Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mills n Boons vs Real Life Romance

“He slid his hand behind her head and brought his mouth down on hers in a hard, demanding kiss that stirred up a raw hunger. A kaleidoscope of emotions ripped through him but the prime one was need. It spread through him, not slowly, but like wildfire burning everything in sight. Gripped by it, Sean powered her back against the railing and trapped her there.” Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan, a Mills n Boon romance novel.

It’s been over 100 years since Gerald Mills and Charles Boon teamed up to publish books. Since then, they have been responsible for more than 30,000 fictional kisses.
Mills & Boon sells 130 million books each year in 109 countries and 26 languages. Someone buys a book every three seconds!

In India Harlequin, the publisher has published 26 titles in their Indian collection with authors Milan Vohra and Aastha Atray being the first authors to write a home grown Mills n Boons romance in English. Since then there have been titles that have come out in regional languages as well.

The Hindi titles "Raaste Pyaar Ke" and "Punar Milan" and Tamil titles "Bossin Kadhal" and "Avargal Meendum Inainthaargal" are available with Marathi and Malayalam editions as well.

It’s no wonder that almost every woman in the world has read at least one Mills n Boons if not more. Hence our idea of a perfect man most often stems from the heroes we’ve grown up reading. The list of qualities that he may need to possess are tall, rich, good looking, sense of humour, roguish, talented, sexy, intelligent, challenging who can sweep the woman off her feet and give her a good time in life. Now that we’ve made the list, let’s find men who can fit this role!

But alas, there’s no such thing as a perfect man or a real life Mills n Boon hero.
While a man is dating, he is at his best and puts on the cloak of a Mills n Boons hero to please his woman. He is dashing and articulate, funny and intelligent, wild yet surprisingly reliable. As soon as the man has ensnared the woman in a commitment, the cloak is kept in the back of a `routine’ closet and the man goes back into the minutiae of his existence. Meanwhile the woman is all swept up and has nowhere to go. She’s a tornado of expectation and romantic energy that she had read and tasted with the man.

The man acknowledges that he’s not a Mills n Boon hero. He recognises fact from fiction. But for a woman the realities are blurred. Her romantic notions, her relationship ideas, her future plans have been derived from an idea of a perfect romance she may have read eons ago that have stayed in her memory.

The company Harlequin has also been criticised for repeating plots, the inevitability of their happy endings, and a simple writing style, whereas fans cite predictability as a key reason for reading. While this may have boosted the sales of the books, it’s always a repeat reading or watching of something that allows it to take shape in memory. Kausar, Integrated Therapist at Sanctuary of Life mentions, “What we read or watch repeatedly will also be accompanied by our repeated interpretation of that message. Depending on our level of (un)awareness of the interpretation and its consequences on us, it can have an impact on the choices we make.” When this repeat reading of the perfect man takes shape, it is very hard for us to shake it when we do start having relationships.

In 2011, psychologist Susan Quilliam blamed romantic fiction, and Mills & Boon in particular, for poor sexual health and relationship breakdowns.

Gauhar, had always believed that her relationship would be like a Mills n Boons romance. In the beginning her husband had taken her for bike rides and chatted with her under the stars on a trek. Once they got married, the bike was traded for a cozy family car and the stars in the sky were exchanged for the stars on TV at night. “How has he changed so much?” She would ponder.

Bangalore based leading psychologist Dr Geetha Appachu has seen many cases of women with unreal expectations. She says that when a woman is stimulated by the idea of romance she equates it to love and she will perceive her relationships to have that same stimulation. Most of these women clients sit and wonder why their life is not close to what they have read.

The women are dissatisfied because they want their spouse or partner to pamper them the way a Mills n Boon hero has pampered his heroine. Often the relationship for the woman gets “boring.” Boredom then causes lack of enthusiasm in the home front and interferes in other areas of her work and society life. If the man and the relationship isn’t “exciting enough” for the woman she chooses to either break the bond or find stimulation elsewhere.

While we love our romances and Mills n Boon it’s important for all women to have realistic expectations from their relationships. When we start getting bored we must question whether it is in relation to something we’ve read, seen or heard and are comparing our life to it. A deep understanding of why you need the pampering, what more you can do in the relationship and what else can you do with life may help women in understanding themselves and their relationships better. But keep reading romance novels because they can uplift you, move you and make you smile. Just don’t make them your reality.

Research from: 
Dr. Geetha Appachu: 094486 17789 (Bangalore)
Energy Healer: Kausar: 09849152872

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Udta Bharat

Now that the Udta Punjab hullabaloo has died down and everyone knows about the Punjab drug issue, let’s talk about the rest of India where the drugs and alcohol problem is also prevalent.

Recently I spoke to my niece Aiyana in my old home town Lucknow. When I was living there it was quiet, conservative and rather dull. None of us had access to drugs or alcohol and we spent our days studying and gossiping. But all this has changed in 2016. As my niece tells me that in a reputed college hostel in Lucknow, everyone has access to marijuana and almost everyone consumes alcohol.

In her words, “Even if we don’t want to drink there’s so much pressure to fit in that we succumb to it. Otherwise we’ll be called losers.”

She also says that there are some who “smoke up” the entire day but are brilliant at studies. Their parents don’t care as long as they get the marks at the end of the year.

I just came back from an Under 25 Lit Fest in Bangalore. When I met the youngsters they were all brimming with excitement and enthusiasm. The founders were 21 years old. The volunteers ranged from 19 to 24. They were all bright, motivated and focussed. But when I began speaking to one of them Tarun and began discussing the Udta Punjab issue he said, “It’s not just in Punjab, it’s here in Bangalore too.”

When I probed a little further he opened up to say that alcohol was at a reasonable price and weed was even cheaper. Everyone had it.

“But why?” I asked in confusion and a concerned forty year old aunty tone.

“To celebrate sometimes, to take the pressure off most times, to get away from the depression largely…” Tarun ruminated.

“What would you be depressed about? You have an entire future ahead of you. You don’t have a stale marriage, responsibilities of kids, EMIs of a house or wrinkles to worry about,” I said.

He laughed. “We have other issues. Mainly relationship issues. Studies pressure. Lack of a future in this country. Corruption. No money.”

When I told him to explain more he said, “Mostly girls and guys cheat on each other and they become depressed. Some get into a commitment too fast and then realise they don’t want it. So they break up. By that time the other person has fallen for them and is heartbroken. So alcohol becomes a way to get away from it and soon it becomes an addiction.”

“What about drugs?” I asked.

“Everyone has it, knows where to get it and uses it. It’s mild though. Some of us don’t use it at all. And we rarely drink. But there is pressure to be part of a group and we all hang out and drink or smoke. It’s easy.”

That night I went to sleep pondering about why these youngsters were unable to move on in their relationships. After all there were so many apps that could help you move on! After a full eight hours of sleep, I awoke the next morning and spoke to one of the volunteers and asked if they got enough sleep as well. (Yes I realise I’ve become an aunty) She replied that everyone was working till one in the morning. To which I said, “Oh so you got six –seven hours of rest. Good good!”

She laughed and replied, “We finished working at one but went drinking till four (am). We’ve got two hours of sleep. But we’re all very eager.”

Later I looked for signs for who went drinking and who slept and I couldn’t make out at all. All the volunteers were on their toes, smiling and working through the day.

Then I figured that this generation uses everything including alcohol as an escape. Apps that help you get over a relationship by finding someone new to sleep with or alcohol that takes away the pain of being alone. And they all feel alone. The fact is they are a passionate lot of people. They are passionate about their relationships, work, studies, commitments, ideas, etc. And when there are hurdles along the way their passion dies as quickly as it was fuelled.

But why is this generation needing escape at all? And why do they need the drugs to focus when they have fertile minds that will allow them to do so anyway?

Aiyana in Lucknow says, “There is so much competition that just having a fertile mind isn’t enough. Sometimes the pressure is so high that the only way to release it is through marijuana or alcohol. It settles the over worked mind.”

There is a huge generation gap that is also occurring between youngsters who are between 18-26 and their parents. The demands of the parents to secure high percentages to get into college and then get employment, the ire of the parents when the child is having a relationship, the distrust, the judgements, the lack of communication is distancing the bond between the children and the parents. So these youngsters turn towards their friends and social media. Social media only has strangers and in a competitive world, the friends they rely on and the relationships they have become either too dependent or too toxic.

“My girlfriend cheated on me with my best friend,” revealed one youngster Shrey to me. “I lost not only the love of my life but also the person who I could turn to.” Shrey fell into depression and started drinking.

A young reader of mine came to me and asked, “Maam you give relationship advice. I want to be open with my parents and tell them about all my relationships but they only scold me and continuously tell me to stop seeing people and focus on my studies. How do I get through to them?”

In my own aunty way I replied, “You must understand their core issue as well. They’re scared that they you will lose focus and not do well. Once you assure them of that they will be fine with your relationships.”

To which she responded, “I have. I study a lot but I also need a personal life and I read books too. So what’s the harm of having a boyfriend? I want to be honest with them but they’re not getting me.”

Before I could respond my fellow young author friend said, “Lie. Your parents aren’t going to understand. YOLO.”

Reports show that “During 1992-2012, the per capita consumption of alcohol in India has increased by whopping 55%, the third highest increase in the world.” In a country where there is an increasing generation gap between the 60% of the population - the youth and the ones who can influence them – the older 40%, alcohol takes over as a counsellor. Another worrying trend from India is that the average age of initiation of alcohol use has reduced from 28 years during the 1980s to 17 years in 2007. In India alcohol abuse also amounts to huge annual losses due to alcohol-related problems in work places. Nearly 25% of the road accidents are under the influence of alcohol and it is also a significant risk factor for increased domestic violence. (

What is the solution to the alcohol crisis in India? Banning it will only lead to spurious alcohol which could be fatal for everyone. Lecturing about it could ostracise the people involved. And making it more expensive could lead to more crime as youngsters will find new ways of acquiring the money for it. Showing videos before films will only make the youngsters laugh. 

Even putting a disclaimer in Bollywood movies when actors drink is not going to change the alarming statistic of the youth who drink.

The solution just may be simple. 
1. Parents need to be trained to communication better with their teenage children, maybe through regular on campus workshops. 
2. Counsellors who are non-judgmental and not too old in age on every campus who help the youngsters deal with their relationship issues. 
3. Workshops on spirituality, healing and meditation on a regular basis with the youngsters made compulsory. 
4. More sports facilities so the youth can be occupied with physical activities and good coaches to help them. 
5. Role models from different spheres of life who can visit the campuses and speak about their own journey and influence them. 6. Maybe even online apps that can advise the youngsters about relationships their career opportunities and guide them.

Youngsters today need a guiding light. They need to know that marks aren’t everything and they will succeed even if they don’t get into a great college. They also need to know that it’s alright to have different relationships and move on from there instead of settling into depression because you were jilted or broke up.

A week ago I lost my cousin who was forty years old to alcoholism. She had been admitted to NIMHANS for rehab, she had also gone to a retreat to detox for a month a few years ago. Most days she was lucid. But alcoholism was a monster in her life which she could not control. It began in her college when she needed “just one drink.” Soon she needed more. When her boyfriend left her, she turned to alcohol even though she had supportive parents who spoke to her about the relationship and guided her in many ways to do various things in life. But alcoholism was a demon that refused to let go of its clutches. She died of multiple organ failure starting with her liver. Her parents are still heartbroken and wonder where they went wrong and what the purpose of her being in this world was!

The youth of India must understand that the problem and the solution lies within. You must believe in yourself. You must understand that even if there is corruption today, the country needs you to quell it out and make it better. You must know that dying young and living dangerously is not cool. No one will care or remember. The only way you can make a difference is to be proud of not fitting into this alcoholic culture. It may be the most difficult thing you’ll ever do but you’ll have a life that will be worth it. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

What is a good enough percentage to get into college?

Courtesy Hindustan Times.

Pallavi. 50%. Wants to be a doctor. Refuses to do a B.A. 10 lakh donation needed to get into a medical college. Parents want her to get married off!

Seher. 92%. Wants to do Business Studies. Not got in to the first cut off list. Didn’t do well in the interview round. 7 lakh donation needed to get into college of choice. Middle class parents don’t know how to get that kind of money!

Akash. 85%. Wants to study History. Arts cut off is 87% first list. The college of choice is full. Parents need to find another college out of the city they’re living in.

Syed. 73%. Wants to do medicine. Can get through quota in certain colleges. Still needs to pay a donation.

How much does a pupil need to study in India to get into the college of his choice without paying any money?

College Admissions is every parent and student’s nightmare! The second list for most colleges is out on Wednesday 29th June. For most students their fates are sealed. Some are still hopeful for a third list and some are already getting lectures from their parents for not doing well enough.

The cut off percentage list for admission as per Times of India 28th June 28, 2016 was 82% for Arts and 87% for Science in only one college. The rest of the cut offs were higher than 90%. How much do students need to study to get into a college? Is out system so flawed that a teenager’s life is defined by studies? It is a number, a percentage and an admission that can make a parent happy. And even if he or she gets that number they might not even get admission because the education racket is corrupted with donations sky rocketing every year.

When I was giving my 12th board exams, I studied every day only to receive approximately 75%. And thankfully I got into the college of my choice without giving any donations. But then again I didn’t want to do business studies or medicine and was happy with English Honours.

Today’s teenager is struggling with studies, pressure and distractions. To be extremely focussed and get marks above 85-90% when the competition and syllabus is so tough is an achievement. And as parents, a society and system we should be praising them for their hard work and effort.  Except that we berate them for not doing well enough. They still need to get into a college.

So if a teenager gets low marks they have two options. 1) To give the 12th board exams again and hope for a higher percentage that will allow them to pursue what they like. 2) Pay the donation and acquire your seat.

But most parents are scared that even after coughing up lakhs, will their child stick to the subject and find employment later?

The system is letting the students down. Many of them have got high percentages and don’t have the money for donations. They believed that by studying and doing your best, you can follow your dreams. But they are not able to get into the courses they want even in the second cut off list. 

Somewhere all students are learning to make a compromise, either with their education choice or their college. So most of them are becoming jaded and uninterested even before they begin the next phase of their lives.

If donations are the only way to go then most rich students give up even before they take the exams. They know they’ll get in any way. And colleges are reflecting a pattern of rich average students and extremely intelligent middle class ones.

The pressure builds up from class 8 itself. Most boards complete the 8th and 9th standard syllabus in one year while still doing a sports and annual day. This puts tremendous pressure on a young hormone filled 13-14 year old teenager who begins to rebel against the education system and parents who put pressure for marks. By 9th grade schools are teaching the 10th board syllabus and if the student has not picked up the 8th and 9th grade syllabus he would be lagging behind. And in 10th grade the schools revise the entire syllabus that will be coming for the board exams.

Why is the education system relying so heavily on marks? Arts students need to get 95% to get into prestigious colleges. And science streams are looking at a full 100%. Coaching institutes are thriving. 
And childhood has died.

Parents don’t encourage sports or music anymore unless the child is brilliant at it and can get in to college through that quota. And every parent is working, saving and struggling to keep their child happy if the donation is needed. As a parent, we lose touch with reality because of the competition. We stop seeing our children for who they are – intelligent, bright, talented individuals who can be defined by more than just a number.

Unfortunately when the system only depends on marks, all a student can do is work hard and pray for good luck. And maybe accept that whatever happens will be for the best and that their destiny will lead them to the correct path where there will be a pot of gold.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Craze over Adult Colouring Books

A few days ago my two best friends came over and instead of chatting like we generally do, they started colouring in an adult colouring book. The next day I gave two sheets to my 7 year old daughter and her friend and they became obsessed as well. What is it about colouring that is so fascinating and addictive?
Humans have understood the power of art since time immemorial. Ancient history has been depicted through paintings on the walls. Culture and traditions have been shown through art and sculptures through the years. But art has always remained elusive to the common man.

Over the years painting, colouring and art was seen as something only really talented people could do as a profession or children would do to while away time. In this hectic world where achieving something is necessary, art for adults took a back seat to learning and earning.

In recent times art has suddenly become invaluable again with artists coming into prominence and art being sold for millions all over the world. And a seed was planted of could we ordinary people become a part of this great art world? But who had the time and energy to paint, or make art? And even if we did, where could we start? Not all of us have great imagination. And a blank piece of paper is daunting and overwhelming.

So when in 2015 Johanna Basford, Scottish illustrator and “ink evangelist” released The Secret Garden, and Enchanted Forest, colouring books with intricate patterns of birds, foliage and a treasure hunt, suddenly people realised that maybe they could be a part of this art as well.

It sold 1.4 million copies and replaced a fiction novel as the number one best seller. Since then many more colouring books emerged and flew off the book shelves as well. Sonal Gandhi Head of Merchandising and Buying for Crossword book stores says, “Sales of these colouring books is catching on in India as well, though a bit late for our market as any such trend takes a while to catch on in our market. Publishers were not prepared for this wild fire tend/ sales. We are seeing weekly growth of 20-25%. It is here to stay.” 

Suddenly colouring has become a fad. Colouring in to these intricate patterns not only resulted in a beautiful art form that one could hang on walls and be proud of, but what emerged was that people wanted to do it regularly and consistently because of how they felt while colouring.

Milu Chitrakar Gupta, photographer and housewife has been addicted to the Mandala colouring book, reaching out for it whenever she gets the time. “I find it calming and it takes my mind away from the stress of dealing with maids, cooking, and general life.”

Prerna Fogat, working woman and single mother said she didn’t have time for colouring but when she sat down with a colouring sheet she couldn’t stop. “It’s completely addictive.”

So why are hordes of people joining colouring groups and buying dozens of books?
Vivek Tejuja, Manager Content for Flipkart says, “I think it is because it eases people. It doesn't demand much like a novel would have. I think it helps relax people.” 
Sonal Gandhi of Crossword Bookstores says, “The factors that are driving the sales of Adult Colouring Books are Fun, Nostalgia, Relaxation and Creativity. It’s a new way to relax one’s mind in their crazy schedules. People are always scouting for new things to do and are rather bored of usual suspects like movies and shopping. Or smart phones or tabs etc.”

Joel Pearson senior lecturer at UNSW in the school of psychology, USA says, “When colouring-in you look at the colours and spaces occupying those parts of your brain that might normally be involved in anxiety”.
“There seems to be a greater drop in self-reported anxiety for colouring-in mandalas and patterns compared to just drawing colour on a blank page,” he asserts.
But the American Psychological Association have no claims that colouring helps in being mindful, meditative or spiritual.
Supriya Nair, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of AscendPsychology says, “There is no evidence of catharsis, closure or restructure from this colouring art therapy. Art therapy is not going to help in long term effects of the person.”
She believes that even going out to meet a friend, shopping or a spa for the time it is done can be calming and fun. Art therapy needs to be guided by a therapist. The colouring books are not lab tested. There is no validation for the claim that it is in any way spiritual or meditative.
Therapy is defined as something done by a professional to a person who is suffering to give them better understanding, find closure, offer structure or relieve the core issues that are affecting their daily life. Supriya believes that colouring cannot do that. It actually might hinder the process or delay it. “You can be calmer sitting next to a river as well,” She claims.
“If someone is colouring and thinks they’ve resolved their issues, it might actually delay them from seeking help and might worsen cases of depression, anxiety, relationship issues, etc. Colouring cannot help change the neuro pathways of abrasive personalities and aggressive behaviour.”
However, people have shown developing virtues such as patience, attentiveness to detail, and receptivity to truth after they colour for long periods. But is it because of the colouring or the fact that they’ve made up their mind this is what the result should be and hence believe so when they’re done?
Vivek Tejuja says “I honestly believe that colouring books will not stay for long. It is a fad which might last for another year or so.” Ultimately every fad wears off and people will return to novels or find a new wave they would like to talk about and be a part of.
For now, colouring in these books might be the common’s man’s cheap therapy and it is important to bring mindfulness and spirituality into everyone’s life. If the colouring makes you believe that’s how you will achieve it, then by all means please pick up those colouring pencils. However if there are deep issues which unsettle you even after you’ve finished colouring, see a professional about your problems without delay. Colouring is a reasonable way of diverting your mind for some time but the mind is powerful enough to bring you back to your problems that will need to be dealt with at the core level. And that needs long term solutions.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

10 Things Every Woman Should Know By 30

1.      Why You Don’t Need To Please Everyone - We’ve grown up hearing “Be nice to people.” We’ve been taught to keep our tongues in check and be polite to elders. This has led many women to be apologetic for their thoughts and a nature to please everyone, be it friends, family or co-workers. We can’t say NO. And we never disagree, thinking people won’t like us anymore. So what if they don’t like us? We don’t need to be rude but we can say what we feel like and sometimes it’s important to do things for ourselves. Realise what you want to do with your time and life and stop pleasing everyone at the cost of it.  

2.      When to Walk Away From Men Who Are Not into You - Some men want you, then they don’t, then they want you again. OMG. The constant back and forth of mind games that you’ll play with men and analyse every little thing they say and how you feel will leave you exhausted. We women over think relationships. Just because we see “potential” in a man doesn’t mean we give away our months, years and life to a relationship that isn’t giving us what we want. Walk away when you feel you’ve given enough to the relationship or give it a deadline. Believe me, there are plenty of good men in this world who will cherish you.

3.      That You Need to Speak to Your Family Often - You think your parents, grandparents and siblings may live forever but they won’t. The conflicts and misunderstandings you have with them should be finally put to rest. Understand that there are generation gaps, communication gaps, and cultural gaps that every family has. Every one you love may not understand you. But you can make an effort to love and understand them. When you start accepting them for who they are, they’ll start doing the same too. This is an ongoing process you need to do on a regular basis instead of thinking you tried once and it didn’t work. Make more effort.

4.      Have Your Own Bank Account and Save 1/3rd – Most women will get a job and start spending all their money or give it to their parents to handle. Start having a grip about your own finances. Open an account and start putting money in there. Speak to a chartered accountant or banker who can advise you about savings and mutual funds for the long run. You might think you’ll earn enough and can save later but with a volatile market and risky employment in today’s times, you can find yourself out of a job at any time. That’s when you’ll need savings. If you’re getting married, always remember to open your own account. Set the precedent from the beginning or even if you’ve been married for some time, open an account for yourself. Even if your husband asks “what is the need” and you want to keep peace and please him, still open one. You’ll thank yourself later.

5.      Travel is Important – Book your tickets and dates well in advance so you can save money and travel solo or with your partner or family wherever you can. Travel is an important part of getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new cultures, food, and life. It brings perspective and makes you realise who you are. You don’t always have to travel internationally. There are magnificent places in India that are cheaper that you must have on your bucket list.

6.      It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry with Fashion – If you’re not comfortable wearing something, don’t push your body into doing so because it’s in fashion or from peer pressure. You’ll stand out for being yourself. Instead of having malfunctioning wardrobes and shoe bites, you’ll have the time to think about what you want from life, instead of what people think about you! One of the richest men in the world Mark Zuckerberg only wears grey shirts and jeans because he believes that he can’t waste his grey cells on deciding what to wear since he has other important things to think about!  

7.      Building Yourself – Make a CV. What all have you done with your life? What more do you want to do? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are you doing today to achieve that? Even if you just want to get married and have children, do enough to tell those stories later! Learn something new. Take up a course. Teach children. Help the elderly. Manage an event. Take up an adventure sport. Read a book a week. Pick up the Time magazine and read about international affairs. Friends will come and go in your life but what you do and who you become lies solely in the time you invest in yourself now.

8.      What Your Body, Skin & Soul Needs– Always use sunblock before you leave the house and remove your make up after a party no matter how tired you are. Maintain proper hygiene at all times. Get proper gynaecologist check-ups done once a year. Your body is going through a hormonal change and you need to understand and get treated regularly before it becomes a major problem! Get a massage done once in a while to pamper yourself. Spend time alone. Reflect. Introspect. Meditate. The balance you achieve now will help you deal with many issues later.

9.      How to Eat Right & Work It Out – Have a proper breakfast. Every day! Watch what you’re eating through the day. Don’t starve yourself. And don’t over eat because you’re ravenous. Choose your food and drinks wisely. It shows on your skin and your body. No amount of makeup can hide it. Even if you have a great metabolism and can burn everything, your internal organs will start deteriorating with too much fat and alcohol. Drink enough water. Work out regularly. Take the stairs if possible. Walk in the mornings for half an hour if not more every day. Do yoga, Zumba, pilates, boxing, anything that keeps you active. It’s not just to have a great body which you will, it will make your mind stronger too.

10.   Owning Your Sex Life – You don’t need to sleep with a man on the first date or even the third. You don’t need to have sex because you’re lonely or depressed or drunk. You don’t need to get back with your ex because he’s comfortable. You don’t need to get on dating apps because you feel “re-virginised.” By 30 you need to own your body and sex life. You can choose to say no or yes to a man as long as it empowers you. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Words to Live By

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.
Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
Don’t major in minor things.
Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. 
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. 
Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. 
Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on. 
Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they were at their very best. 
Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’. 
Give people a second chance, but not a third. 
Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. 
Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. 
Leave everything a little better than you found it. 
Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. 
Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. 
Never cut what can be untied. 
Never overestimate your power to change others. 
Never underestimate your power to change yourself. 
Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. 
Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. 
Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. 
Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right. 
Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. 
Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. 
The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it. 
When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”
— Jackson Brown Jr.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Selfie Fame Craze: Are We Risking Too Much For "Likes"

“I got a thousand likes for my DP!” Squealed my 25 year old friend. She showed me a picture of her with a tiger who was yawning.

I almost fell off my chair, “Wasn’t that dangerous?”

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Nah. He was an old tiger. They said nothing could happen.”

I was still appalled. Something could have happened to her. A tiger is still ferocious and it only takes a moment for it to react and harm a person. Why was it was so important to her to take that picture and put it up on a social media site?

Recently an MLA visited a drought stricken area and took a selfie. The picture was widely criticised but the MLA wanted to get noticed, recognised and tell her seniors that she was actually there. In her moment of self-obsession, she didn’t recognise the gravity of the situation. She is not alone. There are many people who would say, “What’s the harm? It’s just a photo!”

But the need for the perfect selfie and the desire to be liked and appreciated can go to dangerous lengths.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the most number of selfie deaths in the world occurred in India. Of at least 27 “selfie related” deaths around the world last year, about half occurred in India.

In recent news, two youths were run over by a train while taking selfies on the railway tracks at Purushottampur railway crossing in Chunar area in Mirzapur district in UP state of India. 
In February 2016 a college student drowned after falling off of the Waldevi Dam in Nashik, India, while taking a selfie. In March 2015 seven Indian youths drowned while taking selfies on Mangrul Lake near Kuhi, about 20 km from Nagpur, India. Their boat had tipped over as they were standing up to pose. (Wikipedia)

Our lives are now recorded in selfies. Who we met, what we did, where we are, how we look needs to be documented and appreciated.

What is this need for fame that everyone is seeking?

There are more people who will go online to Facebook to like a new DP than look for a blog to read. In a world which is becoming more visual, the perfect photograph has gained importance. But it’s not just a pretty picture. It’s you in it. It’s how shocking, dangerous, thrilling and exciting it can be and how you look in that moment. It’s the moment of envy of others. Can you make someone else jealous? If you can, that moment is the perfect picture and hence the most amount of likes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every social media that you put it up on. If you can even “trend” because of it, or have people comment, share and discuss it, you’re a hit. And if you aren’t noticed, you’re nobody.

In this entire scenario no one really cares if it’s hazardous to your life or if it’s actually ethical!

Our lives are now documented online. Even if we take photos for ourselves, we have a desire to showcase it. To prove we did it. We can’t just go somewhere and enjoy the place, live in the moment or soak in the wonder. Why?

It’s our need to be famous.

Famous people make more money, live better lives, and have all the luxuries in the world. To be famous one need not be moral. One needs to always be in the public eye.

Recently during a TV actress’ funeral, there was much fainting, drama and sound bytes given to the media of how close they were to her. The media played out their stories with their photos and instantly these actors got noticed. In an industry where you need to be spotted, remembered, praised, you don’t think of the right or decent thing to do. It’s about fame after all. And fame that you can ride on someone else without actually paying for your stories, images, and photos to appear in the papers .

According to a renowned Mumbai psychologist Gitali Banerji of and Inner Space Therapy says, “We have become a generation, an era of people who are so self-obsessed that we don’t look at the harm it can cause us later. There will come a time when not as many people will like your picture, or really care about what you do, where you are or how you look. If you’ve built your life on that appreciation, it will become difficult to adjust to normal living. That’s when you get depressed, paranoid, and obsessive.”

In a market that is making better cameras and people taking more photos of themselves and trying desperately to get famous, are we just losing focus?

Hollywood actor Jim Carrey put it succinctly when he said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” 

The only way we can find that answer is if we ask different questions. And none of them have to do with being liked or getting fame. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Write India Winners for my passage Love Jihad.

The Rise and Rise of Priyanka Chopra

The year is 2000. It’s the final round of Miss World. The emcee calls a young girl from India, and asks her, "Who do you think is the most successful woman living today and why?"
Since all the Miss Indias’ are prepared with one answer –dead or alive, a nervous Priyanka Chopra answers, "There are a lot of people I admire, but one of the most admirable people is Mother Teresa, who has been so compassionate, considerate and kind." And she goes on to win the title. Lady Luck has been shining on her ever since.

Today, she is the most popular heroine not only in India but spreading all across the world. As she became the first South Asian to win the People’s Choice Awards earlier in USA this year she claimed, “I feel like Miss World again.” And this time she has all her answers well prepared. From being on the Jimmy Fallon show for her American TV debut Quantico to commenting on Trump and the Miss Universe fiasco, PC has a voice and people want to hear it.

Priyanka has come a long way in the last sixteen years. Her life has been coated with controversies of affairs with leading actors to plastic surgeries that she hides well to surrogate babies. Other Bollywood actresses never took a liking to Priyanka, an outsider in an industry that was ruled by camps and contacts.

Priyanka however was always a focussed woman who knew fame and fortune only lay in front of the camera. Coming from an army background Priyanka shone in her first year in Bollywood in the film Andaaz that won her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut in 2003. Instead of sticking to the traditional roles and typecasting herself PC went on to do a gutsy, negative role in Aitraaz that won her a Filmfare for Best Performance in a Negative Role.

While the industry was still gossiping about how she was so unconventional looking and breaking rules Priyanka’s life was a roller coaster of covers of magazines and winning hearts. Bollywood wives became insecure when she was working with their husbands on a film, often coming to the set to strengthen their presence in the hero’s life.

One director says, “PC is the perfect actress. She becomes who you want her to be. She can be desi eating rajma chawal and chatting in a Bihari accent with an extremely `Indian’ kind of director and she can have an American accent on how she loves Central Park when she’s talking to a director who loves shooting in New York.”

But Priyanka has been unfazed by gossip around her. Even when she was linked to Bollywood’s top married hero as his second wife, she continued to work hard and prove she was more than a WAG. (Wife and Girlfriend) She stretched her talents to spread into as many fields as possible. Unlike other actresses who stuck to simply acting, Priyanka was a host on Indian television in Khatron ka Khiladi and she made an international music video called In My City and Exotic. Quickly learning that her music and hosting career was not going to get her too far, she came back to choose films that would boost her acting ability further. Fashion, Barfi, Mary Kom, Dil Dhadakne Do, Bajirao Mastani, Priyanka has always selected films with great scripts, intelligent directors and meaty roles that would be promoted well. 

She understood how the marketing system works. It’s not just about the craft or the talent if no one sees it. Promotions were important and PC hired enthusiastic PR representatives to push her image and quotes wherever possible so people would see and hear from her continuously. She hash tagged herself into the hearts of people and several ad agencies who would start remembering only her when it came to endorsements – Bollywood, fashion, music, etc.

PC became the girl everyone wanted to work with and her filmography expanded to over 50 films and over 25 awards.

In 2015 Priyanka started working on Quantico, an American TV show. Rumours surrounded even this. Her rise in the last one year has been phenomenal. From being recognised on a global TV platform to presenting at the Oscars, winning a People’s Choice Award, being on the cover of Time magazine, having dinner with the President of the United States Barack Obama to winning the Padma Shri, Priyanka has left the controversies, and love stories behind. Her active PR agency makes sure that she is continuously in the news in India while still filming for Quantico and Baywatch abroad as she knows that out of sight is out of mind for most viewers.

Priyanka balances all her work with extreme poise and grace. While most actors are afraid of social media, she is the first actress to have crossed the 11 million follower mark on Twitter (currently at 13.9 mil) and 3 million followers on Instagram. This makes her imminently likeable and relatable to the ordinary person who feels they can connect with her at any time. 

She paves the way for showing how to respond to trolls and having a thick skin which makes her even more popular on social media. Recently, talking about Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigrants in US, Priyanka Chopra had said, “I just think you can’t put a ban on anyone. Generalizing a type of people is really primitive.” This did not go down well with one of her followers, Adesh Gundecha, who Tweeted to her: “Priyanka, politics is not your arena yet. Better just be actress for now. WAIT!!” And Priyanka has been winning the Internet with her reply: “You’re right @adesh_1 why should an actress stand for humanity... It’s not our place right?” (

From saying the wrong answer to being the most quoted celebrity in India, Priyanka is motivational to many youngsters who are trying to find themselves and become famous as well. “I think it’s great to be flawed. I am hugely flawed, and I like it that way. That’s the fun of life. You fall, get up, make mistakes, learn from them, be human and be you.(2012)” (

While there might be rumours about how she has used the popular black magician of Bollywood who seems to be helping many a star and producer, Priyanka has proved that her hard work and dedication to her craft and talent has made her globally admired and respected. “She is unstoppable,” says one of her directors.

But her every moment from the time she was crowned Miss World has been used to better her life. She now has a quote for everyone – magazines, newspapers, press, movie premiers, talk shows, red carpets. She’s left her contemporaries far behind and is ready to compete on the global scale. As she rightfully said she’s on her way to “world domination.” 

Reserved for One: A poem

We don't trust enough We don't pour out our hearts  Telling all our secrets, our fears and surrendering to each other. Comple...