Reporting Diaries: A dark side of addiction in my city

Addiction
Image courtesy: windwardway.com

I have called Delhi my home for nearly four years. I am a reporter and usually, you would spot me travelling in a metro, bus, or walking on the broken sidewalks. And, if I see a man in torn clothes, talking to himself, and swaying as he walks in my direction, my first instinct is to move away.

“He must be mad or high as F,” I think to myself, with concerns for my safety.

This week, however, I was forced to confront the reality from the swaying man’s point of view.

“Most people do not even consider us to be humans. They shout, they ask us to move away. I have become nothing but my drug of choice,” said a homeless man, who calls an open ground near Nigam Bodh ghat in North Delhi his home. Continue reading

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My experiment with my body: An update

Working outI want to be fit. And, strong. This is my experiment with my body.

I have written about how I started working out and maintaining a healthy diet again after a hiatus of so many years. You can read about my previous updates here and here.

So, lets get back to my quick update. Three months ago, I was gloating about the five kilos that I had dropped since I started working out. (Here are some apps and websites I like to refer to)

I was ecstatic, my double chin was gone, and my tummy did not show as much in the dresses. I looked good and I felt better. I was upbeat and lively.

Then, came the depression. It just hit me very suddenly. This time I was expecting it, but not expecting it. My wedding had been called off, I was upset, so it was there at the back of my mind. But, I was okay for a while. And, then it just happened one day. The sky appeared darker, my smile did not make me happy, and I had a huge weight on my chest.

My work suffered. I had no idea what I was doing. I just kept at the grind, going to the office, and doing God knows what.

I hate sinking into that hole. I keep telling myself that I can be happy if I decide to be. But, I still seem to circle the drain every once in a while. It is just the way it is.

One fine morning, the world is just the way it was and yet I see no joy in it. Suddenly, I see ways of killing myself everywhere I go. Sometimes, leaning just a bit too much from the balcony feels good.

The symptoms reached a peak, of course, when the #metoo movement made me recall all my horrible memories. I was in such a bad place that I would randomly start crying, not knowing what was wrong with me. I would be angry and not have a way to vent it out. And, then I would be hopeless. There were days when I went to office, stared at the computer screen and came home without really doing anything.

But, what has it got to do with my fitness you ask?

Well, I went to the gym just five days one month. My friends asked me out for lunch or dinner and I gorged myself. And, when my family came over, I ate like there was no tomorrow, knowing well the consequence the fried and sweet food will have on my system.

I am an emotional eater, you see. Every time I feel sad, I crave something cheesy or chocolaty. And, it feels good for a while and then I am back to being sad again.

Well, this is all my excuse for putting on those five kilos again.

But the best thing is that the cloud cleared three days ago. I felt lighter. Happier, even when I had to do things I did not really want to (like meeting random men so that my mom can get me married.)

I was laughing from my heart. I went to the gym and worked out for two hours. I danced without abandon. And, I knew in my mind, the darkness was over. It was time for recovery.

And, just like I know I am strong enough to get out of that sinkhole, I know that I would be able to lose those five kilos and more eventually. After all, I did it once, didn’t I?

What this made me realise is that when I say I want to be healthy, it has to take into account my mental health too. I have to try and be more in touch with my feelings so that I do not wait till the dams burst.

And, I think it is time again to see a counsellor.  That appointment is long overdue.

From now on, all my updates would be about my physical as well as mental health.

 

 

Animal: a highly ‘feminist’ take on the female anatomy. And, I loved every bit of it!

Sara Pascoe Animal
Image courtesy: dukes-Lancaster.org

Almost six months after I picked up the book, I finally finished reading ‘Animal: The Autobiography of a female body’ by comedian Sara Pascoe. Trust me, it was not the fault of the book. It was every bit as entertaining and insightful as the online reviews claimed.

It’s just that I have gotten out of the habit of reading. And, as you can guess, also updating my blog.

The main culprit — Netflix! It is just so easy to switch it on, sit back and relax. Especially, when you have had a bad day at work.

(Just an aside: I had planned to read at least 12 books this year. I do not think I will be able to meet the deadline on December 31. I have read seven so far, which does not seem bad. Till you take a look at what I have read. Three of the seven were books written by Robin Cook. I am a medicine buff and his books are thrilling. But, I am not really learning anything new, am I?)

Anyway, let’s talk about the book mentioned in the blog title.

The first point that I have to address is, of course, my use of the word ‘feminist’. I have no idea why people get pissed off at the mere mention of the ‘f’ word. They think it is a skewed way of looking at things. But, to my knowledge, feminism means equality.

And, that is what Pascoe has tried to do in her book. She has tried to tilt the balance in science as well as literature, where the tales about the female body are usually told by the white, middle-aged men.

Pascoe takes her readers on a journey of the female body, the insecurities that women face, sex, procreation, and most importantly, consent. She tells the readers about the all the ridiculous scientific and literary works in such a matter-of-fact way that it elicits a comedic yet profound reaction.

Sample this. Pascoe say this of monogamy.

A conversation of Sara with a strict old scientist with white hair and a stern face.

Sara: I’m trying to undermine the concept of couples —

Scientist: Why?

Sara: I’m scared.

Scientist: Of what?

Sara: That I will never have a relationship that lasts forever, I’ll never find the stupid ‘One’ and I’ll always feel like a failure.

Scientist looks smug.

Sara: Okay, I heard myself, I get it, you can go now.

Scientist does thumbs up like she is the Fonz and exits. Yeah, the scientist was a woman all along and if you pictured a man you’re a sexist conditioned to expect males in the positions of authority.

Truth is, I did think of a man.

Or that tale of one of the few high-born women scientist, Marie Bonaparte (Napoleon’s great grandniece). She found out that if the distance between the clitoris and vagina was less that 1 cm, women could achieve orgasm through penile insertion. If the distance was between 1 cm and 2.5 cm, she could sometimes achieve orgasms this way but it was unreliable. A distance greater than 2.5 cm meant that she would always need extra clitoral stimulation to orgasm.

What did she do with the information? She underwent a surgery to bring her clitoris (which was 3cm away) closer to her vagina. That was how much the social pressure to enjoy penile insertion was!

I have heard many TV series and movie quote the classic Don QuixoteBut, it was different is Pascoe’s book. She talks about a particular trial scene where the judge asks a rape accused to hand the victim a pouch full of money. Once the woman steps out, the judge asks the accused to go get the money back. When the both come back fighting, the judge decides that clearly if the woman cared about her honour as much she did about the pouch of money, then she would not have been raped. This is the kind of victim blaming that leads to lawyers presenting a 17-year-old’s lingerie as a proof that she wanted it.

I mean, maybe the incidence was taken out of context and it was the characters who believed in such bullshit and not the author. But, just because he gave words to it, I feel like getting a pirated copy of the book and reading it. Sweet revenge!

The journey is also very personal for the author. The books is peppered with instances from the life of the author, the narrative is not built on thin air. She talks about the female body making babies and how the woman has a right to choose, but she does this through her experience of abortion. And, this is the advice she wishes to give her nieces, “Did you know that 20 seconds of awkward condom conversation can save you an hour of corridor purgatory waiting to have your womb vacuumed?”

I think I have put to words (mostly, Pascoe’s) most of the memorable moments. But, the books is filled with so much information and a hilarious take on it. Go, buy it now! Read it! And, hopefully, see the wisdom in becoming a feminist!

Ever a procrastinator

procrastinateWhat I think: Put up at least one post every week. What I do: I tell myself I will write it for next week, this week I have too much to do. Today the words are not flowing. Today I am tired. I think I should go to the gym, it is more important. And, five months later I realise that I have not updated my blog. Shit!

I am THE procrastinator. I always have very good reasons for delaying everything. Writing the blog regularly had given me a sense of direction. It had ensured that I do something on time. And, I liked to think someone out there might be waiting for my next post, eager to know what is going on in my life.

Well, in the three months that I did not post anything, a lot has happened. I went on two international trips (a good use of the passport that took me forever to get). From being engaged, I am single again (good thing to happen before an international trip, I guess). I am concentrating my time and effort on having fun and fleetingly on fitness.

And, I am trying to fall in love with myself.
Continue reading

Stop Apologising!

Sorry for nothing
Sorry for nothing! Image courtesy: telegraph.co.uk

“I am sorry. I got stuck in the traffic.” This is an excuse that I reach for every time I am late for an event or a reporting assignment. Do I mean that I am sorry? More often than not, I don’t.

I am a procrastinator from India. My clock runs behind the Indian Standard Time, which usually at least half-an-hour later than the time mention on the invite. And, I have to use the excuse only when I am so awfully late that people notice.

Or sample this, I say, “Sorry, but can you pass on my bag from the cabinet above?” Why should I apologise for asking someone sitting on the aisle seat on a passenger aircraft to pass my bag? But I do. Continue reading

Why India’s #MeToo movement made me want to throw my phone away

anger[Pre Script(?): There will be a lot of grammatical and syntactical errors in the post because I wrote it in the flow and now I do not feel like going through it again. Please excuse it.]

Don’t get me wrong, I was not mad at people for calling out their abusers. In fact, I supported the movement wholeheartedly. More power to women who spoke up! More power to those who fought the good fight and whose persistence led to a Union minister and former editor having to resign.

I wanted to throw my phone away because the movement was traumatic for me.

For nearly ten days, I used to come to the office, scroll through the experiences shared by other women, went through the names of people I knew who had been named, recalled the instances where I did not do enough to call out a man for his actions. And, went home wanting to punch a wall.

It also reminded me of all the things that I have been through. All the things that I had shoved deep inside my mind so that I could keep working and in some cases even talking to men who abused me, raped me. Continue reading

Losing myself

Losing myself
Image courtesy: fineartamerica.com

I always thought of myself as the spontaneous fun-loving girl, who is never averse to trying out anything. That is how I came to define myself when I first stepped out of my home and discovered “me”. But, when I look at myself now, I am not the same anymore.

Over the years, as I grew in my profession and in my responsibilities, bit by bit the rut of the daily chipped away at what I thought I was. Now, I see a person who is nothing like that definition. I see a person who is constantly bothered by deadlines, more work to do, a procrastinator even when it comes to activities that she enjoys like going out dancing, and generally moody and sad. And, just thinking about trying something new usually ends up in an anxiety attack or tears. Continue reading