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Was supposed to send this in for a mag. Forgot. :P
In the society where the gender roles have been modified to such an extent with respect to Indian men being offered skin whitening products, how open are these market targets to buying such products after all? Our perception of skin color comes from a very deep way of societal thinking. From the level of Hitler’s staunch pride in the fair-skinned, blue-eyed Aryan race to the level of a television show in India on the issue of a girl with a dark skin being rejected on the basis of her color, all her other attributes being completely irrelevant here.
I (with a lot of discomfort) understand the society’s and hence, the individual’s outlook on skin as being linked with a person’s worth and stature. This conditioning of the person starts right at the beginning, from one’s childhood. As a practice, if not intellectual belief, religion does form a part of daily activities, norms etc. Looking at say, Hinduism as an example, the only god with a dark complexion that comes to my mind is Krishna that too after having given the explanation of the snakes’ venom having turned the otherwise fair skinned Krishna blue/dark. Not only that, I remember seeing pictures wherein it would only be the demons who would not be fair-skinned as the gods who are idealized. From this then this fixation with fair skin goes on deeper into our existence by way of the caste system. It is again in the projection of the distinction of superiority and inferiority by looking at the different caste distinctions created by one and all.
All this as a background is important to be noted as historically, one has been made to believe, with conviction in attaching worth with skin color. The fairer the person, the more important she becomes in the eyes of one and all, and most importantly, herself. The obsession that lies with fairness skin products and even the simple ceremony of applying turmeric to a bride for her marriage in the Hindu tradition are small examples of something that constitutes the existence of a great chunk of the population. Even though the original purpose of the said ceremony has been to effectively ‘clean’ the bride, as an addition to daily bathing, its meaning is increasingly perceived as a way to enhance skin complexion.
It is this attachment of skin color with self-worth and esteem that has led to the skyrocketing sales of these fairness products. So much so that even men need one. Though this can be looked at as a positive through the gendered lens, it still shows the furthering of attaching self-esteem within the population. To conclude, through every individual story, mine, of those around me has a great deal of experience when it comes to attaching one’s worthiness or happiness here with skin color. No wonder matrimonial columns still have ‘fair’ brides in demand.
What does this picture do to you? What do you feel/think when you first look at? I’d really like to see the different perspectives that would come if I show this picture to the very different people I know.
This was clicked by a friend’s friend when he was camping in the Himalayas sometime back, Easy to admire the beauty (or gloom for some) and move on. I find this one especially beautiful coz he has managed to capture the lone green shed in the middle of all this. Wrote this down while looking at it. –
I’m sitting right here
Amidst all this fog
Ready to disappear
Disappear from the sights and sounds of others
Others who are not what I see right now
What I see is just the new me that has become
Become someone I don’t quite recognise
But find the peace in having discovered
The fog has two sides to it
One that leads me to the clear sight of the life that is
The other, well, the other has denser fog
The crossroads don’t seem to be themselves anymore
Is it time already?
Off lately, I have been dreaming
Dreaming about you, yet again,
Haunting me day and night.
I don’t like it
But I’m pulled back into the past.
I go about here and there
Without actually knowing where
‘Coz its still rooted deeply
In what they call the sands of time
Ever so ironical- nothing yet so much inside, heavy yet unstoppable.
I’m not sure when this will end.
Not sure when I’ll be “at peace”.
I don’t even know whether I’ve reached there or not.
One thing that I’m certain about however,
The quest shall continue till you reach the destination, the haven of divinity.
The jewel lies locked up in the chest
I took care of that, and threw the key away
So that it’ll never be found, not even by me.
Time has shown
And continues so
The place is to be found alone
No help shall be useful
The journey shall itself become the destination.
What is life? I often find myself asking this question.
Is it one, is it many?
Is it the infant born in a reputed hospital, or is it the one born on the streets?
Is it in music, or is it dance?
Is in in the unforgettable past, is it in the eagerly awaited future?
What is life then?!
I realise that I do spend a good amount of time pondering on such fundamental questions of life. I think, to a large extent, that my experiences make me think, question. I feel, life is the present that originates in the glorious past and stretches far and wide into the horizon of our future. Life is till the time the quest to be happy is still on. Darkness does not imply the end of sunlight. The Sun is life, bright and illuminating!
The other day, I saw a small kitten die on the streets when a car ran over its little neck. The look of excruciating pain with its eyes tightly shut will haunt me till my last breath. I did, silently, shed a tear or two mourning the end of a life, grieving just how unimportant the kitten’s end was for so many people!
But, today, when I see cats in college scavenging for food in dustbins, it reminds me of that same kitten and I become aware of the fact that its life had not ended, but just begun. It was to live the life of a stray, untended cat just for a few months and then get free.
Hence, life is eternal…
Bheeg jaane do khud ko aaj is baarish mein
Bhula do sab kuch iski madhoshi mein
Na roko ab apne mann ko tum
Na khincho apne dil ki lagaam ko itni zor se
Ek baar chup hoke sunlo iski bhi do baat
Azaad ho tum jaan lo ye
Todhke sab bedhiyan aaj udh jao tum khule gagan mein
Bheeg jao tum is barsaat mein
As a kid from Jaipur, I was in awe of the city. Every year, as soon as the summer breaks would start, I’d run to my grandparents’ place in Indraprastha & spend the 2 months there. The smallest things about living in Delhi like the trend of living in flats instead of bungalows, the drives with ice-creams around India Gate, the small market that came up every Wednesday in front of the flats & the tiny cafés selling the best chicken rolls I’ve ever tasted; all really charmed their way into my heart making Delhi, the most charming city for me.
As I grew up, I got more & more fascinated by the city despite of the media reports of rising rape cases in the city. I just wanted to come here & be one of the many “cool and independent” college students that we so often see in Bollywood films.
And, my dream came true! I got into DU. My grandparents moved out of the city. In short, there it was! My gateway to being a free bird! I got into LSR for an honors degree in Economics & shifted in with my best friend from school. I had everything I wanted, friends, college and DELHI! The idea of being in Delhi made me ecstatic! I think the idea of being able to visit Khan Market more often was the dominant factor, though.
The city however, does take its toll on you. It’s not the Dilliwalas who do that, it’s the outside people, the migrants who’re umm…, not so dilwala! The first year’s turbulent. Apart from the confusion about what image the movies portray of college life & what it actually turns out to be, the biggest confusion that people like me face is the lack of honesty & sincerity in people. The best friends that I’ve made in college are all Delhi-ites. The rest, well, they’re unworthy of even a mention here.
Looking back in time, I realize that Delhi isn’t just what I imagined it to be, there’s much, much more to it. It’s not just about being black or white, the gray always lurks somewhere close by. The city teaches you so much. In these two years, not only has Delhi stimulated my tastebuds with its seasoned variety of food, from the roadside momo stalls to the high-end, posh restaurants, but it has also developed me as a person, made me stronger, more mature and more independent.
From the tiniest things that form a part of your daily life like washing your own clothes & taking care of your own meals to the bigger things like making career choices & giving entrances like JNU, D School etc; it is this life that makes me what I am today.
Delhi teaches you the value of money. From sky high rents to the food costs, the city will definitely make a BIG hole in your wallet but, the experience is worth it! The days when you’re broke, when you have to walk in the unbearable cold of the winters & heat of the summers, making your way through the many stray dogs that go mad in the heat and the innumerable rickshaws that are never on the right side of the road, are the days when you appreciate how blessed & protected your time at home was & at the same time, get amazed at the fact that how independent you’ve become.
The most interesting thing about Delhi is that not only is the city modern but, it also has the flavor of history. From the Baha’i temple, Humayun’s Tomb to the Qutab Minar & the ‘khooni jheel’ near the university campus, Delhi has ample scope for couples, who’re low on budget, to go for a date to these places where nobody’s interested in going nowadays as they prefer ‘The Big Chill’ to them and thus, one finds walls covered with graffiti that reads “Babli loves (complete heart with the arrow through it) Ramesh” and the sorts!
In the end, all I can say is that with good people or bad, cheap food or expensive, monuments or no monuments,
“ye dilli hai mere yaar,
bas ishq mohabbat pyaar.”
Its a path seldom crossed
But it feels right.
This is the time
To let go
To be free
To be me.
I got to be happy
No matter what
Won’t listen anymore
Won’t follow anymore
I gotta follow my heart now
I gotta be me.
I just got one lifetime
No point wasting it
Its okay if they’re disappointed
They’ll understand some day
They’ll have to.
Have nothing with me
All I got is my heart
And I know that’ll suffice.
By the end of the day
I’ll have it all.
I’ll have it all coz
I sing my song.
And no one can take it away from me
Its my call now.
The world’s a stage
And that stage’s mine now!