Eyes shut tight,
I don't see you and you don't exist.
Ignorant in my knowledge,
Fearlessly claiming my space.
I don't see you
This is my land.
Here I am.
The term Soapbox originated when people used to climb on top of wooden crates to make impromptu speeches, usually on politics. I always appreciated the strength that it took for people to stand up and speak whatever was on their mind.
Therefore, I named this page Soapbox. It is simply a place for my random thoughts and musings about life, love and all the rest!
All opinions shared on the blog are mine and do not reflect the views of any organization that I am affiliated with. These views are based on my experiences and world view.
Eyes shut tight,
I don't see you and you don't exist.
Ignorant in my knowledge,
Fearlessly claiming my space.
I don't see you
This is my land.
Here I am.
Yesterday, as a community sponsor of the Reel Asian Film Festival, SAWC was given tickets to the Gala night of "Bombay Talkies."
"Bombay Talkies" is a series of 4 short stories that are united through the theme of the effect of Bollywood on the every "man". An addition idea, that the visiting actor Vineet Kumar Singh, was also taking stock of where Bombay cinema has been and where it is going. The movies were well done and in discussing them, I will try not to give too much away.
I was really impressed by the themes covered in the movies:
Karan Johar - Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh short examined the lies we force people to tell regarding their sexuality. Thought I felt like I had seen this story a few times before, Nanda pointed out (rightly) that this concept was totally new for Indian cinema. The fact that one of the lead characters was gay was different enough but to not make him a caricature and fall into the Bollywood stereotypes was good to see. When I see homosexuality in Tamil (and my limited Hindi) cinema, it is shown by portraying the character as a Hijra and usually mockingly. I liked seeing the story play out and the fact that this was a very real - a flawed hero, portrayal of this every man in India. I also loved seeing Rani Mukerji with no make up and like the woman I would see on the street.
On a side note (rant), when I told someone about the short, the first thing she said to me is you know he is gay - Karan Johar. No, I didn't know, and didn't care, what I like about him is the depth he brings to his characters. I don't know why we still believe that if you care about LGBTQ+ Issues, then you must be from that community.
Dibakar Banerjee - Star was the saddest for me because it was the most honest. It was the every "man" and maybe resonated with me as I am trying to change my life from expectations to risk taking. The short is about a man who has been unable to succeed in the path that he had wanted and expects his dream life to miraculously appear.
Zoya Akhtar - Sheila Ki Jawaani was the favourite for me. The cast, especially the lead boy and his sister were amazing for their age. It mixed humor (both in the situation and of Bollywood not taking itself seriously) with another taboo topic. The piece looked at gender roles, being transgedered and family in such a unique way. The conversations between the brother and sister were beautiful in their simplicity. There was no grand story to change the world, just acceptance and truth between them.
Anurag Kasjyap - Murabba looked at the full circle of life and what we do for those we love. The heartbreaking scene in the movie is one I can't comprehend - I cannot imagine the viciousness of some, but again - There are always people like that, who are just there to break you, when you are on the top, for no reason other than they can.
I have to admit that I have always wanted my Bollywood to be superficial and formulaic (what can I say, it is my escape) but after watching this, I may have to rethink that.
SIDENOTE/ANIME REFERENCE - SRK (2:54) was in the Bombay Talkies song at the end, the audience went crazy when he came up and all he did for 10 seconds was smile with the wind blowing his hair. Reminded me of talks with Katie and X/1999 - when Kamui enters in the Sakura lined roads, with the wind blowing...
On my way to work this morning, I was reading Metro News , where they had covered Dick Cheney's speech at the International Economic Forum of the Americas. The quote that caught my eye was his response to the issue of Terrorism in the US. He asserted that the problem has only gotten worse and US is more at risk than before 9-11 (Please excuse the paraphrasing but I lent the newspaper to someone with a greater need).
The only though that went through my head, was if the medicine is only making the symptoms of the disease worse, why continue treatment? The way in which terrorism has been used to justify the further marginalization and racialization of people. The tactic used by people like Cheney are not there to build a better world but to dominate and control the one we have.
I remember in first year Environmental Science, my professor put up this quote by Vegetius (Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus):
"Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum." - If you want peace, prepare for war.
This is how our world operates, we fight to be the strongest- not necessary strong. He then erased it and replaced the quote with "If you want peace, prepare for peace." Challenging us to think this way in all of our interactions and in our daily life.
It's sad that as Cheney talks about a distant abstract threat and replies with war, Malala Yousafzai faced a real and near threat and faced it with peace.
Initially, I really felt bad for the guy who hit me. It was an accident and he was honest about it being his fault to the police, when they arrived....Now though, not feeling so kind.
My car is an official write off - my two and a half week love affair burn out before I was ready and now comes the laborious task of finding a new (used) car. Not excited about the idea of spending $30,000 - $40,000 on a car, which will depreciate in value in the first year alone. Also I think I always promised myself that If I bought a car - it would be a fully loaded Acura MDX, and I am not ready for that commitment yet. The MDX is my "Okay, I am going settle down now car."
So, begins my search for a nice, safe, clean and no surprises car! Wish me LUCK!
October has been an crazy month, my dad was released from the hospital, I was rear-ended, was overseeing renovations at work and my sister-in-laws dad passed away. It was one of those months, that you just wanted to hide under the covers and count the days until it was over. In addition to all of this, I had promised to organize a workshop for one of my volunteer groups.
There were so many times, I was tempted to call my Board of Directors and say, I am sorry but I think I need to take the rest of the month of. But sometimes the hardest things that we have to do becomes the most rewarding. Despite all the hiccups and issues, the workshop ended up being the highlight of my month.
I met so many amazing people as a result of my work on it, from an amazing volunteer to new connections at the workshop. I also realized that committing to a task did not mean doing it alone, and for the first time in a long time, asked for help and received so much support. I reconnected with a few 'lost' connections.
The success of the workshop made me feel like October was not a complete wash, and sometimes you just need a great ending to move you past a forgettable opening number :)
If writing is a skill, I fear I have lost it.
The words don't dance in my head anymore,
Instead they remain silenced by the walls I build to keep them safe
How was I to know that in protecting my heart, my joys
I locked them so far away, that I can't reach them.
The memories taunt me...
Words so clear, so alive, they sang with the colours of life.
Moments so pure, that when I looked in the Ocean of words,
My true reflection stared back- scars and laugh lines mapping my life
Now that face is lost behind so may layers of fear and doubts,
Drowned so deep, in this shadow of a life,
A specter of the whole,
To afraid to live, to be honest, to cause ripples.
To speak the truth of who I am...
These words uttered in desperation, lost and singular
Hanging between one breath and the next
Layers and layers of meanings, of needs, of wants
Hidden in simplistic denotations of a virtual whole,
Words laid bare for the world to see.
** This poem is a draft that just came up, as I was trying to write a blog post for today. I have been putting so much importance on writing for the blog, that I have forgotten how to write. I used to write everyday and now the though of writing scares me. In my head and heart, I fear that I am not good enough - Which is really frustrating because I do not write to be good but write because it heals and because I love it.
I never realized how hard it is to rebuild an relationship after you break it.......
This past Friday, I met someone who challenged me to examine my understandings of myself and my accomplishments.
I met career coach, Joyce Kaplan, as part of my volunteer work with the Canadian Tamil Alumni Association. We met up on Friday, as I had contacted her about running a workshop with CTAA. To be honest, I had never really felt the need to see an individual career coach. I attend any and all Professional Development sessions that I can get my hands on but I did not think I needed individual coaching. That's what friends are for!
With Joyce, however, I understood, that there is more to the relationship. Friends and family can tell you over and over that you are amazing and should pursue your dreams. They can be your cheering section and your sounding board (and the first people I talked to about this was them) but they are limited by one thing - THEY KNOW YOU!
In knowing you and your life, they don't always need to ask you the questions that force you to think and question you actions. One - because it is a 'normal' for you and they know that or two - they are aware of the patterns of influence(s) in your life and understand why you are the way you are. She didn't know me and in seeking to know me, was able to ask me a simple question -
"If you weren't waiting for validation from your father, where would you get it from?" and assigned me a 20 minute writing homework on it (still to be done). So I have spent the weekend thinking.
I would get some of that validation from the fulfillment of my commitment and I feel that I am behind in that, so I am starting simply again with a very basic one... This blog.
I had made a commitment to working on this blog and I have let that go. Thus, I am going to re-assert that commitment and not fear putting all of me out there. Thus, I am going to set up some easy parameters to make sure I do not get overwhelmed and am able to talk about the millions of thoughts that randomly float in my head. So I will make it my action to write a blog entry at least twice a week - Monday's and Thursday's.
Recently I came across an amazing article entitled The Problem with 'Boys Will Be Boys' by Soraya Chemaly. The article was well written and articulated how early on we begin to privilege males in our society. The article was a eye opener for me because as someone who works on VAW (Violence Against Women) issues I was aware of how much society expects women to change their behaviour and how little it expects men to but even I did not associate that normalization with the every day activities of kids.
I have seen the scenario that Soraya Chemaly describes played out again and again in the park, when I am out in the city but mainly at family events. We talk about these events when they occur in public places, in what should be state – regulated spaces but we do not talk about them when we see siblings interact or when they happen at family/friends’ gatherings.
I remember one incident, at a family wedding 6 years ago, when a little boy who had to be 3 cornered a little girl, about the same age and gave her a kiss. The adults look on and laughed (including myself) and made jokes about how he better honour that kiss and marry her.
The act of privileging and distributing power begins so early, that we are not even aware that we are doing it. That little boy learnt that day, not only did he have the right to kiss any girl he wanted, but that adults in his life, would not only condone but celebrate that behaviour. The interesting twist was that if he had done the same thing with a stranger’s child, my family members would have been mortified and maybe taken the child to task. In this instance, the girl was known to the family and they had become “friends” at the wedding.
“Boys will be Boys” is a common adage that I hear but usually in the context of family relations. We teach boys to respect and be careful with girls but usually girls that are strangers to them, when it comes to women within the family, we give the usual excuses…
“He’s your cousin...”
“You know what he is like…He is just playing rough.”
“He is only picking on you…hitting you because he likes you and wants to play with you.”
And the list goes on and on. Is it then surprising that intimate partner and family violence is the most prevalent forms of VAW?
Today, I am finishing off my CWF online portfolio and hit a wall. When I set up the webpage, there was no question that my poetry and writing would be included. However, today as I started uploading them, my fingers itched to rip them down again. I look at the words innocently sitting on the page and saw instead my heart laid bare. These words are me... their sentences the bones and flesh that embody my presence. It is hard to see my insecurities, my fears, my desires and even my joys up for public perusal- even those emotions that were articulated years ago.
The feeling reminded me of a video that a friend had shared, it was a TED talk done by Brene Brown called "The Power of Vulnerability" (see below). In this talk Dr. Brown discusses how people connect, specifically the idea that in order to connect, we have to be vulnerable. The line that connected with me the most was when she said "What is courage... from the Latin...courage - tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.. these people had the courage to be imperfect... to have compassion with themselves, connection with others based on authenticity and embraced vulnerability... to be vulnerable was to be beautiful."
These words make sense when you read/ hear them but the core idea behind them is harder to practice. When most people meet me, they think I am open and fearless but I hide a lot of who I am. The online portion of the CWF-COADY project is forcing me to be open and address those layers of vulnerability that I want to pretend does not exist.
Growing up, I used to love to write, I wrote lyrics, poems, stories, articles, and random thoughts. At one point I thought I would grow up to be an author or a story teller… Then I went to University, where I learnt the art of caution.
I loved my university experience; I met a lot of amazing people and learn so much about the world and where I saw my place in it. I also learnt that every idea must be supported, every word must be defined and every sentence must add value. I became a good student but forgot how to write for the fun of it. So, I hope this page lets me do that a bit as well as speak about the things that matter to me.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”