F.O.M.O

His Holiness The Dalai Lama will be giving a speech at KJ Somaiya College tomorrow. When I heard about it, my first reaction was, “I cannot miss this at any cost!” But my second reaction was: I’m just too tired to change two trains and travel. My third reaction was, “Come on! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!” but my fourth reaction was, ” I am just too stressed out! I just want to curl up in my blanket and read a book.” So I finally decided that I will not go. My first reaction after this decision was, “Shit I am missing out something really awesome” but I will stand by my decision despite all the F.O.M.O.

As human beings with limited life span, we want to have as many experiences as we can. But at some point we have to understand our personality and make choices accordingly. As an introvert, I find it extremely taxing to be in a social setting (which I do everyday at workplace). Adding to that, the traveling makes things worse. Weekend is the time when I want to be in my little world, read and write. This might seem like a bad decision but doing this re-energizes me and keeps me sane. So for my mental health’s sake, I have decided to let go of some opportunities.At the end of the day, doing something out of fear is not enjoyable and the sooner we understand this, the better!
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Why child sexual abuse is rampant in India

1. Children are expected to worship adults. Questioning/ calling adults out for inappropriate behavior is considered a sin.

2. Children are forced to hug/ come into physical contact with adults even if they don’t want to. We don’t feel the necessity to teach/respect the idea of consent.
3. Indians are so obsessed with blood relations and relatives that they cannot imagine a possibility of an uncle, sibling sexually abusing a child.
4. The whole concept of ‘Karma’ is used against the victim. E.g He/She has faced this because he/she did something wrong in past life.
5. Lack of sex education and Indians’ problem with discussing sex.
6. Maintaining family stability is considered more important than preventing sexual abuse. So if a grandfather or an aunt is a perpetrator, the parents will not take any action.
7.  General lack of respect for children. Many Indian parents treat children like property.
8. Many Indian adults were victims of sexual abuse themselves and were silent about it.
9. The victim is shamed and not the perpetrator. If it’s a male victim, we will tell him to toughen up while the female victim is treated like damaged goods
10. Lack of mental health awareness. Most Indians don’t have knowledge about the kind of impact child sexual abuse has on a person.

Forgiving myself for not giving my 100%

The other day, I caught myself writing an extremely ordinary line for a social media post. When someone pointed it out, I felt extremely guilty for not trying my best, for not pursuing excellence in everything I write. After all, I chose this career because I love creativity! However, there are many things at play here. My colleague works from 9 30 AM to 12 30 AM (during movie promotions) and the clients still feel that she is not committed! Anyone who has worked in entertainment (or even advertising) will know that the sheer volume of work can overwhelm your brain. People don’t give a damn about your mental or physical health. When you work in such a culture, it is obvious that you will write ordinary stuff once in a while. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, it is okay! At the end of the day, you cannot be creative if you are not healthy, mentally (All the mental illness-creativity connections sound romantic but somehow, I’m not convinced!). I will keep pursuing excellence but I refuse to feel guilty for not giving my best sometimes. I forgive myself for not giving my 100 percent all the time. I will also try not judge my favorite artists for not putting in effort, once in a while.

Why are Indian parents afraid of self-love?

Parents (especially Indian parents) are afraid of their children discovering self-love. Teaching your children self-love is in a way giving up your power and authority. If they don’t love themselves then they will forever try to please others. This desire to please can be used for manipulation (which is quite rampant in Indian culture). If children start loving themselves then they will start saying “no” and it is a sin to say “no” to your parents. If children start loving themselves, then they will start questioning traditions. They might start creating art without worrying about the imperfections. They might start saying no to abuse which is quite common in Indian culture. For many Indian parents, parenting is about power, not love.

Interesting patterns in the top grossing movies of Bollywood/Hollywood

 
1. The protagonist is a little different from everybody around him/her or he/she does something that is unusual/out of the ordinary. But But But…he/she cannot be TOO different. If you make the audiences TOO uncomfortable then it’s parallel cinema. For example: Harry Potter or Bajrangi are different from the rest of the crowd but they are limits to how much risk you can take in mainstream cinema. So Bajrangi is not an atheist, he is a Hanuman bhakt. Harry Potter is a misfit but he can do cool stuff like magic. Kanji Lal Ji is an atheist and is different from everybody else but at the end of the movie, he starts believing in God.
2. Odds are stacked against him/her. He/She finally overcomes these odds at the end of the movie/series. The ending has to be happy.
3. Most of the top-grossing movies contain ideas that were introduced by alternative cinema, long ago.The ones who respect new ideas are the ones who succeed in the long run. For example, Yash Raj Films quickly changed its gears and started backing off-beat content like ‘Mahi Way’ or ‘Powder’.
But a lot of alternative filmmakers made content-driven cinema much before YRF.
P.S. This is not to say that mainstream cinema is ‘shitty’. Both mainstream and alternative cinema are important in a society.
P.P.S. To those who mock alternative cinema for lack of popularity: Watch out! Today’s alternative can be tomorrow’s mainstream!

Vicious cycle of shame

Shame traps us in a dangerous vicious circle. Because of shame, we desperately try to please others to prove to ourselves that we are worthy. But shame is smart. It makes us feel ashamed of seeking validation from others. So, we desperately seek validation because of shame and then feel ashamed for seeking validation!

We cannot outsmart life!

Perhaps, the wisest among us are the ones who accept that we cannot hoodwink life. We can prepare for the worst but ultimately, no amount of preparation is enough. Unfortunately, our culture is full of messages that teach the opposite. We are taught that a mature adult is the one who doesn’t feel vulnerable (It is interesting to note that this message is similar to patriarchy’s message of “Don’t be a pussy”). So, when we grow up, we numb ourselves, devise strategies to outsmart life and death. Since spirituality is male-dominated, we have many teachers who talk about “permanent bliss”. But life is smarter than us.

The problem with passion

The problem with passion is that most people don’t have one. Very few people know what they want to do with their life and very few actually  do it.  What about those who haven’t found their calling? Is it necessary to dedicate yourself to a singular passion? Is it the only way? Like many people, I had these questions. Even though I chose a profession that I love, it’s not the only thing I love. I have multiple interests which are not exactly related to my profession. If you are like me, you would have criticized yourself for not devoting yourself to a singular passion. But what if there is another alternative?

Elizabeth Gilbert has a solution to our woes: She says that those who have not found one “calling” can instead choose to follow something more gentler and accessible: Curiosity. She says that passion is all-consuming, head-shaving-going-to-Nepal-to-start-an-orphanage kind of drama. Curiosity on the other hand is about the small things, those little clues that we find everyday. Those who religiously follow this curiosity live rich lives. If you have found your passion, then congratulations! But if you haven’t found one, then you can build an interesting life too. Watch this Super-Soul session with Elizabeth Gilbert  (click) to know more.

Language

Telugu-speaking people often use the words ‘Amma’ (which means Mother) and ‘Nanna’ (which means father) in daily conversations, even when parents are not involved (Like you may say to your friend, “What happened to you, amma?”).  In Hindi, we often use the word ‘yaar’ in daily conversations. I’m wondering if the way we use these words describe the kind of culture we live in.

Parents are considered ‘Gods’ in our country and questioning them is almost a sin. The use of ‘amma’ and ‘nanna’ could be a result of a culture which is dominated by the older generation. The use of the word ‘yaar’ could be a result of a culture that is slowly seeing rebellion/a culture that changes with time. Parents are people whom we don’t get to choose. Friends are people we choose. Am I reading too much into this?
If you look at the mainstream Telugu films, they are still pretty conventional. The Hindi film industry, on the other hand, is offering different kind of mainstream content (there is still a place for conventional content, though). In the last few years, the Hindi film industry has offered mainstream content that deals with issues like mental health, homosexuality, dysfunctional families and live-in relationships. I’m not sure if Telugu films have done the same (Dear Telugu friends, do correct me if I’m wrong).