Saturday, November 07, 2015

Facing Your Worst Fear

Phobia - the moment you hear this word, and if you happen to be a phobic, you feel the chill running down your spine. You remember every detail of the things you have a phobia of. It can be one, it can be multiple. You imagine yourself being tied from head to toe with a rope and the phobia to be death without the hood. For a person who does not have any phobia or is yet unaware about his/her phobia will find this explanation quite exaggerating. But that’s how you feel when you face your worst fear.

The dictionary definition says - “A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.” Thank god words don’t scare me, or else I would have fainted halfway reading this definition. To put it simply, it’s your worst fear - a fear that is capable to make you lose your senses, scream out loud, cry, hide, cover your face or even faint. Common phobias include Acrophobia (fear of heights), Claustrophobia (fear of confined places), Aquaphobia (fear of water), Hemophobia (fear of blood) and so on.

These day-to-day things that look plain and simple to us may turn out to be the biggest hurdle for some. Imagine being a woman and hemophobic. Every month you have to face the blood coming out of your own body. A friend of mine gets sleepless nights when she is on her periods. Changing sanitary pads is the biggest challenge for her. She avoids blood tests. And in unavoidable circumstances, she goes for one with a blindfold on and nose covered. A claustrophobic climbs 24 floors but he will not travel by a closed lift. An aquaphobic panics even when he sees 3-4 water bottles lined up together.

These are common types of phobias. Some people have really weird phobias too. Chromophobia is a fear of bright colours. You are walking on a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly you spot a perfectly curved rainbow in the sky. Or a bed of beautiful and colourful flowers. And you freak out. You are terrorised. That’s because you are suffering from chromophobia.

Now imagine being scared of hair. Your own body hair that covers every possible part of your body. And you are scared of them. To an extent that you pluck out every tiny hair that you spot on your body. Your scar it just to get rid of those scary hair. That pain of pulling out hair from your sensitive area is more tolerable than the sight of hair.

There also exists something called Lepidopterophobia - fear of butterflies. Those harmless beauties can scare someone so much that they end up fainting. Eisoptrophobia - fear of your own reflection. Not seeing yourself in the mirror because you imagine worst possible things that your reflection does to you, that also includes strangling you. But the cruelest of all is Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia - it’s a phobia of long words. What an irony. The phobia itself is one of the longest words I have seen. If I think of it, I have a phobia of long sentences. I write in short sentences mostly. But when a sentence is longer than two lines, I freak out. I don’t understand how to deal with it. Talking of weird phobias of others!

It’s worrisome how these fears control us, how they limit the way we think and function. We can take other kind of pains just to avoid facing the fear. Imagine taking unbearable pain just because we are scared of something. Our imagination can trick us into doing something so stupid and so dangerous. Can this be cured? Can you get rid of your fear? For that you need to face it. The thought itself scares the daylights out of me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Forbidden Streets of South Mumbai

I was 8 or 9 years old when I heard about these forbidden streets of South Mumbai. My grandmother rescued our domestic help's daughter who was lured into running away with her boyfriend. He brought her to Bombay. There they stayed with a friend for a few days before he made his real intentions clear to her. She had been cheated. He raped her. Invited his friends to rape her. Again and again. She was gangraped for over a month before he decided to sell her to one of the madams in Kamathipura.

She refused to sleep with other men, refused to participate in flesh trade. They would beat her with cane on her feet. Till she would give in. She stayed there for a little over three months, getting raped by different men each night. At least seven to eight men would fuck her each night. Periods was a time for some relief if a weirdo didn't turn up who enjoyed fucking menstruating women.

She was one of those fortunate women who was rescued thanks to my grandmother's contacts and a hell lot of money. She was brought back home. She was completely shaken, depressed, scared, and pregnant. Family got the child aborted, got some tests done for STDs. Thankfully everything was normal. They got her married soon enough. She is happy now, has two kids, and husband doesn't know anything about her past.

This is one of the stories. One of those rare stories where the victim was rescued. But does it happen in every case? When my grandma recites the story now, I realise how difficult it was to track her down and rescue her. The person who helped was stabbed. Luckily he survived. I have no idea what kind of risks, money and power were involved in the entire operation. What the girl must have gone through during that period.

A friend works with an NGO that works for sex workers of Kamathipura. I happen to discuss this story with her. She tells me her side of story. Rather, stories she gathered on her numerous visits to Kamathipura. 

To be continued..

Monday, August 17, 2015

And The Residue Remains

Independence Day is over. The streets that were full of people waving the tricolour yesterday are now full of half torn and muddy flags. Nobody gives a damn about the state of the country anymore. And it's kinda sad that this cynicism has become a reality now. Everywhere you see people not giving a damn about anything. Including their own lives. Pollution, population, corruption, crime - we tolerate everything like it's something obvious and something we cannot help.

The helpless state. Or the victim card. Be the bechara to get all the benefits. Fuck the rules. Fuck the fair game. Curse reservation when you don't get a seat anywhere. Curse the upper caste for treating lower caste as shit. Riots in the name of religion and blame the religion instead of those misusing and misinterpreting it. One judgment goes wrong and we blame the entire judiciary. Victim card/helplessness is a very safe and secure place. You are right even when you are wrong. And people will listen to you. 

If that doesn't work then bribe. Pay money and get the work done. Or not done. Keep doing it. Make the system so bloody corrupt that without money they don't even give you your death certificate. Pay the bribe to get the timely slot for cremation, or the best part of the land for burial. The smell coming out of the smoke tells you if you died rich or poor. We don't spare anyone. Or anything. 

Religion - again something we feel so strongly about. Whether in favour or against. Atheism is cool. Being a theist is kind of an abuse. You kill in the name of religion. They kill you because you killed in the name of religion. A few extremists malign the entire system. All of us die - one by one. Either as victims or as an accused. Just to feed that one sentiment we misunderstood. 

The torn flags on the roads remain as residues of our so called nation love for one day. Those half immersed idols float because we don't care either about them or the environment. Fuck the logic behind immersion. It's not the system, or the religious practice that's entirely wrong. It's the way you follow it - that's wrong. Practice doesn't specify the size of that idol. Or the requirement to buy and flaunt the flag you don't have any intentions of keeping. You abandon them. And you abandon your sentiments with them. That's where you go wrong. But it doesn't get destroyed completely. It stays there. Reminding you of what you have become. 

But again, who cares?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Place for a Wandering Soul

Have you been to a place where, after stepping there, you feel as if you are in a new world altogether? Or think that the one you live in is no life at all. Your idea of a good life is actually an illusion that you live in. Place you can call home. You feel at peace even while doing nothing at all. You meet new people and in no time it feels as if you have known them for years. You still try not to be too friendly because it all seems too good to be true. 

Such a place exists. For the first time I am taking out time to write about it while being there. Yes I skipped a nice place to visit just to spend this time with myself. Going to the terrace and reading a book, visiting a cafe nearby all on my own - I need at least one such getaway on a trip. I don't care if I end up missing out on the best structure in this world for this time. But this time is important to me. 

Auroville is much more than a home. It accepts you the moment you come here. And I am so glad I did. Second day here and everything - from people to food to places to my room - everything is just perfect. I can hear the sound leaves are making outside. Some birds are chirping. They chirp round the clock. And it's a pleasant, soothing voice. There is an old fountain outside. It's not a pretty one. Quite old, not functioning too well. But that's the best part about it. The sound of water dripping from it is the most soothing sound you can ever imagine. 

Yes, it sounds too poetic. Or not. Who cares. The place is magical. It's almost untouched. A place where you would want to come to without a plan. And stay for as long as you want to. A place where the company doesn't matter. A place you want to visit on your own. And not leave. 

It helps you find yourself. And connects with yourself. What music does to you. Auroville has the same effect on you.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Scattered Thoughts

I think I need to clear the dust before I start writing here again. At least clear it off the laptop screen. There is so much to write about, so much to say and share and so little time. I have been busy with so many things. Mostly travelling. Travelling more than working. And that's a bloody good feeling. This year I made two trips to East/North East and three to North. And the next one is planned already.

More than the travel part, it is about meeting different people. Learning about different cultures. Realising that your country is more beautiful than you can ever imagine. Realising that those google images were less beautiful than the place. The value it holds. You look at the place differently from everyone else. 

Life experiences mould you. How certain things change you as a person. How you look at someone you know changes. How indifferences disappear. How easily you can now let go. Forgive. Forget. Move on. Or, live with it.

Or completely opposite of it. The person you couldn't live without once, is no longer with you. You may even hate him, or miss him like crazy and still want him. Some relationships leave you bitter. Some make you better. 

And some things don't change at all. Anger is one such thing. It's good so far as it's healthy. But the moment it starts controlling you, or making things worse for you, you need to take the charge. Start controlling it. It's not possible always, but not too difficult either.

My anger has always been on the extreme side. It's just so easy to make me angry. I can blast even if you say A and I don't like you. I can blast the hell out of you. I don't care where I am or who is in front of me. I cool down quickly but by then the damage has already been done. People who know me well know this about me. Rest are no longer in my life. 

Do I regret? No. If I really love you, and get angry at you, and don't try to makeup within max a day, then you are wrong. Amendments? It depends on your wrong. Some things cannot be amended. Or altered. Some things are lost forever. Anger is just a medium to severe ties. To detach. They were never meant to be. And they will never be.

I wrote this article in bits and pieces over five days. I have been trying to write, but unable to due to many reasons. Mind is not at peace. It's not disturbed either. It just lacks motivation at the moment. I am off to another trip. Another experience. I hope I come back motivated. To write.