Hint hint .. Wink wink..Nudge nudge

Have you spent time going through the WhatsApp status message of some particularly interesting folk? One day it is “I am a free bird” and the next day it is “To be content with yourself is the ULTIMATE happiness” and a month later it is “PLS cme bk darling…<3

Do these people really get anything by reaching to the entire friend list and not just their significant other? One of my friends started going out of his way updating his status with typical “Girls are inscrutable“, “Girls are heart breakers” messages on a daily basis. He is usually not the type at all. And if you went through his updates you would think he was flinging his heart at the feet of an arrogant girl who was deliberately toying with the answer.

When I confronted him with this, he claimed that it meant nothing at all. They were just statements that he found in Facebook and thought of as witty. I would not have any of it. My argument was this. I was not in close contact with him any longer and I did not know who he was whining about. But there are others who are close to him and even if he was having a mild crush on this girl, the gossip mongers will be thinking of this girl as an inconsiderate heart breaker and they would know who the girl was.

“Stop using your WhatsApp messages for catharsis”, I’d insist whenever he started whining. Soon he admitted it. They were not merely funny lines. He meant it. And he also admitted to a messy friend-zoned relationship and here is the catch, it was HE who had friend-zoned her. WHAT??!!?? Then WHAT did those lines mean? I just don’t get it. But it isn’t my business and I don’t want to digress. This is not a post about messy friend-zoned relationships. It is about how annoying it must have been for that girl that a personal relationship (or friendship) is now a circus for random people to analyze as they thought fit.

Status messages are sometimes extremely misleading. “That is the thing about pain, it demands to be felt” is a good quote. Not a good status message. And it certainly is not a good one for a newly married girl, definitely not if she does not want people to assume that she is stuck in a bad marriage.

Prettiness is not the rent I should pay to exist just because I am a girl” is a terrific quote, but I felt bad that a plain-looking girl had this on her status message. In one way it is a defiant “fuck-you” to those who probably were not treating her well as they treated show-stopping beauties. But surely the very presence of that status message negated the attitude that it stood for. If you truly don’t have to pay rent, you don’t spend time thinking about the rent, no? The line is a terrific comeback but not a good status message, IMO.

An audacious playboy once laughingly admitted that his intriguing messages were actually meant for more than one girl. He will keep the “You wouldn’t believe how much I miss you” message until he deceived a bunch of women into thinking that they were the intended recipient. To tell the truth, I admire his temerity. He knows the power of the written word and is willing to harness it. At least he is self-aware.

Key:

‘PLS cme bk darling’ means “Please come back, darling.” (I know my readers are chatspeak-challenged)

Do I dress only for myself?

I have a doubt on the whole “I dress only for myself and not to impress other people and definitely not men” brigade.

What is the point of fashion or makeup if it is not for other people? If I truly dressed for myself, I should be happy dressing up on a Saturday afternoon to watch reruns of Big Bang Theory on TV, no?   At that time nighties seem to suffice.

If I really don’t care what other people’s opinion of me is, I would probably go to the supermarket dressed like Super Girl and the fish market dressed as Cleopatra.

Why is it that I use my faded old Salwar Kameez to Nilgiris on Saturday morning and slip into a newer outfit if I plan to catch the matinee show?

Why do I, who wears jeans on Fridays wear saris to church?

Why do I not mind wearing torn nighties that are sewn crudely when I am sleeping as long as they are soft and comfortable and wear silk saris to weddings and not the other way around?

For other people.

What is so embarrassing about this?  This does not mean I am a slave for other people’s opinion or that I am begging for approval. It just means that humans are social animals and that I am human.
P.S. This is a thought I came to my mind as a response to a blog post. But I am not going to link it here. I don’t know why, but it seems impolite.

On youthful good looks and such things

One day as I looked out of the bus window, I saw an obituary poster. It was announcing the death of a newly married couple. There was a kitchen fire and the husband had tried to rescue the wife and both had died in the flames. They had been married for about a month. Quite saddened, I looked at the photo in the poster and thought, “So sad, she is so beautiful.” The next moment I could have kicked myself. What did the woman’s good looks have to do with anything? Death is death and hurts just as much whatever your face looks like. The poster had specifically mentioned that the man could have survived if he had not attempted to rescue his wife. If only one of the two should be mourned, it is his noble nature that I should have pondered upon. I should mention here that they were a particularly mismatched couple looks-wise.  She was really pretty and he was very much normal-looking. That was a sort of epiphany for me. I saw that looks can change the way we live our lives as it changes the way people look at us AND treat us.

Why I took this personal epiphany pretty strongly is because it was in the back of my mind for another reason. My daughter was 6 months old and I had a small doubt that she may grow up to be slightly squint-eyed. When she was crying or was sleepy, it was obvious that both her eyeballs did not move in the same direction. I re-lived my life until then imagining myself as a squint-eyed Rahini. I imagined men looking away and women giving sympathetic friendly smiles. I imagined being ridiculed and avoided. I imagined the veiled jokes and sniggering. It seemed terrible. My hatred towards looks-bias is because of something very self-centered. I was afraid my daughter was going to be a victim.

Eventually a doctor prescribed glasses and admitted she needed a bit of eye-exercise. But he said something else that put my mind at complete ease. He said I was squint-eyed too. He had made her sit on my lap and as we both moved our eyes following his finger, he was able to see that my eyes did not move in perfect synchrony with each other either. That is all I needed. Perfect synchrony or not, my eyes were never ridiculed. She was going to be alright. My daughter may not become a pageant winning beauty, but she was not going to become a comic-relief either. This had been a false alarm.

But my wariness with good looks continued. I got to see the school photographs of my brother and realized that while the good lookers remained in my mind vaguely and the others did not seem familiar at all. There are some people who I see on the road and immediately think “Isn’t that guy’s name ABC?” That guy would have been in the same company some three years back and that too not in my team. And then there would be someone else who introduces themselves as from the same company and their face will not be familiar at all. I simply remembered the good lookers better. And it is not just me, everyone I know is like that. We wait for them to smile and acknowledge our presence. We stop the elevator for a few seconds more so that we get to be the same elevator for a few seconds. Most of us do this.

This can be a huge advantage to the good lookers and they supposedly move up the corporate scale faster as they fare well in interviews, they get more dates and they get more chances in the performing arts. But it can be a problem as well. My friend M and I would be walking down the path and a quite a few hostel-mates will throw a smile and a greeting and while they always seemed to know her name, she invariably didn’t use their name when wishing them. She told me that she was reasonably good with names but she really didn’t know everyone who was being nice to her. She knew that admitting that she didn’t know their name will actually hurt them. It was her belief that they would not take it lightly if their names were forgotten. I agree with her.

I met another bubbly young thing a few years back and every man in the vicinity seemed to have a crush on her. I witnessed the devotion and the help they used to keep offering her. I also saw that there was anger in so many male eyes that he wasn’t the only one she was being nice to and was spending time with. She was not dating anyone but the air was thick with speculations. It was that bubbly girl who planted the doubt if it was a good thing to be a good looker or a marked disadvantage.

Also, is it true that women are jealous of good-looking women? Do they find it difficult to introduce their husbands to their better looking friends? I asked a few friends I personally considered very good looking and none of the pretty women felt that the other women were treating them badly JUST because of their looks. A few admitted that some of the compliments did not sound very sincere.

This is actually a dangerous thing. When I turned to Google with this topic I stumbled upon this article that talks about a woman who committed suicide as she was always treated as a beauty and middle age scared her. The author seems to admire her. Then I heard about something called Pro-Ana. It is sickening. Women “help” each other not eat food by saying disgusting things to each other. Are we like these women too? Do we take the looks of the people around us and our own selves too seriously?

I know that the reason I bother to go walking and do workouts is to look good. “Being Healthy” is just an excuse. I just tell myself that I owe myself some honesty. I also owe myself good health. So I try to make the two goals go hand in hand. But as I read articles about fitness and see videos, one thing is clear. “Fitness” is almost always a euphemism to look good. This is what we are – obsessed with youthful good looks and flat tummies and firm butts.

I often see attempts that I don’t approve of, attempts with laxatives, attempts with the GM diet etc. I keep persuading people away from such shortcuts. But people are so obsessed with the deadlines these diets/fads come with. Is there a way out? Is it possible to see fitness as fitness and not a return ticket to youth? Is it possible to stop judging people by their looks? I keep wondering.

Favourite Things – 1 to 25

I have been changing my Whatsapp Images on a daily basis for the past 25 days and plan to continue as long as I can.

The reason I started this is simple. My blog posts are basically rants and rants by their very nature are negative. All the popular posts, whether the mensturation rant or the loosu ponnu rant, are just a bunch of complaints. So what are the things I like? I may not be effusive, but I like a lot of things and people.

Here is a list. You can hover over the images for a short description.

The World of Nature Documentaries

When everyone was comparing the new Jungle Book and the old one, I kept thinking of one thing.  I love nature documentaries more than I like any movie and I love books on evolution more than I like fiction. Jungle Book made me feel nostalgic about all the Nature shows I used to watch. I lost a lot of MP3 and videos when an external hard drive got corrupted.  I can recreate my music collection any time since my brother has a very similar collection and my movie collection is virtually the same as that of a good friend.  But I have no choice but to download the high resolution Nature Documentaries all over again.  I already have Life and Life in the Undergrowth in my DVD collection, but that is just two series.

We all have our share of unique obsessions. When everyone else is talking about Ajith and Vijay movies, someone may be mighty pleased that they prefer Korean movies to these masala movies. When everyone else is discussing ARR’s latest award, there is bound to be someone proud of their own preference for Carnatic music. It appears that what is common to all of us is our need to find a passion that other people around us would find too boring, nerdy or wacky and start specializing in it in our own way, even if it only means collecting MP4 files that aren’t trending. I know people who collect country music and Arabic music in this way. There is a pride in knowing a good song none of your peers have even heard of. It makes you feel like a super special snowflake.  My love for nature documentaries started like that.  I simply did it because watching Discovery Channel* made me feel super nerdy.  Right from when I was a child, I had disliked superstitious beliefs and delighted in clear scientific explanations.

I eventually found that answers were available to those who looked for them and that there were real answers beyond “That is God’s Perfect Plan.” Take a simple question. Why does sex exist? Why weren’t asexual species more successful than sexual species? There must be a clear reason why, right? With most people, I get answers like, “A man and a woman uniting in Holy Matrimony is God’s Perfect Plan.” There must be a reason for the evolution of sex that doesn’t revolve around humans and their paltry concerns. It is impossible to convince them that the Earth revolves around the Sun because of the gravitational pull exerted by the Sun. No! They are sure that it is God’s perfect plan that we humans should be given warmth and light during the day and coolness and rest during the night. Most of these answers seem so self-centered to me. The universe doesn’t exist just because humans can live in it. It is the other way around.

Many people see nature enthusiasts like me as creepy whackos who love seeing snakes eat other snakes. But, in my opinion, there are more delicate emotions depicted in a nature show than in a regular TV reality show or soap or movie. Humans and their behavior get into perspective when we watch spiders and peacocks exhibit behavior that we usually consider very human.

The video that first attracted me to Nature documentaries was the story of a female giraffe.** The pregnant female walked out of the herd to a lonely spot to give birth. She nudged the baby giraffe to stand on his feet and start walking. But the young one could not get up. He had weak legs that could not support him.  The mother kept nudging him and persuading him to get up.  A hyena was waiting for the young one to die.  By daybreak, the calf had died.  The mother now had to leave and allow the hyena to take up his meal.  She did walk away and the hyena closed in on the carcass.  But somehow she was not able to allow it.  She ran back to her dead son’s body and fended off the hyena.  She knew that her son was dead. There was nothing more now.  She kept trying to walk away and yet her love for her dead son would not permit it.  For a few more hours, she mourned his death, unable to let the hyena scavenge the carcass.  Eventually, she had to give in completely.  There are no dignified funerals in the lives of wild animals. I remember I cried that day.

Later on, I got to the grittier versions of life and death in these stories. The story is not plot-driven; it is driven by real fate. Sure, sometimes the stories are edited to give them the soap-opera touch. This is especially true of the Serengeti stories of wildebeests, lions and hyenas. They are mammals with behavior that humans may quite identify with.

But the stories of ants, spiders, praying mantises and a plethora of other insects can be even more exciting. Ants and bees farm for food and think ahead. Ants invade other colonies to steal the eggs and make the newborn ants their slaves. They use chemicals to brainwash each other. They milk aphids like humans milk cattle.  Stories that happen in the deep ocean can be so confusing that they sound like horror stories. And any worthwhile nature documentary can interest, amuse or elevate greatly.

A friend asked if Avatar is a huge favorite of mine as I do have a thing for nature and it is a movie about respecting nature. Well, far from it. Avatar is a movie that happens ostensibly in another planet. Well, I do understand the concept of convergent evolution, but why is that planet so much like earth? The biped sentient creatures are given so much respect by the protagonist, but another creature that resembles a dog is killed without much ado and a creature that resembles a rhinoceros  is not treated much better either. Avatar is not REALLY a movie about respecting other creatures but about respecting other human cultures. They just paint the humans blue and give them fancy noses.

Real nature is raw. But then again, what else can we expect nature to be? It is certainly not benevolent. Real nature reminds us that we, in our air-conditioned bedrooms and sanitized bathrooms, are the royalty of the living world. Some creatures fly from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle and back again each year. Most species have infant mortality rates so high that it hurts our tame sensibilities.

If you have always viewed these videos with suspicion and believed that they are either too boring or too yucky, I request you to give it a shot. Nature is spectacular and BBC and National Geographic nature series are made with remarkable taste and technical expertise. Please check some of them out. I have a feeling you will not regret it. Well, ok. I admit you will regret it if you are too faint-hearted, so I have put the tamer videos first.

* Before the advent of Animal Planet

** I watched this more than 20 years ago and don’t have footage of this wonderful video.