Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Untold Story - 1 : Is laughter the luxury that you can't afford?

When I was watching the above video, all I could think of was one person who was my roommate for about a year in my undergrad  college. There are several incidences that happened during that time which were coming to my mind with every word uttered during this video. Some of them I am going to mention here under. I remember those incidences so keenly because it was one of the most challenging periods of my life.

   Lets sail back in time a little. I was starting my undergrad college, kind of an aloof guy. I did have friends but not many.  And among those who were my friends almost no one was very close. Well, it all changed with time to such an extent that people were unable to stop themselves from telling how badly they hated me initially and how much they liked me now because of my new found Avatar. But I never realized how did the change came about in me, however I did feel few differences in my approach.

  This guy lets call him Mr X, was in my class but we had never talked till then, which was the case with almost every Mr/Miss X, Y or Zs except 4-5 select ones. I was introduced to Mr X by my existing roommate who was also in the same class. The day we met, I remember, Mr X talked whole evening almost till mid night about how unfair the life has been in his case. Although I used to be an aloof person but I was emotional as well. When I heard his life story, I was deeply pained by how much has he suffered along with everyone else in his life and how grateful I should be, having spent such an easy life myself as compared to his. And then, when he asked me to keep his telling as a secret, I was so touched that this person in first meeting itself has put so much faith in me that he told his best kept secrets to me, I felt honoured. Now, looking back at that moment I'm unable to decide who was dumber me or Mr. X.

  Now I had one more friend in my short list of friends. Time passed by and my list started growing. And one day some undesirable events happened and few of the students were expelled from the college which included my roommate and Mr. X's roommate as well. So, naturally being friends as well as classmates we decided to become roommates and that was the decision which gave me some of the hardest days of my college life. That one year made me realize that how mere words and facial expressions can turn your life into hell.  This was the time which tested my adaptability skills, which I didn't know existed.

  Every time, barrage of complaints from small to big to giant. Initially, I thought, maybe with time I will be able to adjust, so I tried listening to those complaints and put efforts in getting rid of them. One complaint was that I woke up too early and made noises in the room which disturbed his sleep. I started leaving the room the first thing with my daily stuff in the morning and come back later. Then came a new complaint that I slammed the door too hard in the morning while going out which disturbed him in sleep, I started taking 5 minutes time to just close the door so that it wouldn't make any sound.

  And after sometime I started ignoring small regular complaints like fan, bulb etc. Then one day came a big one. In the night he asked me something about his charging laptop, I was almost sleeping, I thought he said that switch off the charging pin and so I did. The next day, he told me almost with a weeping face that he specially asked me not to switch off the charger. He made such a big scene and remembered all the villeins from his past life (which was the secret that he shared with me the first time we met) and compared them with me. I was infuriated. But I said sorry to calm him down.

  Every time for the smallest of the reasons he looked back on the darkest periods in his past and made the surrounding scene very repelling. His facial expressions were the worst. I was able to tolerate everything but the face that he made over negligible problems or things which no one would categorize as problems. Later, I came to know that the secret story of his life which I thought only I had the privilege to know was his opening statement with almost every friendship that he ever started in that college. Technically, that was very necessary for anyone to be his friend because all the times he made references from the darkest time that ever existed in his life.

  In the process of trying to adjust with him, I honed my acting skills very much. First I started ignoring his negative facial expressions and usual whining but when that wasn't enough, I started acting as if I cared. But truly, from the bottom of my heart I had realized how shallow his stories and every word he uttered was and I never cared, not only there was nothing worth caring but also because I am a careless guy. And this was a situation where carelessness was nothing less than a boon for me.

  Once he was weeping because he though I was deceived him by starting a project with few other friends of mine who were his friends too by the way. The project was something which he openly didn't like and didn't wanna work on but ignoring that fact he became so angry that he wept in front of me. I wanted to laugh but I didn't. I acted like I always did in front of him but better this time and consoled him by saying sorry, making almost equally weepy face.

  One thing that I understood about myself was that how eager I was to get rid of the negativity and fuss around me. I always knew that I was candid and never thought that I would act to satisfy someone so that the peace is maintained in surrounding. Unknowingly, this person gave me several great lessons in my life. I wouldn't say that he was a bad person but I also would not defend him as well. I am not going to say that I wrote this post for the greater good. The fact is that I criticized him on facts in this post just because it was fun to me. Now it is on him (in case if he reads it which is very unlikely) to decide whether to use my factual criticism for betterment or just for whining.

Can he afford the luxury of laughter?

There are several such Mr/Miss Xs around us and also there is a little bit of Mr./Miss X inside us. All we have to think of, is how to make the luxury of laughter affordable.       

Saturday, May 2, 2015

What is Dadbod, and Why Is Dadbod an Important message for Advertisement Indutry?

"Dad Bod" the term which is spreading like wildfire on the internet. According to one article on Business Insider , "It's a term that's forced itself into the mainstream in the past 36 hours. And everyone's loving it."

So what is Dadbod? and why is it a good news for Men? Well, according to Mackenzie Pearson, who wrote the original piece for The Odyssey, “The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, 'I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.

In an article published in The Cut , "The dadbod is a physique characterized by undefined muscles beneath a light layer of flab, usually topped off with a beer belly."

Basically, Dadbod is that body type in men which is healthy but not as muscular and unnatural as advertised by the entertainment and fashion industry. This marks a very positive trend in the society. Till now our society has been highly influenced by the kind of advertisement we have been seeing. Those advertisement pretty much decide the fashion trend that we follow. But now public is coming out of the illusions created by the advertisement industry in many ways.

The sudden fame of the Dadbod body type is actually not that sudden. We all feel something about the synthetic nature of the advertisement presented to us.  No one speaks though, due to the fear of being isolated probably. But when someone comes out telling that something which we have already felt or we constantly feel, it acts as eureka moment and we instantly agree to join hands for the same.

There is a clear message in these events surrounding the term Dadbod , which reveals that now public is ready for a change in perception about itself. Now it is not ready to be fooled by non-realistic advertisements. It marks the our steps towards a more mature society.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Open letter from an Indian Man to Shonali Muthalaly and like minded women

Dear Miss Shonali  Muthalaly (and her Angry friends)

I could not resist myself but write this in response to Miss Muthalaly's aricle in The Hindu titled "Tch, tch, tch these Indian men…".   Before entering into the context, I would like to clarify that I am not writing this to show my anger and I can understand and totally empathize with the problems that female members of my own society, sometimes face in my own surrounding. This is a genuine problem which should be brought into the attention of one and all.  This letter is to point out the phoney and casual nature of the presentation of vague facts in a Nation Daily newspaper without intending to offend anyone.

Through this letter I would like to draw the attention of all towards the dilemma protruding into the minds of an average Indian Man due to such kind of poorly presented facts and opinions. The dilemma or rather confusion starts the moment I use the word Average Indian Man, because according to Miss Muthalaly and her angry friends an Average Indian Man is the one who winks, stares, stalks and makes obscene remarks which by the way is nothing less than absurd and silly stereotyping. Wherever in the above mentioned article some specific act by some antisocial element is talked about, it is said to be done by Indian Men, as if those anti socials are representing the whole Indian Men group.

Ironically, before and after following lines in the article,

"We don’t want to descend into silly stereotypes. Or juvenile name calling. And male bashing is so passé. Besides, like all of you, I know plenty of wonderful Indian men. Men who are smart, funny and — yes — gorgeous (complete with six-packs). "        

the only thing that has been done is silly stereotypes and juvenile name calling.  
And seriously, I am amazed to see the male objectification from the first para to even in this vague disclaimer.
Few of the take away points from the article are :-

Following two points came out of initial two paragraph for which the best friend of Miss Shonali is responsible and is in full agreement with Miss Shonali's own thoughts since she gave this much importance of including those casual juvenile lines from an Angry friend in search of six packs supposedly available only outside India (specially in Italy)   
  1.  All Italian men are hunky with six-packs and Indian Men are inefficient just because all of them lack in this particular quality
  2. A group picture of five Men is sufficient to define the whole group of Indian Men. (for more about what that group looks like refer to the article)
Now, points directly backed by Miss Shonali Muthalaly
(Please note that there is  no information about legitimacy of the people involved in following social media instances.)
  1. A facebook page made for specially Indian Male bashing gives the opinion of all Indian Women.
  2. All Indian Men do not have proper knowledge of English grammar since the responses on a facebook page were ungrammatical. (Seriously?)
  3. One question on yahoo answers and 300 replies from American girls on quora makes up for the opinion of more than about half a billion Indian women on more than half a billion Indian Men.
  4.  Article on titled "13 Things An Indian Man Wants In His Wife" (which is just an opinion of someone, neither backed by any survey nor is in requirement of any authenticity) gives the whole scenario of the future which an Indian man dreams about. 
I am really amazed by the fact that this vague article written by someone who researched 5 minutes on google and wrote what was present on the first page of the google search and added few messages from whatsapp made it to The Hindu.

But despite of all these things I am not angry because I am fully aware of the fact that neither the opinion presented in the article belongs to the larger mass of the female Indian Society's view nor Indian Male bashing would be able to make any impact on the thoughtful females in our society.  

And with reference to the para where your female colleagues were afraid of your supposedly bold step Miss Muthalaly, Indian females are much more fearless than them in general. Please do not force your opinion on naive people whom you may influence from your own naive and crude ideas based on your narrow offline and online surrounding. I would never have invested my time in explaining my point of view if the same article would not have been published in The Hindu because apparently, my efforts may not make any change in the opinion of the writer and her angry friends but even if my effort reach to few of those naive minds which might be affected by this piece, I would be happy.

Please do not back and propagate obsolete and non existent facts about ALL Indian men in general from a random website and put it out to a larger mass as food for thought. I am an Indian Man and I don't think and average Indian educated Man conforms to any of those ridiculous 13 things that you talked about in your article. But certainly because of the stereotyping done by such kinds of articles, ideas and opinions, every Indian Man has to face shame and name calling. 

I agree to the fact that disrespect towards women by anti-social elements is an existing social problem which needs to be resolved. But your acts do not make any difference in lives of those probably 10% antisocial elements but make the lives of rest 90% normal people miserable. It is not the correct way madam.
Hope your introspection would last longer next time you sit for writing and your work shall be authentic and fact based. And if it happens your writing would not appear to be passé. 
Yours sincerely,
Ambuj Mishra
An Indian Man  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

India : Cheapest place to live in the world

According to the expat website movehub India is the cheapest country in the world which it has shown through an infographic (shown below) created by the data collected by Numbeo.

I was amused to see that the cost of living in our country is lesser than the cost of living in our immediate neighbours like Myanmar, SriLanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and even Nepal. Nepal is second last in the list of 119 countries and India is the last one. But there is one more interesting and very positive point that I noticed about India in that list from Numbeo. The last column mentioned the local purchasing power index(PPI). And it was 65.79 (for India), way more than any of the above mentioned neighbours. And to the extent of my surprise the purchasing power index value for china is 48.64, country which has got much greater position in this list.

This give an idea that we are the cheapest in cost of living but we have more purchasing power than most of the countries mentioned in that list. We are the lowest according to consumer price index(CPI) which is 26.27 for us (India). To make this point more clear lets take the example of our nearest developed neighbour Singapore. Its CPI is 93.61 (almost 3.6 times than that of India) and PPI is 75.40 (1.15 times as compared to India). Singapore's cost of living is 3.6 times of India but its local purchasing power is only 1.15 times of India. Which puts India in much better position. Well, India is at 39th position according to purchasing power index (PPI).  

The list has taken cost of food, transport, restaurants, utilities into account. Housing, Education, Clothing and other such essentials were not considered. CPI in the list is relative to the cost of living compared to New York.

An interesting map from MoveHub reveals living costs around the world.

Global Living Costs Map


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gender Policing Around Us

Before starting I would like to share this video which explains it all very well..........

for defining I tried using Google search which gave me the following result :-                               define: Gender Policing                             
Gender policing is the imposition or enforcement of normative gender expressions on an individual who is perceived as not adequately performing, through appearance or behavior, the sex that was assigned to them at birth (see gender performativity).

Okay, let me start with my little experiences in recent days about the same. How deeply few wrong things get instilled in our brains? It is just amazing to see around us.

     Being a person who is not very selective about colours, I have always found myself in a great dilemma when someone asks this common question "which colour do you like?". For me the whole spectrum of visible light is equally beautiful (along with black and white too). I do not not find any difference in my excitement when there is a change in colour of anything. Yeah but sometimes the intensity of brightness or glitter affects.
  So, the other day I bought an earphone. What I did not notice or did not care to notice was the colour which was pink. And I did not realize how big of deal it was until I witnessed the reaction after 3-4 weeks when one of my friend saw it while I was using it. He gave such an overreaction that I felt something disastrous happened. He was stunned and made such a posture like I've been through an accident and he came over to see me in the hospital and suddenly he found out that I lost my leg or something.
  Joke's apart that day I realized that abstinence from just one colour has defined my friend's masculinity overall. And I don't know why he was feeling so emasculated just to see one pink coloured earphone with me. It was like he has been taught the day colour pink touched you consider yourself out of the male community. But for me things are different. My masculine identity is not limited or dictated by colour or any other traditional trait attached by any orthodox section of the society.

     In one other incident, one of my female friend mentioned that her father was going to visit her again. With a little smile on my face I said " I've not been visited by my father since the first time I took admission in my first college, its just that I go visit". I said it just for no reason, I think it popped up in my mind from nowhere. Interestingly, her reply to this was a common one for everyone else sitting there other than me. She said it is because you are a "boy". It was not quite expected. Actually I wasn't expecting any reply at all. 
  I resisted and said It depends on personal choice, availability of time and all other situational constraints but it can't be related to gender. She said no I am girl that's why my father visits me. I said how is it possible "do parents love their girl child more?" (because this doubt I have in my mind from my childhood). Now the reply was "No, there are safety issues". 
  This seemed even more illogical to me. I found two hidden embarrassing meanings in this reply. First of all she is not acknowledging the parental affection and love to be the reason for the visit of her father. And secondly only girls have safety issues. This is the serious denial which leads to many undesirable situations. There is one more point, it could be related to one more embarrassing fact that girl child is kept under more control.

     I might be feeling a little twisted but I guess above mentioned people are not wrong in the sense that they are just doing what they have been seeing. What they have been told is right, they are following it in the best ways they can. I might say that I was shocked to see their reactions but I am fully aware that it was not totally unexpected.  I would say it came from the people whom I regard as educated and literate ones. I was more shocked to see where these reactions are coming from. 

     I found this post which appeared on sociological images from Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College, few interesting lines of which I am quoting here :
    "The phenomenon of being questioned about one’s performance of gender is called “gender policing.” Generally there are three ways to respond to gender policing: 
        (1) apologize and follow the gender rules, 
        (2) make an excuse for why you’re breaking the rules (which allows you to break them, but still 
              affirms the rules), or 
        (3) do something that suggests that the rules are stupid or wrong. 
     Only the last one is effective in changing or eradicating norms delimiting how men and women are expected to behave."

In the same post she also gave examples of the two famous personalities doing the last one
1. first example is given by a picture depicting the interview of
Eddie Izzard amazing reply to the question-
               (Q)    why he wears “women’s dresses,”
               (A)   “I’m not wearing women’s dresses. I’m wearing my dresses. I bought them. They are
                         mine and I’m a man. They are very clearly a man’s dresses.”

2. In second example she gives a video of an interview of Johnny Depp with David Letterman in which he is wearing a (so called) women's ring :

I regret that in the "pink earphone" case I chose the respond in accordance to the second way mention in Dr. Lisa's post.  I told him (which was in fact the truth but not at all related to the context in which I presented it just to calm him down) that "It was the last piece remaining in the offer that day so I found it at much cheaper price and didn't care about the colour. I think I did it under pressure from the kind of massive reaction that I got from him. Succumbing to reactions from society is the last thing I would want to do. Still I succumbed to the simplest dramatic incident that day. Hope I shall never do that again.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Search for Silver-lining

My 10 days long journey from Bangalore to my home state (Uttar Pradesh) started on 29th Dec 2014. I was excited and a little bit anxious too because I had to cover 6 places in 5 different districts of U.P. which is apparently facing the biggest infrastructural challenge these days. I guess the lovely province of U.P. never came out of this challenge since I opened my eyes in this illusionist world. The only solution I think for anyone living there for these challenges is philosophy of contentment. I think my state’s Government has two very good options to tell people.

  • “Public infrastructure is an illusion which western countries or these few of our own so called developed states are trying to put in our little brains which we should not be caught up into.” Or

  • Public infrastructure is the luxury which our good people can easily discard for the development of more and more statues, parks and other amenities in the state capital or in the constituencies of specific leaders (Neta ji and family).”

Criticism is something which I want to refrain from because I am already known to be having a cynical attitude. I call myself an Optimist who now seeks a Silver-lining in all present situations. Hence the best way is to appreciate and to look out for positivity in whatever comes your way. So be it.