In Defense Of The Selfie

I don’t really get what the problem with selfies is. I remember a time when people would keep handing their camera over to others and asking them to shoot their pictures. That was really annoying. Selfies put people in charge of their own vanity.

Also, vanity. It’s defined as ‘Excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements etc.’ The vilification of this probably came from people who were insecure about their own worth and wanted to tear down people who showed belief in themselves. Why else would you have a problem with how good a person feels about themselves? Yes, I know the definition says ‘excessive’. Who decides that? A person’s relationship with their own body, qualities and life is their business, isn’t it? I can be a rockstar in my head or the Guardian of the Galaxy or a speck of sand.

I don’t see selfies hurting anybody. To people who complain about having to see other people’s selfies on their timelines, every major social media service offers you numerous options to Mute, Block, See Less and so on. Exercise those instead of imposing your insecurity on the world and trying to censor other people’s self-pride.

Personally, I love selfies. I love the fact that I can experiment with hundreds of angles, light settings, filters and so on with my own face and body. What better canvas and raw material is there for an artist? Take away a person’s right to feel good about himself/herself and you’ve gotten someone under your control. I see selfies as breaking that horrid thing human beings do to each other.

2015-05-19 17.07.39

Unabashed Selfie Lover

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

BOOK: A Pinch Of Nutmeg – Christine Ambrosius

It has been awhile since I posted a book review but this one was such a fabulous read, I wanted to bookmark it here.

Pinch of Nutmeg, APinch of Nutmeg, A by Christine Ambrosius

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying I loved this book and I’m neither a foodie nor an enthusiastic cook or traveller!

Jake’s adventurous life has humble beginnings, as a little helper to his grandmother who assists in the kitchen of a duke in medieval England. He learns about vegetables and meats and cooking as he runs errands and even as his grandmother dies suddenly. His talent attracts several mentors, friends but even more enemies and he finds himself thrown into new situation after foreign kitchen. Jake moves from England to Italy to Turkey to France. Every journey, every place brings him new learnings about flavours, vegetables and cooking techniques. He earns to haggle with traders, fend off thieving merchants, avoid politicking courtiers and manipulative mentors. He also finds love, loses it, embraces new cultures and creates many culinary delights.

This book will interest anyone who loves cooking because of its numerous descriptions of dishes ranging from the simple to the spectacular. It’s also a great look at European history via the lens of food. And finally, it’s just a really great novel. It was a lot longer than I usually have the patience for, but somehow it carried me through.

View all my reviews

The Goodbye Warrior

I started this year facing up to something I have feared all my life – the word GOODBYE. I let go of a lot of people. Each of them was big in my life for some reason: a long running friendship, mutual dependency stemming from longtime favour-bartering, a because-we-never-had-a-fight relationship. The list goes on and I can see that even while listing, it starts with fondness and then devolves into reasons to not be fond anymore. That’s exactly how those relationships went and I finally summoned up the energy to amputate them from my life.

One of them kept coming back to me. Phone calls I wouldn’t take. Messages that I tried to ignore. WhatsApp messages that I refused to read so they wouldn’t even see the blue tick and feel like it was a response of a sort. “Assume I’m dead! Assume I never existed!”, I have wanted to say to them without having to speak or even see them. Because, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve realised that goodbyes are the same as deaths. Rip the band-aid off, make a clean break, however you want to call it. It’s over when it’s over and you walk away without looking back. That’s all.

This person’s persistence both annoyed and scared me. What did I have that they clawed at me so desperately? Should I walk about in fear that this unknown treasure would be looted from me? More than once in the past few months I’ve had to take a deep breath and stuff away a panic attack. There’s nothing as scary as other people’s fears.

A friend mentioned that people from smaller towns seemed less inclined to walk away from relationships. This is usually used to support notions that paint metro people as cold, unfeeling machines. I pondered this for weeks. I live a crowded life in a packed city in an overpopulated country. There are 7 billion people on this planet, a statistic that I’ve recalled to mind often. None of us is indispensable. Life goes on, regardless of deaths, natural calamity, marriage, relocation, failures, successes and other things. We adapt, we cope and we build new lives constantly. We lose people frequently and we replace them with others, just as we are being replaced in other people’s affections and situations too. Where is there need to panic when a relationship doesn’t work out or if a person makes you deeply unhappy? There will be hundreds of others to explore and experience and thousands of other lives to touch. I guess being a metro person makes me constantly aware of that.

This does not make me cold or insensitive. Months after letting go, I still find myself struggling to cope. My life feels light and airy, just like the insides of an old tube that is riddled with holes. People-shaped holes. I frequently find myself wanting to run back to one or more of them. It takes all my willpower, ego and escaping into work to do that. Because at those times, all I can remember is the good times at the start. Memory deludes you that way. But like everything else, discipline helps and now I find, shortly afterwards I’m able to also recall the lying or the taking for granted or the incompatibility or whatever else was a reason to say goodbye. This is feeling a lot. ALL THE TIME. It’s like being the sole survivor of a plague that killed everyone else in your world.

I had a disagreement with another friend recently when he didn’t respect my time. Later, he asked whether I would have let him go over an incident like that. I told him,

“I can never get back that lost time. When you don’t value my time, you’re saying that you don’t value me. And don’t you agree that a person who doesn’t value you, should be let go, of?”

He agreed. But he also said that he would try and work it out with the person, instead of cutting them right out of his life. I thought about that and I realised that’s exactly what I believe I’ve done for years. It has been a wasted effort in a lot of cases, throwing in more time and energy into already bad situations. Especially but not limited to my romantic relationships and these times have left me not just with wasted time but worn threadbare of joy, self-esteem and good health. I’m afraid to take that chance on most people now. It seems like the less brutal of the two evils to just walk away. So I mercy kill the struggling moments in my life and I walk away. I’m the Goodbye Warrior.

Science tells you that a drop in pressure sucks in air from outside. Similarly I find the clearing that has been created in my life (that I’m still trying to settle into) is attracting all manner of things from outside, similar things. Needy people, desperate relationships, negative spirals. I don’t know how to deal with them. I haven’t yet learnt how to say, ‘No, enough’. Goodbye has been such a big lesson to learn.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

UnknownI find some kinship and perhaps some direction in the Osho Zen Tarot card ‘The Rebel’. Of this card, the book Tarot in the spirit of Zen says,

“The rebel is renouncing the past. He is not going to repeat the past; he is bringing something new into the world. The past has destroyed the beauty of the word responsibility. People have made it almost equivalent to duty; it is not really so. Duty is something done reluctantly, as part of your spiritual slavery.”

I Wear: Tie Wear

Investor meeting in a startup’s office on a blazing hot day, with a friendly date in the evening – how do you dress for that? By throwing a bit of everything. I brought in summer with this wonderful eyelet patterned dress. But it’s a strappy dress; bare shoulders may be a bit much for a formal-ish setting and the evening promised to be spent in an AC-freezing place. So I pulled on a cropped denim shirt that I’ve taken to using as a casual blazer ever since. And finally, I stole a tie from dad’s silk closet to knot loosely (not like a tie, just like a regular strip of cloth). My bag was bubblegum pink, my lipstick rose and with the lac bangles that Reema got me from one of her trips, I was ready for the day. Nobody batted an eyelid at office, by the way. We are so cool.

I Wear:

  • Green cotton eyelet patterned dress: United Colors of Benetton
  • Denim cropped shirt: Cotton World
  • Silk tie: One of dad’s
  • Lipstick: Read My Lips by Faces Canada

Single On The Plateau

Recently, I’ve been feeling a curious sensation of being a different me. I’m going through one of those plateaus in my life that occur between the dramatic highs and crashes. Yes, I do live in interesting times, like the Chinese say. These plateaus are marked with mild boredom, subtle dissatisfaction and a sense of drifting along. I feel a lot calmer than I usually do. The highs and crashes are usually (but not always) marked by my being in love with a person, place, object or activity. And as with the last couple of times, I’m beginning to wonder whether a relationship is worth the tumult it causes to me.

Reema told me that being in love, in a relationship is so hard because it means constantly living in the knowledge that a person can wreck you. And this has happened to me several times over, wreck being the operative word. Of course, I have gotten up and on each time. Whether because of inherent self-centeredness or pigheaded pride or the constant ability to delude myself, I survive. But is has never been a pleasant experience and I hope it never becomes one. I have no judgement against masochists but I hope any strains of it have been worn out of me in the last few years. It’s all well to seek adventure knowing that it involves much discomfort and pain. It’s another thing altogether to get used to being a sufferer. I’m not one and I don’t intend to be.

I feel a sense of placidity these days that I usually only feel when I’m not wildly in love. I have managed to let go of multiple people who were bad for me and I can only do that when I feel completely devoid of fear. It made me realise how many of my relationships were about clinging out of fear. I could suddenly see them clearly and also summon up the vitality to let them go. I could see very clearly that holding on to a toxic relationship is eventually, a harder life choice. This is clarity.

I’ve been struck with insight about people, relationships and situations that are going to end. I can see clearly how death is a natural season in anything that lives, including relationships. And I’ve watched it come and pass, untouched. Because I can’t do anything about it. Because it is the way of things. Because it must happen for things to be right. And because new things will come in. This is clarity again.

I have struggled with anger for most of my life. And over time, I have come to realise that anger comes from fear and there is so much fear nestled in the corners of most of my relationships. Fear of the other person; fear from the other person. It settles over both our moods and it clouds my temperament. I’ve been able to brush off a number of highly unpleasant incidents lately because I could make myself impervious to the other person’s fear and hence, anger. ‘This is not about me at all but about something else they are struggling with’, I was able to tell myself and walk past unaffected as if I were wearing a sturdy raincoat to their wet moods. This is clarity too.

This clarity makes much else possible. I’m more sensitive to my body’s needs. Discipline is not something that needs to be enforced but which my life aligns to, by itself. I am not plagued as much by the fear and doubts that anybody who works independently feels. I feel less torn apart by the people and things in my life. I’m not as devastated by my difficulties, even while I’m very sad about them. Most of my concerns manifest as mild boredom at best. I have felt this before so it is not a new feeling.

And I also know now that I rapidly lose it when there is a relationship or a close person in my life. “But you said you love me!” a friend protested. And I do. But it is a measured, contained love where I keep myself from falling into too much closeness, too much boundary-blurring, too much fear. When fear appears, I move away gently, slightly and deal with it so she never knows. I wonder if that is a lesson on how one must love — sensibly.

On the other hand, the grand drama of falling in love still intrigues me. It’s fairytalish and unreal but love is the only magic I have ever experienced and what is magic but an unrealistic fairytale? Such a harsh price to pay each time and I don’t know if it’s time I learn to be sensible and not fritter away all my precious peace of mind on people and relationships.

In a conversation with Adi though, I realised something. My relationships, especially the last one have ended very badly. Like Eirean Bradley says in his remarkable poem, “Don’t be surprised if all they can remember is the screaming”. Truly, that is all I can remember on most days when I think of that relationship and thus, about any major relationship for me.

But a part of me also knows that there was much love, friendship, respect, fun and joy to start with. It was as magical as anything else could ever have been. It had to be. What else could prompt the OCD-control-freak-super-planner me to jump into a relationship with a younger man within two weeks and slide into an engagement in less than a year? It was a force, much bigger than me. And it was good, to begin with.

I guess when it’s over I only remember the confusion, the betrayal, the shame and the anguish. These are things that stay alive in memory. But things like affection, fun and lust don’t. They exist when they do and then they evaporate leaving no marks. So it’s hard to remember that they ever existed and in such a measure as to balance out the things that have left skid marks on your soul.

Ennui

The weekend draws nearer and my dread mounts. I have no plans for Friday night. None for all of Saturday. Nobody and nothing to distract me from the godawful emptiness. And Sunday morning looms the way Beast must have loomed to Beauty before she encountered his gentle side. The Alphabet Sambar meet will demand that I produce another feat of words. How can I not?

I feel like I’m saying that I’ve lost interest in my lover or husband of 15 years. But I have. I write on auto-pilot often now. It doesn’t bring me the same searing thrills, the same gut-spilling catharsis that it used to. I don’t feel the flush of love anymore. And that is very essential to my feeling inspired, feeling good.

I know what it feels like to be trapped in a loveless marriage. We are not uncivil to each other. But we tolerate each other with the painful sacrifices made by dutiful people who understand that it’s not the other person’s fault, that the fairytales never promised to last a lifetime, that there’s no insurance for love running out, that sometimes you don’t fall out of love but it just evaporates or fades away like paint after seasons of sun and rain.

It spills over into everything else. Friends who enjoy my writing remind me by their presence, that I’m living a lie. That this glorious fairytale they want to believe in, of a passionate writer in love with her writing, is no truer than the bored, harried housewife. There’s no more romance in this than in threadbare bathrobes, faded bedsheets and peeling paint on the kitchen walls.

My much worn, so familiar lover, writing, we must go through these motions until one of us figures out a way to hurt the other enough to see some life. This has been bloodless for too long.

I Wear: It Started With Green Nails

I didn’t post an I Wear post all April and that’s not because I hadn’t been dressing it up (c’mon really? I am vain enough to match my homewear pajamas to my scrunchie). So here goes one from a few months ago.

A hot day travelling to office and back and I had this delightful silver jewellery set I wanted to wear. But it really, really began with the green nail paint I had picked up in a fit of enthusiasm for Gay Pride, but not really worn. I know it’s green but it didn’t look anything like the Hulk or Swamp Thing or any of those images that make people think this isn’t a colour to use in make-up. And it was a perfect match with my earrings. Since the jewellery also had blue, I took out my FabIndia Indigo collection top that I’d bought earlier. This was just a bit before I got my tattoo so you see a clean wrist. But there are the paper planes in print on my top. :-)

Everything else just fell into place. Green eye pencil in wingtips, coral lipstick and a chunky silver chain to hang the pendant on. Tell me how I look?

I Wear:

  • Indigo cotton top with paper plane prints: FabIndia
  • Silver earrings and pendant: Anamika
  • Coral lipstick: Lust On by Faces Canada
  • Green nail paint: Tenacious Teal 301 by Madeline Color Show
  • Green eye pencil: Emerald by Ikonic Pro-Arte gel pencils

Love Story: Season 2 — Spoken Word Performance

This is a fresh (and hopefully improved) version of the piece I performed last week. Rochelle did warn me that performance poetry shifts with every telling. I’ve also included the words below. I performed this at The Hive Open Mic yesterday.

When my heart is a radioactive wasteland
I find you standing on the the brink
your back to your own poisonous past
We exchange a cigarette,
a story or two
I tell you about him,
how on restless nights
I write his name in silver grey swirls of nostalgia
You take a long drag and hand me the cigarette

We time travel
Through unexamined memories
Expired emotion
We have our first date in the universe of pain
Nostalgia is best navigated
When you’re playing tour guide

The next time,
I become the girls you never said goodbye to
I fill in backstories you never completed
All those Happy Endings that came with no explanations
You pick them out of the debris of your mind
and you fit them onto my story
I slash the t’s and I dot the i’s
with tears
until sleep blacks us both out

You try to scrub out our kisses with your toothbrush
I fuel paper planes with angry emotion
And since neither one works,
We become prosthetic people
in each other’s amputee lives
We navigate the minefield of our mutual pasts
Holding hands
Your mistakes help blow my memories away

I think of love-hate relationships
This is not as romantic as that
But lust and disgust live in the same neighborhood
And the street corner where they meet
is where you and I park.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Wear: Cheerfully Primary

I remembered this look when I was writing my ‘Dark Girls Have All The Fun‘ post the other day. I dipped into my Drafts and there it was sitting, all ready to be published but forgotten in the complications of April. This is what I wore the day Reema and I went to check out tattoo artists.

I had woken up to a heavy day – a bad dream, an ex’s birthday that I wished I hadn’t remembered, a message from a friend-of-a-friend asking if I knew about her getting married (I didn’t and I hadn’t been invited). The only thing that cheered me up was the prospect of meeting Reema who always knows when to make me smile and when to give me wisdom. Colours and style are her minor superpowers so I thought I’d give her something to work with, while improving my mood. And here’s what I did:

Don’t anyone say Ronald McDonald!!

I Wear:

  • Yellow skater dress worn as tunic: Amazon.in
  • Distressed and embroidered denim jacket/top: Forever 21
  • Glass beads: Delhi
  • Owl dangly earring: Kolkata
  • Arrowhead wooden earring: Bangalore airport
  • Coral backpack: Westside
  • Red and blue nails: Maybelline ColorShow
  • Red lipstick: Revlon ColorBurst
  • Eyes: Faces dark blue eye pencil on lash lines, Faces teal eye pencil on upper lid

Patchwork Relationship

Performance Poetry

I performed last night at the iBar ‘Words tell Stories’ Open Mic organised by Rochelle. Since Rochelle was the one to introduce me to Spoken Word/Performance Poetry, I feel like I should push my boundaries constantly and present her with my best efforts.

My first real performance piece was at her first event where I did ‘Paper Plane’, a piece about letting go and finding your own peace. Last month, at her second event, I took my audience along on a first date with ‘The Dating Thing’. It was a story of wide-eyed hope and falling in love.

This time, I delved into the bittersweet realities that underlined my later relationships. By a certain age, everyone comes with baggage and falling in love is a different experience from when your hearts were clean slates. It was also my first attempt at moving away from the purely conversational and into more formal poetic structures. I call it Patchwork Relationship. Here is the piece (with apologies for the poor video quality — this was shot on a mobile phone in a very dark bar).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,587 other followers

%d bloggers like this: