On Broken Souls and Olive Branches

On Broken Souls and Olive Branches

I’ve been told I don’t try hard enough

I’ve been told it’s my fault things go wrong

They said I was weird and unfixable, with a sad little laugh

They said I don’t know what it takes at all

I’ve been told the problem lies in me

I’ve been told I’m no good

And I whole heartedly agree, because honestly

A year went by and I achieved nothing

It’s hard to find someone who gets it

Someone who feels what you feel

They might try on your shoes but they won’t fit

As comfortably as they seem to fit you

No matter how many olive branches you extend

Someone needs to be receptive there too

Broken people and broken relationships don’t mend

Not one their own, they need a lot of help too

I’m an introvert when it comes to feelings

That won’t ever change

I wish I could stay in my bubble and find some meaning

Meanwhile I’d let my ramblings comfort me in my head

It’s a new year but nothing feels different to me

I feel detached like I’ve always been

Broken people don’t heal themselves, you see

What’s worse, I feel like I’d never find my clarity

An Essay on Mental Health.

An Essay on Mental Health.

Two celebrities took their own lives within one week of each other. One, a talented Bollywood actor. The other, his former manager.

Sushant Singh Rajput was only thirty-four when he committed suicide by hanging. There was no note. Indian media being the Indian media, the family was harassed and photos, circulated. Photos that showed the poor soul lying supine on the bed, ligature marks around his neck. And people kept forwarding those images on social media without showing any respect for the deceased or his grieving family. There were no trigger warnings, either. It shocked me to see how people here lack respect, empathy and common sense. As more details surfaced and as more people shared what they knew about the situation, a couple of major issues came to light. Depression, and the fact that since the Indian film industry only survives on the ‘product of nepotism’, Sushant had also been left feeling unacknowledged. He’d made it to Bollywood without a Godfather to push him, and he was finding it hard to stay afloat. In a conversation with a fan on social media, he confessed that he would be kicked out of the industry if his movie didn’t do well.

While the rest of B-town shared posts on social media talking about how they should’ve been there and been more accepting, keyboard warriors started sending hate to top-tier actors. Case in point: Alia Bhatt getting bullied for her post on Sushant. Kangana Ranaut, another self-made actor, getting way too much hate for speaking up about Sushant’s mysterious suicide. And this is exactly how the cycle never ends. Trolls find someone to bully and sometimes, even the strongest of minds breaks down. And goes places where it’s hard to recover from. And it’s not just celebrities or prominent people that face mental health issues, it’s shockingly sad to see that it’s a thing in every Indian home. A thing most families choose to ignore. A thing many believe – TO THIS DAY – that it’s not an issue at all and can be chased away with a proper beating. Not only is that child abuse, it also worsens the child’s state of mind.

As a Bengali Indian, and now a married woman, I’ve faced my share of bullying, I’ve been pressured into doing something I didn’t want to, made fun of for having clinical depression, been doused with buckets of unsolicited advice, been body-shamed and at the same time, never been taken seriously when I needed to talk to someone. And it pains me to say that many others I know go through some form of mental health problems and are dismissed for wanting to talk about it. In (Bengali) households, fifteen-year-olds are mocked at for being low on energy or having enough courage to say that they’ve been feeling depressed. Many are ridiculed for wanting to choose to study something they find interesting. God forbid should you want to become a photographer or a makeup artist. God forbid if you’re not doing well in med-school. While in others, children are made fun of for being “weepy and dead inside” all the time. They’re dismissed if they’re not interested in the same things their parents like. As they grow older and get married, they’re bombarded with questions about when they’d be gaining or losing some weight or when they’d be making babies, despite being fairly new to the whole “being married” scene. No one asks you what you want or if you’re doing okay. No one checks in on you when you’re struggling to reach out. Some people only want you to be happy while putting pressure on you that if you’re not happy, you’d be henpecked into doing what they want because that’s how the world works. People are in fact so quick to judge that all you’re going to end up getting is a bunch of ridiculous statements ranging from “Get over it” to “You’re just thinking you’re depressed. It doesn’t happen that way. No go do the done thing.”

And all of this is normal. That’s what we’ve all grown up facing and are still facing today.

People are so educated but there is serious lacunae in our understanding of mental health and how important it is for a healthy living. And it’s often the people that post about how they wish they’d been there for someone, are the people that spew the most hate. No one actually likes to listen. And that’s the major issue here. We don’t have good listeners around us. Everyone likes the sound of their own voices too much to ever give someone else a chance to speak. And that’s how we start feeling lonely despite being part of a proper unit. And that’s how we start breaking down. Despite all the “education”, we still consider things like pansexuality or depression as something that should be kept under wraps only.

What if the neighbors or the relatives find out? We’ll be so embarrassed!

Why’s any of this taboo when it’s actually out there affecting people badly enough to make them want to take their own lives? And we know that with the quarantine very much in place, it gets hard to keep a brave front all the time. And we need to learn that it’s okay to let do and to have a breakdown or two. But it’s not okay to not have anyone to reach out. Therapists are there for a reason and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s time we learned to be more accepting, more vigilant and more aware. The time for passing crude judgment has now passed. If we want to live healthy, we’ve got to focus on our mental health first and quit treating it as something that can be shoved under the rug and forgotten. And just saying that we need to do something isn’t enough. It’s time all of us actually DID something about it. It’s June 2020 – so if not now, then when?

A Month Gone By.

A Month Gone By.

It’s been a month and a couple days since I got married. For starters, I didn’t even imagine that someday I would be able to picture myself as a wife, to be honest. Coupled with a super low self-esteem and a total lack of reality check, never in a million years did I think I would be settling so perfectly into the role of a wife and a new daughter.

A wife. And a new daughter.

Just how crazy does that seem? Also: notice that I didn’t say “daughter-in-law”? That’s how nice my new family is. Just the other day my new pop made me upma – my favorite – he needn’t have, but he did and it was the cutest thing ever. They’ve also graciously let us stay till our house is done completely. My oh my. Let me go knock on wood a few times before I can actually go ahead and make my point.

My point being, marriage is comfortable. I’d heard a million horror stories, and I’d formed this image in my head that I would make a terrible new addition to my husband’s family too. That I would be a burden and a pain and all sorts of hell. But boy, I was wrong. Before I got married, I struggled with a lot of stuff. I struggled with the concept of acceptance and love and what both of these things really mean. But now, a month later, I can honestly tell you that it’s blissful. You’re not just sharing a home with someone, you’re also sharing headspace.

Sure, you have differences of opinions. You have tiffs. You don’t always get along, but then you don’t have to. Marriage means so much more than just photoshoots or Instagram likes or Sabyasachi lehengas or beach-facing mandaps or Pat McGrath eyeshadow – and you don’t need me to tell you this – but it’s much, much more. It’s about growth. About uplifting your spouse. About always remembering that their image is your image and vice versa. About working together to make the marriage work and at the same time, keeping it effortlessly easy.

And you thought Bengali brides look too loud. I personally think I would have easily passed as someone who were doing a gold jewelry store commercial.

This past couple of weeks have shocked me too. I had no idea my husband and I were twin souls to this extent. And that is the most amazing thing, ever. I’ve been given a whole new set of best friends – my new parents and my new brother – and I couldn’t be happier. The transition from being boyfriend and girlfriend to being husband and wife is beautiful and both my new ma and I have managed to cry our eyes out every time we’ve played the wedding and reception videos. Sigh.

So far, so good. There were very cute surprises along the way – a dreamy Gangtok trip, a Goa trip to attend a wedding, and Valentine’s Day felt super special because we both wore kurtas and went to eat at a random place and looked super boho. FUN.

Hello from my lovely mocktail.

It’s been dreamy and I just wanted to come on here and share things, while I get back to my regular blogging schedule. Hope life’s been treating you as good as it’s been treating me.

Stuff That I Should Have Started Doing Earlier

Stuff That I Should Have Started Doing Earlier

Seeing a dermatologist.

I’m super ashamed to say I’ve never seen a dermatologist in my life. When you’re in your late twenties and you’re saying something like this, this is a major problem.

I didn’t know I would face so many skin problems – I have clogged pores that don’t go away, I have whiteheads and my skin is aging – and no amount of aloe is keeping my skin normal.

I have my very first appointment with a dermatologist on Saturday. I hope I don’t get judged too harshly.

Taking proper supplements.

In addition to eating your greens and otherwise having a diet that’s super clean, your body does need supplements. Some people overdo, and that’s bad.

I just started on collagen and biotin and other vitamins.

• Walking everyday.

I workout at home, and I follow people like Chloe Ting. And although my body is apparently healthy, I don’t walk enough. No, walking on your treadmill doesn’t count.

My health apps remind me that I need to be walking more and that never seems to happen.

I’m trying, and so far I’ve made it through Tuesday. Let’s hope I keep at it.

• Keeping in touch with only people who matter.

For the longest time, I would avoid talking to a bunch of people because I was under the impression that they were nosy.

I was wrong.

Nothing feels better than reconnecting. At the same time, nothing feels more liberating than finding out who’s going to be around when you’re sinking, and cutting off the unnecessary drama from people that never wish you well.

Sleeping better.

I’ve actually posted about the benefits of sleep on my blog before, and it’s weird to me that I never followed my own advice.

I’ve made changes now and I give my body six solid hours of sleep. Sometimes seven.

What are some recent changes that you’ve made in your life, that you wish you’d done sooner?

Why Netflix Should NOT Be Banned In India

Why Netflix Should NOT Be Banned In India

The Indian government has been on a banning spree, lately. What’s the newest addition to the list that a few people want banned? NETFLIX.

Netflix has been accused of trying to spread Hinduphobia and showing India, as a whole, in a bad light. (Here’s the article.) Sometimes Twitter goes out of its way to wrongly motivate and spread hatred, thereby ending up creating unnecessary debates that everyone can actually live without.

Homegrown shows like Sacred Games, Leila and Ghoul are doing a great job of telling a story. As a Hindu, who’s also remotely not very religious, and an Indian, I don’t find any of these shows offensive. Yes, there’s cussing, and yes, it’s inappropriate for certain audiences, but isn’t that the norm for almost all shows across the platform? Also, this ban that people are asking for, seems super ridiculous to me. They banned websites that show adult movies in India. People still watch. People will always find ways to walk around the obstruction and do as they please, anyway. VPN makes that super easy. So what gives?

There’s legit no point. Once the government bans something, it becomes the forbidden fruit that everyone is tempted, beyond their wits, to taste. And they do it. In essence, banning things will only encourage viewer engagement.

It’s this toxic little chunk of people that actually use religion as means to create a rift in the population. NOT the TV shows in question, or a subscription service, no. Sometimes people become religious fanatics that takes over their whole lives and they let it affect everything they say, do, preach or practice. This, to me, is very wrong. Religion was created to ensure that the community was doing well – and not to cause fights. Unfortunately, the tables have turned now and people only use it as per their convenience.

If TV shows had the power to radically change things, influence people, a lot would have changed by now, right? And to be honest, since people misuse everything – religion, politics, resources, other people – what comes next? A ban on people?

Feminism: An Essay.

Feminism: An Essay.

Science has a no-nonsense way of conducting experiments as we were taught in school. Make observations, draw an inference from said observations and the experiments and then supply a conclusion based on the results. Have no bias whatsoever and stay true to facts. That is what I will attempt to do here, be as objective as possible as to determine the cause and effects of lack of equality among human beings.

Before we talk about things like feminism, misogyny, benefit of doubt and subtle changes in the gender hierarchy, we need to talk about human beings as a whole. Dynamics between men and women and how our minds work is of essential importance while trying to understand the existence of complicated issues such as sexism, racism, casteism etc. Let’s observe ancient history, where men and women were barbarians. There was this inexplicable need the males felt when they saw the females, they couldn’t explain it but they NEEDED it. So they used objects to hit women on the head till they were unconscious and drag them into their cave to procreate. Sometimes the females would die, so they adapted & started using blunt objects to only maim and not kill their target. The females, tried to defend themselves but more often than not were physically overpowered. That’s how the seven billion people of today came to be.

“When the chips are down and rules don’t matter these civilized people will eat each other if they have to”, quoting Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight here.

Might seem out of place, but this is very relevant. It speaks about how everything humans do is conditional. And that only the condition matters.

Fast forward to the era between the 1500s to the 1900‘s, humans became much more aware not only of themselves but also of the things around them. Education and art flourished during that period, equal human rights started to seem possible and not just a far-fetched dream. That change came – not without reason – as science advanced scientists found that human bodies were all more or less alike irrespective of gender (excluding reproductive systems, obviously), caste or creed. That shattered the dominant male’s world view, in their opinion they were physically stronger & mentally sharper so they had to be superior, how could they then be considered equal to women? Like every change it not only took a while to implement but also wasn’t accepted by everyone, still isn’t till this day. Seems kind of weird for the mighty human species, the apex predators as we call ourselves, civilized human beings to not be able to make the change in themselves based on reason when barbarians made the change in themselves based on wanting to simply get off. The key point is the change suited the barbarians and their priorities, it did not suit the civilized human males’ priorities. “Kind of weird” is putting it mildly, it’s actually insane. What else would you call someone who completely ignores obvious evidence?

“Insanity is like gravity, all it needs is a push”, second quote I mention from The Dark Knight by Joker which speaks about the condition from the first one, and how that condition just needs a trigger and it can turn into an irrational compulsion, a force that drives you from within to take/not take actions based on facts. In the barbarians that condition was being horny, which drove them to make the change in their style of weaponry. For the civilized men the condition was power, which drove men to deny that the power dynamics were not in their favor, at least based on empirical evidence it wasn’t. I firmly believe this is the reason for feminism to even exist, it’s the incapacity of people to accept change since they weren’t able to place facts over personal priorities.

Feminism proposes the liberation of women from the patriarchal society we have created, & change it into an equal one regarding matters of social, civil & personal rights. A society where people aren’t judged by their gender, but by their abilities. Atleast, that’s what the originators of the ideology imagined.

It took a while for the world to catch on, but the various social media movements such as #metoo and #timesup gripped the world in horror, when people realized how women’s rights are still lacking in majority of the world. Shouldn’t that have been enough to make people realize how messed up our priorities are? Human beings can send machines beyond our own solar system, we can send humans on the moon but we simply cannot accept men & women as equals? That is where another kind of trigger happens where not unlike an auto immune disease the protectors attack what they want to protect.

When a person/people propose a revolutionary theory in any particular matter, the immediate reflex of the human species is to ignore it, to laugh and ridicule it and finally to destroy it. Again, let’s look through history from peace & unity promoters like Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King junior to scientists like Hypatia & Archimedes all of them were murdered. Feminism met with the same ridicule,it wasn’t a person though but an ideology so it couldn’t be killed off. With people taking sides according to their own opinions, a divide came into place which wasn’t much different from the divide caused by race or religion. And that is precisely what brings me to my third and final quote from The Dark Knight, again by the Joker “You either die a hero, or live long enough to watch yourself become the villain.” The hatred spewed in each direction between pro-feminists and anti-feminists, began to blur the lines & before people could know what was happening the victim became the aggressor in the form of feminazi’s and male-bashing. Is that a fair statement?  Women were denied equal rights for centuries, still are in many places and yet they are being held accountable for being overzealous and ending up violating what they claimed to believe in. Are they both the same magnitudes of offence? Definitely not. Does that make it right? Definitely not, but it surely gives men the excuse to stereotype all feminists as feminazi’s and try and draw attention away from the underlying issue.

So what now? Are we doomed to ignoring what the other side is saying and yell our own opinions louder? Will humanity get compartmentalized on the basis of difference of opinion to the extent that people will just stop trusting each other? Depends on what you believe, if you believe the need to prove yourself right exceeds the need to question & analyse what’s right then the Joker would be proud of you.

The reason I keep mentioning the Joker and his lines is because one of the few great things DC comics ever did was to create the character of The Joker. He had no superpowers, but he also didn’t have any delusions about people. He saw the world for what it was and not what he’d like it to be. He had no motives of his own, and that is precisely why he was so dangerous, he knew people. How their minds worked, and that is specifically why this fictional character’s quotes from a somewhat old Hollywood film hits home a little too hard. 

But he wasn’t right in the end of the movie, was he? The people in the bomb-rigged ships carrying the trigger for the other ship didn’t blow each other up. From that I’d like to believe in humanity, I would sleep better knowing that maybe, just maybe at the brink of destruction humanity will do what it does best- evolve. Because that’s all any of us can do really, do our best to learn and listen, and have faith in the people around us.

© Suyash Upadhay, 2019.

Dear Cheat Day

Dear Cheat Day

I’m pretty consistent with my diet, and I haven’t had sugar in almost two years. That being said, I do give myself a cheat day – every Sunday – so my body can chill for a while.

I don’t eat sugar on cheat days, because I don’t want to overdo things. This used to make me cranky as heck when I first started, eventually getting used to it. BUT, with all that being said, I guess everyone has a breaking point. *insert hysterical laughter here*

Krispy Kreme kiosks need to be made illegal at airports. Even if they have to set up shop, it needs to be as far away from the boarding gates as possible. For someone that the reaches airport and checks in super early because of the impending rush, self-control becomes a ginormous issue.

You haven’t had a donut in two years, I told myself, and you can control this six am craving.

So I passed by the kiosk once. Successfully. Did that a second time. Gave up and got myself a Belgian donut thingy, new on the menu, and the guy actually laughed at me. I think I wolfed it down in a minute. Or even less than. It’s been four hours since I had all that sugar and I’m actually super happy. Reporting zero traces of crankiness on the horizon, viability almost at a hundred percent, we are in for a sunny day in my head, irrespective of the actual weather outside.

The point* I’m trying to make here is:

• It’s okay to have a cheat day, and one tiny cheat meal, as long as you’re doing it in moderation.

Ensure that you don’t deny your body and at the same time, don’t overfeed yourself. Most of us have done that at some point, only to have regretted later.

• Sugar ages you faster, so refrain from too much of it. Only have it if you must. Like I needed the donut after a two year break. It was heaven.

• Hydrate. Apple cider vinegar in water actually kills the attack of the “munchies”, and it’s so effective. Tried and tested.

• Make sure you go back to your normal routine after you’ve cheated. So important.

*points. I realize I just listed out five of those. It’s okay. We all know I cannot resist a good listicle.

Have an amazing start to the week, folks!

When Did The World Get So Overwhelming?

When Did The World Get So Overwhelming?

A friend and I were having this conversation the other day and she said:

“I guess we were all running away from home to bigger places and faster lives and social media attention and now when all of it is ruining us, we are running back to the peace of the little towns and taking a supposed social media detox.

Like why do we even need a break from something which wasn’t even our real lives in the first place?”

She’s a hundred percent correct.

There’s no living space, there’s very little breathable air and no drinkable water. India already has a water crisis going on in a lot of places. And everyone else is just so unaware. Doing things for clout, preaching about feminism that doesn’t feel like feminism anymore and pretending to have chill, happy lives which we should all look up to. Most of us don’t even like our day jobs anymore. In a world where YouTube celebrities and Instagram models are fast becoming role models, where do our moral compasses point to, really?

The thing about the modern world is that you cannot say or do the “right” thing. If you post your opinion online, you’ll get trolled and hated and dragged through the mud for it. You’ll be misinterpreted and misunderstood and nobody will cut you any slack. The world is very accepting, yes that’s true – but it is also very unforgiving at the same time. Everyone is constantly and perpetually triggered and is out for blood. It’s so scary and so overwhelming. And you’ve to think a million times before even posting something as simple as a thoughtful and well-written eyeshadow review, or even a book review dismissing a popular author, because God knows who might get offended. There’s so much going on – Stan culture, cancel culture, pile-on hatred and bigotry – that you don’t even feel remotely safe or comfortable anymore.

And you still go back.

You go back to what hurts you and you want to see what’s going on and it’s like an itch and you keep scratching at it, and you bleed. And you still look at what’s bothering you. Social media addiction is a real thing. And at some level, we’re all afflicted. It’s crazy how we all compare ourselves – both on purpose and subconsciously – to that image of some influencer’s perfect. We choose to flaunt fake stories, we choose to show happy when we’re really NOT. There’s a rise in divorce rates. Cheating incidents. Scandals. People feel so entitled to take what’s already taken, and they don’t stop to think or analyze. There’s a rise in immorality and a serious fall in moral values. And if you dare say anything, you’re just a depressed piece of turd that’s moral policing and has no life. They say, Live and Let Live, And before we could realize it, it’s turned into Die and Let Die, but don’t say anything. It’s twisted, really, when we could be idolizing real people with real stories, but we choose not to give them any importance. The ones actually making a difference only exist in the footnotes of some super obscure magazines. Or they exist as obituaries in newspapers yellowing with age – they were the real influencers. The real feminists. And it’s scary today, to see to how far people calling themselves modern influencers will go, for mere likes and followers, losing themselves in the process.

When did social media become our whole lives?

How To: Deal With The Feeling Of Being Demotivated

How To: Deal With The Feeling Of Being Demotivated

Most of us have days where we feel really dull and don’t get much done because the feeling of being demotivated just becomes too overwhelming. Some of us even fall victim to it and let it drag us into an emotional black hole. Luckily, for most of us, this is only a phase and it’s easy to get out of.

If you’re someone that’s doing a workout program, or a writing challenge, demotivating comes to you super easily. It’s hard, I’ll agree, to push yourself constantly. So what do you do?

You give yourself a break.

Don’t forget that you’re human and we all have our dry spells and it’s okay to feel like you’re going through a dry patch. Take a break – it could be a vacation or even a tiny getaway – but once you break the monotony, you’ll notice your life coming back on track.

Don’t PUSH your creativity.

If you’ve got a deadline, and you’re totally panicking, calm down. The more you stress over something, the more you lose track of things. Creativity is something that needs to come to you on its own, and it will, once you let it chill.

Don’t forget to be observant.

There’s a lot to learn from everything and everyone that exists around you. Be vigilant. Who knows what might inspire you?

Get rid of negative people.

If you’re getting bad vibes from someone and if you feel like it’s doing nothing good for your mental peace – drop them. Just let them go. At least for a while. Your peace of mind and your well being are really important and you don’t need someone tossing negative energy your way casually, like it doesn’t matter. Just block them or terminate all contact till you’re a hundred percent fine, and doing great. And then forget about them.

Practice mediation.

I’ve talked about this before – mediation is super powerful and helps you relax. Ten minutes of mediation first thing in the morning is such a good stress-buster. If you’re unable to mediate on your own, use Headspace. It’s a free app, available both on Android and iOS.

“Meat.”

“Meat.”

It says “wifey” right there on my Instagram bio. That never stopped a bunch of guys from sliding into my DMs because they wanted to tap that. Do these people NOT have parents? Do basic manners not exist in 2019?

Apparently not.

I ran an Instagram social experiment and paid to boost one of my posts. This is the photo I “boosted”.

As you can tell, there’s no skin show. Just my hands, my face and my phone. My phone isn’t showing any skin, either. I’m not someone that ever wears clothing that shows a ton of cleavage or arms. I’m not someone that even has a bikini body to begin with, so I don’t wear bikinis. And despite being so covered up, stuff like this didn’t hesitate to show up.

India has this rampant rape culture and my photo is PROOF in the pudding, that it’s not about what you’re wearing. You could be in a potato sack and your hair could be a greasy mess, and you would still get objectified and propositioned to, even flashed. There have been no naked photos in my DMs – yet – and I consider myself very lucky.

What does all of this mean?

That there’s something seriously wrong with India. If you happen to be a woman, you will be – invariably – treated as meat. There will be human versions of rabid wolves fighting to sink their teeth into your skin. To claim and to maim. To destroy, pilfer and damage beyond repair.

I hate to think of what would happen if I posted a photo of mine from my workout sessions.

And it’s terrifying to me that WOMEN, and sometimes men, have to live in constant fear of the possibly of getting attacked if they don’t go into hiding. The whole social experiment proves that it’s not about how you’re posing on your Insta, it’s not about how you talk, it’s got nothing to do with your personality – you’re basically just someone’s meat. And that’s the bitter truth.

This is what scares me to death.