Tag Archives: Identity

Don’t Call Me TamBram

I am not a Tamilian. I’ve lived in Mumbai my whole life and am the third generation to live outside South India. Tamil is my 5th language, after English, Marathi, Hindi and French. I also understand some Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali, languages of states I’ve never lived in, so linguistic identity is not a good identifier.

I am also not Brahmin. Not all Tamilians are Brahmin and to assume they are, is to erase the history of Brahminical oppression faced by other castes. Members of my family have faced caste discrimination. Small children have been refused water in the hot summer owing to their caste label. The state of my ancestry has a rich culture (Tamil is one of the world’s origin languages and the only Indian language not derived from Sanskrit) and it also has a history of caste violence. My ancestors were people who opposed that discrimination with their language, their customs and identifiers. The Tamil my family speaks, is distinctly and proudly non-Bramhinical. Our skin colour echoes what is supposed to have been the original Dravidian, unlike the Brahmin fairness (theoretically Aryan descendants). I’m not a Brahmin so stop erasing my history by calling me one.

Let’s come back to state identity. I can’t call myself Maharashtrian because my home state has its own rich culture that I do not adequately represent. I do not embody the silent Maharashtrian identity struggle on the national landscape. Mine are not the pains of the starving farmers, the once glorious Maratha warriors, the ungendered Warli tribal art. Even professionals dealing with population (like researchers) divide this state into Mumbai and ‘Rest of Maharashtra’. I represent the urban, undeniably exploitative corner of this state that is its capital. The corner still struggling to maintain a semblance of connection to the state it leads, amid cultural impact of the neighbor state and interference from the centre. I represent Mumbai and it represents me.

If you must give me a label, call me by the city I love, the one I write and talk about the most, the one I call home. Call me a Mumbaiker.

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DON'T CALL ME TAMBRAM I am not a Tamilian. I've lived in Mumbai my whole life and am the third generation to live outside South India. Tamil is my 5th language, after English, Marathi, Hindi and French. I also understand some Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali, languages of states I've never lived in, so linguistic identity is not a good identifier. I am also not Brahmin. Not all Tamilians are Brahmin and to assume they are, is to erase the history of Brahminical oppression faced by other castes. Members of my family have faced caste discrimination. Small children have been refused water in the hot summer owing to their caste label. The state of my ancestry has a rich culture (Tamil is one of the world's origin languages and the only Indian language not derived from Sanskrit) and it also has a history of caste violence. My ancestors were people who opposed that discrimination with their language, their customs and identifiers. The Tamil my family speaks, is distinctly and proudly non-Bramhinical. Our skin colour echoes what is supposed to have been the original Dravidian, unlike the Brahmin fairness (theoretically Aryan descendants). I'm not a Brahmin so stop erasing my history by calling me one. Let's come back to state identity. I can't call myself Maharashtrian because my home state has its own rich culture that I do not adequately represent. I do not embody the silent Maharashtrian identity struggle on the national landscape. Mine are not the pains of the starving farmers, the once glorious Maratha warriors, the ungendered Warli tribal art. Even professionals dealing with population (like researchers) divide this state into Mumbai and 'Rest of Maharashtra'. I represent the urban, undeniably exploitative corner of this state that is its capital. The corner still struggling to maintain a semblance of connection to the state it leads, amid cultural impact of the neighbor state and interference from the centre. I represent Mumbai and it represents me. If you must give me a label, call me by the city I love, the one I write and talk about the most, the one I call home. Call me a Mumbaiker. 🎶: MAHAGANAPATHIM – Morning Raga #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.

Hey You In The Dark

I’m talking to you. That part of you behind closed eyelids. Inside a deep inhaled breath. Tucked away into a memory so intense, you don’t look at it often so it becomes a secret. Who are you in that darkness?

I think we’re all the same. The same disproportionate halves of a body. The same anxious uncertainty. The same disorganised desires. The same imperfection that makes comfort and poise look like two opposites.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be seen away from the light? Is there something slightly magical about the eyes adjusting to darkness even as the mind adjusts to incompleteness? Is it intrusion to be seen in the dark?

I guess that depends on you. Me, I crave being understood. I am terrified of being misunderstood. I fear being miscounted, being left behind or being carried along with a people and to a place I don’t belong. I burn to fit right, to find my tribe, my home, me.

I also know the tricks our minds play on us (before each other). I know about camouflage. About defence mechanisms. About confirmation bias and seeing only what one is looking for. About becoming fluid, chameleon, mercurial and being whatever the eye demands. And I know these are the endless games of living, the repeating charades of relating. Maybe clarity is possible only when a story is over. Or maybe not. Thank the universe for a sun that shines on us all equally.

Hey you, with the bored shadows rising in your eyes. Hey you, fallen into the cracks of your own fractured dreams. Have you looked my way lately? I exist.

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HEY YOU IN THE DARK.. I'm talking to you. That part of you behind closed eyelids. Inside a deep inhaled breath. Tucked away into a memory so intense, you don't look at it often so it becomes a secret. Who are you in that darkness? I think we're all the same. The same disproportionate halves of a body. The same anxious uncertainty. The same disorganised desires. The same imperfection that makes comfort and poise look like two opposites. Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be seen away from the light? Is there something slightly magical about the eyes adjusting to darkness even as the mind adjusts to incompleteness? Is it intrusion to be seen in the dark? I guess that depends on you. Me, I crave being understood. I am terrified of being misunderstood. I fear being miscounted, being left behind or being carried along with a people and to a place I don't belong. I burn to fit right, to find my tribe, my home, me. I also know the tricks our minds play on us (before each other). I know about camouflage. About defence mechanisms. About confirmation bias and seeing only what one is looking for. About becoming fluid, chameleon, mercurial and being whatever the eye demands. And I know these are the endless games of living, the repeating charades of relating. Maybe clarity is possible only when a story is over. Or maybe not. Thank the universe for a sun that shines on us all equally. Hey you, with the bored shadows rising in your eyes. Hey you, fallen into the cracks of your own fractured dreams. Have you looked my way lately? I exist. #theideasmithy 🎶: VIENNA WAITS FOR YOU – Billy Joel

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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.

An Any Person

Who are you when there isn’t anyone around to recognise you? Do you know this person? Even if it is but a few brief moments (and it can’t be anything but that because other people have a way of fixing us into specific contexts). Say you’re in a new place, waiting for someone who hasn’t yet shown up. No one knows you. Nobody looks at you or talks to you. You can be and are being ANY PERSON. You start to relax into the ambiguous ether of no labels, no definitions, no judgements, no decisions, no frames, no scripts. Savour that moment. It’s what liberation feels like.

I experienced such a moment three years ago when I was waiting for a friend. I knew the minute she arrived, we’d launch into a vigorous conversation, deep in ideas and rich in nuance. We’d play out dramas and they’d all be great. I paused, taking in a slow breath I realised I may not remember to, once she was in the picture. And I noticed the bird on the wall. And that it matched the flowers on my top. That friend isn’t in the picture anymore and neither are the things we used to bond on. But this moment has stayed.

I’ve played with identities my whole life, most recently and deeply as IdeaSmith, a largely online and occasionally onstage avatar. Each time it began in a place of ANY PERSON. My first blog was even called “A faceless voice. Just a statistic.” Much came from this. Sometimes I find myself weighed down, trapped by the burdens of identity. Then I remember I’ve always got wings. I just need a minute outside the labels. 

The universe makes room for us in so many ways we never even notice. It recognises us before our identifiers and our stories. It’s all good. There’s room for you even if you don’t know who you are.

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AN ANY PERSON Who are you when there isn't anyone around to recognise you? Do you know this person? Even if it is but a few brief moments (and it can't be anything but that because other people have a way of fixing us into specific contexts). Say you're in a new place, waiting for someone who hasn't yet shown up. No one knows you. Nobody looks at you or talks to you. You can be and are being ANY PERSON. You start to relax into the ambiguous ether of no labels, no definitions, no judgements, no decisions, no frames, no scripts. Savour that moment. It's what liberation feels like. I experienced such a moment three years ago when I was waiting for a friend. I knew the minute she arrived, we'd launch into a vigorous conversation, deep in ideas and rich in nuance. We'd play out dramas and they'd all be great. I paused, taking in a slow breath I realised I may not remember to, once she was in the picture. And I noticed the bird on the wall. And that it matched the flowers on my top. That friend isn't in the picture anymore and neither are the things we used to bond on. But this moment has stayed. I've played with identities my whole life, most recently and deeply as IdeaSmith, a largely online and occasionally onstage avatar. Each time it began in a place of ANY PERSON. My first blog was even called "A faceless voice. Just a statistic." Much came from this. Sometimes I find myself weighed down, trapped by the burdens of identity. Then I remember I've always got wings. I just need a minute outside the labels. The universe makes room for us in so many ways we never even notice. It recognises us before our identifiers and our stories. It's all good. There's room for you even if you don't know who you are. ———————————————————————————– 🎶: TAKE FIVE -Dave Brubeck #theideasmithy #identity #anonymous #freedom #liberate #free #beyourself #you #thisisme #thoughtoftheday #meaningful #lifelessons #living #existence #alonebutnotlonely #socialising #standalone #loner

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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.

Goodnight Mumbai, My City Self

I love this city in a way that I have never been able to love a human being. Even to call it love feels facetious because it feels silly to say I love myself in a way I’ve never loved another.

I live inside a body and a name and a lifestyle that people identify as me. But these are mere identifiers, a hat & spectacles placed over an invisible being as a visibility courtesy to other people. These are not me, they merely symbolise me. Ostensibly, they protect me from the universe running over me by mistake but really, they protect other people by alerting them to the scary presence of another.

ME – this is what I know in an innate sense that defies words and expression. The closest I can come to it is this geopolitically defined, this culturally denoted, this statistically demarcated, this verbally described experience called Mumbai.

In 24 hours, this city (and I) go to vote for one of the most shouted about elections in recent times. Relationships have ended, allegiances wrought & broken and people have even died for this. And after that, true to our name, we’ll go to work, to school and to places we must be so the system runs. So we run.

What is a city, after all? It’s more than its people and its buildings and its location and its numbers. It transcends what is written and spoken about it. And if it is a city that you have lived in your whole life, it defines you and you in loving harmony, define it back. Just like every drop defines the ocean and the ocean is every single drop. I feel the way Mumbai feels, every second.

I feel most at peace in the nights here. One of the labels hung on my city is after all, the city which never sleeps. I am awake and watching the city’s nights as its noise transitions from tinny, metallic horns and the tang of concrete to deep bass breathing and the rumble of machines coming to a stop. The night is defined by my wakefulness and by the sleep of every one of the others who are it.

Sleep, my place-self. Sleep the sleep of island magic and moonlit sonatas. Mumbai sleeps.

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GOODNIGHT, MUMBAI, MY CITY-SELF I love this city in a way that I have never been able to love a human being. Even to call it love feels facetious because it feels silly to say I love myself in a way I've never loved another. I live inside a body and a name and a lifestyle that people identify as me. But these are mere identifiers, a hat & spectacles placed over an invisible being as a visibility courtesy to other people. These are not me, they merely symbolise me. Ostensibly, they protect me from the universe running over me by mistake but really, they protect other people by alerting them to the scary presence of another. ME – this is what I know in an innate sense that defies words and expression. The closest I can come to it is this geopolitically defined, this culturally denoted, this statistically demarcated, this verbally described experience called Mumbai. In 24 hours, this city (and I) go to vote for one of the most shouted about elections in recent times. Relationships have ended, allegiances wrought & broken and people have even died for this. And after that, true to our name, we'll go to work, to school and to places we must be so the system runs. So we run. What is a city, after all? It's more than its people and its buildings and its location and its numbers. It transcends what is written and spoken about it. And if it is a city that you have lived in your whole life, it defines you and you in loving harmony, define it back. Just like every drop defines the ocean and the ocean is every single drop. I feel the way Mumbai feels, every second. I feel most at peace in the nights here. One of the labels hung on my city is after all, the city which never sleeps. I am awake and watching the city's nights as its noise transitions from tinny, metallic horns and the tang of concrete to deep bass breathing and the rumble of machines coming to a stop. The night is defined by my wakefulness and by the sleep of every one of the others who are it. Sleep, my place-self. Sleep the sleep of island magic and moonlit sonatas. Mumbai sleeps. ———————————————- 🎶: THE SOUND OF SILENCE – Simon & Garfunkel #theideasmithy #WHPGoingPlaces

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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.

All That You’re Not

Don’t hang yourself on the noose of someone else’s attachment. It’s nice to feel needed but nice is an illusory trap. You are the sand and the ash inside a dormant volcano. You won’t be held inside a fist or even an embrace that breaks at the first sign of heat.

Do not shatter over the sound and fury that is the face of a person’s humanity turning on itself. You are not glass, not paper, not wood, not stone. You are the center unbound, holding the chaos outward. You are the eye of the universal storm. You won’t be snuffed out by a few angry breaths.

Don’t string yourself together on other people’s definitions. Those thoughts are full of knots, ones they’ll never care to disentangle because they’re about someobody else. You are the water of churning whirlpools. You won’t be contained in a net that tears and loops so easily and is discarded like straggling threads.

Do not find yourself in tatters when toxic thought and poisonous words infect your being. You are not the wastelands laid bare in these fumes. You are the chemistry that gives everything a place, a season, an identity. You are all that was and also all that comes after – the death, the survivor, the guilt, the redemption and the reprise.

You are more than can be imagined. Take the rest of your life to find out what all. 

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ALL THAT YOU'RE NOT Don't hang yourself on the noose of someone else's attachment. It's nice to feel needed but nice is an illusory trap. You are the sand and the ash inside a dormant volcano. You won't be held inside a fist or even an embrace that breaks at the first sign of heat. Do not shatter over the sound and fury that is the face of a person's humanity turning on itself. You are not glass, not paper, not wood, not stone. You are the center unbound, holding the chaos outward. You are the eye of the universal storm. You won't be snuffed out by a few angry breaths. Don't string yourself together on other people's definitions. Those thoughts are full of knots, ones they'll never care to disentangle because they're about someobody else. You are the water of churning whirlpools. You won't be contained in a net that tears and loops so easily and is discarded like straggling threads. Do not find yourself in tatters when toxic thought and poisonous words infect your being. You are not the wastelands laid bare in these fumes. You are the chemistry that gives everything a place, a season, an identity. You are all that was and also all that comes after – the death, the survivor, the guilt, the redemption and the reprise. You are more than can be imagined. Take the rest of your life to find out what all. ———————————————————————— 🎶: BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER – Simon & Garfunkel #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.

Being The Story

Yesterday I ran into a friend. The last time we met, this friend visited me at a new home I was building. I was also newly engaged. So obviously, that would be the starting point of our conversation, a picking up where the thread dropped off. I rolled my eyes wryly and said,

“So much has happened since then. I don’t live there anymore. I’m not engaged anymore.”

My friend’s immediate, almost urgent reply was,

“My good friend is close to him so I will not comment.”

I have navigated hundreds of such conversations in the past six years.

I had a (somewhat) public relationship. Given that I write about relationships and the fact that they form such an important part of my existence, I found it hard not to. Shutting up about that would essentially mean to quit blogging, which would be akin to losing a kidney, a limb and maybe a few other vital organs. But my partner was not an open individual (quite the opposite) and I felt I had to respect his privacy too. So I have never mentioned him by name and I have only sparingly offered details of our relationship, while trying to be honest and open about my own feelings and thoughts (these are mine and I’ve never felt the need to have anyone else’s permission to share them). This has been the trickiest juggling I’ve done in all my adventures with anonymity since I began in 2004.

I didn’t have a chance to think about how this would turn out, if we parted ways. And given how suddenly everything crashed, I barely made it out alive, let alone with enough stability to think clearly. The thing with sudden disasters is that you don’t get time to stop and collect your thoughts. The world hits you with life, even as you’re still lying on the ground with your heart ripped open, bleeding from wounds you didn’t even realise had opened up and were being systematically poisoned. You just learn to cope and hope to heal on the fly, as you get carried along on the rollercoaster ride called life.

In six years, I have run into, got back in touch with and in some way reconnected with possibly hundreds of people. Most people in my world have some connection to my narrative through my blogs, my work and having interacted with me on digital. I have tried to keep my narrative as true to myself but it has to be a filtered, edited one, for reasons of safety and respecting the privacy of other people connected with me. This includes exes, even the ones who have behaved in very, very bad ways.

Last year a friend screenshotted something my ex had put up and sent it to me. I wish she hadn’t. I was not even thinking about him and seeing this forced me to remember his existence in an unnecessarily immediate and close way. She said she thought it would make me feel better but it didn’t.

A few months ago, somebody else told me about someone who liked my ex. They said they were concerned about this person and that they were making a terrible choice. I get that concern. But I don’t get what I am supposed to do in this. This story has nothing to do with me.

Now…

“My good friend is close to him so I will not comment.”

I felt knocked for a loop by my friend’s statement. Because I was starting a conversation and their response was a very clear iron-curtain style wall. The last thing that was called that was part of something the world knew as Cold War. Why did my friend feel the need to rush in with that statement when I had not even asked for comment? Possibly they thought I was seeking validation, asking for them to join me in bashing my ex. I wasn’t. I was just telling my story.

But, in the very act of writing this down, I feel my balance restore itself to normal. I cannot fault my friend for not thinking this through. After all, they haven’t seen me in years. I can also see the good intentions behind the actions of the other friends. They were offering commiseration in their own awkward ways. They were also trusting that I would act with sanity rather than viciousness and while that is overwhelming, it is also inspiring. Maybe I can be that person if people think I can be. I write a narrative that is one that inspires me. And I can only write it if I live it. I am so glad to be a writer.

 

The difficulty in writing your own story is having to explain every word and every edit. But maybe that is also the best thing about it. Remembering the story, that’s all that’s important. The story of me.

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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.

 

Every Traveller Is A Treasure Seeker

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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.

Don’t Fix Me


Don’t Fix Me

You can’t fix a jigsaw puzzle. It’s already perfect, whether you are able to put it together or not. 

Follow my writings on https://www.yourquote.in/ideasmithy

PUSHY

Your identity is not contained in a box called a label. It’s a force that grows, pulsates, pushes. Constantly, till you are dead. And it starts when you’re being born.

Push. Push, now.

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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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