight. Add to that the skies just about opening up and the earthly aroma of the wet soil. Ah! Could the setting have been more romantic?

We started walking, taking small steps, looking at each other every now and then and turning our faces away biting our lips, our pace momentarily hastened, slackening yet again in a few seconds.
The breeze kept playing with my hair and I kept brushing it aside, becoming more nervous every now and then but revelling in the woundingly sweet feeling, almost death like in its kindness and yet agonising in its intensity.
The road was still empty, which was strange considering the usual bustle at this time of the day. Divine intervention perhaps. We kept walking in the embalming silence, cozily wrapped up in a blanket of bliss. Not a word was exchanged, as usually happens when we are together, but many a thought were exchanged through the clandestine glances. 
The vibes were such one could have kept walking on and on and on for life, just for keeping alive the trance. Yes I said trance. I was into one, that evening. For when I fell out of it, out of my dream I mean, and out of the bed as well, I had a kind of a hangover that would again keep me in a trance for quite sometime!