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A little note from a developing country

Hello, my Name is Fiona and I am from a developing nation. Before you feel sorry for me, let me point out a few reasons to why I and a few billion other people are indeed the most fortunate people on this planet.
Life in a developing country is an adventure. There isn’t only one way to do things and there are no set of rules that you have to abide by. The beauty of transitioning from a ‘developing’ to a modern, developed society is that there is room for error, mistakes are truly learning experiences and the excitement of it all has no substitute. And sure it’s amazing to live with clean and even roads, well established industries and a smooth functioning government. But what if you could be part of the generation which brings all this to your country? What if, because of you, your country might be a better place? The role of being part of something much bigger than yourself and the purpose behind it all builds you into a better and more knowledgeable person.
Another plus point of being from such a nation is that there is so much of land that’s been left untouched. Ever thought of a Tropical getaway? A desert adventure? Well let me just say ‘Welcome to our backyard!’ As a child growing up in these parts of the world, you are taught to respect nature and all that it has to offer. Sometimes we do take all this beauty for granted, but deep down we know we’ve got it good.
The people you meet here are as interesting as the place itself. You could be meeting with an expat for a business lunch and then find yourself sharing a very interesting story with a street hawker. The stories of rags to riches are a plenty and everyone seems to have this very strong drive to succeed. If you grew up in a developing nation, chances are you’ve heard the following phrases ‘Youth are the foundation of the nation’, ‘our country’s future lies in your hands’ etc. With such ‘profound’ advice, it’s not hard to believe that we are such competitive people. It is also no wonder that a lot of inspirational people (Malala Yousafzai, Mahatma Gandhi) come from our part of the world.
Living in a less developed country makes you kinder, less judgmental and more welcoming. We are open to new experiences and are forever learning. We know our country isn’t perfect and so we’d be the last people to judge another country, its culture or its people. And just as we’re open- minded, we’re patriotic. Talk all you want but say something negative about our country and it could land you into a whole lot of trouble.
In my few travels abroad, I’ve always marveled at how some countries have such diverse culture. People from so many nations, races, etc. I always told myself that one day I’d want to live in said society and experience it all. But as I grew older, the excitement from this factor seemed to blow off. Why you may ask, but just answer this: Would you rather have one culture in all its pomp and splendor engulf you on a daily basis? Or would you have numerous cultures, which over time meld into something insignificant? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the first option. To be so culturally enriched is something no money can buy.
So laugh at us or look on in awe. Criticize us or learn from us. Put us down or look at us as an example. Whatever you may do, just know that we’re living life to the fullest and we’re loving it!

What are the other advantages of living in a developing country? Comment below!

I do write on every Wednesday, so do keep up. Until then Happy Readings!

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You may be 20. You may be lost. And it’s okay

Take your time and discover yourself, before you let the world in on how awesome you are

I always knew being in my 20’s would be a whirlwind of new experiences and obstacles, but I didn’t think I was ever ready for how quick every single day passes by, creating in its path a number of missed opportunities and heartbreak. There are people constantly reminding me that every decision made at this stage is going to bring with it a lifetime’s worth of consequences – No pressure right? It’s at this point, that I’ve seen a lot of us reach a point of being ‘lost’; a point where not being appreciated isn’t a surface level matter anymore but rather makes you question your self-worth on a daily basis.

The burden of expectations, decisions – whether it be about the course you took in college or an unhealthy relationship that you continued despite the early warning signs, being in your early 20’s can suck but it can sure as hell be an adventure.

There are going to be times when you’re surrounded by people and still feel alone. Then there are going to be times when you find yourself drowning in negativity, hatred and fear but then  you masterfully cover it up with your well-rehearsed socializing skills and/or other ‘outlets’ (you be your own judge :P) Society has led us to believe if by 20 you don’t have your life together – YOU’RE DOOMED! True, when you turn 18 you become an ‘adult’ but that doesn’t mean that all your life’s achievements, must culminate at that point or that your journey of knowledge and self discovery needs to end.

I know a friend once who wanted to take up learning the guitar when she was 23, but she didn’t because she decided she was too ‘old’ for it! OLD?! She probably has another good 60 years ahead of her but because of society; she decided that her brain was not tuned to learn anything new after 20. While we might have a million things and people to blame our insecurities on, I think sometimes we only have ourselves to blame.

I have always been a very organised person who thought she had a definite game plan for her life. If you ask some of my friends even now, they would still agree with that notion. From where I wanted to do my post grad, to my first job and even the bank I’d set up my retirement fund at (these pesky interest rates I tell you), I thought I had it all figured it. But then life came along, like it always does, and started throwing a million curve balls my way. While it initially got me all flustered, it also taught me that I am capable of so much more than the initial goals I set for myself.

As I tackled and continue to tackle these tiny but significant hurdles in my life, I’ve learnt a very important lesson along the way – Accepting change. Being in your early 20’s will teach you that nothing is permanent; you will meet a lot of temporary friends, juggle a number of different jobs and to be honest date a lot of random people before you meet the one (or maybe not). And once you embrace change in all its glory, you’ll learn that you start to learn so much about yourself, the way you handle some of life’s toughest decisions will even surprise you.

The truth is that a happy person is a peaceful person, and a peaceful person makes the right decisions. Give yourself the chance to find happiness and find things that you genuinely love doing. Surround yourself with people who aren’t judgmental but at the same time want you to be only the best version of yourself. Set goals that are realistic by a personal standard and not by the measure of society. And finally smile through the tough times; you might look like a fool but I promise you it eases the pain.

Today is a good day to take a risk, to try out something new and to make a new friend. Remember that despite what you may have heard, you are still young and you have your whole life ahead of you!

You may be 20. You may be lost. And it’s ABSOLUTELY okay 

 

Writing about writing

My job requires me to write and it is something that I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Whether it’s writing a product review, ghost writing for a bunch of famous people (it’s like role play but MUCH less sexier!), scripting a play or a short film or writing a witty one-liner for an ad – writing has sustained me for so long and it’s one of the few constants I see in my future.

Now I love my current job (I meet great people and it pays for all my tiny fancies) but when you’re asked to churn out material at a constant, ridiculously intense pace, even the best thing in your life can start to feel like a chore. That is also the exact reason why I haven’t been able to make a blog entry for a few months now –I’m becoming uninspired. Every time I look at my laptop, I am reminded of deadlines, clients 4 a.m. coffee breaks etc. It is a feeling I’ve come to hate, but it’s also a feeling I must overcome… Kind of like saving your dying long term relationship, I guess.

The last few months have been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. I’ve had the highest highs and lowest lows, moments that have left me feeling ecstatic and others where I’ve just crawled into bed waiting for the day to pass by. Now usually that would’ve been great fodder for a million blog entries and a lot of “OMG! You should hear this!” moments but they just never materialized. Inspiration then became that guy at the party you’re interested in but just go “Hmm what the heck, why even bother trying?” He’s there but just his physical presence doesn’t do anything to inspire you.

I’m that artist who uses tragedy to help with his art, the actor who digs deep to a lost memory to re-enact an emotional scene or the sportsperson who is motivated by looking at where he or she has come from. In other words pain gets me, happiness doesn’t. Now I might sound like the most dark, weird person ever but when it comes to writing for me, that’s the truth. There have been many times I’ve wanted to write about an amazing date I’ve had or about how my friends are my true support system; but halfway through the post I will sit back, look at it and be like hmm nope!

Maybe this tragedy doesn’t have to be huge nor does it have to happen to me or anyone I know, maybe it isn’t even a tragedy that I’m after – just something with profound meaning that gets to me perhaps. That is the inspiration I need to get my fingers flying across the keyboard again, that is the inspiration I need to be me again.

I’ve tried many things in life that I have been brilliant at and others where I’ve felt like a total bum for trying it out (pls. never ask me to sing!).I usually don’t bother about the things I suck at, but when I couldn’t write it got to me; because writing has been there for me when all others have not. Problems at home, breakups, sickness and sadness, they’ve always ended up with me putting pen to paper and baring all.

I’ve promised myself that I will keep at it no matter however long it takes to continue writing like I used to, but until then I hope this entry has shown you all what writing means to me J

Denial – Every girl’s greatest enemy

Guys are probably the most honest species around. Ever heard a girl or yourself say the following things?

“What does he mean by we can’t be in a relationship?”

“What does let’s just be friends’ mean?”

“FWB? I think he’s just scared to own up to his feelings!”

Well I have.

One would think these questions were self-explanatory right? But NO! Being the over-thinking gender of our species we will mull over these statements day and night until we find an absolutely unreasonable explanation as to why he said this. The dude can literally say he hates us to our face and we will come up with this weird explanation as to how ‘I hate you!’ translates to ‘You’re the apple of my eye, light of my life, princess to my fairytale… Please bear my children!”

I get it; one-sided love can be one of the most heartbreaking circumstances in life. When your feelings aren’t disclosed and you live in that little cheerful “What if?” bubble, life is a blissful walk in the park. Then comes that one day when the little daredevil within eggs you on to bare your feelings…Well because YOLO! If the guy likes you, well good for you. But what if he doesn’t, or worse what if he dates you and decides it’s never going to work? Well, plainly put it all goes downhill from there.

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The initial denial phase is where all these mindless conclusions ensue, your friends’ opinions have no effect on you and your heart would rather continue living in this imaginary world of ecstasy – even if it means just one more day of this beautiful lie. And while we’ve all been through this and it’s totally understandable, denial can be one of the worst phases in hindsight. Stupid conclusions mean stupid actions aka the ‘Maybe we could give this another try?’ phase. It is also around the time you lose all self-respect, stop taking care of yourself and ‘depression’ becomes your constant state of mind.

So what does one do then? Face the situation! Sure the pain is going to hit you quickly, but so will the ‘healing ’.  Never try to read into what a guy says because more often than not he means exactly what he says. And more than anything don’t put yourself down for any reason, any guy!

Though difficult, this is best for everyone involved. Be your own hero today and leave the past behind!

You deserve so much better! Sure, sure I do -_-

“You deserve better!” she said. “He’s just a douche bag! (Amongst other expletives)”. This was my friend’s reaction a few years back when I went through a terrible breakup. ‘You deserve better’ is the oh so memorable line you hear every time after a breakup or when a date doesn’t go well. The friends who  thought that your boyfriend was once the quintessential mix of a modern day Mr.Darcy and the ever suave Mr.Grey (the book not the movie!) now think he’s just a big bag of horse shit! Their thoughts are probably aimed at making you feel better, but this sudden drastic shift in opinion can put your already depressing state through further peril.

To tell someone they deserve better is a very easy thing to do; in your mind it’s probably the most comforting thing to say. In hindsight though, you are basically telling someone who dedicated two or three precious years of their lives building said relationship, that it was all a waste of time. Tricky situation huh? But aren’t relationships and breakups messed up anyway?

You deserve better is especially baloney when it is said by the person who you are involved with. If he or she really did love you and wanted things to work out, then they’d make more f an effort and be that better person right? “You deserve better” is the easiest way out, it is also the most cowardly. The least you could do for someone who once meant the world to you is to give them the facts (however blunt or hurtful) and try to make things better for the both of you.

Everyone deserves to be loved, to be cared for and be made to feel special. What makes me feel special will probably be nothing to you. While I might find average bodied men good looking, you might find that well built gym machine irresistible. How then is it possible for one to decide that the other deserves this ‘proverbial better’? It is best to think carefully when you’re speaking to someone suffering from a break up, to be the shoulder to cry on and the friend who guides them from this period of darkness. Reduce the usage of the now infamous “You deserve better” and actually do something to make them feel at peace once again.

Oh and I was watching “He’s just not that into you”, so excuse my ‘rant-like writing. The movie tends to break the best of us *sigh*

Are we overdoing feminism?

indexGone are the days when  film stars came on our television sets and asked us to support the newest charity fighting against the evils of hunger and poverty. Now you can see them promoting the issue of ‘women’s rights’ and speaking on their sexual desires and freedoms. It makes you think, doesn’t it? That a celebrity endorsing an issue isn’t just about using their influence for good but rather it is the equivalent of hopping on the ‘newest trend’ wagon. A few years from now when the hype around this issue dies, I’m sure they’ll find something more ‘fashionable’ like veganism or pro-anorexia to support!
To me feminism is about creating a society where gender discrimination does not exist. It is a society where individual, personal, and familial rights are on par and responsibilities in society are shared. What we are seeing now though is a group of people, who for some unforeseen reason, are promoting the ‘feminine brand’ as something far superior, even comparing ourselves to goddesses. If a guy on the other hand was supposed to call himself God or say something like ‘I’m the embodiment of the Lord ______ respect me!’; he would be the ridicule of the society!
Let me break it down for you. The concept of Feminism grew in Western countries after World War 2, because women were unhappy with the concept of merely being housewives or being offered menial jobs and pays after having been the backbones of the war. Just like the Civil Rights movement, it strived to better the living conditions of one sector of the society. Well educated and hardworking women who felt like they wanted their voices to be heard and wanted to make a contribution to society, were part of such a movement.
Fast forward seventy years, and we have women writing messages on sanitary napkins and sticking them all over the city, women who are proud to be the face of extra-marital affairs and pre-marital sex etc. Is it wrong? No, because in a way it is understandable. Having to live in a society where you feel unsafe to step out at night or take public transport at odd hours can be a frightening situation to be in. Also to be brought up in a society where even in the most subtle way you know you’re being treated different than your male sibling can have its way of working on a person’s mind. So if it isn’t wrong, what is the point of this blog post right? Well, here it is.
I feel like if women are fighting to be respected in society, we should do it in a way that sheds light on our progress and will to stand and compete with our male counterparts. It should also go back to the concept of fighting for our safety, equal wages, against domestic violence etc. It is time that feminism goes back to serving its original purpose rather than making us women look like headless chickens running around aimlessly, fighting for anything and everything.
And honestly there are people dying every day because of terrorism, hunger, famines and global warming. These disasters are not gender-biased and they show no mercy. It is high time we revert our attention to these actual issues.

He’s way out of my league!! Not.

My last few posts have been about family, terrorism and feminism and I’m not really in the mood to write another tearjerker. Also I went to this really fun party, and just feel like writing something girly and Tumblr-esq. (I’m sure that’s not a word)

So as you know, I study in a girl’s college and let me tell you that the hierarchy in such an institution is set and there’s nothing you can do about it. Straight out of a cliché movie like ‘Mean Girls’ there are the plastics and then there are those who are well…. not so plastic. It isn’t uncommon for me to hear people say things like “Dude he’s way out of my league, this is never happening!” or “Why in the world is she dating him?!” Confession –I’ve said these exact same lines time and again.

Okay you’re probably confused now and saying things like “Fiona get to the point!” I shall. The last two years have taught me something, that there is no such thing as a ‘league’. The leagues that we set basically are just mental blocks we put for ourselves when we think someone is too good for us. What constitutes “too good” for you? Is it looks, popularity or personality?

Well first, looks are genetic (tough luck there’s nothing you can do about it!). Well maybe if you were rich you could.

Two, popularity is usually based on interests. Obviously if your idea of fun is arranging your college’s big cultural event, you’re social standing isn’t going to be as much as someone who is killing it in the city’s music scene. So that makes you less right? Hardly! You’re just gifted in a different way; a way that will get you a good job, that could be really beneficial for you in the future!

And finally personality! One of my favourite quotes goes like this “If you’re a five on the inside and a ten on the outside, then you’re a five”. This quote just rings so true to me every time I read or think of it. A person’s personality can completely change the world’s initial image of them. Hence, the math is simple. Have a great personality, and it nullifies the materialistic criteria of looks!

To be honest, while we’re bitching about that ‘random chick’ going out with the social butterfly, inside you’re all wondering how exactly she accomplished this ‘great feat’! The answer is simple – confidence. Everyone has ability, everyone has talent; some of us are extroverts and some of us relish a rainy day in with a beautiful novel. But what we all are is special. To be a youngster who knows their faults and their talents, to have a group of friends who genuinely love you and to be excellent in something that is special to you, is something admirable! Life is always going to throw you curve ball; you are going to fall more times than you rise. But don’t stay down; keep your head high and get that guy! (I sound like a rapist -_-) And hey they do say that opposites attract, so you never know! Screw those ‘mental’ leagues, follow your heart –it truly is all that matters.

I AM INDIA’S DAUGHTER

India’s Daughter is not just a film, it is a movement. India’s Daughter is not just a film, it is an outcry of millions of female voices, crying out in the hope of being treated with respect. Sexual abuse and rape is rampant all over the world, what makes a huge difference in India is the secrecy and the low level of reverence given to the female gender. We are brought up in a society where women just accept that men are better than them, smarter and more well informed about the world. In fact we live in a country where a girls achievments are recognised, only if they are compared and measured up against someone of the opposite gender, and then decided upon whether it is newsworthy or not. Rape isn’t about sexual desire, the way a woman is dressed or carries herself, it isn’t even about a momentary impulse; rape is just the final outcome of a complete disrespect of the opposite gender. It is that knowledge that women are the ‘weaker sex’ and that at the end of the day we supposedly live in a ‘man’s world’.
Can I just point out the hypocrisy that a country that banned Fifty Shades of Grey for being too sexually inappropriate and might ‘Corrupt the mids of the youth’, is actually allowing all of Nirbhaya’s rapists to appeal against their sentence? That five men who sexually assaulted a girl upto the point of death are being’ legally tried out’ but a fictional erotic story caused such a stir with the censor board and higher officials. If Christian Grey was Indian, he would’ve become a superstar by now!
When the case of Jyoti Singh broke out way back in 2012, the people of this country did the only thing they know to do in times of crisis- they took to the streets and protested. While these demonstrations shed light on a new India that is not afraid to speak her mind and fight for her rights, it also showed ,that in India nothing or no one wins against the ‘higher power’. It was as former solicitor General Gopal Subramanian called ‘ a momentous expression of hope in the society’.Whether it was effective or not, those men and women who took to the streets and rallied that ‘Enough is enough’ , are probably India’s only hope in this time of unreasonability, if you may.
Mukesh Singh (rapist of Jyoti Singh aka. Nirbhaya) says: “You can’t clap with one hand – it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at night. A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy … about 20% of girls are good. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they would have dropped her off after ‘doing her’ and only hit the boy.”
Appaling, isn’t it? This excerpt from the interview made me cringe so much, I had to take a moment , compose myself and continue watching this horrendous display of the ignorance of some men in this country. Yes, I said ‘some men’. I consider myself lucky to grow up in a city (Chennai) where girls are given as many opportunities as boys, a place where I can travel after midnight and not fear for my life every second, and more than anything a place where men don’t just look at us as sex toys but rather as friends and sisters. Is it perfect? Obviously not, but it definitely is a step in the right direction. It isn’t just a city of technological advances, but advances in value, respect and gender equality.
I’ve always been the kind of person who thought that feminism is over-rated ;but feminism in India takes on a whole different meaning. We aren’t fighting to be equal or better, we are pleading to be respected. We aren’t coming after your jobs, we don’t want you treat us like a special entity; we just want to live with a sense of security, travel in peace and make all our dreams come true. It isn’t just Nirbhaya’s story, it is all our stories.

You are India’s daughter. I am India’s daughter.