Category Archives: Life in Digitalia

Vulnerability Bait

Art that is honest & vulnerable makes you want to be honest & vulnerable too. Well, honesty is infectious, or so I want to believe though I keep learning time and again, that that’s not true. But art showcases vulnerability, makes honesty accessible, believable, livable. It makes vulnerability look appealing by giving it your validation.

I rewatched EASY, the Mark Maron storyline of an ageing graphic novelist. Of course it tapped right into my fears of growing old & irrelevant, of regrets over the choices I’ve made that have turned out wrong. It’s also making me think about one of the projects I started (again) under lockdown.

Many, many years ago (and I feel able to say that since it is more than a decade ago and that’s basically three generations in digitalia), I was an anonymous blogger. I didn’t know it at the time but I was pioneering a movement, the way TikTokers are doing today. I was pushing the boundaries of what it means to mine one’s own life for the public, for art. It didn’t feel like any of that because I was protected by anonymity, a single word called IdeaSmith.

But maybe some part of me sensed it because the things that were too vulnerable even for IdeaSmith to say, I said through another name on another even more secretive blog. As a twenty-something Indian woman at the time, I was under A LOT of pressure to get married, after a whole life of being restrained from interactions with the opposite sex. I had burning questions like what does love mean, how do you judge whether someone is right for you, how do you do this in one meeting with twenty-five other people watching your every move and a whole world ready to decimate you for a wrong choice? I was navigating this world through sexual violations, through male entitlement and slut-shaming and the glass ceiling without knowing any of these terms. Well, maybe the last one a bit but not the others. That formed the meat of this super secret blog – my early meetings with prospective grooms and later, my own experiments with men I met in other ways. The word ‘dating’ wasn’t in the middle class Indian lexicon but I (and I guess we) were learning how to find answers to those questions.

I wrote about attractions, I chronicled matrimonial site meetings, I made jokes about the ineptitude of my male peers to have a conversation, I despaired in blogposts of ever finding an equal partnership. Always using elaborate nicknames and descriptions stripped of identity. Some of these themes inadvertently bled into XX Factor, one of my ‘public’ blogs as IdeaSmith in the form of general rants & humour and gained a lot of favour.

Once, sorely tempted, I made the secret blog public and linked it to the blogroll of this one, The Idea-smithy. Some of you may not remember but before there was Facebook, Twitter or even feed-readers, the only way to get to a blog was by typing in the URL in the address bar every damn time. Blogs frequently helped each other out by listing a blogroll in their sidebar, linking to blogs they liked or wanted to promote. I didn’t mention that this link was also one of mine but hid it somewhere between other friend-bloggers links.

Eight hours later, I panicked when I saw the Reader stats of my secret blog and made it private again, taking it off the blogroll. Almost immediately, I received a mail from one of my reader/blogger friends asking where that blog had vanished, who wrote that blog, where I’d found it, etc. More panic. Because I had written about this person too. I squirmed my way out of that conversation. Years later, I had a chance to tell him that I had been the author of that secret blog too. To my mortification he said,

“I knew it! I’d recognised your writing anywhere! You even wrote about me. I’m ‘….’, aren’t I?”

A few years later, I got into a serious relationship. I never told him about this blog. I wasn’t ashamed of it. It’s just I’d been burnt so badly in the past by boyfriends punishing me for having a past. And this one demanded honesty (though he didn’t extend me the same courtesy) but also cut me off from all things that made me, me – family, friends, interests and yes, the past. That relationship took my idea of hell to a whole different level and it was many years before I thought about the blog.

I had used parts of the blog to form a sub-plot of the first book I wrote. When I finally pitched it to publisher, one expressed interest, suggesting that I make it a whole book based only on the blogger character. A few months later, a new blog surfaced chronicling the dating life of one woman and promising a book at the end of it. Maybe not a coincidence that its writer was the same publisher who’d shown an interest in this format of my book. I didn’t own the idea of the format and anyway, my love life in the 2000s in Mumbai would be different from that of a Delhi girl in the 2010s.

I dug up this blog again for an Alphabet Sambar event on digital narratives. Each time I look at it, it gives me the little thrill of pleasure that nostalgia does. But this time when I read the whole thing, I found myself assessing it as a content professional. I thought about what this means in the larger scheme of things like how Indian social systems have developed, our attitudes to each other, our generational learning curve.

For the first time in this blog’s entire existence, I invited someone to read it. Actually I invited several different people and only one actually went through with it. It’s a mean little reminder of a writer’s life where nobody actually sees it as real work or worth respecting how much it matters to you, until there are numbers (viewers, readers, sales). Watching the Mark Maron episode brought up my other fear that once this blog’s contents are made public, many people will come crawling out of the woodwork – the specimens I’ve written about but also others who’ve been in my life all these years and like seeing me in a certain way and will express their BIG disappointment that there’s more. They’ll be upset they don’t appear here. They’ll be upset they do appear and how. They’ll be upset that someone else appears here. They’ll be upset that this chronicle exists. C’est la vie.

The first thing my friend said after she started reading was,

“It’s so vulnerable.”

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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.

Fleeting Intimacies

Fleeting, mutual intimacies are the promise of a digital life. Button-precise firing, swipe right swooshy ease. Sex on tap, conversations at a click, a scream space on demand. And cessation with minimal effort, left-swipe, unmatch, block, ghost.

Fleeting, mutual intimacies are like sour candy coated with sugar and painted in many colours. They exist to remind you that sweetness exists and to punish you for tasting too much. And we forget such things as honey also live in the same world. Brown and messy, with no aftertaste but also no health issues.

Fleeting , mutual intimacies look & sound really good but make you feel very little. There’s a reason movies use them so much. Because you’re never really in the story. The best you can be, is in a theatre, watching from what you think is outside. But it’s just light & shadows on a cloth screen with spilt popcorn on the floor.

Fleeting, mutual intimacies are like this name. The second word isn’t even necessary because it’s not intimacy unless it’s mutual. But it sounds nice and carries a visual balance. The title can afford to forsake it because it’s disposable.

But not everything that is fleeting is. Not all that’s mutual can be thrown away. And intimacy may live out its life but it can’t be frozen. Together though, these words form something that looks & sounds sharp.

Watch where they slice you.

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FLEETING INTIMACIES Fleeting, mutual intimacies are the promise of a digital life. Button-precise firing, swipe right swooshy ease. Sex on tap, conversations at a click, a scream space on demand. And cessation with minimal effort, left-swipe, unmatch, block, ghost. Fleeting, mutual intimacies are like sour candy coated with sugar and painted in many colours. They exist to remind you that sweetness exists and to punish you for tasting too much. And we forget such things as honey also live in the same world. Brown and messy, with no aftertaste but also no health issues. Fleeting , mutual intimacies look & sound really good but make you feel very little. There's a reason movies use them so much. Because you're never really in the story. The best you can be, is in a theatre, watching from what you think is outside. But it's just light & shadows on a cloth screen with spilt popcorn on the floor. Fleeting, mutual intimacies are like this name. The second word isn't even necessary because it's not intimacy unless it's mutual. But it sounds nice and carries a visual balance. The title can afford to forsake it because it's disposable. But not everything that is fleeting is. Not all that's mutual can be thrown away. And intimacy may live out its life but it can't be frozen. Together though, these words form something that looks & sounds sharp. Watch where they slice you. 📸: @tpcmumbai 🎶: DESPERADO: EAGLES #theideasmithy

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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.

My Top 3 Everything

I saw this on Twitter and decided to ask Instagram because my peeps there are more responsive.

Even so, I was surprised by the questions that came in. And really touched that I was asked. Thinking about my answers helped me pry loose the heaviness that has lain on my mind and consequently, my writing in the past year or so.

I’m just reposting what I shared there, slightly paraphrasing the questions asked.

Top 3 Red Lipsticks!

  1. Maybelline SuperStay DANCER
  2. Faces Canada Ultime Pro REBEL RED
  3. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream AMSTERDAM

Proudest Moments:

  1. When I performed to a crowd of 200+ people minutes after running into my violent ex (who constantly made me feel stupid) — and the crowd demanded an encore.
  2. When a client told me they turned the work I’d done into a book and handed me a copy. It’s for internal circulation only but that’s for an organisation of thousands. And it made me a bona fide author.
  3. When I thought I was getting fired for a messy project but my boss said my writing skills were on par with people two levels above and that I’d been promoted.

Beauty Routine

  1. Wash & moisturise face every time I go out & on return. Feeling clean is a big beauty boost.
  2. Smile like I used to as a kid before I got conscious. It makes me feel good & I think it shows.
  3. Exercise daily, even if just a walk & 10 minutes of breathing exercises. Stress weighs my face down visibly on days I don’t.

Top 3 speakers I consider my inspiration

  1. Performance poets who can carry a crowd without ranting or gimmicks — Asia Samson (90s Love), Denice Frohman (Accents), Sonia Renee (The Body is Not An Apology)
  2. Speakers who can share a powerful idea in a way that changes how you see the world, in just a few minutes — Thulsiraj Ravilla (How low-cost eye care can be world-class), Taylor Malli (What Teachers Make)
  3. Speakers who don’t need traditional crutches (like presentations or even words) to bring forth their message — Marina Abramovic (The Artist in In), Salim Khan (speaking at Whistling Woods on storytelling)

Top 3 times when I hit rock bottom

  1. Mid 2000: I got dumped by my best friend/love-of-my-life right in the middle of board exams. I felt like a planet that had got knocked out of its galaxy. Finding my first job gave me purpose. It taught me to find identity in work, not love.
  2. 2002–2003: Boyfriend assaulted me. Told me I was ugly because I was a ‘kaali’. Said the only reason a guy would be with me was because I looked desperate. That I would always be the beautiful girl’s ugly best friend. It taught me never to care what anybody, especially a man, said about my appearance.
  3. All 2012: My live-in partner took his ongoing emotional & verbal abuse into physical. Announced a very public engagement. Wanted my family to pay for a multi-city extravaganza. When I called it dowry, threw me out of the house. I was told I should have tried to work it out somehow. Friends told me I should be ‘dignified’, not talk about it and that I should ‘appreciate his talent’. Men said I deserved to be beaten up, that I must have not cared since I looked okay.

How I managed to get back up when life pushed me down

  1. Writing always saved me. When nobody listened to me, the pages did. Later, the internet. And even later, the audience. When I write, I’m able to remember that there is a bigger world than the people who attack me, the situations that exploit me. It’s the biggest relationship in my life now — my words & me.
  2. Finding a different context helps. I get a new job, find a new hobby, reach out to people I don’t talk to much. It gives me perspective, which is the only thing I lose when I’m down. If these aren’t possible, a swim, a bath or even washing dishes keeps me going till I can find something more permanent. Anything with water.
  3. This is the newest lesson of all. I ask for help and I trust that it will be given. I tell myself that it’s okay to shatter and that I will be supported in rebuilding. People have been kind.

Top 3 times when I failed (because success stories motivate but failure story gives lessons)

  1. Not getting into IIM-Bangalore in 2000. I may never ave tried the other things I did (including writing & stage) if I’d been set on that fast track. Hurt like hell then but now I have no regrets.
  2. My biggest relationship ended in the most humiliating way possible. It feels like a failure because I learnt early to take responsibility for everything. It may have been the reason I stayed so long. Such a devastating failure, such a hard lesson. I’m still learning.
  3. 2002-Froze on stage at college personality contest. Next round, judge made fun of me. 2007-Last day of London conference. Luggage already at airport. Entered hall to find everyone in suits. Ended up presenting to VP of an MNC, wearing bright orange top & jeans. They were nice about it. 2018-Got attacked for feminist poetry. Went on stage and stood silent for 2min. Audience clapped. Ridicule will not silence me now.

Poets

  1. Maya Angelou.
  2. Anais Nin
  3. Milan Kundera

I know they’re not conventionally considered poets.But I don’t think poetry needs to be conventional. I learnt much about writing & life from their words. Isn’t that the best poetry?

Top 3 self-motivational hacks when you’re feeling low

  1. “This too, shall pass.” — Persian adage
  2. Read ‘Illusions’ by Richard Bach
  3. Listen to ‘Here comes the sun’ by The Beatles

3 most amazing books I’ve read to date

  1. ‘Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah’ — Richard Bach
  2. The Sandman series — Neil Gaiman
  3. ‘The Little Prince’ — Antonie St.Exupery

Any revelations?

  1. Help will arrive when I’ve given up all hope. It’ll arrive with friendship, support, respect. And it will come from unexpected sources. Every darn time.
  2. The more you trust the stage, the kinder the audience will be.
  3. Men are my learning opportunities, not my teachers.

My life is dramatic AF.

Songs in my playlist

These are at the top of my ‘Most Played’

  1. ‘How do you do’ — Roxette
  2. ‘Aap jaisa koi mere zindagi mein aaye’ (a capella version) — American Desi
  3. ‘Brand New Day’ — Sting

Top 3 novels that I love

  1. ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ — Marian Keyes
  2. ‘Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince’ — JK Rowling
  3. ‘The Kalahari Typing School for Men’ — Alexander McCall-Smith

Lip colours

  1. Galactic — NYX Cosmic Metals
  2. Read My Lips — Faces Canada Ultime Pro
  3. Oh Put It On! — NYX Liquid Suede

Reads

I’ve already done two book-related lists on this series so I’m narrowing this to my top 3 books by women in 2019:

  1. ‘Lois Lane: Fallout’ — Gwenda Bond
  2. ‘The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’ — Mary Ann Shaffer
  3. ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ — Elif Shafak

Recommended self-healing books

More books? Okay, one can never have too many. 😊

  1. Any one from the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall-Smith
  2. S.E.C.R.E.T. — Marie L Adeline (especially if you’re female & healing from sex-related traumas)
  3. Anybody Out There? — Marian Keyes

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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 FOMO Life

We are a generation of people identifed by our tastes and experiences. Not our ethnicity, religion, education or even profession. So it becomes a matter of personal identity to have experienced certain things. To be the person that carries the entire bibliography of a particular genre. To use an artist’s song lyrics as our calling cards. To trade Easter eggs instead of actual conversations.

We build a collage of experiences instead of an identity. We think we are validating these artists, brands, organisations. But we’re holding them up as signboards of our own identity. It may feel like an attack to encounter someone who doesn’t value the experiences we do. And for safety in numbers, we go with the most popular experiences. We allow FOMO to be the prime dictator of our choices.

FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) is not a good identifier of taste, let alone an actual description of personality. All FOMO does is aid marketers by making you believe that you are worthless, even non-existent unless you consume and espouse their brands. FOMO makes us buy overpriced tickets to shows we don’t enjoy, events we don’t understand and brag about trips we barely cared about. We fear so much being ridiculed for saying this doesn’t work for me. It’s a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes and no one wants to be the honest kid pointing out the emperor is naked.

Consider this. You are not the books you read, the movies you love, the songs you play, the restaurants you patronise. Your tribe is not people who huddle under the same brands, whose money funds the same causes. Your existence is not dependent on what brands show up on your credit card bills, what fandoms enjoy your membership.

You are a person that wants entertainment, learning, belonging, laughter, joy. Your tribe is people who give you that and who receive that from you without an element of transaction. What these mean is your life’s journey to discover and express.

Fear of missing out? There’s no room for fear when you know every moment is an experience.

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THE FOMO LIFE We are a generation of people identifed by our tastes and experiences. Not our ethnicity, religion, education or even profession. So it becomes a matter of personal identity to have experienced certain things. To be the person that carries the entire bibliography of a particular genre. To use an artist's song lyrics as our calling cards. To trade Easter eggs instead of actual conversations. We build a collage of experiences instead of an identity. We think we are validating these artists, brands, organisations. But we're holding them up as signboards of our own identity. It may feel like an attack to encounter someone who doesn't value the experiences we do. And for safety in numbers, we go with the most popular experiences. We allow FOMO to be the prime dictator of our choices. FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) is not a good identifier of taste, let alone an actual description of personality. All FOMO does is aid marketers by making you believe that you are worthless, even non-existent unless you consume and espouse their brands. FOMO makes us buy overpriced tickets to shows we don't enjoy, events we don't understand and brag about trips we barely cared about. We fear so much being ridiculed for saying this doesn't work for me. It's a case of The Emperor's New Clothes and no one wants to be the honest kid pointing out the emperor is naked. Consider this. You are not the books you read, the movies you love, the songs you play, the restaurants you patronise. Your tribe is not people who huddle under the same brands, whose money funds the same causes. Your existence is not dependent on what brands show up on your credit card bills, what fandoms enjoy your membership. You are a person that wants entertainment, learning, belonging, laughter, joy. Your tribe is people who give you that and who receive that from you without an element of transaction. What these mean is your life's journey to discover and express. Fear of missing out? There's no room for fear when you know every moment is an experience. 📸: @neharamneekkapoor 🎶: BULLA KI JAANA MAIN KAUN – Rabbi Shergill #theideasmithy

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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.

Millennial Dreams Looked Like This

Minimalism. Colour pops. Office beanbags and gym balls. Ironic teeshirts & cause-stickers for formal wear. Technology slimmer than our desired waistlines. Value systems bigger than paychecks. The planet. The economy. Endangered species. Endangered morals. Flexible schedules & flexible boundaries.

We survived Y2K (of which an entire generation exists in blissful ignorance). We listened to Angry Girl music and the shattering of software powered dollar dreams. We watched optic fibres bring calls, jobs and international credit cards into our homes. We taught the generation before us that love really was blind because we could fall in love, lust, friendship and even careers over a glass screen. We saw the dotcom bubble grow & burst. We weathered one, then two then three recessions. We were blamed for killing everything. And we did.

We killed hierarchical structures. We killed paychecks-as-value systems. We killed corporate irresponsibility. We killed sexual harassment as common rite of passage. We killed unrealistic real estate prices and marriage rituals. We killed legalised homophobia & systematised racism. We killed the world as everyone knew it. Because the world changes every day but it flips over a new millenium only once in a thousand years. Maybe that means absolute annihilation of dinosaurs. Maybe it means creatures of water & earth learn to fly.

We aren’t done, not even half-way through. But who knows what is midlife crisis anymore? We also gave the world the concepts of quarter-life crises, of burnout & sabbaticals, of life-changing career flips. While we’ve seen the threat of nuclear weapons and much human devastation, we haven’t yet allowed a World War.

We aren’t the fresh new kids anymore and the millenium is now fully (and freshly) an adult. This means the generation after ours, are ready to pick up from our mistakes, move into our gaps and maybe build new things of their own. But don’t forget, WE KILLED IT FIRST. 😊

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MILLENNIAL DREAMS LOOKED LIKE THIS Minimalism. Colour pops. Office beanbags and gym balls. Ironic teeshirts & cause-stickers for formal wear. Technology slimmer than our desired waistlines. Value systems bigger than paychecks. The planet. The economy. Endangered species. Endangered morals. Flexible schedules & flexible boundaries. We survived Y2K (of which an entire generation exists in blissful ignorance). We listened to Angry Girl music and the shattering of software powered dollar dreams. We watched optic fibres bring calls, jobs and international credit cards into our homes. We taught the generation before us that love really was blind because we could fall in love, lust, friendship and even careers over a glass screen. We saw the dotcom bubble grow & burst. We weathered one, then two then three recessions. We were blamed for killing everything. And we did. We killed hierarchical structures. We killed paychecks-as-value systems. We killed corporate irresponsibility. We killed sexual harassment as common rite of passage. We killed unrealistic real estate prices and marriage rituals. We killed legalised homophobia & systematised racism. We killed the world as everyone knew it. Because the world changes every day but it flips over a new millenium only once in a thousand years. Maybe that means absolute annihilation of dinosaurs. Maybe it means creatures of water & earth learn to fly. We aren't done, not even half-way through. But who knows what is midlife crisis anymore? We also gave the world the concepts of quarter-life crises, of burnout & sabbaticals, of life-changing career flips. While we've seen the threat of nuclear weapons and much human devastation, we haven't yet allowed a World War. We aren't the fresh new kids anymore and the millenium is now fully (and freshly) an adult. This means the generation after ours, are ready to pick up from our mistakes, move into our gaps and maybe build new things of their own. But don't forget, WE KILLED IT FIRST. 😊 #theideasmithy #millennials #millenniallife #metoo #lgbtq #worklifebalance #y2k #life #feminism #digitallife #tribe #urbanfamily #millennial enerationx #genY #babyboomers #generationgap

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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.

10 Years Is A Long Time On A Ferris Wheel Called Life

So I did the #10YearChallenge. And this is what I figured out about myself.

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10 Years is a Long Time on a Ferris wheel called Life I've not gained a lot of kilos in ten years. But I have accumulated memories that give me a certain jaded, wary, not-much-impresses-me-anymore look. Let's see – a transformative relationship, a failed engagement, two homes, three careers, two partnerships and one tattoo. Yes, the tattoo you see, was there a decade ago and even then it was an old one. I was simultaneously an aging soul and a newly minted developing human being. 2009 was the year I turned 30 and decided to stop letting numbers, designations, addresses and other such labels define me. As 2019 begins, I'm finding myself at a new crossroads and looking ahead to how I see myself and the most important thing in my life – my relationships. You never stop learning. And I never seem to stop coming of age. The years fool you. Picture edits: @unstable_elemnt #10yearchallenge #glowup #glowupchallenge #glowupchallenge💯 #glowupchallenge👑 #glowupchallenge✨ #howdidagehityouchallenge #the30diaries #turning30 #thethirties #10yearschallenge #timeline #2009vs2019

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I’ve not gained a lot of kilos in ten years. But I have accumulated memories that give me a certain jaded, wary, not-much-impresses-me-anymore look.

Let’s see – a transformative relationship, a failed engagement, two homes, three careers, two partnerships and one tattoo. Yes, the tattoo you see, was there a decade ago and even then it was an old one. I was simultaneously an aging soul and a newly minted developing human being.

2009 was the year I turned 30 and decided to stop letting numbers, designations, addresses and other such labels define me. As 2019 begins, I’m finding myself at a new crossroads and looking ahead to how I see myself and the most important thing in my life – my relationships.

You never stop learning. And I never seem to stop coming of age. The years fool you.

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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.

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.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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