Category Archives: Pop Culture

LA-based GirlTalkHQ covers SXonomics: ‘Indian Band SXonomics Using Spoken Word Poetry To Talk Feminism & Fight The Patriarchy’

Late last month, LA-based GirlTalkHQ spotted SXonomics and carried our story:

“Indian Band SXonomics Using Spoken Word Poetry To Talk Feminism & Fight The Patriarchy”

They say of us,

“While SXonomics touch on topics that are universally understood, such as shaming other women for their choices, there are issues that are specifically directed toward an Indian audience. The two women have dissected the way sexism in India is deeply tied in with the caste system which discriminates against those of a lower socio-economic bracket. In this way they are reinforcing the notion of intersectionality, something today’s feminist movement can no longer ignore in order to stay relevant.”

They added to the story by also tracing our individual journeys through feminist viewpoints.

In many of our conversations, I find myself saying, “I’ve thought/felt this for years and I thought I was alone!”. Protesting rape culture disguised as romance. Hitting back at misogyny.

Surviving hate labels like MANHATER, BITCH and SLUT. Coping with harassment, abuse, discrimination, body shaming, social pressures. Searching in vain for role models. Watching yourself go from person to battleworn warrior. Choosing to be the social outcast in an unsafe environment, because the other choice is unfit for human dignity.

So much of SXonomics is about solidarity, about finally feeling NOT ALONE in a world intent on turning us into mute sex objects/caregivers. Our individual journeys have made us who we are and now the stage gives us a chance to brew these together into a potent mix that fights back at an oppressive system. And beyond that, standing together has given us a chance to remember that we are human beings beyond being crusaders and human beings must have fun, pleasure and inspiration. SXonomics is all of that.

SXonomics is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here’s our first event in February:

Alt-Valentine 5

SXArena: Alt-Valentine: A series of short events that combine performance, poetry, improv, roleplay, readings and audience interaction. Please contact Mr.Aniruddha Chatterjee at +91-99769118555 for details. The sessions are: The Third Wheel, Un-Valentined & Digital Dil.


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.

If I Were To Speak At Mark Salling’s Funeral

Glee actor Mark Salling was found dead a few hours earlier. He was 35 and was found hanging in the woods. He was also weeks away from being jailed after being found in possession of child p0rnography. There has been a slew of hate messages of the ‘He deserved it’ kind on social media, in the past few hours. Which makes this story all the more horrific to me.

Child abuse is a terrible reality of our species. Can we allow ourselves to be softened, within a story of a powerful man who was a perpetrator? And yet, in taking on the monsters, do we not risk becoming those monsters ourselves? Mark Salling is dead. What further punishment can be meted out to him? Any hatred expressed now, lands squarely on his friends and family. Does anyone deserve to be punished for the crimes of a person they love?

*Image via Pixabay

Also, while this is not a popular idea, it is the fair one. Even pedophiles, rapists, terrorists and villains deserve the right to live. I do not believe that justice extends to the right to decide whether a person should live or not. Ironically a lot of the same systems that allow capital punishment also oppose abortion. You can’t selectively choose to wield power over life and death.

What is justice? Is it not different from punishment? Human beings, especially in large numbers may decide the fate of punishment. But justice, that is a higher force. Punishment and reparations are very poor human imitations or rather, temporary measures until justice can happen. Because justice is a force of nature, that happens – a systemic balance that may take some time, after oscillations and upsets.

Lest I be accused of insensitivity towards those affected by Mark Salling’s misdeeds, I’ll also say, I have experienced child abuse myself, at the hands of my music teacher when I was barely 10. It left scars. I saw him years later at the doctor’s clinic. He looked so frail, so tired and weak that all I could feel was pity. PITY. That’s all. And it wiped away any trace of other emotions I could summon up.

In The Lord of The Rings, Frodo tells Gandalf that Bilbo should just have killed Gollum when he had a chance. But, Gandalf tells him, pity stayed his hand and pity may have saved his life. I know this because it saved mine. The label of ‘Abuse Survivor’ does not define me or my actions. Abuse is just something that happened to me; it is not me. And I can trace it all back to that feeling I had when I saw my perpetrator. I allowed myself to feel towards him the way any decent human being would towards another, regardless of who they were or what they had done. And that allowed me to stay human, rather than a vessel of anger or hatred.

I also lived with an abuse survivor, years later and was in turn subjected to many forms of violence by him. My feelings about this are complex since the situation is so complex. In my better moments, I strive to see him the way I saw my music teacher. I fail, most of the time. Maybe we get weaker as we get older, or just more set in the ways we feel. It’s not easy living in a world that demands a black-and-white narrative. More than once I’ve felt pressured to admit that he’s a rogue, a villain, a monster deserving of nothing any human being would. But how can I forget that there is something human in him too? Monsters don’t toss and turn at night, plagued by harsh memories. Monsters don’t have breakdowns in everyday challenges. Monsters don’t struggle to breathe. Monsters don’t cry in the darkness when they think no one can see them. I think I retain these memories so I can tap into them when I’m feeling particularly hateful towards him and this happens often too.

Triggers are the worst part of surviving any trauma because they pull you back to the scene of the crime, long after your visible wounds have healed (or are supposed to have). Every mention or reference to abuse or violence takes me back to one or both of these men. When there have been too many such (and given that these are hot issues in everything from media, poetry, performance and law, it’s often), I explode into a mess of rage.

I cannot avoid triggers for long or realistically. It will mean cutting out vital parts of my life and that brings its own resentment. No, for me, redemption sounds like being able to look villainy in the eye and not be cowed by it. This means facing the villains and being able to see them as more. This is an ideal, mind you, and I fail often and badly at it.


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.

In A Perfect World


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 REVIEW: Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

Turtles All the Way DownTurtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s possible that John Green enthusiasts already come steeled to deal with heavy duty emotional toil, given that his past books place teenagers in cancer, fatal accidents and parental neglect. Still, this book is a different kind of monster and it’s a shock when you encounter it. The last time I felt so desperately bleak was when I read 13 Reasons Why and that’s a book that really should be restricted reading. Should this book come with trigger warnings? Yes. And here they are: Mental illness, OCD, Child abuse. These are spoilers but I think the need for trigger warnings trumps the need to entertain the reader.

My complaint with John Green is his stock characters. Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns were both about the same confused, entitled girl and a confused, enamoured boy. This book arguably gives you again the starring duo from The Fault in Our Stars except instead of cancer, one has OCD and the other has some kind of parental neglect-triggered anxiety. There is even the high-strung best friend you feel sorry for, except this time it’s a girl and she’s poor, not blind.

Still, if you like your familiar characters and can handle teenagers in horrific situations, this book reads quite nicely, showing off Green’s strengths. Say what you will, but the man is good with his words. The conversations feel familiar but never trite. All his characters seem overly obsessed with literary references but they’re vulnerable and grey.

True to his formula, the book does not end on the expected happy ending but still on a positive note. Also, if you’re wondering what the title means, you get the reference in the last quarter of the book (again on formula, just like Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars). Maybe teenagers and other audiences for YA novels need a certain level of formula, especially to deal with the kind of gristly themes Green takes on. And in that, he manages to pull off another successful story that warms your heart, makes you cry a little and wish the world were kinder and then get up and move on.

View all my reviews


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.


Masked or The Moon Child Keeps Secrets

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The Curd Rice Chronicles 

The Curd Rice Chronicles

Forget about being nice. Just stay curd rice.


Curd rice on the streets. Mor mollagai in the sheets.


Kadipatta must be sent to jail for showing up in curd rice.


My balanced diet of curd rice, workaholism, wine and male tears.


It’s not over until curd rice.

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The arclights strip me naked 
But let me keep my neuroses 
So long as I package them as poetry
I can trade them in for a fingerful of clicks

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I Wear: Bold Words Deserve Bold Lips

An I Wear post at long last!

After I was liberated from my nude makeup modesty constraints a few years ago, I swung out to the other extreme to reclaim what has always been mine – a love of BOLD, BRIGHT, DRAMATIC, WHO CARES ABOUT THE RULES dressing and makeup.

I discovered liquid lip colour sometime last year. Liquid lip colour, like the name suggests is literally liquid in a bottle. It’s a lot like painting your nails, except you’re painting the soft, crinkly, thin-skin, fleshy bits that you call your own lips. If like me, you’ve had trouble getting your nails right, boy are you in for an adventure with liquid lip colour! And yet, I persisted. Mainly for the challenge, some for the novelty and a fair bit because liquid lip colours have added a new dimension to the lip hue range.

Yeah sure, I have one shade from the traditional range and obviously it has to be my signature colour of screaming red. This is Nyx Kitten Heels. It’s an orangey-red and now that I’ve figured out the elaborate application and touch-up process it looks the way it does. This picture is without airbrushing, Photoshop or Instagram filters. But it is with lip exfoliation, moisturising, lining, application, correction, concealer and matting. Yes, this is not for the faint of make-up heart.

So why you ask, would I go to such effort for a red I’d get in the much easier formats of lipstick tubes? Because liquid lipstick (once you perfect the application) paints on much more sharply than the crayon-rub that most of us do with regular tubes. It also lasts way longer which is a big plus for people like me who swallow most of our lip colour when we talk (which I do a LOT) and eat. But again, given the considerable effort, I’d rather go with the apply-reapply-touch up of tubes for the other colours like pink and brown.

But let’s come to the really exciting bit and the real reason I’ve gotten so fond of liquid lipstick – bold colours! Here’s starting with a bold. If you said black, you’d have been just a little short of correct. Because my first bold liquid lippie was a grey. Here’s Nyx Stone Fox, a metallic grey which seems to confuse people. It’s not the stop-you-in-your-tracks black. Grey also reflects colours you’re wearing a bit so everything seems to blend seamlessly and yet….

Technically speaking the above was not my first bold liquid lipstick. But Nyx Amethyst is that safe gateway drug into crazy, mad colours. It’s a gorgeous purple but not purple like you’ve ever seen on lips. Apparently the beauty blogger/makeup professional way of describing this is to call it a ‘cool purple with more blue’. Yeah, whatever. Look at my FIERCE!

38 kitsch (thanks to @ishmeetnagpal and @manishalakhe) Happy birthday to me.

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Once the mind is freed of colour boundaries, the whole world opens up in Technicolour. Except I’ve never been shy of bright colours. So I did my ‘let’s give this a shot for a change’ going to what I’d usually consider too safe for me – a dark maroon. Nyx Oh Put In On did that wonderfully because it’s almost black but just short of, which takes it away from 70s aunty territory but keeps it from falling into wannabe goth land. I think this one has slightly brown undertones. While I’ve never enjoyed wearing brown as a colour, I can’t deny it really brings out the glow in my face.

This has been a year of such drastic changes and shifts that my whole outlook has been the here and now – surviving these. But I am a creature of nostalgia and the past doesn't impede me. It teaches me, it nurtures me and it gives me fodder for the future. This Sunday, I attended a storytelling session organised by Spill Poetry. Bring personal stories only, they'd said. I approached the stage with no prior preparation for the first time in nearly three years. Poetry and Spoken word have become such polished, seasoned ventures and I'm nothing if not competitive. But oral storytelling? I had no references. I started to weave a tale from something that happened to me in 2005. At the time, it happened so quickly and in such an over way, I barely had a chance to notice how much it changed me. But it did – me, my relationship with the city and my sense of security, home and independence. I overshot my time limit but the organisers were kind enough to let me continue and the audience kind enough to listen and tell me they could relate. I am so grateful to have had a chance to stop and examine my past and share it with you. Thank you. #openmic #spokenword #liveperformance #performance #shayar #shaayari #sher #ghazal #mehfil #maqta #story #storytelling #stories #storyteller #personalstories #mumbaifloods #mumbai #mumbaiker #mumbaiwriters #mumbairains #26thjuly #spillpoetry

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And since I’d gone into almost goth territory, I figured I’d round it with claiming black too. I haven’t actually worn this out properly yet and I’m still working on a way to wear it without doing goth. Nothing against goth, it’s just that that is the stereotypical way to wear black. I’ll do an I Wear post or video about that in some time. This is Nyx Alien.

And finally, a blue to complete the entire range! I already have a blue, an unusual format involving a brush and a palette that looks more like an eye-shadow box but never mind that now. Here’s Nyx Jet Set and as you can see it’s an inky blue which could give you a schooltime learning-to-use-ink-pen flashback. Or if you can remember it really makes your teeth look bright white, your smile could dazzle everyone into seeing you as a star. Well, at least that’s what I’m hoping. I love this colour.

Now for a few tips for any of you inspired to give these a shot:

  • Please IGNORE anybody, professional or otherwise who tells you what colour ‘suits’ your skintone or not. The beauty industry is built on making women feel insecure about their looks and India doesn’t treat dark girls well. It’s up to you to reclaim your pride. This is how I do it. Dark girls can have all the fun.
  • Practice does make perfect. Don’t expect to master liquid lippies in one go. It will not look the way it does in beauty magazines. Remember to do this for yourself and it’ll be nothing but fun.
  • Keep refining your technique. I found Youtube tutorials immensely helpful in this regard.
  • The colours shown on sites do not match most of the actual products. Youtube is full of reviews but most of them are by non-Indians. These colours do not look the same on Indians as they do on white people or black people. There’s a rare Indian video here and or there but the production quality is usually not the same which means the actual shade is anybody’s guess. If possible, check out the colour in a store. Or be like me and just take a wild leap of faith!

Here’s how I apply liquid lipstick:

  1. Exfoliate using a mascara brush and transparent lip balm. Remove excess with tissue.
  2. Outline with lip liner. For the crazier colours, I just use eye pencils.
  3. Apply the liquid using the applicator. No smacking. Fill in the insides first. With a light hand complete the outer edges.
  4. Reapply lip liner.
  5. Tidy up the edges with tissue if needed.
  6. Apply loose powder on the outside of the lips just to make the whole thing look sharp.
  7. Rule with a SMILE!

So, what do you think? Like the crazy colours on my face? Or should I go back to hiding behind deep, sometimes obscure poetry?


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.

Co-dependency Ritual

Co-dependency Ritual

Let’s knot a tie
and make conformity respectable
Let’s tie a knot
and turn bondage into ritual
Let’s finger these traps
and label them protection
Let’s trap those fingers
and call it love and affection

Happy Denial Day,
Whatever label you give it today.

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