Sunday, November 29, 2009

Should mum be the word?

With age, hopefully, we all mature. So do our convictions. As I grow older, I feel more and more cemented in my belief system. I am a passionate woman with opinions and do not shy away from expressing them.

Years ago, my husband said to me, “When people ask for your honest opinion, they don’t really expect you to be candid with them.” I was baffled by the human hypocrisy. Why ask for the truth when you don’t have the appetite for it? Why begin a sentence with “I want your frank opinion,” when basically what you want to hear is an echo of your own ideologies. Is it for the purposes of validation? To me, that’s a sign of immaturity.

Should I concede that not everyone in the world sees the world as black and white? Majority of the adult population chooses to experience the world as shades of grey. In a nutshell, being a straight shooter might not always be the best bet. Hmmm. Is that right? Then the option, if you aren’t into unnecessary lying, is to seal your lips. If truth isn’t allowed to flow out from the mouth, lies shouldn’t be permitted either. Mum should be the word.

But how feasible is the mum option? The world is a strange place. People like to dig out certain information out of you. Notice how often religion, politics, and social issues form the topic of discussion at parties. I avoid them like the plague (In case you haven’t figured it out, I am a passionate, artistic woman with strong opinions.) because I don't want to lie about what I feel. And my viewpoints might be too shocking and uninhibited for some. I demonstrate my point with a few examples:

Religion: I like to believe that there is an almighty. The concept of the omnipresent makes me feel safe and secure. I diligently celebrate most Hindu festivals with a lot of enthusiasm, unless it’s one of the sexist traditions which don’t fall under my belief system. I, often, break my karva chauth fast with butter chicken and hot naan. There is something magical about the tomato-and-cream gravy hitting the empty stomach. By the way, I equally relish chicken biryani over Eid and roasted chicken for Christmas. Am I a fundamentalist? A food fundamentalist for sure. I prefer Pakistani samosas to the Indian ones because I don’t appreciate masala in my food. The Paki samosa is surprisingly milder on the system. And so is their biryani. I don’t eat or cook beef. But I don’t judge or condemn folks who eat it.

Social issues: I believe everyone has the right to freedom. People should be allowed to spend their lives with whomever they choose. So yup, I am all for gay rights and inter-cultural marriages. Whatever keeps you in a happy, stable relationship. I have seen some revolting heterosexual marriages, which make me wonder why the two people are together – annihilating each other with their toxic words.

I take offense with patriarchal setups and gender inequalities. Don’t tell me I can’t do something just because I am a woman. Neither am I feeble nor am I dependent, so you have to come up with something better than that. Know your duties as a human being because that’s what counts.

Politics: Do I even need to clarify? I am thrilled a young man is the president of America today. I adore Michelle Obama – real and grounded. Similarly, I wish Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi or one of the other younger politicians would come to power in India after Manmohan Singh’s term. It’s time we got some fresh blood and untainted ideas to govern the country. I don’t believe in wars and hate crimes.

My opinions – as you can see – certainly do not straddle the fence of grey. I definitely tilt completely onto one side of the issue. These are my beliefs, and I am proud to stand by them. I also know that expressing them in strong terms – as I am prone to do – does have the effect of riling people on the other side of the debate. Hence, I am always intrigued by the number of personal emails I receive, as positive comments, after people read my blogs or other published pieces. For instance, after reading my newly published article in India Currents (Titled, "An Unchaste Brown"), a friend said, "As always, you write from your heart. Good piece."

I wonder if truth is underrated.

More until next time


Copyright © 11.29.09

“What is uttered from the heart alone, Will win the hearts of others to your own.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Launch - I wish I were in Toronto

I have said to a few of my friends that I loathe November 2009 with a passion. Well, I have my reasons and let’s not get into them right now. Anyways, I am glad the awful month is coming to an end. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the last week of the eleventh month of the year. And guess what happens tomorrow?

Earlier this year, one of my stories got selected in an anthology titled, “Her Mother’s Ashes 3.” The publisher is an exciting, reputable Canadian company called TSAR Publications. I am not masking the publishing house’s name with fat layers of positive adjectives just because I have a book coming out with them. When I mentioned TSAR Publications to one of my friends, who is an eminent Canadian author, she hurled a river of good things about the publishing house. So, anyways, the TSAR Fall Book Launch is scheduled for November 23, 2009 at the Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, TSAR Publications. If you are in the area, please check it out. If the books catch your fancy, don’t be shy to pick up a copy.

As far as “Her Mother’s Ashes 3” goes, this collection brings together more first-rate stories by South Asian women that—whether set in their home countries or those of their adoption—explore with profound and sensitive insight the inner tenor of women’s lives caught between places, cultures, and generations.

ISBN: 9781894770545
Paper $24.95; 200 pages

Reviews of the previous volume:

". . . an intense, pleasurable, and instructive experience, making me reflect on the ideas of home, homelessness, fragmented cultures, and cultures in conflict and dialogue."
—Books in Canada

"Interesting and evocative fiction that provides illuminating
—and often troubling—insights into the North American life 
of the South Asians."
World Literature Today

More until next time


Copyright © 11.22.09

"A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author's soul" - Aldous Huxley

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do you ever get over it?

Someone very dear to me said, "Unless you go through it (meaning, face a personal loss), you can't fathom the pain." I think I know what they mean. To me, the impact of loss is directly proportional to your equation with the person who has passed away.

Every adage indicates that time is the best healer. That people forget their worst nightmare and painful experiences, as time passes. Life takes over and fills dark holes with healing water. But what if these adages are a myth? What if that certain relationship is irreplacble?

Close your eyes for a moment and think of that one place where you can still feel like a child irrespective of your age. The one house where the stress of adulthood doesn't touch your sleep. The one place where sweet corn chicken soup is served on a tray because you sneezed. What image did you conjure up? Wasn't it your parents' place?

Very recently, my family witnessed a personal loss. I was in California this past weekend to express my condolences and cherish the relationships I still have. Despite all the love, warmth, smiles, and hospitality, I saw unhealed hearts. I constantly felt the presence of the person whose demise we all mourned. The passing away of this one person has taken a toll on the people I care about. I sense anguish in every conversation I have with my mother. I am not sure I will get over it ever either.

The journey from coast to coast got me thinking. Every loss is difficult and emotionally draining; the degree of pain might differ. But is one loss more draining than the other? I have heard friends say that if something happened to their spouse or children, they would die. I don't question their sentiments. I am not saying any loss is easy to deal with, but if someone loses a child, they can have another one. If someone loses their spouse, they could eventually meet someone else. Again, no one can take the place of the one who has moved on, but life goes on and people find emotional anchors. But how do you replace a parent? That one relationship where you feel like an orphan just thinking about the loss. The pain arising from any loss is ruthless, but one that takes away your parent is unbearable.


More until next time.



Copyright © 11.14.2009


When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.  ~Author Unknown

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do you know what you are doing?

Someone dear to me once confessed that, for them, reading my blogs was the easiest way to find out what was on my mind that week. Touché.  At parties, I have had random people walk up to me and tell me that they read my blog and/or forward it to their friends and family overseas. I am grateful to everyone who takes out the time to indulge my “Rants of the week,” but it also makes me conscious of what I post. Not the honesty in my tone but some of the topics I discuss. I concede that I can’t control who reads what and how they interpret my words, but I can control what I post. Normally, as a writer, I wouldn’t care about people’s opinions on my thoughts; but as a marketer, if it affects my professional life, I can’t afford to be apathetic. For instance, I might blog about my disenchantment with the heartlessness of corporate America, from a social and philosophical point of view, but I would never divulge details about my own workplace. That’s asking for trouble.

Talking about sharing. I have always wondered about people who friend their coworkers, on Facebook, and permit them to see every ounce of information on their profile. Unless you implicitly trust these coworkers, all I want to ask is “Really?” Because not all coworkers are friends. Everyone has a paycheck to earn and a butt to save, so why would they think twice before outing you? Someone I know had called in sick the other day. Their so called dear friend (colleague) showed me this person’s status update on Facebook. Guess what? This “sick” person was vacationing on sandy beaches in Mexico and not lying in bed, at home, with a fever. Funnily, the tattle tale couldn’t resist the urge to comment on their “sick” friend’s status update or fill me with details. So much for friendship. 

I know of people who were asked to delete their Myspace page and Facebook accounts, by their employers, because they didn’t have the maturity to channel the flow of information from their brain to their fingertips. Be it posting about their company’s new product, before the launch, or their drunk-at-4a.m-with-a stranger-in-a-bar pictures, they lacked the maturity of who saw what. Seriously, there are “privacy settings” options that Facebook allows. Embrace it. It’s free. Your boss doesn’t need to know about your weekend escapades.

Another element of social networking that boggles my mind is the dissipating boundaries between generations. At least for South Asians, we grew up with a culture of discreetness and boundaries. There are certain deeds South Asian elders won’t commit in front of their younger generation and vice-versa. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. That’s the essence of what we are about. But all of a sudden, with the liberated social media, the human eye is inflicted with an overdose of personal information. It’s progressive to have an intellectual debate or respectfully joke with people from the older or younger generation, but sharing your inappropriate Halloween pictures doesn’t put you in the suave category! Aunts and uncles and parents witnessing their kids’ semi-nude photos and commenting on them is revolting. One can be friendly with the younger or older generation and vice-versa but not become best friends with them because it is weird and unhealthy. Go out and socialize with people your own age. Get a life!

Quite frankly, I like people’s ability to possess multiple personalities: One for work, one for your friends, and one for your family. These are different facets of you that cater to different aspects of your life. I am not about lying, but I don’t think everyone in my life needs to know how I spend every moment of my day. Every relationship has its own special place and information can be channelized accordingly. And for those emulating and blaming the west, grow up. Cultured and educated people, universally, know the art of communication and perils of information over-share.

More until next time.



Copyright © 11.05.2009

“Breathe. Know that the Internet has no eraser.” - Liz Strauss