Friday, March 13, 2015

What Will People Say

As a little girl, as a teenager, as a young woman, and well, even now, I've always run into a familiar conversational trope "what will people say". It was by far one of the most trying things, and also the most ridiculous. To me, it seemed like I was living under the scrutiny of these "people" and for some reason, their opinions mattered and, more importantly, governed my every day life.

I could never understand why "people" were more important. And after these conversations there was one thought I never articulated - WHO are these people? I mean, do I know them? Would I be able to spot them in a crowd? Do they have names? Why are we so afraid of, and so terribly bothered by, these people? Do we owe them money? Do they know some deep, dark, unmentionable secret about us that we have to live our lives in terrible fear of their knowledge?

I never really asked my family all this, and in the few choice instances that I did, I got the line about how we weren't living in isolation and we had to face "people" and it was important to be above reproach. Again, with the damn people!

I never got it. I don't get it. I don't think I ever will.

Clearly, these "people" aren't going away. They seem to be at the crux of every discussion we're having today. Take, for instance, that young girl who was brutally beaten on the streets by her police inspector father. His reasoning was that she was having an "affair" and had brought "shame" on the family and there was no way that she was going to get away with it. His solution was to force-marry her to some random they had picked out for her. Once again, the "people" won.

The worst outcome of "what will people say" is not the violence that girls and women experience in this country, it's the hypocrisy that's masked in the shroud of "IDGAS about what people say". Not only are the people who loudly proclaim this liars of the worst sort, they're also hiding their deference to convention in a statement that's more dangerous and detrimental than "what will people say".

The worst affected by the 'what will people say' adage are, of course, women. I know of many other affected parties, but I am not living their reality, so I will have to focus my angst on the territory that I am familiar with. I don't want to generalise on something unfamiliar to me and then get called out for being ignorant and so on.

Like I was saying, the worst affected are women. Why you ask? For one, people seem to care an insane amount about whether it's appropriate for a girl to wear jeans, carry a cell phone, be single, have male friends/acquaintances/colleagues, have an education, sanitation, etc. There's so much a woman can and cannot do, and practically all of it is countered with the "what will people say" tag.

Why does it matter so much? This social approval? Are these people around when you're in crisis? Do they celebrate your joys and mourn your sorrows with you? Are they the support you need to live life knowing that you're no alone in this world? I don't think so.Living in fear of judgement basically limits us from being happy. The constant worry of someone else's opinion on our life leaves no room for joy. And that's a sad way to live.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

All that Baby Talk, Pt4

You know, I really want to stop blogging about my pregnancy. But the craziness surrounding this most normal of womanly biology compels my rants.

[My dear fellow women for whom pregnancy hasn't been easy to come by, might never happen, isn't easy, please know that I empathise in full. I don't mean to beat you over the head with my drama.]

The bump watch. It's a tabloid favourite activity. Thankfully, I think the Indian media isn't as unhealthily obsessed thanks to the innumerable superstitions surrounding pregnancy and the fact that most pregnant women in our country aren't too show off-y with their bumps. Hiding the bump is as much a part of pregnancy as is announcing to the world a girl/woman's fertility (read manjal neerattu vizha, don't get me started on that, please!). So, the Indian tabloids have carried woefully little content about celebrity babies and Aishwarya Rai, mother of most famous celebrity baby in Indian tabloid history, chose to stay on the DL during her pregnancy, bless her!

But the average woman, aam aurat, sarasari manushi, doesn't have the pleasure of being the subject of zero prying eyes. No, this woman has to deal with her doctor, her spouse, her family, her friends, her own devious mind, and all the content online and offline regarding what her pregnant belly ought to look and feel like! It's a bit ridiculous this level of scrutiny. It always makes me wonder why we even announce our pregnancies to everyone around us. I get it, it's good news to those who believe pregnanices are good news, but there are some people who don't want to know about what goes on in our uterus and frankly who can blame them? Other than a mini human, the other things that a uterus expels can hardly be called pleasant. Maybe necessary, but by no means pleasant.

That's not the topic of conversation here. We're talking baby bumps.

You'll have to forgive me the usage of the colloquial term. Thanks to my first trimester, pretty much the only obvious indicator of my pregnancy has been my weight. And everyone kept commenting on how fat I've become and so on. It was tempting to tell them off, but I didn't feel like. Too much work for the opinions of people who IGAS about. The only people I do care about are friends and family, and thankfully, I've been lucky in tat they are more concerned about my well-being and less about how pregnant I look.

That being said, it's a bit sad that you go to the trouble of getting pregnant and then all you're told is "you don't look pregnant, just fat." Gee, thanks! I went through a miscarriage, and some serious time planning only to hear this from your smelly mouth. Please go sailing on the cooum and accidentally drown in cooum sludge, please? Thanks. I really appreciate how you've acceded to my wishes and whims! UGH!

Body-shaming and fat-shaming have become such an integral part of the process of one's pregnancy that you can't unhear it, or pretend it doesn't exist. The only thing you can do is rage at it and call people names. You literally leave us no choice. For the most part, pregnant women and their skewed centres of gravity don't lend themselves to grace in a fight.  And honestly, I prefer standing up straight to flailing about like an ungainly creature.

At this point, I've gone on selective deafness mode when it comes to bump talk. I mean, in my initial excitement, I wanted a bump and I wanted to look pregnant and wear maternity clothes and walk around the city gleefully rubbing my belly and looking pleased about life. But then I realised that this is probably better. A barely there belly that's finally beginning to show in my third trimester is better than walking around breathless and cursing your decision to get pregnant in the first place.

The main takeaway is of course the following:

- If you're a woman who has never been pregnant, shut up about my lack of a baby bump. Save your commentary for the time you do choose to gestate a mini human.
- If you've been pregnant before and you had the kind of belly that walked into a room hours before you did, that's your body being pregnant, not mine, so quit comparing!
- If you're a man, don't make me state the patently obvious. Just please SHUT UP!

Friday, February 27, 2015

All that Baby Talk, Pt3

Now that the emotions and sentiments of pregnancy is out of the way, I want to delve right into the territory I call fucking ridiculous.

It's a place where common sense has permanently abandoned any attempt at residing here and where the absurd and farcical come out to play. Every single second.

Owning to the fact that I don't drive, I don't go out much. I'm mostly homebound and until I'd finished 5 months, it was impossible for me to go anywhere because of the fatigue that would take over the second I exerted myself. My energy levels have finally been restored to some degree of normalcy and I feel like I can finally move around, only to be told that my final trimester is here and could I please shut up and sulk in a corner!

(1) In the early days of my pregnancy, my little viable fetus was referred to as a parasite. Yeah, parasite. If someone had said 'multicellular glob that's going to eventually turn into a 50% you and 50% husband baby' I'd have digested, but parasite? I mean, do you want me to get violent? Or are you being scientific? I don't get it. Call it a zygote, call it a fetus, call it the reason behind my ridiculous nausea, but a parasite? Ticks on my dogs eyelids are parasites, yo, not the multicellular organism I'm growing inside me! But yeah, I had to listen to the word parasite being bandied about and since I had zero energy to inflict serious bodily harm on the person talking, I had to listen.

(2) Coughing is not good. Please control the impulse to cough. I literally have no clue why this is sensible. Could it be because coughing is so high pressure that you'd end up delivering a baby? That's as ridiculous as the scene in What To Expect When You're Expecting, when this supermodel type chick sneezes and out pops a baby. Controlling a cough could exert that same pressure on your internal organs, and if everythign goes to shit when you chose suppressing instead of just bloody coughing, who are you going to blame? Yourself? Or me?

(3) Evil ghosts and goblins are out to possess your uterus! Okay, so going out and standing in the dark means all these evil night creatures will invade your uterus and possess your as yet unborn child with evil and you'll end up birthing the devil! Apparently this is why pregnant women aren't allowed to go out in the dark. I can't even. No, I won't.

(4) In-vitro is the best method of teaching your child calm and composure. Sure, I don't mind. But have you not met Biology? Like ever? There's also this thing called the universe which will remind you of your crimes and get you to pay every damn thing back in full. Children are the best way to accomplish this. And I'm sure everyone with a brain has figured this out. Our beleaguered parents are evidence of this payback phenomenon. And for those of us who have kids, or like me are waiting to be parents, can also safely vouch for this fact.

(5) Don't show anyone your stomach. Last I checked, I wasn't walking around with my shirt lifted up so everyone could see my bump. So what gives? Oh, not to wear fitting clothes? Dude, why the hell not? I know I'm pregnant, anyone who sees my waddle has figured out I'm pregnant, so why hide and pretend I'm not? Is this because of evil eye? If you ask me, if something bad has to happen, it will happen. Attributing it to evil eye or any other such thing is being stupid. Chill out. This is, however, a matter of personal choice. I'm not for bump-hiding. But for those who do, that's your bump to show off or hide.

So far, this is what I'm dealing with. There's more. I'll be adding to this story in increments. Soon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On being confrontational

You know what? Anyone who has read this blog knows that I spend a lot of time here just writing angry things aimed at people who have in some way or the other pissed me off. And pissing me off is about as easy as eating a piece of cake.

Lately I've been on a pick-a-fight spree with everyone around me. From my husband, to people who responded to something I posted online. Some people have responded in kind and the war of words continues, some people didn't get the point. But I keep thinking if I should keep at the fighting or just let it go. My trouble is that I can't stop my immediate impulse to dash out a thought or 50,000. Should I think before I act in these instances? OR should I go ahead and keep at it? I'm not sure what I should do, but I do know that I'm far more settled when I share the feelings than when I don't. This explains the existence of the blog, as well as my Twitter account.

My constant ranting has been a source of great joy for people. It gives them one more thing about me to laugh at. I mean, I come across as nothing less than apeshit. That being said, do I care? I don't.

When it comes to politics and religion, I have a lot to say, but that's fine, everyone has an opinion on these things. We're all activists.

But what about when it comes to people talking about you behind your back to someone close to you? Do you confront the tale carrier, or do you shut up and watch as their so-called innocent conversation leads to a not-so-innocent confrontation between you and the receiver of the story? Or do you ignore the series of events because you're adopting this 'let it go' philosophy?

I prefer confrontation. Even if it means costing me a so-called friendship. I'd rather know exactly what was said and done rather than pretend pleasantries every time I meet this person. Does this make me hostile? Damn right it does. At least that's what people tell me. I get it. You don't want to deal with someone who is coming at you all guns blazing, but you're sure comfortable when it comes to talking about me and creating a ripple where none exists.

Innocent or not, sometimes some conversations have unintended consequences. And when those consequences directly affect you, it's imperative to take a stand instead of pretending that these consequences didn't happen. I don't expect apologies, I don't expect contrition, what I do expect is for people like this to stay the heck away from me.

Friday, February 20, 2015

All That Baby Talk, Pt2

24 Weeks.

I can't even begin to fathom that I've been gestating a mini human, or a mini as a friend refers to her newborn for this long. It's a bit, well, it's a bit of everything.

I miscarried back in 2013. I was 'surprised' when I found out I was expecting. Not that I'm good at admitting that to myself, let alone to the internet. I'm one of those people who makes no secret of her disdain for couples who are 'surprised' at their pregnancies. For some reason, I believe that two adults in a consensual, sexual relationship can't be surprised. I mean, there's a wealth of information out there, old wives tales included, and in this day and age, being surprised is a bit boring to be honest.

Anyway, my assholery aside, miscarrying was unexpected and a lot more emotional an experience than I'd bargained for. I was, at that time, newly married. My husband had precisely no clue about how to deal with this information. I mean, we'd talked about kids and we had planned that babies would happen after at least a year together, so this turn of events was territory we didn't think we'd have to chart as a couple so immediately into an arranged marriage.

I dealt with it particularly badly. Aside from the physical pain, there was also the fact that literally no one was thrilled with the news. My family gave me sage advice as always about how to take care of myself, but nothing indicated that they were excited about being grandparents. Not like they are now. They all asked me if I was sure. I didn't know myself. Most of what I went through was an intensely private ordeal. Even my doctor looked grim every time he looked at the ultrasound images on the screen. He kept saying, "it's not right. I think we may have to terminate."

An abortion, even a medically advised one, was not something my mum-in-law was willing to accept. But the doctor told her that my health mattered more and in the long run it was better to terminate than to hang on to a fetus that wasn't developing at all. Rather than let it begin to affect my physical well-being, the better idea was to let it go.

For the first time in a long time, I prayed before going for the final round of checkups prior to my D&C procedure. I just said, "if this is meant to be, I need a sign, some sign, any sign." That night, I began bleeding.

I'm the last person who resorts to prayer. For any reason. I'm the kind of person who'd be sitting in the corner of the room rolling her eyes and making fun of the rest of the room participating in a pooja that no one understood the purpose of (or so I thought). To have asked for divine intervention was a bit of a stretch even for me, but that's the place I was in mentally. I didn't know what else to do really. Also, Ganesha has always been a personal favourite and my all-time crush. I keep asking him for favours and bribing him with coconuts. It seems to work. I think.

After the doctor checked me up and gave me the all-clear, I went on the pill. Stayed on it till S and I decided to try for a baby.

Ever since recovering from HG and jaundice, I keep thinking back to the events of 2013 and I wonder if things have panned out the way they should have. My miscarriage happened on its own, so, was it a sign? I mean, if I asked for divine intervention then, should I now believe that there's a greater purpose being served here? Or am I putting too much weight on basic Biology? 

As 24 rolls into 25 and further, I can't help but think that my unborn child survived the onslaught of my borderline undernourished state in the first 12 weeks, and jaundice, and is now bouncing away quite happily post-10pm every night. Maybe there is a 'meant to be' angle in all this. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

All that Baby Talk, Pt 1

The question everyone asked me post-marriage was, "are  you planning to have children?" writing about the many ways in which I raged at such inappropriate questions is a waste of space, to be honest. I guess, this ridiculousness is not something I can change. Ever.


Being a parent was always something I wanted for myself. I never thought about anything further. I've seen enough forums online about modern women opting out of being parents, flowcharts that spoke of the financial implications of raising a human in today's world, and lots of arguments that favoured non-parenthood. And Let me just say that I respect each and every one of it, and those are ideas I've pondered on a lot. But precisely none of the well-thought-out arguments ever deterred me from my decision.

After having married at the age of 28, people were immediately on my case about reproducing fast so that my "age" wouldn't cause complications. Once again, raging about these things I don't want to waste blog space on.

 To cut to the chase, on October 14, 2014, I found out I was pregnant.I wasn't surprised I was pregnant, my pregnancy was no accident, I went to the clinic to confirm what I already knew to be true. But this was not the beginning of some magical journey. By the time I found out I was pregnant, I was very, very sick. A follow-up visit to the doctor confirmed what I dreaded. I had Hyperemesis Garivardum. By then I was beginning to lose weight. Just about every smell in my environment made be run to the sink to throw up. I couldn't keep food down. My parents, well, my dad mostly, assured me that I was suffering from morning sickness and I was being dramatic as usual. My doctor told me to keep up my calorie intake and prescribed a pill for my nausea, which I would promptly throw up whole after 30 seconds of ingesting it.

Throughout the time that I was vomiting incessantly, I was alone. My husband had to go someplace on work and was not available. I reached out to a friend of mine who was diagnosed with HG in her first pregnancy and she confirmed what my doctor was saying. Being alone, and this ill, took a toll on me mentally. I didn't expect that things would get better, or that I'd feel better, or even that this pregnancy would last to term. Before I went to sleep at night, after chewing on an orange-flavoured hard candy (the only thing that my body didn't reject), I prayed to just about every god I knew to get me out of this hell.

This incessant vomiting, and absolute lack of being able to keep anything down, drinking water included, went on for three weeks. By then I could barely stand for longer than a minute. My father was on his way to visit me, like a typical excited grandfather, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was arranging to go to the hospital and get admitted.

When I went to see my doctor, and weighed in, I'd lost 8 more kgs. She took one look at me and admitted me immediately and put me on saline drips. I kept throwing up, of course. That never stopped the entire time I was in the hospital. My father came from the airport straight to the hospital, complaining that I was making a big deal out of it. One look at me, and he shut up. It was that bad.

I was in hospital for four days and it wasn't like I was recovering or anything, I also had jaundice. Thankfully, I discovered it before my count got too high and the doctors got to treating me immediately. I'd had about 16 bottles of saline. They couldn't stop it because, well, I kept throwing up. The only tablet I could keep down was the one for gastritis. The nausea pills just came out whole.

When I was discharged, I was still throwing up. Clearly, the smells that bothered me, continued to bother me. But I was getting a little better, and kept getting better in increments. By this time, S had come back and I'd decided that I wasn't going to stay alone and risk getting worse again. I came to Chennai after I completing my first trimester and have been here since. After coming home to amma, and idlis and sambar, I've felt much better and have taken the time stop my negative thinking and redirect myself to a happier mental space.

Right now, the biggest annoyance in my life is the people who go, "But, where's the bump?" Dude, how would you like me to end your life? Sliced jugular or immolation? Call me when you decide and meet me at home with the necessary tools, 'kay?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

On notable things like opinions

(1) If there is one thing I strongly support, it's the right to have an opinion. We also refer to this phenomenon as the right to freedom of expression. And while it's great that I am from a country that grants me this right, I must also remember that I'm not the only person inhabiting this nation, and therefore, can't cover my ears and go "LALALALALALALALALA I DON'T HEAR YOU" every time someone else has something different, and dare I say, opposing, to say to me.

(2) Without opposition, how on earth is one to thrive? We cannot expect everything we say or do to be applauded and aggressively promoted for how amazing it is. I mean, there are humans who intensely dislike Rajnikanth. This is a true fact. So, trying to make a point about opposition being a deterrent to your freedom of expression is ridiculous. The opposition is also exercising it's right to express itself.

(3) The reason I'm listing out all of this is because of the responses to the All India Bakchod Knockout / Celebrity Roast of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor.

(4) To be honest with you, I was one of the people who didn't like the whole thing. I didn't think it was funny and when these so-called intelligent comedians thought it was okay to reference 9/11 and assume that people would find it funny in the spirit of irony and sarcasm, I wondered about the freedom of expression.

(5) I have immense respect for people who are able to make other people laugh. It's a talent I lack. But as audience, I believe I reserve the right to decide if I find something funny or not.

(6) I'd like to question their impassioned defence of their act and of why they took down the content. I agree with mostly everything they're saying except for one niggling fact. Let me try and put this across without being too circuitous -- if a filmmaker, of whatever calibre, were to make and release a film are we to applaud his freedom to create and publish content or are we to have an opinion about the movie? They're saying that an audience, however diverse, has no right to question any and all content that they're exposed to. I am, as an audience, to STFU and not have an opinion about them because they're exercising their right to freedom of expression? What about my freedom of expression then? Is it to be sidelined as 'haterz gonna hate' because you can't stomach the fact that despite your consenting adult roasters, roastees and audience, and 8M YouTube views, there are a few people who find this unfunny? Also, a list of people who didn't like your show also include those who aren't the moral watchmen, they also include intelligent humans who can and will discern good from bad/horrible/shitty. And just because 8M is more than a few it doesn't mean that the people who dislike what you did are irrelevant. I'm bringing the numbers up because they took great care to mention the proportion of likes to dislikes. It bothers me that people who are trying to bring something interesting to audiences don't want to listen to any opinion that differs from "OMG I FUCKING LOVE THIS!"

(7) As for our dearly beloved culture vultures. You seriously need to get a life. I'm fucking sick of your "everything we don't approve of is against Indian culture and violates the moral code" tripe. It makes my head spin and makes me want to puke on your damn faces. Mostly, it makes me want to burn you and your unintelligent acolytes to the ground so that we don't have to deal with your shit.

(8) Dear AIB, you guys are funny and I like what you do, but your Knockout I didn't like. I didn't think it was funny. I thought you pandered, and I know that pandering goes against everything you represent, so as a fan, I'm sad that you had to pander, but I hope the next time you do something like this, you don't have to pander and can crack the jokes you want to without having the man approve and okay it.

(9) I want to go back to opinion-having. It's an important part of being an active participant in society. Sometimes, it's okay to have opinions that cover a spectrum of likes, dislikes and interests, but just because you like something, it doesn't mean you remain loyal and faithful and ignore it when it turns momentarily unlikeable. To everyone eye-rolling at this, please stop and think before you go trolly on me. Although I have a sneaky feeling that you guys are the people who throw temple mural pictures at the moral police. I used the temple mural trope when I was in school, just fyi, and I finished school in 2001. So, even by my standards it's an old trope, get over it and find something truly scathing to say to our dearly beloved culture vultures. They're a blight to the well-being of our social and democratic fabric and like I said, if there's no alternative, we should set them on fire!