Category Archives: Roving I

A Bowl Of Soup For Hungry Minds

I wish learning were about curiosity, not a degree. I wish I didn’t live in a world where questions were deemed stupid, caring was uncool, interest was intrusive and curiosity killed. Because my curiosity is my compass, leading me mind-first into every path that makes it possible to be me.

When what we know is bartered and doled out like so many bowls of pitiful, tasteless soup. No wonder then, we treat it with hatred and fear. Information as power and knowledge as currency keep us all fearful and stupid. The most richly bound Bible is still just a fancy paperweight, unless you open the page and read. And we’re meagre in the knowledge of ourselves, scared to go inward and read and suspicious of anyone else who wants to.

The quest for knowledge has always been driven by all-consuming passion. Marie Curies and Galelios strayed blind into the valley of death, in its pursuit. Van Goghs and Sylvia Plaths soldiered against pain, in a quest to understand, to know more more MORE.

I wish we didn’t have to beg fearfully for answers, veritable Oliver Twists begging for another bowl of soup. Because knowing, unlike possessions, is free. How can you put a price on the experience of meeting an idea, welcoming it into your mind, turning it into thought and finally giving it a home inside your life in the form of knowledge?

Knowledge is not power. It is life, sustenance for hungry minds.

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A BOWL OF SOUP FOR HUNGRY MINDS I wish learning were about curiosity, not a degree. I wish I didn't live in a world where questions were deemed stupid, caring was uncool, interest was intrusive and curiosity killed. Because my curiosity is my compass, leading me mind-first into every path that makes it possible to be me. When what we know is bartered and doled out like so many bowls of pitiful, tasteless soup. No wonder then, we treat it with hatred and fear. Information as power and knowledge as currency keep us all fearful and stupid. The most richly bound Bible is still just a fancy paperweight, unless you open the page and read. And we're meagre in the knowledge of ourselves, scared to go inward and read and suspicious of anyone else who wants to. The quest for knowledge has always been driven by all-consuming passion. Marie Curies and Galelios strayed blind into the valley of death, in its pursuit. Van Goghs and Sylvia Plaths soldiered against pain, in a quest to understand, to know more more MORE. I wish we didn't have to beg fearfully for answers, veritable Oliver Twists begging for another bowl of soup. Because knowing, unlike possessions, is free. How can you put a price on the experience of meeting an idea, welcoming it into your mind, turning it into thought and finally giving it a home inside your life in the form of knowledge? Knowledge is not power. It is life, sustenance for hungry minds. PC: @lumographer07 at @alphabetsambar – IIT Bombay #StorySeekers #theideasmithy #knowledge #knowthyself #knowing #answers #answer #curiosity #learning #mindfulness #mindbodysoul #curious #student #studentoflife

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Second Best

I see you look with yearning eyes for people who don’t make time and space in their life for you.

I can only give you second best – my company. I say second best, not because our conversations are less than the ones you could hope to have with anybody else. But I can only be second best to the company you keep with yourself. For what are we in intense friendship and passionate love, but students of our own natures?

We are learning with every interaction in life, pleasant and otherwise, what we like and what inspires us. We examine what brings out the best and worst in us and also, how our best and worst look. A lesson is always more fun with props and with other people. So, let us love together we say to each other, meaning let us walk side-by-side on these solo journeys into ourselves.

When you yearn for the attention of someone who isn’t there, take a minute to ponder that absence. Savour that sting, the emptiness inside your mouth where words usually tumble about. Allow yourself to taste your hunger. And tell me, whether or not, you caught a glimpse of YOU in there.

Lonely is just the space to check if you’ve learnt a new lesson. It’s the full stop between labels, the deep breath between words that defines these things. You’ll never be lonely again when you remember you. And when you forget, I’ll be there to remind you as second best.

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SECOND BEST I see you look with yearning eyes for people who don't make time and space in their life for you. I can only give you second best – my company. I say second best, not because our conversations are less than the ones you could hope to have with anybody else. But I can only be second best to the company you keep with yourself. For what are we in intense friendship and passionate love, but students of our own natures? We are learning with every interaction in life, pleasant and otherwise, what we like and what inspires us. We examine what brings out the best and worst in us and also, how our best and worst look. A lesson is always more fun with props and with other people. So, let us love together we say to each other, meaning let us walk side-by-side on these solo journeys into ourselves. When you yearn for the attention of someone who isn't there, take a minute to ponder that absence. Savour that sting, the emptiness inside your mouth where words usually tumble about. Allow yourself to taste your hunger. And tell me, whether or not, you caught a glimpse of YOU in there. Lonely is just the space to check if you've learnt a new lesson. It's the full stop between labels, the deep breath between words that defines these things. You'll never be lonely again when you remember you. And when you forget, I'll be there to remind you as second best. PC: @unstable_elemnt #theideasmithy #loneliness #missing #missingyou #solitude #solo #lonely #lonelytogether #lonelyquotes #lonelygirl #feelinglonely #flyingsolo #alone #alonequotes #missingsomeone #thoughts #thought #thoughtoftheday #thoughtful #thought_of_the_day #thoughtsoftheday #life #lifecoaching #lifelessons #selflove

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A Nice Place To Visit

What if we were all places instead of people? Towering construction. Sweeping grasslands. A rabbit hole. A pothole. A wrought iron staircase. A treehouse. The ground floor of a building under redevelopment plans. A library. A cell for illegal aliens. The verandah of a brothel. A nursery. The last window of a factory floor. A town square. The green room of a fading star. A shop.

Aren’t we all places already? We are worlds unto ourselves with gates & doors called identity. Know me and gain entry.

Some of us are plush, luxuriant drawing rooms that invite guests to sink in and never leave. Some are spider webs, some carpets, some thresholds. Someone is a transit point on public transport, bright, always impersonal, always busy. Somebody is a bus-stop in the rain, holding both promise and fear. There’s always a person who is the most comfortable spot under a tree, perfect at a particular time and one season. And there’s the one who is your favourite spot on a threadbare sofa with creaking hinges, whose prods & pokes spell comfortable familiarity. One person is an amusement park and another is a discotheque – one lively in the day, another at night and each full of gloomy foreboding at other times. There are even those who are museums, furniture shops, antique stores.

And what else are those we envy but places we look at in a glossy brochure, wishing we were there? Ah, but they tell us, you wouldn’t want to live here.

What is the place that you are? And is it your favourite spot in the world

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A NICE PLACE TO VISIT What if we were all places instead of people? Towering construction. Sweeping grasslands. A rabbit hole. A pothole. A wrought iron staircase. A treehouse. The ground floor of a building under redevelopment plans. A library. A cell for illegal aliens. The verandah of a brothel. A nursery. The last window of a factory floor. A town square. The green room of a fading star. A shop. Aren't we all places already? We are worlds unto ourselves with gates & doors called identity. Know me and gain entry. Some of us are plush, luxuriant drawing rooms that invite guests to sink in and never leave. Some are spider webs, some carpets, some thresholds. Someone is a transit point on public transport, bright, always impersonal, always busy. Somebody is a bus-stop in the rain, holding both promise and fear. There's always a person who is the most comfortable spot under a tree, perfect at a particular time and one season. And there's the one who is your favourite spot on a threadbare sofa with creaking hinges, whose prods & pokes spell comfortable familiarity. One person is an amusement park and another is a discotheque – one lively in the day, another at night and each full of gloomy foreboding at other times. There are even those who are museums, furniture shops, antique stores. And what else are those we envy but places we look at in a glossy brochure, wishing we were there? Ah, but they tell us, you wouldn't want to live here. What is the place that you are? And is it your favourite spot in the world? Location: Opening set of #GuardsAtTheTaj by @dan.husain, @vrajesh_hirjee & #JoyFernandes #theideasmithy #place #architecture #setdesign #space #location #people  #relationships #stage #favoriteplace #safespace #myplace #myplaces #places_wow #architectural #architects #architect #architecture_greatshots #architecturelovers #beautifulspaces #beautifulplaces #beautifulplace #gate #gates #selfcare #healing

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Memory Diving

You may look back more often than the world tells you that you should. You may linger in places you’ve already spent too many dark moments in, with no increasing clarity. Why did she leave? Why did he stay silent? What were they thinking? Did they ever consider how you feel? Do they ever think of you?

Your past-diving may be more than your body can bear, even if your emotions are hungry. Your gaze may sear across unresolved incidents and unnamed feelings, seemingly never reaching conclusions. Why. When. What.

You may plumb all these depths over and over because you are the boundless universe. Your life has had fathomless lessons that are too big, too nuanced, too glorious and too stark to keep up with time. It is true. You may need to read a story again to make sense of it. A joke could make you laugh no matter how often you hear it. And a song may ring on in your head for years without your ever understanding its words.

Maybe some day clarity will come. Maybe the answer will materialize in the sky that you look up to, for guidance or the sea that you gaze at, hoping for a reason to hope. Maybe knowledge will find you in a book or a conversation or a new teacher. Or maybe the lessons will just seep into your skin, more mist than rain and settle on your bones.

A lesson in letting other people live out their crashes. A lesson in not get hit and run over. Lessons of goodbye. Lessons in silence. Shh.

You can look all you want. Underwater, no one hears you scream.

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MEMORY DIVING You may look back more often than the world tells you that you should. You may linger in places you've already spent too many dark moments in, with no increasing clarity. Why did she leave? Why did he stay silent? What were they thinking? Did they ever consider how you feel? Do they ever think of you? Your past-diving may be more than your body can bear, even if your emotions are hungry. Your gaze may sear across unresolved incidents and unnamed feelings, seemingly never reaching conclusions. Why. When. What. You may plumb all these depths over and over because you are the boundless universe. Your life has had fathomless lessons that are too big, too nuanced, too glorious and too stark to keep up with time. It is true. You may need to read a story again to make sense of it. A joke could make you laugh no matter how often you hear it. And a song may ring on in your head for years without your ever understanding its words. Maybe some day clarity will come. Maybe the answer will materialize in the sky that you look up to, for guidance or the sea that you gaze at, hoping for a reason to hope. Maybe knowledge will find you in a book or a conversation or a new teacher. Or maybe the lessons will just seep into your skin, more mist than rain and settle on your bones. A lesson in letting other people live out their crashes. A lesson in not get hit and run over. Lessons of goodbye. Lessons in silence. Shh. You can look all you want. Underwater, no one hears you scream. PC: @professor.shonku #theideasmithy #memory #nostalgia #movingon #lifelessons #sentimental #feelings #emotions #healing #hurtinginside #thepast #lingering

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The Kindness Of Strangers

It’s not something we take into consideration. We even consider it so rarely that if it does happen, we are quick to assume ulterior motive. And we continue to buy into the myth of the cold cruelty of cities, of a story where characters never speak to each other or care about one that falls, of people who never touch each others’ lives at all. We believe humanity to be a rapidly evaporating commodity that’s barely contained only in the oldest and most decripit of associations. Yet, every close friend and every great love was a stranger once.

Growing up in 90s Mumbai meant dealing with the reality of terror attacks, political unrest, union conflicts & bomb blasts. There were also people sheltering together, unknown hands helping one another through floods, acts of blind trust & good faith in humanity that probably saved more lives than the authorities.

Once, I fainted in a Mumbai local. I had been indoctrinated well enough in public transport safety to get down, stumble and collapse onto a seat, holding my bag tightly to me so no one could steal it. A stranger sat down next to me, offered me water, offered to drop me home. When I refused, she gave me her shoulder as she half-carried me across the pedestrian bridge, 2 staircases and to the auto stand. I never knew her name and I don’t recall her face.

A month later in another train, the woman before me swayed and might have fallen off had it been in the other direction. The train was so crowded, she didn’t even hit the floor, just sagged onto me. I held her till the station arrived, walked her down, sat with her and asked if I might drop her home. She consented and I escorted her home. It was no bother at all. I think the universe was giving me a chance to give back and a big lesson too.

Look around you. These are not zombies, not monsters, not cold machines, not malicious agenda. You are surrounded by a world of human beings and the possibility of connections. Kindness and good faith are the magic ingredients in a connection. It’s all there, if you allow it to happen and allow yourself to be a part of it – the kindness of strangers.

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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS It's not something we take into consideration. We even consider it so rarely that if it does happen, we are quick to assume ulterior motive. And we continue to buy into the myth of the cold cruelty of cities, of a story where characters never speak to each other or care about one that falls, of people who never touch each others' lives at all. We believe humanity to be a rapidly evaporating commodity that's barely contained only in the oldest and most decripit of associations. Yet, every close friend and every great love was a stranger once. Growing up in 90s Mumbai meant dealing with the reality of terror attacks, political unrest, union conflicts & bomb blasts. There were also people sheltering together, unknown hands helping one another through floods, acts of blind trust & good faith in humanity that probably saved more lives than the authorities. Once, I fainted in a Mumbai local. I had been indoctrinated well enough in public transport safety to get down, stumble and collapse onto a seat, holding my bag tightly to me so no one could steal it. A stranger sat down next to me, offered me water, offered to drop me home. When I refused, she gave me her shoulder as she half-carried me across the pedestrian bridge, 2 staircases and to the auto stand. I never knew her name and I don't recall her face. A month later in another train, the woman before me swayed and might have fallen off had it been in the other direction. The train was so crowded, she didn't even hit the floor, just sagged onto me. I held her till the station arrived, walked her down, sat with her and asked if I might drop her home. She consented and I escorted her home. It was no bother at all. I think the universe was giving me a chance to give back and a big lesson too. Look around you. These are not zombies, not monsters, not cold machines, not malicious agenda. You are surrounded by a world of human beings and the possibility of connections. Kindness and good faith are the magic ingredients in a connection. It's all there, if you allow it to happen and allow yourself to be a part of it – the kindness of strangers. #theideasmithy #city #cityliving #citylife

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A Game of Eye Contact

A steady gaze is also a cocked gun. This gaze makes the world go silent, words dropping away, identities falling away, sounds melting away and all that exists is that tenuous link held by eye contact. They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. These windows pull you in just as much as they penetrate your being. You cannot touch without also being touched. This touch your skin won’t feel but everything inside you will.

There is a wealth of perceptions that lies buried under good manners. There is yearning, unreasonable. There is rage, unconscionable. There is desire, filthy, savage and uncontrollable. There are screams that merge need and satiation. There is worry, seeping into the cracks  between the best laid plans. There are war cries that are claims of identity. 
They lie shuttered behind blinking eyelids and wavering gazes. And when you make eye contact, you will see your pretty covers taken down to wash. Laundry day for your insides. You will feel the rain and you will be the clouds and you will see it all.

It will be hard to remember the boundary between you and me and the world and them and sense and feeling and structure when…when you look straight into these eyes and they look back at you. You are simultaneously witness and the witnessed. The audience and the performer. The existence and its perception.

It takes two to create and not even a fraction of a second. And it takes one to break it and we always do. Because this game of identity & eye contact is one that we all like to play. Just until we remember that when those eyes shut, there is only darkness.

We all look the same in the night.

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A GAME OF EYE CONTACT A steady gaze is also a cocked gun. This gaze makes the world go silent, words dropping away, identities falling away, sounds melting away and all that exists is that tenuous link held by eye contact. They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. These windows pull you in just as much as they penetrate your being. You cannot touch without also being touched. This touch your skin won't feel but everything inside you will. There is a wealth of perceptions that lies buried under good manners. There is yearning, unreasonable. There is rage, unconscionable. There is desire, filthy, savage and uncontrollable. There are screams that merge need and satiation. There is worry, seeping into the cracks  between the best laid plans. There are war cries that are claims of identity. They lie shuttered behind blinking eyelids and wavering gazes. And when you make eye contact, you will see your pretty covers taken down to wash. Laundry day for your insides. You will feel the rain and you will be the clouds and you will see it all. It will be hard to remember the boundary between you and me and the world and them and sense and feeling and structure when…when you look straight into these eyes and they look back at you. You are simultaneously witness and the witnessed. The audience and the performer. The existence and its perception. It takes two to create and not even a fraction of a second. And it takes one to break it and we always do. Because this game of identity & eye contact is one that we all like to play. Just until we remember that when those eyes shut, there is only darkness. We all look the same in the night. #theideasmithy

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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. 😊

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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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Light Viewing

February in the City – Part II

She says it doesn’t look quite real to her. It’s so many people; nobody knows anyone else. So anonymous, so cold, she surmises.

I say yes. And no. There are so many lives and so many stories happening this minute in this one corner of the city. We do the math and guess at 400 occupants of the building opposite. It mirrors the one we are in so that’s 800 people and their stories. Including I tell her, this one you and I are in.

Look there, someone sitting down to early dinner. And there, she pokes at the grill, gesturing her question. Someone loves plants. A teddy bear on a bed. And expensive furnishings, she observes. An old length of pipe too precious to throw away, so it’s stuffed into a window grill.

How many people do you think are having sex right now? I see her grin from the way the side of her face lifts. She says, I think about that a lot. We all do, I tell her and we laugh. And it’s not cold.

It will take you some time, I say. You’re new to Mumbai. But I like it here, she reassures me as new people drawn to this island always do. I know, I say but it is not you yet. Mumbai is a friendly stranger you’re getting to know, maybe you even have a crush on. But for me? Mumbai is me.

Remember that broken mill we passed? That’s me, my history, my scars. See this glitzy building, these shiny lights that waste more energy than my toxic relationships? Also me. And that train chugging along and every single life in there, chopping vegetables over gossip, staring longingly across the grill between coaches, hanging on uncomfortably wedged grateful for a place to stand? That is also me.

It will take time and you will also not see it coming. You’ll go along for weeks, maybe even years hating these hard things the city throws at you. Mumbai doesn’t make love easy. One day you’ll open your eyes or even before you do, mid-blink, you’ll realise. The anonymity is your identity and your community. The city is one with you. And it is everything. Everything but cold.

When we leave the balcony, she shuts the door with the slightest of shivers.

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LIGHT VIEWING: February in the city Part 2 She says it doesn’t look quite real to her. It’s so many people; nobody knows anyone else. So anonymous, so cold, she surmises. I say yes. And no. There are so many lives and so many stories happening this minute in this one corner of the city. We do the math and guess at 400 occupants of the building opposite. It mirrors the one we are in so that’s 800 people and their stories. Including I tell her, this one you and I are in. Look there, someone sitting down to early dinner. And there, she pokes at the grill, gesturing her question. Someone loves plants. A teddy bear on a bed. And expensive furnishings, she observes. An old length of pipe too precious to throw away, so it's stuffed into a window grill. How many people do you think are having sex right now? I see her grin from the way the side of her face lifts. She says, I think about that a lot. We all do, I tell her and we laugh. And it’s not cold. It will take you some time, I say. You’re new to Mumbai. But I like it here, she reassures me as new people drawn to this island always do. I know, I say but it is not you yet. Mumbai is a friendly stranger you’re getting to know, maybe you even have a crush on. But for me? Mumbai is me. Remember that broken mill we passed? That’s me, my history, my scars. See this glitzy building, these shiny lights that waste more energy than my toxic relationships? Also me. And that train chugging along and every single life in there, chopping vegetables over gossip, staring longingly across the grill between coaches, hanging on uncomfortably wedged grateful for a place to stand? That is also me. It will take time and you will also not see it coming. You’ll go along for weeks, maybe even years hating these hard things the city throws at you. Mumbai doesn’t make love easy. One day you’ll open your eyes or even before you do, mid-blink, you’ll realise. The anonymity is your identity and your community. The city is one with you. And it is everything. Everything but cold. When we leave the balcony, she shuts the door with the slightest of shivers. #theideasmithy #mumbai #mumbailife #cityliving #citylife #skyline #cityskyline

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39 Looks Like This

When was the last time you saw a 30- something look like this? That’s a 30-something pretending to be 20 and you bought it.

We have a mental picture next to each age number till 25. ‘Kid’ gets bigger till it hits ‘Grownup’. ‘OLD’ is a white-bearded, balding man or a toothless, hunched crone leaning on a stick. We are quick with the statement “You don’t look that old at all! You look YOUNG !”. We mean it as a compliment as if being a certain age is the ideal way to be, instead of a natural life stage that everyone passes through for exactly the same time. We decide that young and old are about age bands, rather than a set of factors like experience, exposure, financial independence, emotional maturity, physical fitness, metabolic health, mental stability and attitude. We assume that a ‘Not Young’ person suddenly has a slower pace, less dramatic body language, tighter frame of movements. We assign a limited ABC book image to the binary labels of ‘Young’ and ‘Not Young’. Anyone different may gain temporary membership to the coveted Club of Young.

Being told I look younger is not a compliment. I don’t look 17 because at that age I hadn’t learnt how to manage my allergies & my periods and it showed. I don’t look 24 because then, I was severely underweight from being assaulted and had stretch marks. I don’t look 28 because then I was strapped into a corporate life, weighed down by appropriateness & stress greying. I don’t look 33 because I had water retention & dark circles from an abusive relationship.

I look every minute of my 39 years. The lift in these dusky skinned, bony arms was hard won. The smooth lines of my hair were the result of many negotiations between beauty standards & personal preferences. That tilt of face is measured in the slaps I endured to keep me down. The grace in awkward, clutching fingers took years of accepting my traumas and learning to do so on stage. The feet planted firmly apart have warred against manspreaders and slut-shamers and managed to stay standing. 39 is the story of many wars survived.

Don’t erase my history and tell me that it’s a compliment. 39 looks like this.

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When was the last time you saw a 30- something look like this? Swipe to see. That's a 30-something pretending to be 20 and you bought it. We have a mental picture next to each age number till 25. 'Kid' gets bigger till it hits 'Grownup'. ‘OLD’ is a white-bearded, balding man or a toothless, hunched crone leaning on a stick. We are quick with the statement “You don’t look that old at all! You look YOUNG !”. We mean it as a compliment as if being a certain age is the ideal way to be, instead of a natural life stage that everyone passes through for exactly the same time. We decide that young and old are about age bands, rather than a set of factors like experience, exposure, financial independence, emotional maturity, physical fitness, metabolic health, mental stability and attitude. We assume that a ‘Not Young’ person suddenly has a slower pace, less dramatic body language, tighter frame of movements. We assign a limited ABC book image to the binary labels of ‘Young’ and ‘Not Young’. Anyone different may gain temporary membership to the coveted Club of Young. Being told I look younger is not a compliment. I don’t look 17 because at that age I hadn’t learnt how to manage my allergies & my periods and it showed. I don’t look 24 because then, I was severely underweight from being assaulted and had stretch marks. I don’t look 28 because then I was strapped into a corporate life, weighed down by appropriateness & stress greying. I don’t look 33 because I had water retention & dark circles from an abusive relationship. I look every minute of my 39 years. The lift in these dusky skinned, bony arms was hard won. The smooth lines of my hair were the result of many negotiations between beauty standards & personal preferences. That tilt of face is measured in the slaps I endured to keep me down. The grace in awkward, clutching fingers took years of accepting my traumas and learning to do so on stage. The feet planted firmly apart have warred against manspreaders and slut-shamers and managed to stay standing. 39 is the story of many wars survived. Don’t erase my history and tell me that it’s a compliment. 39 looks like this. PC: @professor.shonku #theideasmithy

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