Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So are you married?

in UnionI watched two very inspiring movies over the weekend. Both have inspired me to write about issues that I feel are important. The first was Mona Lisa Smile a movie set in the 1950s. It’s the story of one woman’s desire to enrich her female students lives by encouraging them to look beyond the image of how well you marry.

50 years later, we’ve just stepped into 2008 but has this image changed?

Hell no – I just turned 28 and everywhere I turn people ask me why I haven’t gotten myself married. I have to go through a quarrel every other day on this very issue with every busybody in the world. The latest line of argument seems to be “so you’re now officially in the spinster’s zone!”

What are these words spinster, unmarried, or the Tamil word which I utterly despise vazha vetti (it means women who were once married who have left or divorced their husbands)??

50 years down the line we’re still placing importance on how well a woman marries. Why isn’t she married? Maybe no one wants her? Maybe she’s difficult? She must be too picky! She’s probably got a huge ego!

I think I just sounded the alarms. I’m sure this post will have my anon readers who seem to suddenly pop out to tell how disappointed they are that I eat nonveg food, club and even travel alone - out in droves to ADVICE me on why single people should get married. Or this one line might push them back into their shells and read quietly and not come out in their hidden identities. They might however have a conversation about me. lol have fun. If you must know I really don’t give a damn what you or anyone else thinks about me.

Why should someone get married just because everyone expects them to? This same society will point fingers at them and call them names if the marriage ends in a divorce. So it’s ok to live unhappy lives for the sake of everyone and present fake smiles to society? What kind of life is that?

I believe in marriage, I believe in relationships but I think people should get married only because they want to and not because someone else wants it and only when they’re ready. I keep seeing marriages end all around me and it happens so fast. People were once taught to bite their lips and get on with life and never air their dirty laundry in public. So most of them lived with physical and verbal abuse from their spouses, families and in laws. When people finally broke away from marriages that were destroying them, they were termed misfits of society – it seems you’re no one without someone next to you.

There are two types of single people. There are people who choose to be single and there are the ones who ended up single. The ones who choose to remain single did so because they were happy as they are, their lives were happy and they didn’t need someone else to make them happier. Yes companionship is a wonderful thing, I truly agree but it isn’t the only thing. Life is meant to be full and it can only be so if you live your life to the fullest. Work is not life. No one should be married to their jobs – those are the single people most of us are afraid of. The ones who make others life hell because to them work is their life and they give 200 percent to ensure their life remains secured.

If you decide to remain single make sure you have a life beyond work, learn new hobbies, develop new passions and most importantly learn to make new friends. Your friends can never be always there for you, most of them will get married one day and that could push you into a lonely circle. So venture out and make new friends – life doesn’t end just coz your friends are married.

It’s also never too late to get married but there’s definitely a married too early age. You need maturity to handle marriage, the commitment and responsibility that comes with it. Marriage is the union of two families. Like it or not both spouses will want to remain in contact with their families and to do that both have to learn to compromise with each others families.

I’m a very difficult person to live with, very addictive but very difficult. I get bored easily, so how will it be possible for me to compromise and marry just anyone. I don’t look down on arranged marriages but no matter how good a judge of a person I am, I will never be able to know a person in 5 minutes or even a month. Perhaps I think too much, perhaps I’m picky but when you know yourself so well how can you compromise.

I will never be able to bite my lips and smile at abuse. I am quite capable of hitting or berating someone or perfect strangers for being rude or abusive in any manner to anyone. I’ve told off friends, family members and even strangers. Heck I can’t even stand bigotry remarks or any other social norms that hurt others even in my own flesh and blood so how will I be able to in a stranger?

Yes my standards are high but they’re not unreasonable. The most important thing to me is that I have lived my life to the fullest of my capacity and I will continue to push myself to live my life the best way possible without backstabbing, hurting or cheating anyone.

I’m sorry to disappoint you if you think I’m yearning for someone and just mumbling to defend my singleness. Actually my mom’s trying to arrange my younger brother’s marriage and I had to repeatedly tell my mom I had no problem with it. So somewhere this year my brother should be married. So will a few of my close friends. I can’t wait for their weddings actually. I can believe I’ll be seeing the nut in a veshti. He is trying to wriggle out of it, but we’ll make sure we get his mom and fiancĂ© to force him into one.

So what about children? Well my biological clock hasn’t ticked; neither has motherhood pangs set in since I’ve had the experience of bringing up children. I brought up my cousin who used to fondly call me amma (mom). That’s a story for another day. But yes I’d love to have children and if I can’t have my own I’ll adopt. Funny thing is about 7 years ago when my ex was talking about adoption it seemed foreign to me. You see society feeds you with words such as unless it’s your own they’re not yours – so anything other than that seems alien to you. Its taken years and maturity to break that. Thank god I’ve finally seen the light of that. There are so many children out there that deserve a better home and if you can financially and emotionally offer them that, nothing should stop you.

End of the day all I can say is get married only if you want to and never because of someone else. They’re not gonna live your life – you’ll be the one stuck with the mistake of marrying the wrong person and getting yourself tangled in a messy divorce not them. Don’t worry they’ll be right next to you to tell you how and why you went wrong!

When will we be rid of those words? When will society stop looking down on women who decide not to get married? I hope and pray that someone else doesn’t have to ask the same questions in another 50 years.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hugs anyone?

I had to learn how to hug.

I had to tell my very huggy friend that my mom doesn’t hug people so don’t hug her.

So your father hugs?

Nope he didn’t either.

She turns back puzzled and asks so how come you hug?

I had to learn how to hug. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t even touch someone’s hand. When I was younger I smiled at people and never shook hands with anyone. Sure I played with other children but I grew up a tomboy who was more interested in playing football and kickboxing with the boys then actually showing emotion.

I slowly started hugging my galfriends in form 5 and in univ but I still couldn’t hug my guy friends. I think we were in Penang when another friends brother turned out to be Mr huggy and slowly I started to learn to hug everyone. However I still don’t hug all my guy friends, coz we’re just not used to it.

Hugging is one of the most affectionate gift you can gift to someone. The warmth you transfer to the other reflects the affection and love you have for them. It is and should be the most natural thing to do.

The once non touchy gal is now the gal who leans, twiddles and hugs her friends and people find it so hard to believe that I never used to hug. So if you’re not a huggy person, its about time you learnt the joys of hugging. Go out and hug someone now!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Imagine

Imagine ... by John Lennon

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one




















My friend and I were dancing on the dance floor when we spotted her gay friend that we had met sometime back. The next thing we know we were hugging at the centre of the dance floor and trying to dance as well with them.

The thing about dancing is you need to have a partner that’s as charismatic. He and his gf definitely were. When we finished I got another hug from the gf.

I was walking to the ladies when I saw her standing nervously outside.

Are you waiting for someone?

no… I need to

then come on in

I think the restroom cleared coz she walked in with me not that I was bothered. I decided to wait outside with her so she wouldn’t be alone.

I didn’t want to use the mens coz you know how they look down on us.

People are just judgmental – don’t bother about them was all I could tell her.

So what does the photo and title have to do with what I've written? A lot!


imagine - as a stand alone title means this photo lets your imagination run wild as the shadow of t he person is not the shape of someone normal - so it allows for a lot of interpretation - but what is really normal?

and that links to the songs lyrics that I've chose - what is normal - the moment a person looks different or is a different shade of colour from the majority they are perceived as abnormal - though this predicment is not so harsh as it once used to be - people are still pinpointing others on their sexual orientation - how are gays abnormal? where did society learn how to measure abnormality?

Why are we so judgmental – its really saddening how people treat others coz they don’t look as what people perceive as normal. I don’t think anyone knows what normal means. I’ve written about this so many times, talked about it – made a few enemies. There is no such thing as normal or abnormal - just norms set by society.

For the fun of it people might just beat them up, call them names, treat them as if they committed some crime. The funny thing is religiously only 2 religions can say it’s against their scriptures – if you’re Hindu you can’t no matter what society tells you. There are walls after walls of ancient sculptures depicting that gay relationships existed at many ancient temples in India. So don’t you blame religion for your closed mentality!

Like all of us they have their nice and evil ones as well. But I think in defying the general society they have learned to be very affectionate people. I had to learn how to hug others something I should write about another time. You know how Asians don’t hug right? Yet they will always welcome you with a hug, even if it’s the first time you’re meeting them.

The point is they’re just like you and me just more expressive and affectionate so stop judging them! If you can’t change your feelings about them at least don’t hurt them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love is .....

Love is .....

love is being there when you're most needed
love is being there even when you're not
love is remembering the quirky little details
love is mischievous winks only you understand
love is that unexpected call that lifts the gloom
love is that sms that reaches right on time
love is the silly laughter that never stops roaring
love is the simplest gestures that mean the world
love is knowing when to be there
love is the comfortable silence
love is the little huffs and puffs
love is laughing off the disagreements
love is not knowing how time flew
love is the 'have u reached home' messages
love is not being embarrassed at your silliness
love is knowing you are there for someone
love is you and your love

The poem was written for two of my friends - for always being there.

Happy Valentines Day everyone

Love isn't about the number of gifts you get on one day but the amount of love you get all year round.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Little miracles

Have you ever felt connected to a person beyond the physical or emotional bond. Its when you end up calling them at the right time or vice versa – when they really need you to be there for them. Or you find yourself somewhere and something tells you that person is close. When you call them, it turns out your instinct was right.

They could be miles away but when you need them, you’ll get an email or a call or they’d suddenly turn up in your life.

What do you call these connections? How is it possible? I called them life’s little miracles and I will always be grateful to them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

Gong Xi Fa Cai My week long holiday starts in 2 minutes. So let this little cutey pie wish you all dressed in his Chinese costume – Gong Xi Fa Cai.

May you have a prosperous new year and safe holidays.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gongxi....

Right after clubbing on Saturday night with my friends – all the gals walked into the ladies and there was only us in the restroom. So feeling a bit hyper as usual – I started singing a Christmas song. Yes in February – forgive my ignorance but I really like Christmas ;p

Another friend joined me and we were causing a ruckus when suddenly someone tells us sing a Chinese New Year song.

I only know one and can only sing the chorus but I can humm the tune well – so I proceed to sing the song. When I walk out of the cubicle it turns out – my song requester was a perfect stranger who was enjoying the song.

Feeling embarrassed but still not giving a heck about it – I quietly walk up to my friend and tell her.

….and this is without a single drop of alcohol in my system!”

she : I don’t think you’ll ever need any!

Anyway the excitement didn’t stop there – my friend walks out and insists I teach her the song out at the lobby where more people were standing. I was hesistant for a second and decided what the heck and started singing again.

I’m proud to say The Chinese New Year spirit was spread far and wide as people started singing as well! Lol

Warning : If you are a very timid person – you might want to keep a safe distance from me – I’m known to do ridiculous stuff ;p

Friday, February 01, 2008

Following the Vel

Purification

I was fielding questions on Thaipusam for the last 2 weeks and the night before it got even more hectic ending with a conference call to confirm our meeting spots. We left home at 4.45am and reached the first spot at about 5.15 met the rest and headed straight to BC. There were so many empty parking spaces which played to our benefit as we got to park really close to the temple.

Trance Intense IN trance

I was taking along a few first time Thaipusam visitors who weren’t Indians, so it was fun to watch their reactions. One was all excited, another stunned, another was cautious at first, she’d hold on to another friend everytime we moved but that was only for the first 30 minutes after that I had to look for her as she’d be right at the front of the kavadis.

As we were meeting the rest only at 7 we decided to head to the river and get some shots. Darn we could have stood at the shower point forever, never knew watching people shower in their cloths could be so fun. ;p

Cleansing to fulfill vows Curious

We met so many friends on the way, lost a few to the kavadis with some calling us up to check on where we were heading every now and then. You try keeping 15 people together. I’d be walking and suddenly turn to check only to find everyone still at the last kavadi we saw ;p

By god's grace Calm Praying Light IMG_6669thaipusam1 Getting ready to dance

We finally reached the location my friend and his group of kavadi bearers were getting ready at. No more babysitting work for me coz I told the gang once I get you to the group and you know who we’re following you guys are on your own.

Each kavadi bearer goes through a month of fasting and prayers. In the last 3 weeks heading to the day, they take turns attending prayers and bhajan (devotional songs) sessions at each home. I believe god is a vibration that acts as booster to get you through life, you find him through hope, devotion and faith, regardless of which religion you’re from, it is this vibration that continues to keep you devoted. Each prayer session is a rampage of vibration, you can feel the power seep through you and revitalize yourself.

Thaipusam 2008 I surrender to you Time to contemplate Vel If stares could burn .... Thaipusam 2008 Pensive Lost in a trance Thaipusam 2008


The day before Thaipusam, they pick up their kavadis that had already been cleaned and spruced from their storage places and head of to Batu Caves where they will spend the night to beat traffic and the hassle of getting there on time.

Preparations On the morning they’ll start getting ready while their friends make sure every single screw is in place and nothing will jut out while they do their dance. A very essential part of the process is making sure the vesthi they tie is secured to their body and so someone helps them to make sure it is in place and will not loosen up while they’re walking.

Then we head up to the prayer spot. My friend and his team normally do the prayers in the centre of a circle of their kavadis that are placed at the end of the road, away from most of the crowds. Emotions are predominant, tears normally overwhelm them as they pray in thanksgiving to the vows that were fulfilled, for the journey theyre about to take and for the strength that they will need to partake in that journey.

Its interesting to watch them as each of the hugs the other before they take the kavadi, seeks the blessing of their parents, and awaits the group leader to initiate them into their trances. Then the piercings begin so effortlessly you wonder are they really getting pierced, believe me they are!

Rampage of vibrations

I cannot explain how these kavadi bearers carry their kavadis which are normally around 70 kgs in weight. Take my friend he is one of the thinnest in the group, all bones so its amazing to watch him carry the kavadi, dance with it and up the 272 steps. Carrying the kavadi is a team effort, while only one person lives the last month eating a vegetarian diet with only one meal per day and sleeping on the ground, he needs the support of family and friends to get him up there. He doesn’t need help walking but everytime he sits down he needs a few people to balance the weight of the kavadi so he doesn’t topple down, and then there’s someone carrying his stool, his water.

Support The rest are continuously offering morale support by chanting vel vel to push him forward and rubbing down his legs in between the walks. So the journey becomes very personal for us, coz we are praying for him, praying that he manages to fulfil his vow and reach up without any problems. And there is gods grace – this year we headed up later than usual and the heat was really burning down our backs and imagine what these kavadi bearers were going through.

After removing his kavadi he tells – there was one point on the steps he was telling god, you’re really pushing me too much, you can’t do this and the very next second a gush of wind pushes his kavadi up and lightens his burden. He turns back expecting one of our friends to be standing at the back but there was no one there.

It is amazing to watch them get into a trance – each in his own way, some turn into fierce characters while my friend starts laughing. Yes the variety of emotions are amazing. Each year is never easier, each year provides a different experience for them, a different obstacles. He is after all lord muruga, the most mischievous of Hindu gods. He tests his devotees to the brink of their limits and gently gives them the boost they need.

Contemplating life? Blessing Thaipusam 2008 Thaipusam 2008 Salutations Thaipusam 2008

I came back with my own souvenier, my friend suddenly sat down before the rest could hold him and I saw the kavadi begin to topple from the weight and without thinking I braced its weight on one side with my arm while screaming that its toppling. We caught the kavadi in time not before it scraped my arms but id rather it was one of us who got injured then see my friend topple coz that could seriously injure him.

Collective prayers always works. Devotion and determination are 2 of the most powerful emotions in the world. Devotion drives you to do things that are unthinkable by an outsider whose watching it from the sidelines, determination pushes you to do the unthinkable.

Effortless The first timer who watches them get pierced first gets stunned by the number of piercing and then gets confused of why they aren’t bleeding. I cannot explain why they don’t bleed, but every single piercing on that day those not draw blood while my gash drew continuous blood. They pierce them up continuously as if they’re merely tickling them.

Note to self : next time make sure you eat something while you’re waiting for them to get ready – you are not supposed to do a non food walk in the middle of extreme heat!

Rest The support Thaipusam 2008 Perspective Thaipusam 2008 Final


Yes at one point when I reached the top, after the euphoria ended I suddenly felt faint, the body was drained and I needed to energise. I sat at a corner and offered my prayers a song for Muruga.

Thirumaal maruga vinai theertaruval,
varuvai umaiyal maganeh vahruvai …..
muruga muruga vadivel azhaga
varuvai varuvai arulvai kumara … muruga muruga…


Last dance Dancing to the beat Thaipusam 2008


It works like a charm everytime – this is something else I can never explain, the vibration that travels through me when I offer one of these songs in prayer. Music has always been my method of prayers, I’d pick the quietest time at a temple and sit at the corner, eyes closed, mind projecting the image of the god presiding at that temple and the soul sings the melody. The vibrations are sometimes so strong I finish with tears in my eyes unable to get up as I need to hold in the vibrations.

And so ends Thaipusam 2008 – a festival I cannot live without. Sounds of drums that travels through your body and swirls of kavadi’s that enchant you.