Incomplete… Part V

Single… and Fabulous? 

Photo by marsmettnn tallahaassee on flickr

Photo by marsmettnn tallahaassee on flickr

I was out at an exclusive event the other night, wearing a new dress, lamenting the fact that I hadn’t broken in my shoes properly in my head, while outwardly smiling, shaking hands, and making small talk with professional acquaintances. A photographer stopped us and asked for a photo, to be published in a local publication the next month. While my eyes adjusted from the flash, another friend whipped out her phone, took a picture, and posted it on Facebook immediately. The comments and likes started immediately…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gerardstolk/8157018623/in/photolist-dqNRs8-7SCPJ-6iLrCe-4X4iv1-5hyGmW-4c2TJA-4enh8T-4Ko6LX-9ty6St-egbCom-4nT674-4UkPv7-4TN2dR-4nTgvR-4RVcbk-4o7V7h-4WUDUC-4q9RS2-4N1ngV-4nRzhT-4PHHGG-4SwiAP-4PHKxs-4svq9R-4nBdxg-4NtRma-4nJKv1-2kwfm6-4nWQ1A-4y76HG-4xNECQ-57NFj3-4BDgUe-4nWh7c-4d5LCZ-4oT2hH-bdHcjP-4MecCZ-9QBfA7-fJrPJT-eAunFY-4XHvXE-xGpN-6RwLRw-4UL9xQ-4W4Q3G-4nVzmu-4VyqQX-4nTgsv-drtkRh

Photo by Gerard Stolk on Flickr.

Your life is so fabulous!

You know what? It is. It is fun. It is fabulous. I have worked hard, and I love what I get to do for a living. You know what’s coming though, right?

BUT…

Yep. There it is. BUT… it would be great to have someone there with me. Yes, my friends are great and I love spending time with them, but someone with whom I can escape into a corner and watch the crowd and giggle over the endless selfies, and squeals of, “Oh, my God, I love her!” which, at times, are about as sincere as a proud whore repenting in church on a Sunday morning. Someone who, perhaps, doesn’t care about the latest ombre gel nailcolor trend. Someone who appreciates that I dressed up, and can’t wait to dress me down at the end of the night… as opposed to that Jersey Shore creeper who keeps sidling up to me to try to grab yet another glimpse of my rack, while nibbling mindlessly on limp crudite. Someone who can make me laugh at a joke, instead of trying to make me laugh at a person who may not have dressed up quite right for said event.

When I come home from nights like these, my phone blowing up with Facebook notifications and comments on Instagram exclaiming how much fun we all had together, I often stop in front of my mirror to look myself over, and find myself wishing I had someone there to curl up with on the couch and talk about our respective days… Instead, I undress without ceremony, get ready for bed, and get ready to start another day.

I like being able to shed my professional façade, my persona (if you will), and just being my goofy, slightly stabby self with the amazing people in my life. To me, that is a life well-lived… and I’m wondering when I’ll find someone to share it all with.

Being “fabulous” is fun, but at the end of the day, designer clothes, beautiful shoes, and material trappings don’t do much to warm your heart… or body.

Incomplete… Part IV

I dedicate this post to my dear friend Reena, who married her Big Love on this beautiful summer day. 

The Big Love.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsofan/8221708017/sizes/c/in/photolist-dwwpmv-9Vzh3F-d64gks-ahjewq-bBV5AW-8m5jM9-dczkwb-8LLZbB-aqfyrm-beRnng-dSoysd-8zr465-82cwPw-dN1ZGu-7Lv1Kp-cUDeLw-afHf6t-8bRe97-cz2HTA-86DJLP-8fsVLW-9hYtQA-9Y9x5d-8VL7DQ-9nk9pU-7CLdva-frimb8-e25AnE-cb8ruQ-d6GRjG-aMGg6T-89RsEL-akZHp2-f6BM3M-8yQDaN-8TLQxX-9qU66A-bDV2du-7BKB6F-9Xz153-awiG4D-7VeLgx-9i8BdN-drCRtu-dX9DoU-cdu1Mu-99nMGm-9hTBoo-fxXF8c-eYE3JD-dtWaGD/

Photo by MTSOfan on flickr

There are so many different kinds of love. Love for your family, love for your pets, love for your friends, love for the barista that makes your coffee perfectly every morning. We experience it, but we may not always appreciate all the love in our daily lives… especially when we find ourselves alone, seeking that one love, the Big Love.

What’s the Big Love? The love we strive to find in our lives. The love that makes us smile, makes us blush, makes us stammer and do stupid or awkward things. It’s the love that we yearn to hold hands with. The love that we want to spend time with, having conversations late into the night. Entwining our thoughts and ideas while entwining our bodies. Well… that’s my Big Love. Everyone has their own definition, their own emotions that go with their own Big Love.

My life is good–it’s full of good things. It’s not perfect, certain things make me stabby and there are people that I would gladly throw out of a window on certain days. But when I look back on my day, there are things that make me smile, and people who warm my heart. I have somehow found an amazing group of people who I count as friends–they’re smart, strong, caring, & supportive, and I’m grateful for their friendship. But…

But I find myself longing for The One. Remember how I said my parents love me, but I would never be “complete” in their eyes if I wasn’t married? Well… My life is full of great things and wonderful people, but now I find myself wondering if I’ll find The Big Love, and if I’ll ever feel complete without him.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/94585506@N05/8614340534/sizes/m/in/photolist-e8dKjE-etED2C-dUGHNM-c7PTEw-7CM6EK-8HqkJD-bXkFD3-8HtZqA-dyZctp-8cFHmH-ah5uzh-bxrNto-8uwdsc-9ezww5-dAMhCN-f2MhNE-7LGgcY-9ytpED-cfPqpq-bNbVUx-7CMjhg-9DYjed-c5kPUf-c5kztW-f3gwpM-9DYcdE-9WRWdY-8wBUNa-bZftGd-ds7uDg-bxrZJs-8dgeky-bNRf2i-bwVzW1-ed3Wtz-9A7BHe-9kssjz-7DTFWg-7USPmN-7Djvu7-9Xn4Bb-bra7bL-bra67A-8tAnwz-8tDomu-e8uUUG-97WQYP-bhVhL2-7SvAs1-9SMv5D-9utv2X/

Photo by marsmet532 on flickr

I have also wondered if admitting that I’m looking for love makes me weak, or less than… but as I’ve talked to people around me, I have found that, on some level, we’re all looking for love. When I see a friend fall in love, it makes my heart swell, and it gives me hope. We hold onto the hope for The Big Love even after endless bad dates, broken hearts, dysfunctional relationships, breakups, and divorce. Does that make us weak?

No. It makes us human.

I wish you luck in your quest to find The Big Love. And for those of you who have found it, I’m happy for you–you give me hope.

A Moment in Music.

Project 52 2012: 45/52 Record Player

Music has always been a big part of my life, and (good) Indian music has and will always stop me in my tracks & warm my heart. Earlier this month, my friend Paresh of the Curry Smugglers told me that I would probably enjoy a couple songs in particular on their latest release, “Chill 6.” I tuned into their Chill episode, knowing I was in for a couple hours of soothing tunes, both old & new. As Paresh predicted (dammit), an old song at the end of the Chill set took me back to a special time with my grandmother. (Check out the latest Chill episode here.)

And so, here I share with you a little glimpse into my life.

One of my earliest memories is waking up on Saturday mornings to the strains of Hindi music. My father has always loved music, and he would put on LP after LP of songs from his favorite Indian movies after he woke on the weekends. Everyone should have an alarm clock as pleasant.

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This particular song, “Teri Bindiyan” from the movie Abhimaan, was a particular favorite of my father’s, and in time, my own. The melody, and the furtive, loving glances I would see my parents exchange during the song, further cemented my love of it.

Fast forward to my late teens. After I graduated from high school, my family & I took the requisite trip to India for a couple months before I started college. We traveled, but I craved quality time with my nani (my mother’s mother). She & I would sit for hours, and as as she would play with my long, wavy locks, she would tell me stories of her childhood, her life as a young wife and mother.

One night, in particular, stands out bright as the sun. My parents were traveling, and I was enjoying spending some quiet time with my nani and a few other relatives. It was quiet, with no visitors. My nani said that she would teach me how to make roti. On the nights she cooked dinner, she would bring the wireless, battery-powered radio into the kitchen with her.

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Just as we started, the electricity went out. She lit a kerosene lamp without ceremony, but determined it wouldn’t be the best night to start a cooking lesson with me. We were chatting quietly, and then “Teri Bindyan” came on the radio. We were quiet, then both began singing along… I remember her eyes shining as we sang together. Later, I asked her if she was okay. She told me that the song made her think of my grandfather, who had passed away over 30 years prior… but that now she had a new, wonderful memory of the song. She hugged me, and we sat on the veranda eating the food she made, listening to the strains of “Tum Pukar Lo.”

While completely unexpected, I have never stopped treasuring that moment. Thanks for taking me back, guys.

Why Your Crappy English Makes Me Stabby

Yes. I win ALL the time.

I’m known for my obsession with grammar & spelling, both in person & online. People in my Twitter feed often get pissed at me, telling me to get a hobby or simply to f-ck off.

You know what? I’m not going anywhere, people.

Lamest reason EVER for being single & lonely.

Here’s the thing: With the vast majority of you, the only way I know you is through Twitter, or maybe my Facebook page. My first impression of you is the way you spell & structure your sentences. Remember the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Yeah, that applies here. If you type/tweet/post like a moron, chances are high that I’m going to think you’re a moron… If the majority of your interactions with people are via text/tweet/Facebook post, some of those people may judge you on your atrocious grammar, too.

You could say I’m an a$$hole, which I very well could be–but I’m not. I see these stupid errors that people make–an unnecessary apostrophe, using “to” instead of “too,” or yet another FOB asking to “make phraansheep” with me–and I find them rather excruciating. For the majority of us (excluding the FOBs), English is our primary (or only) language. Why, then, is it so hard to master? Perhaps it’s not a priority for you, which is understandable; after all, there are so many other things to be concerned with in our daily lives, like what nail polish color you should choose or if your car is as cool as everyone else’s.

If you can’t spell or master basic English grammar, please realize that people may (and probably will) judge you for it. How will you ever apply for a job with a cover letter customized to that position? What about a dating profile? In both of these situations, your writing is your first impression. Don’t screw it up.

This may be your best course of action.

I hope you think of me as you type out your next tweet or send a message on shaadi.com to that sweet honey you’ve been eyeing for the last couple days. Who knows? That sweet little honey could be me.

Make me proud. Don’t look like an idiot.

The Sikh Shooting in Milwaukee: Didn’t Know? Or Didn’t Care?

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There has been so much violence in our world lately: Aurora, Syria, Oak Creek, Texas A&M… I wonder & fear if we may be becoming immune to the violence, or if we pick & choose where our sympathies lay. I hope I’m wrong on both counts.  

On the morning of Sunday, August 5, I jumped onto Twitter to see what everyone was drinking with brunch, & instead saw tweets about a shooting at a Gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. My blood ran cold. I turned on the TV, and flipped through channel after channel, desperately seeking coverage. CNN was the only station that was covering the tragedy, & the ‘facts’ they were spouting about Sikhism were so completely wrong, off-base, that my eyes filled with tears of frustration. Where was all the coverage? The local news covered it with 2 lines of copy, 20 minutes into that evening’s broadcast. My social media streams were silent, with the exception of my South Asian friends.

Why was it that the only people who were talking about the shooting on my Twitter & Facebook feeds were South Asian? Why did it seem like no one cared? Yes, they were Sikhs who were killed in their place of worship, but above all, they were innocent humans… innocent Americans. I’m not Sikh, nor Punjabi, but I am Indian. Do we not factor into the American consciousness?

My Twitter friend Paresh (@pareshg) wrote a post on Facebook that summed up my thoughts, my questions, about the seeming lack of concern & media coverage over the shooting. I asked him if I could share this on my blog, & he agreed. Please, read on. I would love to know your thoughts on the matter.

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Photo by my talented Twitter friend Karaminder Ghuman. Link: http://karaminderghuman.com/

I’ve been sitting on this because I don’t want to seem incendiary, knee jerking or instigate anything negatively but I’m disappointed in that nobody on my FB ‘friends’ list who is not of South Asian descent even mentioned the shootings in Milwaukee this weekend. Less than 3 weeks ago, I couldn’t get through a single FB Feed page without postings about Aurora where a movie theater got shot up by an idiot who thought he was in a movie. People kept posting “Pray for the victims! God help us all! What kind of a madman does this kind of thing?’ etc.  

However, when a place of worship that isn’t a church gets violated by a known alcoholic who got kicked out of the service, was involved with white supremacists & kills 6 people, there’s not a peep. This appalls me. Like the victims in Aurora, the victims in Milwaukee were people who believed in the right to practice their own religion in the safety and sanctity of their own religious building. If you can’t be safe when you pray, what’s the point?

I’m also finding that nobody gave two craps about the mosque arson in Joplin, MO the next day aside from the South Asians who are in my circles. Also note that this mosque was used by the EMS to stage relief efforts when the tornadoes ripped that town to shreds. The Imam volunteered that building as part of the community the congregation lived in. So what is this? Lack of exposure? Lack of empathy? Or a simple matter of – “well, they’re not White or Christian or [insert stereotype here] so it’s not important.”

Interesting social dynamic don’t you think?   

CNN – not the most shining beacon of reporting in the world – was the only channel that carried the Milwaukee shootings live on Sunday (poorly). Fox didn’t even bother to flip out except for a ticker. However, ALL channels went live during Aurora and the mass hysteria & overload of emotions in the social networks was apparent & palpable.  

So is it that people don’t care? People don’t know? Or people don’t care to know because it’s outside their comfort zone & realm of understanding to appreciate other cultures and religions. But what do I know right? It’s only in the First Amendment of the Constitution of a country I’m yet to be naturalized into. If that’s the case, it’s xenophobic, ethnocentric & feel free to remove me from your friends list. 

For the record – my opinion is that it’s not that people have to be White, Black, Brown, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim or any other faith – NOBODY deserves to get shot at (close range, point blank or in the face) by anyone in a civilian setting. Period.    

 

UPDATED about an HOUR LATER – I understand that this will be shared and people will comment. I also understand that this is a very broad looking statement. I’m not one to point fingers because a friend rightly pointed that this crap happens the world over – everyday. And while that makes me feel powerless to do anything, I can control one thing:   The ability to question MY social circle. The people I’ve encountered, worked with, hung out with, broken bread with and spent time with. All I want to do with this post is understand how and why people – normal every day people – can prioritize one tragedy over another based on demographical markers.  

 

UPDATED: 8/13/2012 

First of all, thank you for the shares/likes on Facebook (that are visible to me) and the discussion this has created. I want to come out & admit that it’s humbling that I was able to reach a lot of people who don’t know me. But I also had to edit this post to add some color/context based on positive & negative feedback I received in terms of comments + private messaging since this was posted. It’s been a week since the shootings so I wanted to let the original piece breathe & then add the following, so here goes –   

1)   I am not a Sikh. I do not practice Sikhism. I am not Punjabi. I’m a mutt of some Gujarati, Sindhi something that has roots in the Jaisalmer area of Rajasthan pre-partition and from the mid 1800s. I’m a Hindu of convenience which means I’ll do the poojas at Diwali but hardly ever go to the temple. 

2)   No. I’m not bandwagon jumping to show outrage for ‘my fellow desis’ [Which is justified by the way]. My outrage is at the general apathy situations like these (minority targeted crimes) have been shown in the United States. I cannot speak for Canada, Mexico or any other country simply because I do not live there.  

3)   Yes. I fully acknowledge that things like this happen every day, all across the world. No doubt. So while the original post is me standing on a soap box; I stood on it in front of my social network. I never expected it to be shared as much it has been which is why I added the ‘broad statement’ line on the original writing as an addendum. 

4)   Of course, The Atlantic came out with a very interesting take on this shooting: http://bit.ly/OUHj9M – that ends with a very telling thought. Since the shooter was white – normal white folk didn’t know what to do because it flew in the face of the conditioned messaging since 9/11 of ‘Anyone but white folk could be terrorists’ & then they looked away. Totally unsure as to what to do with themselves. 

5)   Is that a racist statement? You tell me. Because I sure as hell don’t know simply because I’m confused as to exactly what is going in this country anymore. 

6)   Is the media to blame for uneven coverage? Yes. Absolutely. It’s an election year. We can’t have too much controversy. 

7)   Did I write this post to call out the white people in MY social circle? You bet I did. But I also should point out that I’m calling out the media and everybody else too. This is a HUMAN tragedy. Regardless of the victim set, the crux of my post was to point out the disparity in a) coverage and b) general lack of reaction from non South Asians 

8)   Some people, very intelligently I must say, added that it’s a question of relatability. That somehow imagining oneself in a movie theater just hits home with more people than a victim set practicing a foreign religion & being in its house of worship. To which I say – fair enough. I’m not sold on this idea but I do see the logic there so I’ll acknowledge it. 

9)   Other people right fully said that people are desensitized to violence. If that’s the case, we REALLY need to sort out our priorities. 

10) One bright spark said people should be allowed to own guns to protect themselves and that if someone was armed in the Gurdwara, this would have been averted. Let that sink in for a second… Come on man. For real? 

11) Someone commented that I shouldn’t be questioning people on social networks. Are you kidding me? I find out about births, deaths, pregnancies, marriages, divorces, re-marriages, circumscions and hysterectomies, earthquakes & tornadoes etc on Facebook and Twitter. This is our world now. I can’t exactly gather 450+ plus people on a Skype call & tell them all what I think now can I? These mediums use the word SOCIAL – which automatically implies that I want to see social interaction about things. If you choose to not comment on anything of this sort on your social networks, then fine. But if you’re picking and choosing tragedies to talk about and rage over, let’s rethink that stance a bit.  

12) To the people who said I made a good point, or that the original post was a good read – Thank you. 

Look. I’m not a civil rights authority. I’m not even actively involved in the desi scene in my own city. Hell, I’m not EVEN going to pretend that I’m sort of righteous holier than thou desi because, quite honestly, I’m kind of an asshole. And a pretty big one at that. 

So what is my problem? My problem is this:  

We are the most evolved species on this planet. We are all, each of us, genetically marked to be human. Our genetic mutations allow each of us to evolve with differing skin tones, eye color, bodies etc. Our ability to communicate with words, art, music & the languages makes us far superior than 99.99% of all species here on this rock. So we’re evolved right? And here we are in 2012 – A random dude who has no business owning a gun kills 6 other random strangers when they were getting ready to perform a service to the community they lived in. Why? Simply because they weren’t White/ Caucasian.

Then what did most people do? Quietly acknowledge it in their heads, feel a moment of sadness & then moved on. Because ‘Well. I don’t know anybody who died there. And since the victims were not Caucasian, it’s not that important. And I really don’t get why they wear those turbans? Isn’t the turban what the Taliban wears? Didn’t the Taliban try to bomb us and kill us all multiple times?’ That’s the example we want to set for our kids, our siblings, and the people around us? Look the other way because the reality of the situation does not conform to our prejudices & social comfort zones? 

That’s the best the human race can do? 

Shame on us. All of us. 

Incomplete… Part III

Expectations

I remember watching the movie “Up in the Air” with a sort of fascination. This scene (scripted below) between the young, idealistic 23-year-old, Natalie, and the thirty-something career woman, Alex, struck a chord with me–it’s like the current me having a conversation with the fresh-out-of college me, which I found to be slightly disconcerting:

Natalie: I thought I’d be engaged by now. I thought by 23, I’d be married, maybe have a kid, corner office by day, entertaining at night.  
Alex: Well, life can underwhelm you that way. 
Natalie: Where did you think you’d be by now? 
Alex: It doesn’t work that way. At a certain point, you stop with the deadlines. It can be a little counter-productive. 
Natalie: Sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it’s not gonna matter until I find the right guy. I could have made it work–he really fit the bill, you know. White collar, 6’1, college grad, loves dogs, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy. I always imagined he’d have a single syllable name like Matt or John or… Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4-Runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. …And a nice smile. What about you? 
Alex: You know, honestly by the time you’re 34, all the physical requirements just go out the window. You secretly pray that he’ll be taller than you. Not an asshole would be nice. Just someone who enjoys my company, comes from a good family–you don’t think about that when you’re younger. Someone who wants kids, likes kids… healthy enough to play with his kids. Please let him earn more money than I do–you might not understand that now but believe me, you will one day… otherwise that’s a recipe for disaster. And hopefully, some hair on his head. I mean, that’s not even a deal breaker these days. A nice smile… Yeah, a nice smile just might do it. 
Natalie: Wow. That was depressing. I should just date women. 
Alex: Tried it. We’re no picnic ourselves. I don’t mind being married to my career. And I don’t expect it to hold me in bed as I fall asleep. I just don’t want to settle. You’re young. Right now you see settling as some sort of a failure. It is…by definition. Yeah, but by the time someone is right for you, it won’t feel like settling. And the only person left to judge you will be the 23-year-old girl with a target on your back.

…………………………………………………..

I find that my expectations of where I’d be at my age are FAR different from where I am–I thought I’d be married in my mid-20s, have a couple kids by 30, a successful career, a loving husband. Reality: I find myself single in my mid-30s, few relationship prospects, not sure if I want to have children (I am not one of those women who would even consider single-parenthood for the sake of having a child–to each their own, but I feel like that would be unfair to me & the child), and finally, after much struggle & hard work, a successful career. One out of four ain’t bad, is it?

I’m not going to let my 20-something self (or anyone else) judge me for being single, either.

I could sit & lament about how or why my life isn’t what I expected, but why? Am I unhappy? No. Do I feel unfulfilled? No. But most importantly–what if I did have all of those things? Would I genuinely be happy? I have no idea. Why is that? Because I am not that person, I am not living that life. I don’t see the point of wondering “What if…?” because I don’t want to miss my current life… the life that I’m living. I want to appreciate what I do have in my life–whether it’s my family, friends, things, or just how it feels to sit on the beach and bask in the sun.

I refuse to sit around & blame myself or how I’ve lived my life for the fact that I’m still single in my 30s. I may not always be happy being single, I may crave a shoulder or an amorous glance or touch from a man who adores me… I can’t stop myself from wondering when I’ll find someone to go on new adventures with.

I have faith that I will continue to figure out who I am, what I want, and someone that will appreciate (most) of me. I don’t know when or where we’ll find each other, but I expect to have fun (& have more ridiculous stories) along the way!

Say “Thank You” & Shut Up.

Please. Take one.

I hate it when I give someone a compliment, and the person side-steps it and says something like, “Oh, no–I don’t look great at all.”

Listen, if I didn’t think that you look fabulous in some way, why would I go out of my way to tell you? Think about it. Accepting a compliment gracefully doesn’t mean you’re arrogant or think you’re better than anyone–it’s a skill… one you need to master.

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So, say “thank you,” blush appropriately at the wonderfulness of the random compliment, and enjoy that spring in your step, would you please? Don’t argue with the complimenter–they may rethink that lovely little tidbit that they shared with you.

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As for the infamous backhanded compliments that Indians just love to give other Indians? Feel free to borrow my knife & do what you please, but a witty lash of the tongue will usually put them in their place.

Take a minute and look at yourself in the mirror… and don’t hesitate to love what you see.

Enjoy your day–you look wonderful.