The Other Life

Then she woke up.

She didn’t want to. She really didn’t. For a few minutes, she tried putting herself back to sleep, tried to dream the same dreams that she had been having. But alas, that wasn’t to happen. Sighing, she got out of bed to make herself a cup of tea.

As the tea brewed, she sank back into the chair, closed her eyes and relived those dreams that had left eyes minutes ago.

Girl on chair

Photo via Pinterest

The girl was six. It is strange how in dreams you just know these things; age, feelings. She was sitting on a swing, laughing, while her parents looked at her lovingly. What was surprising that nobody told the girl to get down and let her brother sit. Nobody told her not to laugh so loudly. Dreams were so abstract sometimes, she mused. It was as if it didn’t matter that she was a girl.

The dream changed the scenes suddenly, as dreams usually do. One moment she was giggling on the swing, a mere child, the next moment, she was twelve. She wasn’t really afraid of the stain that she had found on her bed sheet that morning, just curious. Her mother was smiling at her, carefully explaining her the red, but she didn’t say anything about keeping away from others. She didn’t say that for five days every month, she would be untouchable. She didn’t say that her childhood was suddenly, brutally over. Dreams glossed over the truths of everyday life.

Time passed so quickly in dreams; it was the one quality that dreams shared with reality. The dream began to gather speed now. She saw quick frames of her school, her university, the scholarships, her office. Dreams had an uncanny habit of concentrating too much on the minute details while breezing through the major happenings. She saw her home, her own home, with cream curtains and bookshelves that scaled entire walls.

Only, it was a lie. All of it, the school, the university, everything. She never went to school after she got her period. She helped around the house, minded her younger brother. One evening, she was told to wear that new sari that she had got on her birthday. Some guests were coming. Six days later, she was married.

The dream didn’t show those initial days after marriage, nor the subsequent years of abuse that followed. It didn’t show that endless wait for something; anything; the wait for life to happen. She was still stuck in the same heartless, loveless, bourgeois marriage. It was strange; all she saw was an alternate life, the life that she could have had, but didn’t.

For five whole minutes, she allowed herself to go over each minuscule detail of that other life. She roamed about her house. Lovingly, she browsed through her books. She felt the smooth silk curtains in her hands. She admired the artwork on the walls.

Then the tea was made.

The husband woke up then. He came to the kitchen and grunted for tea. She poured him the cup and started brewing some for herself again. Her husband wasn’t an evil man. He just never knew any other way to live. She looked at him for a long moment before turning away with regret and helplessness.

She went to the window sill to feed the pigeons. Then suddenly, she gave a wry smile. At least she had her cream curtains.

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Nice Daddy, Dark Daddy!

Picture this:

Child, 3 years old, sitting on the bed, eating fruits. Well-meaning aunt, sitting besides, talking to the child.

Well-meaning aunt: Child! Are you fair or dark?

Child: Fair!

Well-meaning aunt: And is you mother fair or dark?

Child: Fair!

Well-meaning aunt: And is your father fair or dark?

A pregnant pause.

Child: Papa nice!

As you must have gathered, the father doesn’t meet the established parameters to be considered fair. The child is barely three, and yet, she knows two things:

1. Being dark isn’t desirable.

2. Diplomacy is required in the situation because you need to cover up the fact that Papa is dark.

We live in a world full of prejudices and pre-conceived notions. What’s worse is that we are passing down these prejudices to our highly impressionable children. Children were supposed to be honest and unapologetic, right? Wrong. Children are being taught the value of diplomacy quite early these days.

India, as a country, is obsessed with fairness. The market is flooded with advertisements of fairness creams and various other beauty products which are considered to be essential to our self-respect. And I just don’t mean women alone, though they are the major target audience.

But I won’t go into a rant about why I think fairness products are highly unfair; we all have read and heard quite a lot about that. No, I’m going to talk about my life-long problem. Weight.

Fast-forward by ten years. The child is thirteen, sitting on the table, having lunch. Well-meaning aunt, talking to the child.

Well-meaning aunt: Why, you eat like a bird!

Child: (stares incredulously ) But I’ve finished four full-sized rotis already!

Well-meaning aunt: (ignoring the child) How thin you are! You should eat more.

Child: But now I’m full.

Well-meaning aunt: (to child’s mother) Why don’t you feed her enough?

Child: (fuming inwardly) I eat enough. I’m genetically thin.

Well-meaning aunt: (ignoring again) You are a growing child. You should eat enough.

The child learns two things:

1. First impressions are always the last impressions. If the aunt feels the child is thin and doesn’t eat enough, then no amount of food ingested in front of her will register in her mind.

2. Science doesn’t hold water in front of prejudices and already-formed opinions.

I’m genetically thin. Meaning that my parents were pretty thin when they were my age too. Meaning that my food habits may not necessarily correspond to my weight. But not many people would be ready to believe me.  People will insist that I’m “too thin”, and they are probably right; I am pretty skinny. But their “humorous” comments about it don’t really strike me as funny after I’ve heard them for over a hundred times. If making fun of somebody who’s fat is rude then why is it okay to make fun of someone who’s thin?

Then comes the problem of our “khaate peete” relatives who believe that I don’t eat enough. They don’t care to listen to a word of my genetic woes and keep on insisting that I should “stop dieting”. Well, I don’t diet. Believe it. And if the dear relatives are satisfied that I eat enough of my own accord, then in that case, my poor mother is at fault, because apparently, she doesn’t feed me enough. Mummy khaana nahi khilaati hai kya? is a question that I’ve heard innumerable times. Thankfully this one has stopped after I got past the age of being spoon-fed, though by a considerable amount of time. (I would still hear it when I was thirteen; I assure everyone that I definitely started eating on my own way before that time.)

I’ll take back the question that I asked: If making fun of somebody who’s fat is rude then why is it okay to make fun of someone who’s thin?

Instead, the question should be this: Why do we have to attach so much importance to it?

does it matter

I think we spend way too much time thinking about stuff like weight and skin colour and what-nots. It’s one thing to want to be healthy and fit, and quite another to want to hear, “Oh you look great! Very skinny! Wow!” being said to you. Looking skinny is not equivalent to looking great and not being skinny doesn’t always mean being “healthy”. Why should I confine my body to one narrow-minded standard of beauty?

Bottom line is this: I’m not going to eat more/less to suit other people’s notions. I’m not going to buy fairness/tanning products. I’m good. And you are too. 

Writers are…

So, one beautiful morning when I had nothing to do (I lie. I had tons of work and was too bored to do it), I Googled the following query: writers are

Here’s what was listed in suggestions:

writers-are-crazy

One positive thing: writers are engineers of the soul. Just one!

Now, you may have noticed that my blog’s name happens to be The “Writer’s” Nest. So this particular list of suggestions was almost a personal attack. Therefore, I’m going to go about busting (or not) these myths.

    1. Writers are crazy – I refuse to believe that only writers are. I think all of us have some amount of crazy within us. And I think it’s what keeps us going. Every one of us is a personal brand of weird.
    2. Writers are loners – Big lie. I don’t see any need to generalize. There are loners who are writers and there are writers who are loners. But then, there are also loners who are not writers and writers who are NOT loners. I know some personally. Case closed.
    3. Writers are weird – See 1.
    4. Writers are engineers of the soul – That’s a phrase used by Joseph Stalin. So does that bring down our tally of positive opinions to zero? No, we’ll consider it. 🙂
    5. Writers are liars – I don’t know how they even came up with that! Just because we tell stories? Give me a break here!
    6. Writers are introverts – See 2
    7. Writers are insane – Yes, we have a few writers who did go insane. But there are thousands of others who didn’t! It has nothing to do with writing.
    8. Writers are alcoholics – Yeah, and lawyers smoke too much! And chefs are addicted to coffee! And don’t even get me started on the teachers! You see where I’m going with this?
    9. Writers are forgetful – and my blog’s name was…umm…let me see now…the writer’s…umm…the writer’s …
    10. Writers are desperate people – Huh?

The engineers fared slightly better thankfully. Ah, Google! At least we share our love for engineering. 🙂

engineers-are-awesome

Have you people heard of silly myths about things that you love? Careers or interests?

The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award

Can you believe it? My second award in less than ten days! Michaela from The mmmmm family has very kindly chosen me for this award. I’m extremely grateful. 🙂

I’ll have to admit, I hadn’t heard of this particular blog award before. Nevertheless, it’s nice to get awards and here I am!

The rules:

1. The nominee of The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.

2. The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little; linking to their blogs; and telling them about it at their blogs.

3. The nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post  during 7 days.

The award name is quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

These are today’s nominations:

Funny for Nothing

The Girl Who Blogs

Awakening to your story

This Would Make A Great Story

Sarcasmia

Observations of a canary

Project light to life

Imperfectly perfect

Three Magical

Congratulations to all of the nominees! Keep writing. 🙂

Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life by Robert Spaethling

As a music lover, I suppose I’ve been too confined to one genre of music. The Hindi music is so vast that I never ventured outside. I’ll have to admit that present day English pop is something that I’ve never enjoyed. It focuses too much on the rhythms, while I enjoy soulful tunes. This is exactly the reason why I greatly enjoy Madan Mohan’s music; it has great melody and meaningful lyrics (although that’s not his contribution).

I’ve read indirectly of the great music legend, of course. “I swear it on Mozart’s head” was Ruth’s refrain in The Morning Gift. If you’ve ever read Eva Ibbotson’s works, you would know how much she focuses on music and the musical city of Vienna recurs in almost all of her books.

So, when I saw Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life by Robert Spaethling in our Resource Centre, I was just slightly intrigued. I’ve never been one to read biographies, and especially not about people that I have little or no knowledge of. But then again, I have a penchant for letters, and the title compelled me to pick it up.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's compositions charact...

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

What better than to hear things from the horse’s mouth! Even autobiographies tend to take on shades and hues; nobody is able to give a completely honest picture of one’s own life. Letters and diaries, on the other hand, are written without reserve, and are much more closer to the real person.

I didn’t have the chance to finish the entire book. I just read the first part : The Early Years (1769 – 1776).

That was the period when a young Wolfgang Mozart made various journeys to Italy, Vienna and Munich on account of his music. He was accompanied by his father Leopold. The letters are mostly addressed to his sister Nannerl and a few to his mother. It is evident that he was extremely fond of his sister and the two shared a very comfortable relationship.

The “wunderkind” was mischievous like any other child of his age. We have a tendency to disregard the childhoods of famed people. Forget them, it’s difficult to imagine anyone as a child if you know of them only as adults. Mozart was unapologetic about describing the inadequacies of other people, be it musicians or Royalty.

What pleased me the most was that Mozart appeared to be humble, and almost unaware of his genius. He referred to his successful operas in almost an offhand manner. Most of his conversations about music were practical; about writing the notes, copying papers and so on.

Being famous to the degree he was, Mozart’s letters, no doubt, generated a lot of scandal when published. Several biographers have attempted to tone down the language (which included a lot of profanities in German, Latin, Italian and French). This particular collection of letters, however, retains its original form. He played a lot of word games as well, which made for a colourful read.

Here are a few gems from his letters.

I don’t know anything new, except that Herr Gelehrt, the poet from Leipzig, died and after his deathe has written no more poetrie. (p. 7)

I kiss mama’s hand, and to my sister I send a smacker of a kiss and remains the same old – but who? – the same old buffoon. (p.9)

Write to me and don’t be so lazy. Otherwise, I shall have to give you a thrashing. What fun! I’ll break your head. (p.16)

The dances are miserably pompous[…]in the opera house, he always stands on a little stool so that he appears taller than the queen. (p.16)

We have the honor of being aquainted with a certain Domenican who is said to be holy. I myself am not convinced of it, becaus he often consumes for breakfast a cup of ciocolata, right after a big glas of strong spanish wine,[…] a whole plate full of birds, two full saucers of milk with lemon. Maybe there is some kind of plan behind it all, but I don’t think so, because for one thing it’s just too much, and for another, he takes quite a few morsels with him for an afternoon snack. (p.20)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Pride and prejudice has been adapted many times. Sometimes, it retains the original form, sometimes there’s creative inspiration involved. Of the latter form is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries; a web show that finished in March this year.

lbd

I discovered the series by accident; quite by accident. Owing to my habit of reading everything put before me, I happened to glance through a webpage that I opened by mistake. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware that something called Web shows even exists. And I’m super-glad I discovered this one.

Lizzie Bennet lives with her family comprising of her parents and their three daughters, Lizzie being the middle one. She’s twenty-four, a final year grad-school student of Mass Communications. Jane’s the eldest sister, Lydia ‘s the youngest. Since the adaptation was based in the year 2012, they showed only three children, while Mary Bennet became the first  cousin and Kitty Bennet the cat.

Lizzie has a video blog where she documents her family’s life, talking about Jane’s romance with Bing Lee (a play on Bingley. Smart, right?), her crazy baby sister Lydia, George Wickham  and of course, the proud Mr. Darcy.

The story starts with the ever-famous quote from Pride and Prejudice: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife (on a t-shirt)

universal

The videos are recorded and edited by Liizzie’s best friend Charlotte Lu. Each video is about three minutes long and the series incorporated the social media beautifully and efficiently. Since the LBD is essentially a blog, the viewers got their dose of Pride and Prejudice actually happening on their Twitter feeds and Tumblr blogs! It was luck that I discovered the series after it was finished. Not complaining, I wouldn’t have had the patience to wait!

Lizzie is funny, ambitious, clever, thoughtful and yes, a little prejudiced. But she’s a good sister, and basically a good person, just like our original Elizabeth Bennet.

One of the highlights of her video blog was role play. Lizzie’s imitations of her mother are downright hilarious, and her interactions with pretend Darcy (role-played by Charlotte) are a delight to watch.

The best part about the adaptation is the focus on Lizzie’s, Jane’s and Charlotte’s individual careers. The choices that they make and the impact it has on their friendship is shown beautifully.

You can check out the entire series here.

Have you watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Do you know about any other web-shows?