Category Archives: Life in Digitalia

What #TimesUp India Is Making Me Realise About Myself

This was also published to XX Factor awhile ago since it deals with gender politics. But this post is also about who I am becoming or maybe who I’ve always been or maybe that doesn’t matter.

Last week India’s #MeToo / #TimesUp movement rose (again), sparked off by Mahima Kukreja’s outing of standup comic Ustav Chakrobarty sending unsolicited dickpics and badgering underage girls for nudes. It set off a chain reaction examining the complicit parties, the enablers and patterns of predators. Thread:

Since then it has spread to other performance spaces, to advertising, to media, to journalism, to publishing and more. All these alongside Bollywood’s own filth outing with Tanushree Datta’s allegations against Nana Patekar. And across the ocean, the US is grappling with the same issue over a man named Brett Kavanaugh. Sharing this video here as the only positive note of this story:

On one hand, I am so glad that these stories are finally finding their voices. I cannot even begin to comprehend the trauma of carrying these toxic secrets for so long and there are so many, so many of them. Every morning I’m waking up in fear over which man I’ve known, read, watched, applauded, appreciated, spoken to, smiled at will be outed as the next sexual predator. We are in so much pain.

It’s forcing a mirror to all of society and not just its toxic males. A few men I know have been outed at predators. Did I know? Did I suspect? Was that action that I shrugged off, actually an indication of something more sinister? Should I have laughed at that joke? Should I have warned this person? I introduced these people; what if one person took that as a trust guarantee and do I carry some responsibility if anything happened? What am I missing in the world and about the people around me, today?

So many of the stories I’m hearing have not even made it out yet because the victims fear that they are too young/unimportant/powerless and that their predators are too famous/rich/powerful. I am grappling with recognising that the victim of an assault or harassment can build an unreal sense of the perpetrator’s power while trying not to invalidate their feelings. How can you say “I believe you” and “No, that’s not true” at the same time?

Then there was the outing of someone I knew slightly and hadn’t really liked (though not because I had an encounter of this kind with him). He was outed by someone who in the past, has enabled my own abuser despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The question that hung over me was ‘Should I support someone who did not support me?’. It was a time of personal reckoning, figuring out who I wanted to be. I’d thought these aspects of my character would be set and figured out by this time in my life. Clearly, character is a lifelong process of testing. I passed. I don’t know that I feel good about it. Is feeling like I was denied justice, a better feeling to live with than guilt and vindication?

This same person, along with a lot of other people also put out a call asking to be told if they were friends with an abuser. It made me really angry at first. And then I realised, people don’t know what they’re asking for, when they ask for that door to be opened. When the sheer magnitude of this truth hits them, many recoil and their reaction is to assume they get to judge whether they should take action or not. No, I say. The minute you ask for the truth, you are asking for the victim’s trust. And the minute you bring judgement in, you are violating that trust. Complete trust in return for total lack of judgement is the deal. Here’s my thread on this matter:

Having said this, I’m realising that maybe I invite confessions and sharing from people just by talking about these issues. Over a decade ago, when I wrote this post about child abuse, it provoked a volley of reactions that I did not expect and did not know how to handle. I considered quitting blogging. A friend told me that I had stood for something and that mattered to the people who were sharing with me and that I had a responsibility towards them. I interpreted that to mean I’d have to be a space of listening (since I’m not qualified in any other way to advise, heal, police or protect). If you read the above post, please also read this as the conclusion of that. I am rethinking this now.

I asked a close friend (a survivor and an activist) for advice. This person asked me how many people who were spilling their truths onto me and expecting me to rescue them, showed up for me back in 2012? I could argue that some of them were too young, some too married (like this is an illness that renders one incapable of logical and just thought towards unmarried people), some not strong enough (as if strength is a talent some are born with and which becomes public property to exploit). My answer was…NOBODY. I have tried hard not to become cynical about people since then and I’ll admit I often slip up. I cannot forget that I live in a world that enables and applauds my abusers for the same things that they attack and condemn me for experiencing. It is so hard to feel empathy for enablers, even harder than feeling it for the perpetrators.

And finally, I am realising how easy it is going to be vomit, to dump, to offload resentment and rage. Neither of these are logical or fair-minded. They just are — powerful and unstoppable. I’m trying hard not to talk about my own experiences partly because I do not want to co-opt the narratives of the people speaking up for the first time and partly because it might become a case of Chinese whispers with people blaming my perps for things they did not do as part of the pervasive ‘Men are trash’ feeling. As justified as that feels, I know I cannot live with those feelings. I just can’t.

Mercifully a friend who’s been away from all this rescued me in a single conversation last evening by asking me to remember to retain my capacity for joy. That’s all. We each have to live with the consequences of our actions, our emotions and our words. What’s most important in the long, long run of life? I choose joy.

Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay you.

================================================================

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.

The Stance Podcast: Ep. 17: SXonomics, Modern Mumbai, A Ballet Collaboration with Zakir Hussain, Playwright Natasha Gordon

Last month, SXonomics met the Stance Podcast team. Stance Podcast is an independent arts, culture and current affairs podcast exploring diverse, global perspectives. Presented as a transatlantic conversation between broadcasters, Chrystal Genesis in London and Heta Fell in San Francisco, Stance aims to inform, entertain and inspire action.

We met Chrystal and her team on their Mumbai trip, to talk about collaborative performance, sex and gender activism and Mumbai. We are featured alongside our friend Praful Baweja and the podcast also includes stalwarts like Zakir Hussain.

This podcast helped me recontextualise the ideas I and we have been putting out in writing and in performance, within the global framework of important conversations around sex and art. This is tremendously validating and helps move past the misogynist attacks, the microaggressions and everyday hatred that comes my way.

Listen to SXonomics on the Stance podcast ep.17:

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6539723/height/90/theme/custom/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/000000/

SXonomics is a feminist content producer and a collaboration between Ramya Pandyan and Ishmeet Nagpal. SXonomics is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and SoundCloud. Drop us a note at SXnomics [at] Gmail [dot] com to chat about feminism, patriarchy, LGBTQIA issues, sex and love positivity!

==============================================================

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.

SXonomics On The Reproductive Justice Happy Hour Podcast

I’ve been quiet on the blog, haven’t I? It’s been a very busy first half of the year. I’m not complaining because it keeps me from worrying about other things that I can do nothing about. And the work has been good and fulfilling.

Ishmeet and I got invited to speak on The Reproductive Justice Happy Hour podcast. Just like SXonomics, TRJHH is also a collaboration between two women, this time cross-continental. The podcast takes on feminist issues as they pertain to desi audiences, in India and the diaspora.

I’d already had a chance to talk to Surabhi a few months earlier and it was a real pleasure. When you live in a world where most people tell you that you are wrong for existing, where your ideas are shouted down and deemed ‘manhater’ (whatever that is, since it is not a real word), conversations like this one come as tremendous relief. It’s a lot like being an allergy sufferer in Mumbai. I don’t even realise how much I struggle to breathe until I visit a place that is cleaner and less polluted. Similarly, these rare conversations make me realise what an effort it is, even to exist in my world. And I am still one of the privileged with an education and living in a city. It’s an uphill task, this fight and I often consider giving up.

But just when I do, a conversation like this comes along. Surabhi got us talking about how SXonomics came to be, our creative process and the work we’ve been doing. But she also got us thinking about female solidarity, about what makes collaborations really work. The last such conversation I had that really grew me, was also related to SXonomics and was with Damini, the first person to interview us and take our story out to the world. Damini pointed out that even our combination-performance weaving music, poetry, comedy and drama together was a feminist statement of a sort.

So I guess I’m having an interesting year, all things considered – a lot of grit but also many, many adventures and unexpected treasures. To listen to SXonomics on The Reproductive Justice Happy Hour, click here: https://soundcloud.com/rjhappyhour/opinionated-women-in-the-house-say-hello-to-sxonomics

“All human interactions are transactional in nature. They may not be currency-based but they are transactions of power, of respect.”

SXonomics is a feminist content producer and a collaboration between Ramya Pandyan and Ishmeet Nagpal. SXonomics is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and SoundCloud. Drop us a note at SXnomics [at] Gmail [dot] com to chat about feminism, patriarchy, LGBTQIA issues, sex and love positivity!

===============================================================

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.

 

Gudby 4 lyf

===============================================================

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.

An Edited Lifestory

Recently someone told me,

“I see you and you’re going everywhere. So many events and places.”

This is from someone who has met me maybe once before at a common friend’s home. She judges my life and me, based on my Facebook timeline and my Instagram feed. What do these say?

My Instagram feed runs a daily (as often as I can manage it) micropoem peppered with selfies and the occasional social situation with other people. I know most people don’t realise this but I would expect a writer to know that writing is done alone, and usually at home or in quiet, unassuming places. If 99% of my feed is writing, what does that say about my life?

My Facebook timeline is very similar and also has updates of my blogposts, an occasional video or two. There’s always the gazillion photos that one gets tagged in for going to one event. Then there are the unconnected updates/article shares by that one friend who will insist on tagging one in the digital equivalent of “Poke, poke, see what I saw RIGHT NOW”. And that feature I absolutely detest which is Facebook telling the whole world about any event that I Maybe showed some interest in. When I can manage it, I delete such updates but I haven’t yet figured out how to turn them off completely, if that’s even possible. And thus, even without my trying, Facebook projects me as someone who Does These Cool Things, Visits These Awesome Places, Knows These Wonderful Things, Ain’t It Awesome!

View this post on Instagram

The sea always makes me like this. So glad I live on an island. I'm waiting for @ishmeetnagpal and building up my courage to go up on stage at 8. Our @SexonomicsBand set today is called 'What will people say?' and satirises social approval and calls out the casual misogyny in everyday language. I want to have fun with it because I think that's best way to effect change, to inspire thought, to perform and well… to live. Thank you for giving me a place to speak and a sea to love. #poet #poetry #Poem #openmic #featureperformer #spokenword #liveperformance #performancepoetry #performance #shayar #shaayari #sher #ghazal #mehfil #maqta #verse #rhyme #poetryisnotdead #poetrycommunity #livepoetry

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

I understand that a viewpoint on someone’s life based solely on their projected digital feed is naive. It is also the more common way people think since most do not like expending too much thought on other human beings. Since I need to spell that out (and I did to her), I reiterate,

IdeaSmith is a persona, a story I tell. It is not fake. But it is presented with bits taken from my life that suit that narrative. Nobody has an entire life like that.

This is not something people want to hear. Readers of my blog who meet me usually sound disappointed that I’m not scarier/prettier/younger/older/wiser/more X/less Y. And now, the stage brings its own joys and price to be paid. So people who saw one (grainily shot on phone) video or heard me perform someplace assume that I’m ANGRY, unfriendly, snooty or any number of other things all the time. To be honest, I don’t really mind what mostly-strangers think about me and the stories they slot me into my own head. Real Me would just like to be left alone and free from the punishments that they pile on when their illusion is destroyed.

I miss the days when I was anonymous, before Twitter and Facebook before IP address tracking became easy. I was just an odd little creature somewhere on the internet who wrote some interesting stuff maybe and some blah things. Nobody cared what my life choices were. No one bothered whether I was Strong Independent Woman Who Saves The World every minute or not. I know I sound ungrateful because this attention, this visibility is a privilege. I know it. I just wish it didn’t constantly demand that I stand accused of disappointing strangers 100% of the time.

I also thought about where Real Me sits, since I clearly don’t share it on Facebook or Instagram. Well, Real Me sits in my real life. Real Me is coping with the emotional violence that is a hallmark of everyday city life. Real Me is surviving (just about) the microaggressions that are heaped on any woman by people you wouldn’t suspect such as electricians, watchmen, waiters, fellow commuters. Real Me is clinging on desperately to self-esteem as the media and popular opinion everywhere tries to snatch it away from me with knives labelled body-shaming, slut-shaming, sanskari values and co-dependence. Real Me is dry-heaving from the breath getting knocked out by ghosting and betrayal by friends. Real Me is grappling with a monster called stage fright on a battleground called performance. Real Me is worrying about bills, about growing old, about that mysterious ache, about those strange sounds in the night. Real Me has had a very, very bad 2017 indeed and is just thankful it’s almost over and then scared that December is going to be a big whammy. Real Me has had a nightmare of a month (for some very dark personal reasons that won’t be gotten into) and sees no respite any time soon.

No, none of these are things anyone wants to hear about or even see. Why would an inherently contained person such as I, want to share that on social media? No, sharing is not therapy. Writing is not healing; it’s catharsis. And the catharsis of venting online is far outweighed by the dangers of trolls, digital footprints visible to future employers/relationships and the internet’s ability to actively misunderstand. Real Me has also been attacked so often and in some many vicious ways that keeping quiet seems easier. And after all this, Real Me is still somebody who doesn’t really like thinking of herself (myself?) as a victim in a sad story. Documenting something makes it real for beyond that minute that one experiences it. Why would Real Me want to extend this living nightmare beyond its run?

For what it’s worth, this blog still feels a lot more like Real Me than the other platforms, maybe because I still feel like Ramya-within-a-safe-space here rather than Brand IdeaSmith. So, if you’re human, please don’t be an asshole. Well, okay, be one if that’s all you’re capable of. Real Me and this blog have a spam filter. Real Me really does not have time to care about you if you won’t be kind.

And whichever you are, thank you for reading so far. That’s both IdeaSmith and Real Me speaking.

===============================================================

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.

The Tinder Generation 


The Tinder Generation

We who fall in love like we’re making war,
still oddly find our peace in love-making and comfort in broken pieces. 

If you liked this, please follow my microfiction/micropoetry at https://www.yourquote.in/ideasmithy

Write to me

Write to me
The romance of letters, the smell of paper, the text feel of handwritten punctures
And yet these are all for naught
If they lack true, loving thought

Share a piece of your soul
Garb regardless, it will feel whole
For when love signs its name
Bytes or ink, all seem the same.

More at https://www.yourquote.in/ideasmithy

Protected: TEMPORARY TEST RUN

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Byte Magic 

Follow my writings on https://www.yourquote.in/idea-smith-qor/quotes/ 

%d bloggers like this: