Freedom to express (contrarian views)

I am a cynical person, and I have no qualms in admitting it.

So, when I saw the #metoo posts all over Facebook, I knew this was going to be just another hashtag.

Yes, we have all undergone harassment at some point in time in life. In a bus, in crowded Dadar station, by chalu uncles who hug you under some random pretext.

We all went through it, and we know it is wrong. But, how does the Me too hashtag help?

Are new laws going to be formed? Are people going to change? No, nothing will happen unless we change things at our level.

Yesterday, I wrote a status asking people to tell me how will this hashtag help?

This question posted on Facebook exposed me and my colleague who did not post a popular reply, to accusations of being insensitive. Someone even hinted at people like us having a crab mentality and pulling down others 'who are trying to spread awareness'.

With seething anger, I deleted the post and deactivated my FB account for an hour.

Then I remembered, as a citizen of this country, the constitution has bestowed me with the freedom to express.

I activated my account again. This time with the vow that I will express my views every time I feel like doing it. No one can bully me.

This was not the first time I faced accusations. I have been accused of being anti-modi, myopic, extremist, and god knows what not. My fault? I have contrarian views most of the time.

But, I will not stop. If you find a fault in my writing, give me data to prove I am wrong. I will accept my fault.

But, accusing someone of being insensitive or with crab mentality just because they do not prescribe to your views is unacceptable.

Have a healthy debate if you can!

We all wear lipstick under the burkha

There are many types of movies, some that inspire us, some that we can watch repeatedly, some that we want to forget, and some that are so relatable that you identify yourself or the people you know with the characters in the movie.

Lipstick under my burkha was one such relatable film. I could identify so many people in my life and relate them with the characters in the movie.

 I know a woman who's husband doesn't allow her to work because her job is only to raise their child and cook for him. Thankfully she is not subjected to marital rape like Shirin Aslam. But she is not loved either.

I know a rebellious girl like Rehana Abidi who grew in a strict tam bhram household. Her mom was so strict that she never allowed the girl to wax her arms and legs. The girl saved all her pocket money just to buy the waxing​ kit. She had to make an elaborate plan of going to a chemist situated 2 kms away from her house. Because what if the local chemist​ guy tells the mother about the daughter's 'criminal' activity? She loved dance so much that she participated in dance competition and came home late under the pretext of extra classes.

I know a girl similar to Leela who was in a seemingly happy marriage but briefly fell for a younger man who made her feel young and beautiful. 

I have never come across an old, repressed woman like ushaji who found solace in erotic novels. But the success of books like 50 shades of grey is a testimony to​ this fact that many women live their fantasies through the characters of these books.

Lipstick under my burkha is not just about sex as the trailer and media makes it to be. Yes, it is a part of the movie, but it is more about how women have to suppress themselves in the society and lead secret lives to fulfill their dreams. You can't express yourself, because if you do, you are trolled and called characterless. And if you are old, you have no right to dream because ram Naam japne ka samay Hai, ashleel sapne dekhne ka nahi.

I don't want to give out the story, because I want you to watch it. I'm sure you will relate to it, even if you don't live in Bhopal or don't face problems like these characters.

P.S.: some people complain that the movie was not about women empowerment. I guess the story was about a normal woman's desire and dreams. It was about how she leads a dual life - one according to the society and one according to her rules. It was not meant to show a woman turning into a Superwoman and fighting patriarchy, because in reality most of us don't do that. We take the easier route of leading the dual life.

Ssshhhh it's a secret!!!

What Freelancing Taught Me...

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Last December, I quit my full-time job in a reputed company to become a freelancer, which meant I was no more eligible for paid holidays, allowances, reimbursements, fixed salary or respect from people.

But it also meant freedom. Freedom to choose the way you want to work, freedom to express your opinion without the worry of falling in the bad books of your manager or getting terrible ratings in your appraisal. Not to forget the luxury of spending quality time with your friends and family.

It's true, freelancing is a risky thing to do especially if you have family and financial commitments and you are not assured of a fixed income every month.

But if you do not have too many commitments or if you are willing to take a risk, then let me tell you, there are multiple advantages of becoming a freelancer.
  • One, as a freelancer you become everything - a manager, a sales person, a marketing expert, an HR. You are a one man army handling all aspects of your work.

  • Second, you are always on the run. Contrary to the popular beliefs, becoming laid back is not an option for freelancers. You might become laid back in your full-time job and feel demoralized if no work comes your way. In freelancing, you are constantly in search of new projects. If not projects, you will be seen following-up with the client for your payment. You forget what comfort zone means when you do freelancing.

  • Third, you learn new skills and discover the hidden potential within you when you are on your own. For example, I never knew I can network with people till I became a freelancer. My income depends  on how well I network with people for new projects. This was an area that I never explored before in my full-time job. It also taught me to communicate better with people around me because we don't know opportunity could knock anywhere.

  • Fourth and probably the most important aspect about freelancing is that you have the freedom to work on multiple projects and learn multiple things about different sectors, industries, and latest industry trends through these projects.
Freelancing is often misconstrued as a useless or lazy thing to do or the last resort of earning income when unemployment hits hard. But that's not the case. Freelancing can be a voluntary decision too, as it was in my case. It teaches you things that a full-time job fails to teach you.

However, I would recommend you to do a full-time job for few years before becoming a freelancer because that gives you an authority to put across your opinion to your clients. Experience is definitely respected over inexperience especially when you are a freelancer and people take the word ‘free’ in your title quite literally.

So if you are ready for some risk, I would recommend that you try freelancing at least once in your lifetime. It’s tough, but it’s creatively enriching too!  

A not so lyrical life...

Disclaimer: I might sound like an old 80 year old aunty, so you may ignore this post if you find it boring...

My dad has a thing for old songs, which is why he insisted on keeping a purana radio with him just to listen to old hindi songs on vividh bharati early in the morning. He passed on his love for old music to me and even I am as hooked to Vividh Bharati as him. Every morning I wake up to the lovely old hindi songs with no interruptions from irritating RJs and boring advertisements. Yesterday I heard a beautiful song called - Tadbir se bigadhi huvi takdir bana le. It's one of my favorite songs but I could relate to the lyrics only when I heard it yesterday and that's when I knew that the song was written by the great Sahir Ludhianvi. Till date, it was a Geeta Dutt song for me, I never made an effort to know the name of the lyricist. Later in the day, I started hunting for more of his songs and I was hooked to this genius. His lyrics were so pure. His poetry was so simple, yet so deep. Almost all of his lyrics had an underlying social message. I started reading about him and that's when I came across his background. Sahir saab and his contemporaries have gone through a lot in their life, which is often reflected in their lyrics.They have seen the freedom struggle, the world war, independence, partition, shaky government, India - China war, India - Pakistan war, emergency and what not. There was optimism, anger, passion and all those emotions in their lyrics. Their lyrics were progressive and gave you hopes. No wonder my dad is still hooked to these songs and hates it when a song like 'aaj blue hai pani pani pani pani' is played outside :).

Cut to the present times where music and lyrics are pure thrash. In 21st century, we have songs like 'ab karoonga tere saath, gandi baat' to which kids as young as 3 year old dance. Except for the awesome Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Piyush Mishra, Prasoon Joshi and Amitabh Bhattacharya, I can't think of any lyricist who writes good poetry anymore. None of the lyrics make you think, motivate you or lift your spirit. There is no 'woh subah kabhi toh aayegi' to give you solace when you find darkness looming around you, there is no 'kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna' to help you ignore the cynical society, and no we don't have a 'tadbir se bigadhi huvi takdir bana le' to challenge us in life. This doesn't mean that we do not have good lyrics now, but he bad lyrics outnumber the good ones.

Let's lead a lyrical life...

Movies and songs are reflection of what is happening in the society. So the movies in 50s and 60s were focused on patriotism and social problems, while the 70s movies focused on youth anger (more due to emergency, wars and unemployment). There was a sudden degradation in the quality of movies and songs after 80s. I wonder if it is it because we are not challenged? Is it because we live a comparatively easier life than our parents? Of course we have also seen the ghastly terror attacks, recession but we seem to be less affected than the older generation. We have not gone through major setbacks in life, the reason why we give up so easily on relationships, jobs and even life! We lack the fighting spirit. We seem to live in a state of inertia, which is why movies or lyrics no longer have any depth or significance. Our movies do not have anything to refer to, so our film makers have to resort to making lame biographies of stalwarts or remakes of old gems, and not so funny so-called sex comedy movies. I'm not saying that we need to have instability in the society to become creative. But let's make it creative in our own way. Let's get out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. After all, our life is not all about paying EMIs and running the rat race. Make your life such that you can write a biography about yourself. Experience all types of challenges so that you can write a poem about your life :).

Go, lead a lyrical life!!!