Is religion the biggest blasphemy? 

The one common thing across cultures worldwide is that every one of them has their own representation of a deity that is a worshipped as a omniscient and omnipotent entity. And everyone of them believes there’s is the only God or the only ‘right’ God. So wrapped up are they their idea of a divine figure that discrimination and persecution in its name is not only considered right but also encouraged as a duty. So in our little planet, with a dozen continents, numerous countries, millions of cultures and billions of souls, who is right? The nature worshipping druids, or pagans with their temples to Zeus and Athena? The Christian Trinity or Yahweh? Krishna or Allah? Personally, I think they are all wrong; or at least misinterpreted. 

The biggest mistake humanity makes is assuming it can understand God – the highest spiritual power or entity that is responsible for our creation. Yes, I believe in intelligent design, as much as I believe in the concept of evolution. There’s no reason the two can’t be interlinked. Evolution is merely the process or the road, if you will, to reach the goal of conceiving intelligent life. We’re close to understanding the means by which we have come to exist but are rather hopelessly behind on deciphering the ‘reason’ for our existence. 

And so we begin the extreme narcissistic procedure of transforming our beliefs into labels and wearing them proudly, quite like the emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s story who believed he was clothed in finery, despite being naked.

 We call ourselves Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews and other complicated things and decide our way of life is right and anyone who disagrees is doomed. How ignorant are we? How naive? We claim to know God, to understand the mysteries of the universe. We preach that praying five times a day or visiting a temple will decide whether we go to heaven or hell. Or that heaven and hell actually exist! We decide that God requires us to behave a certain way, to look a certain way, to love a certain way. We humans claim to know who and what God is. And here is the biggest blasphemy against him.

The theists claim theres is the right God, the atheist claims there is no God, the agnostic claims he doesn’t know, but I think we are not supposed to know. 

It is not in the power of the human to understand divinity and frankly, looking at all the conflict religion is causing we should stop. 

God, Universe, Fate, what ever is out there is governing our lives will continue to be… 

Our lives are a microcosm of it and it is unbecoming that we dishonor the miracle of our creation with hate and prejudice. 

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Valar Morghulis

So, three things happened.  Firstly, season six of the Game of Thrones is taking too long and second, I just finished reading A Dance of Dragons, and I do not, for the love of God, know what to do with my life.  And third, I just had to study about a fascinating little concept called the Meyer-Briggs theory of personalities.  So, how are these related? Well, you’ll see.

The Meyer-Briggs type indicator or MBTI is a personality assessment questionnaire that was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Meyer during the Second World War. Here, each individual is said to show dominant traits from any of the four given dichotomies – extroversion/introversion, Sensing/Intuitive, Thinking/Feeling and Judging/Perceiving. A combination of any of the four traits gives a particular personality type, for instance ESTJ (Extroversion, Sensing, Thinking and Feeling) or INFP (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and perceiving).

Now, as it usually happens while studying, my mind wandered off to a completely different realm, across the seven kingdoms of Westeros. And the messy amalgamations of various thoughts in my already jumbled brain lead to this particular post.

How would Meyer-Briggs have analysed our most loved and most hated characters from the Song of Ice and Fire? So, here is a list of the sixteen personality types and their characteristics and my opinion of who fits it the best.

ESTJ

Stannis Baratheon

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ESTJ people are strong willed, hardworking and reliable. They are efficient and have a knack for creating order out of chaos. But these are extremely judgemental people and are hesitant to change and are extremely uncomfortable in situations they did not anticipate. They find it difficult to relax and more often than not have extreme difficulty in expressing emotions, and feel a need to maintain that façade of dignity all the time. The problem with being so fixated on what works is that ESTJs too often dismiss what might work better. So caught up are they in their lofty ideals, that they are bound to neglect and hurt their family, though they never mean to do so. However, giving your daughter to the fire God does seem a bit of a stretch.

 

ISTJ

Catelyn Tully Stark

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Quiet, serious, thorough and dependable, ISTJ personalities are honest who put their duty above everything else. They value traditions and loyalty and when they want something done they go ahead and do it regardless of the personal cost. They seek stability and security and often tend to keep their opinions to themselves. So, whether it’s helping your eldest son become King in the North or battling a paid assassin for a younger one, nothing comes in between the ISTJ devotion.

 

ENTJ

Cersei Lannister

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The ENTJ is a relentless, dominant and unforgiving soul. While they are strategic, strong-willed and can charm many with their charisma, they can also be extremely stubborn, notoriously unsupportive of any idea that contradicts from their own and are downright scornful of others. People with this personality type often trample others’ feelings, inadvertently hurting their partners and friends, especially in emotionally charged situations. Their ruthlessness might distance themselves so much form loved ones, that they might be compelled to a horrific walk of shame.

 

ISFJ

Brienne of Tarth

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ISFJ’s are true altruists, meeting kindness with kindness (and also sword with sword, if need be). They are dubbed the ‘protectors’ and rightly so.  Never comfortable in the spotlight, they touch people on an intimate level. Reliable, patient and extremely loyal their only weakness is that they are humble and shy to a fault. Their strong senses of duty and perfectionism combine with this aversion to emotional conflict to create a situation where it is far too easy for ISFJs to overload themselves and any negativity from conflict or criticism can carry over from their professional to their personal lives, and back again. If anyone was worthy of a sword named Oathkeeper, it is them.

 

INTP

Varys

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INTP’s are the most logically precise of all the personality types. They love patterns, spotting discrepancies between statements and have a vigorous intellect. You have good reason to guard your tongue in front of them; they can smell a lie a mile off. They often appear dishonest as they do not share their thoughts completely. They are friendly with people are open-minded, enthusiastic, and really good analysts. However, they are very private and withdrawn and remain an enigma to most people. Beware of their little birds; they have ears and eyes everywhere.

 

ESFP

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Ygritte

The ESFP personality creates a party wherever they go. They chat with a unique and earthy wit, and love to soak up all the attention. Always focused on immediate pleasures (ahem! Who wouldn’t?) and often rely on their extensive circle of friends to get them out of trouble. Bold, practical and observant with excellent people skills. Though emotionally strong, they are sensitive and tend to get bored easily. They are conflict-averse and tend to say and do what’s needed to get out of such situations, then move on to something more fun. They can make any man break their vows.

 

INFJ

Eddard Stark

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The INFJ personality types are born with a high sense of morality and idealism. Though soft spoken, they work tirelessly for the ideals they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain. They wouldn’t even claim a throne if they believe it doesn’t belong to them. Always inspiring and kind, they work tirelessly through all administrative work. These people are always at conflict with their ideals and the harsh realities of life, causing them to burn out easily. As an honest person caught up in an unforgiving world, the pressure of it all might sometimes roll your head off.

 

ENFJ

Daenerys Targaryen

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ENFJ’s were born to lead. They are full of a natural confidence, charisma and passion. They radiate altruism and concern, and speak against anything that seems wrong in their eyes. They unite, motivate and inspire their team with infectious enthusiasm. Sometimes overly idealistic, they are unable to make tough decisions as they want the best solution for all, this is especially true when the consequences are humanitarian in nature. Troubled with a fluctuating self-esteem, they are prone to fits of insecurity if unable to accomplish a goal.

 

ENFP

Meera Reed

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ENFP personalities are true free spirits. They are independent, charming, and compassionate. Easily switching between driven passionate idealists to creative free spirit, they are very sociable and empathy comes easily. Curious, friendly, spontaneous, whether it is swimming in long deep river or trekking across a frozen forest in biting cold, they can adapt to almost anything. However, despite your close emotional connections with your friend, you tend to become over-emotional. An ENFP might hate being micro-managed by a sullen little brother, but they love him despite everything.

 

ISFP

Oberyn Martell

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ISFP’s live in a highly colourful and sensual world. They are spontaneous and unpredictable, surprising even their loved ones. With a love for exploring and experimenting, they often push the limits a little too much and can indulge in reckless behaviour like gambling and extreme sports. But the ISFPs always know just the compliment to soften a heart that’s getting ready to call their risks irresponsible or reckless. They have a certain irresistible charm specifically because of this. The ISFP personality type establishes a more self-centred identity, acting with selfishness, manipulation and egoism.  If they go down, they take a mountain down with them.

 

INFP

Bran Stark

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The INFP’s of the world have a strong inner flame beneath that calm, reserved and sometimes shy exterior. Often feeling lonely and misunderstood, they shine in the presence of like-minded people and experience a deep harmony and an abundance of joy and inspiration. Interested more in the purity of intent, the INFP’s have no shame befriending even the frog-eaters, they are overwhelmed with the need to fix the world, despite being broken themselves. Trusting their intuition and precognition, these are truly green-seers. They have all the talents, but just need to open that third eye.

 

ENTP

Tyrion Lannister

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The ultimate devil’s advocate, no one loves the process of mental sparring more than the ENTP’s. Their wit is their sword and the like to sharpen it regularly with books. An odd juxtaposition arises with ENTPs, as they are uncompromisingly honest, but will argue tirelessly for something they don’t actually believe in (the Lannister cause for instance). Taking a certain pleasure in being the underdog, ENTPs enjoy the mental exercise found in questioning the prevailing mode of thought, making them irreplaceable in reworking existing systems or shaking things up.

 

ISTP

Arya Stark

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The ISTP’s dare to be different.  They are a mess of contradictions, friendly yet reserved, calm but spontaneous, appear simple but are actually quite enigmatic. Although they make decisions based on a sense of practical realism but in their hearts they will always be ruled by a sense of direct fairness and justice. Often very impulsive, they might take decisions considered rash and risky. They dislike commitment and being locked up in one place for too long and might often say things that are not very sensitive. They push all boundaries and flirt with adventure and danger and why not after all valar morghulis. And what do they say they say to the god of death…Not today!

 

ESFJ

Sansa Stark

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ESFJ personalities are social creatures, and thrive on staying up to date with what their friends are doing. They love themselves a bit of juicy topics. Long boring talks on history and politics aren’t their thing, they love fashion and needlework. ESFJ’s love to be cherished and valued and therefore tend to seek out more service based roles that helps them be better loved. Having great respect for hierarchy, the women believe in traditional gender roles. Being pretty conflict-averse, ESFJs spend a lot of their energy establishing social order. Coming to terms with lives harsh realities is the biggest challenge for the ESFJ.

 

ESTP

Jaime Lannister/Robert Baratheon

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For the ESTP personality, life is an adventure or nothing at all. They are the likeliest personality type to make a lifestyle of risky behaviour.
They live in the moment and dive into the action – they are the eye of the storm. Like Jaime, they are most alive in action, with a sword in their hands. Bold, rational and perspective, they are meant to be on the battle field. Though very often they are insensitive (her name is Brienne not wench, Jaime!). The ESTP’s are known to defy social mores and conventions and hate sitting quietly while they are lectured at. Their impatience and impulsiveness are their doom. And also the things they do for love.

Honourable mention: King Robert Baratheon, who loved women, wine and wasting coin and who ultimately, got gored by a boar.

INTJ

Tywin Lannister

A paradox to most observers, INTJs are able to live by glaring contradictions. INTJs are simultaneously the most starry-eyed idealists and the bitterest of cynics. In matters of principles they stand like a rock.  They are constantly shifting with consideration and intelligence, always assessing new tactics, strategies and contingency plans, constantly out-manoeuvring their peers in order to maintain control of a situation while maximizing their freedom to move about. They are highly self-confident, to the point of being arrogant. And what happens when this lion’s pride is hurt…well you have heard Rains of Castamere haven’t you.

 

The personality types have been decided keeping in mind the characters from both the TV show and the books. 

Reference for the information on MBTI: www.16personalities.com

 

The Blood Red Coat

There was once a little boy who was very poor. His mother would just work enough to feed him three proper meals a day, but many other necessities were lacking from the boy’s life. For example, he would often be really cold in the winters as he didn’t have a proper coat to cover his feeble and trembling body with. Life was indeed difficult for the little boy in the harsh snowy winter. His mother worked the double shift and tried to save money by cutting down her own meals but whatever she did there just wasn’t enough money to buy a coat. She tried to keep her boy in home as much as possible during the winters. She wrapped him in thin ragged blanket – which was the only one in the house – and lit a fire till he stopped shivering. She did this every year and each time she hoped fervently that she could find some way to help her boy.

Then one day as the snowy winters melted away to reveal the first green of spring a young man knocked at their door. He introduced himself as tradesman of sorts, who had but recently shifted into the same neighbourhood as them for a short while. His friendly nature and kind demeanour appealed him to both mother and son. The mother was glad having procured a helpful neighbour and the boy was glad for a friend.

As the days went by and winter approached the boy’s mother grew anxious – if it snowed hard as it did last time the ragged blanket wouldn’t be enough and maybe the boy wouldn’t live… it was too horrible a thought for a mother and she burst into tears.

It was at this moment that the kind man entered their house and witnessed her weeping. He pressed her shoulder in a comforting gesture and smiled at her.

“I know what troubles you and I have come to alleviate some of your sorrows” the man consoled the mother who just looked bewildered. From a faded old rucksack that he was carrying, the man drew a soft red coat. It was heavy with double a lining and a fur collar.  And the mother noted with increasing surprise that it was the same size as her little boy. She looked at him in understanding and he just nodded at her.

“How can I accept this? How…how can I ever thank you?” the mother was reluctant to except what was surely an expensive gift from someone she knew for such a short while, but her maternal instinct overpowered all other feeling as she grabbed the man’s hands and bought it to her lips.

“Thank you… thank you” was all she repeated almost like an incantation, the man’s only reply to her thanks was a benevolent smile.

The mother and the boy were overwhelmed with gratitude and were exceeding happy as the boy need not have to go cold again. The man did not stay for long in the neighbourhood in fact he left without a note or so much as a goodbye. The mother was vexed as she fully intended to pay him back once she was capable enough, but something in the back of her mind told her that this man would want nothing in return. But the boy could never forget this stranger’s generosity and wore the coat every winter with a word of acknowledgment of the same.

Soon the woman got a better paying job in a different city and she moved there with her boy. This city was not as cold as their previous home. But the boy intending to honour the kind man’s gift still wore the same red coat. Their situation grew better and soon the boy was able to afford two coats but still preferred to wear the very same red one. Their home became bigger and they never needed to skip a meal again. The boy grew up and flourished and married a pretty girl from the neighbouring village and when the time came, passed on the coat to his son beseeching him to honour the kind man’s gift just as he had.

The son did exactly as his father asked and wore the coat though there was no need for it as the winters in the city were not so severe anymore. Decades passed and the coat was again passed on to the eldest son in the family, this man couldn’t bear the heat and proposed, much to the dismay of the elders, that he will remove the fur but would still wear the coat. And so decades became centuries and the coat was passed down, generation to generation, each having a different view on how to wear the coat.

Some took off the fur to make it a little lighter, some intended to dye it green and some dyed it back red again, some insisted the coat must be worn exactly how it was in the beginning. None of them, however, comprehended that the city was now sunny and bright with balmy winters that didn’t require a coat at all. But the coat had now become an obsession, a pride of sort to the families and very little did they care about trivial logic or common sense. The little boy’s bloodline had grown vast. There were many families that now made a clan. Each quarrelled bitterly on the details of the exact manner the coat must be worn. And each would give it to their firstborn to wear it in turns. The children however were miserable. Each time their turn came to wear the coat they would cry, it was hot and humid and the coat grew stifling. The luckier ones were allowed to take off the fur and lining to make the coat lighter, the ones with stricter families were required to wear the coat in its original format, no matter if the coat was not to their fit, or their need, or their want.

One day the coat was passed on to the eldest girl of one of the families. She was a sweet, docile little girl and barely ten. Yet the coat was small for her size. That year winter was not to be winter at all. The sun grew brighter and brighter and sweat poured down the little girl’s face, her lips cracked and throat grew dry. No amount of water could bring her comfort. Finally her resolve broke and rushing to her mother she cried,

“Mamma! I’m hot, please let me take the coat off” the girl’s voice had become harsh and croaky due to dehydration. The mother however looked daggers at the girl and placed an ice pack in her hand.

“See darling, we mustn’t break an honourable tradition, here this will cool you” she explained and her face softened as she rubbed ice over her daughter’s delicate features. The girl had momentary relief from the ice but as the day progressed and the clock struck twelve, the girl felt as though she were baking from the inside.

In desperation she then went to her father and pleaded to be let out of the coat. He grew angry and preaching that she mustn’t be weak asked her to persevere till the month was over. It was a matter of utmost importance to him that this revered coat which came from the Kind Man and which saved the life of his ancestor was shown due respect, and in the same manner his ancestor had done – by wearing the coat.

The days flew buy and winter was counting its last days. But the weather seemed unaware how seasons worked and in the final days instead of the soft pleasant spring, summer was right upon them. But the families kept track of the number of days the coat was to be worn. Unfortunately for the little girl a week more was left.

The girl grew tired and weak and her vision blurred. As she was returning home from an errand, a small brook crossed her path. Unable to control herself she flung the coat from herself and lowered herself into the cold water of the brook. It was a beautiful and pleasurable sensation and so lost was she in it that she lost the track of time.

Her parents grew anxious about their daughter and set out to look for her. They neared the path which led to the brook. But when they spotted their child without the coat on, a sort of bling rage seized the two of them. The girl who had fallen asleep after the cool and pleasant path did not see nor hear them. The parents were devastated that their daughter would insult the Kind Man’s by removing the coat; it was shameful to them that it was their kin amongst all the families that had bought upon this dishonour.

The little girl was still blissfully oblivious as steady footsteps grew nearer and nearer to her sleeping form. The man and woman had tears running down their eyes yet their faces were hard, and equally hard was the rock the man now picked up from the ground. They inched nearer and nearer to their sleeping child. The father’s hand was raised to strike when the woman restrained him. She was aware of the dishonour the removal of the coat would bring them but she couldn’t also bear the sight of her daughter now. She was reminded of a time when her little girl was no bigger than her hand and how she would sleep in this exact manner, deep in slumber, innocently unaware. The man looked at his wife and a look of grim understanding passed between them.

The father went to pick up the coat and gave it to his wife. She covered her daughter with it. the gesture was painfully familiar to her – how many times had she tucked her daughter into bed covering her with a blanket.  It happened quickly. There was not even a scream. The red coat grew darker. Tears poured down the mother’s eyes. The little girl jerked and twisted and was still until she moved no more.

The news quickly spread through the clan. Some families – the ones who always modified the coat – grew appalled at what they heard and fled the city wanting to do no more with a coat that was stained. Others rejoiced that the family had honoured the Kind Man and his gift and wasn’t led astray by sentiments for their wayward daughter. And hoped she would be an example to the other children who were to don the coat, a reminder that their perseverance would be rewarded and their refusal punished. And so, the coat’s continued to be passed down to generations. The stains on the coat did not fade, but became murkier. Each time someone refused to put the coat on, the stains grew darker.

Sometimes I wonder where the Kind Man is now.  Does he regret giving the poor little boy the coat? Could he have foreseen the devastation it causes? Did he know, and is that the reason his coat is red – to hide the shameful stains of humanity? If he did than is he so kind after all? But then I remember that he only wanted to help a little boy, his messaged being one of generosity. How perverse must it seem to him that the red intended to be a representation of love, now represents the ruby liquid bled from an innocent soul.

Words are Worlds

Three weeks ago, I picked up a book and started to read. It was the first in a series. It was not the first time I was reading the book, to be honest, I have completely lost track of how many times exactly I have read the book. Yet, it never gets boring, those lines often read, seem like the familiar conversation between you and a childhood friend. The words have been read so thoroughly and so frequently that the next chapter is not considered boring for it has already been gone through, but anticipated like the next picture in a photo album, the next scene in a home video, the next reel in the film of our memories. This book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For you it could have been something else. But the sensation of almost euphoric nostalgia on opening a familiar and beloved book and poring over its pages is the same.

Today I am just about in the end of the Deathly Hallows, and it occurred to me how certain books manage to have such an impact in our lives. Not only do the characters seem to live and breathe and speak to us, but also touch our hearts in ways real people don’t. They manage to teach us lessons real people don’t. They manage to turn our minds the way real people don’t. And mostly, they make me want to kick myself for writing the previous sentences, because to us they are real.

That is the best part about a book; you don’t need an acceptance letter into Hogwarts to witness magic. You don’t need to purchase a wand from Ollivanders, to have magic in your hands. All you need is a book. The Harry Potter series are books about magic, but every book is magic.

The words in a book are not just words, but worlds. Sometimes we live through the characters otherwise they live in us. Either way, when you read a transaction happens, a most precious transaction, where the reader converts ink on paper into something breathing and alive, and where this world – which might be make believe – gives us something very real. It gives us a whole different perspective and broadens our horizons; gives us adventure and romance. But most importantly it gives us change. You will not be the same person you were after reading a book. Maybe, that is why books get banned so often. The power which written words have over us is both beautiful and terrifying.

There was even a legitimate study that was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that claimed that children who grew up reading Harry Potter show more tolerance of minority races and sexualities than their peers. That is the effect a good book has. Some criticize the books as being too simple and archetypal in its use of literary devices. But that is precisely what makes it so unique, that it’s very unpretentious in its approach but an absolute treasure if you delve deeper. Because a book need not be a masterpiece, it needn’t be the next in line to win the Booker prize and it needn’t be full of complicated plots and obscure vocabulary. It just needs to win your heart.

In Harry Potter one of the Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes (for the muggles that is a vessel containing a bit of somebody’s soul) is a diary. A book somewhat similarly has a bit of our souls, the soul of the person who wrote it and everyone who’ve read it. When we read a book we glimpse into someone else soul, interact with it, live with it, learn to accept it. And when we are able to that for a soul living inside a book, we become capable of doing the same to a soul living inside a body. And that makes all the difference in the world.

That is the power of a book. That is the beauty in words. That is why we need more readers. Remembering a quote whose source i have regrettably forgotten goes somewhat like this, “Beauty can make you popular, money can you make you rich, but reading makes you a better person.”pott

 

P.S. The Harry Potter series can most definitely be my Horcruxes. Comment below to tell us which book has got a bit of your soul in it, and why.

Nona… Decima…Morta

Nona, Decima, Morta….the start, the journey and the end.

One of the most intriguing parts of Greek mythology is the story of the three sisters, the Fates. There is the first sister, Clotho, who is known to be the ‘spinner ‘, one who spins the thread of life, which manifests as our existence, our very being. The middle sister is Lachesis, the drawer of lots, who determines our pathway, the direction in which our yarn unfurls and the other threads it’s destined to get entangled with. The youngest and most abhorred is Atropos ‘the unchanging one’, she holds the power to cut the thread of life with her shears, effectively ushering in our death. As most fables go this one is too is a metaphor for our journey through life and perhaps an attempt by human kind to understand and explain the concept of life and death, and fate.

Clotho is found to be revered in countless other cultures as a fertility goddess, who starts the journey of life. Atropos is generally feared and many superstitions about her abound, the myth of the Grim Reaper also originates in an old belief that before a person died, they would often have vision of Atropos as an old lady cutting the thread of life.

However, very little is said about Lachesis, despite the fact that her job is the most important one among the Fates. Life and death are preordained, but the course our life takes is not. Or at least that is what we would like to think. We feel a sense of power in thinking that we have, even to the smallest degree, power over what happens to us.

Do we really know what the universe has in store for us? When you get that raise you wanted, or those top grades that got you a scholarship, do we really look about and think “Was this in my destiny?” most people don’t. Your promotion was your hard work; you got an A+ because you studied. But what happens when something extraordinary happens, what force drives the chain of events that lead you to finding a thousand bucks on the pavement one day, or meeting someone you fall in love and spend your life with? Serendipity we call it. But do we understand it? What is the force that makes us inexplicably late to miss the morning bus? When an accident causes a broken bone? When you lose someone you loved? What drives all these events that we have no control over?

Scientists might say it’s just probability, religious people attribute it to God, and some say it is fate. There it is again, the F-word, fate.  So, what do we do about this fate? Should we fight back this mighty tyrant with all our might? Or should we just flow along with the currents hoping it leads you to the right place. Mostly we do neither. We just sit there on tenterhooks, confused, hurt, angry, not knowing what to do, not knowing where to go.

Robert Frost once wrote that ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…’ and he chose the part less trodden. But what Frost didn’t incorporate into his beautiful verse was that sometimes we have our choices made for us. Sometimes, there is a big barbed wire fence before one of those roads and a big signboard that says, ‘take the other way’. Some people completely lose their shit over this, others just pull up their socks and say ‘oh well, if this is how it is then let’s do this’, and honestly I envy the latter. It is much harder to accept life’s abrupt meandering when you have your eyes set on a goal, or when you have a dream to be fulfilled. Imagine being at a crossroad, and seeing your dream, let’s say for metaphor’s sake that it’s a destination you want to reach. So you’re standing at crossroads looking at a sign saying ‘Dream City 20 miles’ , on one of the roads, but you see a big thick wall obstructing your path. You have no means to climb over, or break down the wall. The only choice you have is taking the other road. Now, for some people it is another adventure, “hey, let’s see where this leads”, but for those who entire heart and soul resides in Dream city, this is nothing less than a catastrophe. So what keeps them going?

It is both Fate’s greatest enemy and best facilitator – Hope.  Hope is what makes us accept what life throws at us – “What if the other road actually leads to a better path to Dream City”, what if whatever happened is for the best. What if I can actually work this to my advantage? Hope is the fuel that drives us on. Hoping is what gives us the determination to fight against the odds and Hope is what leads us into certain situations in the first place – greatest enemy and best facilitator.

None of us can understand Fate. None of us, according to my experience at least, can fight it completely. What we can do, however, is Hope, and never give up hoping. If Fate regulates our life, Hope gives it meaning.

You might often find yourself helpless, like someone caught in strong cross currents, unable to swim against it, just holding on, taking wherever life takes you. Not understanding if you will ever be able to reach the shore again. There is nothing you can do but hope, hope and persevere through it all. No, I have nothing more to say. I’m not here to give you fake sounding advice, or fancy philosophy lesson. And in no way do I feel qualified to lecture you on how to go on about your life.

So…What was the whole point of this post, you ask. Well, it was because I needed a platform to express myself.  And perhaps I did hope that if someone reading this post is going through a similar dilemma, I wanted them to know that they are not alone – and also that you should never give up Hope.


PS: I know this post is a bit different from my usual light-hearted ones, but if even one person read this and I made them feel better, I would consider that my words have touched someone and that will make it all worth it.

Why the X-men should go Rogue: A Plea from a Fangirl

Arguably, the most beloved, kick-ass and popular female Marvel character has been Rogue. The girl with the skunk hair was the darling of many fanboys (and fangirls, like yours truly), before Scarlett Johansson made the Black Widow famous. Anatomically impossible figure and ambiguous morality apart, what made Rogue so lovable was that her character was really fleshed out and had had the most character development arc in the entire series of X-Men, and then there is the fact that she could suck the very life force out of you by just touching your bare skin. That was the Rogue of the comics.

The movie Rogue was diametrically opposite to this devil-may-care action girl as she was in the comics. But that was not necessarily a bad thing. Movie Rogue seemed… realistic. The naiveté, vulnerability and pathos that Anna Paquin bought to the character were quite interesting. The movies also deviated from canon by NOT making her a daughter of Mystique, that would explain the bitterness and darkness that defined comic book Rogue. The first X-Men movie did a wonderful job of setting up Rogue’s character and I absolutely loved the explanation given for the white strip in her hair. Add this to the fact that Wolverine had more chemistry with Rogue than he did with Jean Grey you had a very interesting path in which Rogue could have been developed. But no such luck as by the third movie, the makers decided to actually nullify Rogue’s power by making her take a (ineffective) cure for her mutation and not once making her suit up for a mission. I’d have loved to seen her develop into the strong woman she in the comics, and maybe her taking down the Dark Phoenix instead of Wolverine.  And with the introduction of Jennifer Freaking Lawrence as Mystique in X-men: First Class, no one cared about poor old Roguey anymore. Even though it made more sense to have her in Days Of Future Past (DOFP) than Mystique – the sentinels copy a person’s mutation and use it against them which is more Rogue’s power, while Mystique’s mutation is just to LOOK like another person. So the plot that the sentinels have been developed from Mystique’s cells quite frankly doesn’t make sense. I’m sure Bryan Singer, the movie’s director, thought about this as the original footage of DOFP has the sentinels capture and experiment on Rogue rather than killing her like other mutants, so maybe they did use her mutation as a template to develop the sentinels. But unfortunately, Mr Singer decided to be a complete jerk and decided to cut out the entire portion involving Rogue while making us watch Professor X become for all intents and purposes a junkie. Thankfully, the unedited version is out on Blu-ray, *insert me doing a little happy dance here* and finally we’ll get to watch a little more of my favourite mutant on screen.

Speaking of which, can we have her in the next – and most regrettably – last Wolverine movie? It is impossible to have Rogue in X-Men:  Apocalypse as it is set in the eighties, featuring a teenage Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Jubilee. But, it’s possible for her to appear in the Wolverine movie, after all it was the Wolverine/Rogue pairing everyone loved in Hugh Jackman’s first outing as Wolverine way back in 2000 in X: Men, so why not wrap it up with the same pair. You know, circle of life and all. And I quite unashamedly say I really ship the two, like I’ve spent (wasted?) countless hours of my life reading Wolverine/Rogue fanfiction. And it is not just the character of Rogue; I want to specifically see Anna Paquin as Rogue.  They might have replaced Taylor Kitsch with Channing Tatum as Gambit, but if anybody can play a sassy, southern belle it’s Anna. True Blood is proof for that.

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The Big Bad ‘D’ Word

Oh you’ve heard about it. Probably even talked about it. Possibly even experienced it. Can you guess what it is? C’mon.  Nope? Oh alright then. Depression.  D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N. There I said it, folks. Why the drama? Found all the drama on naming the word awkward? Yes? Well then what about the fuss we create over it in real life, ain’t that awkward? Isn’t it awkward that India is well on its way to become one of the superpowers of this world and its citizens still shy away from the fact that they are depressed – or suffering from any other psychological affliction for that matter?

The understanding of human psychology considered so unimportant in our culture that many simply just don’t realize they are depressed. But the few who do, might find a bit of déjà vu in this post.

10 Things I Learned Battling Depression.

  1. NOBODY BELIEVES YOU:

Telling your friends or family you think you have depression is like Kim Kardashian saying her assets are all natural. Both statements are met with immense scepticism. “It’s all in your head, beta”, “try to be happy everything is fine” and my favourite, “How would you know?” Yes, how would I know what goes in MY mind, sorry auntiji. Indian families are as cynical about the existence of depression as people in other countries are about the existence of the yeti or the lochness monster.

Welcome to the club bro!
             Welcome to the club bro!
Depression is basically like an eternal ice-bucket challenge for your mind, and trust me when it hits you know because….

  1. THERE ARE A LOT OF RED FLAGS:

Let me make this very clear, depression and sadness are two very different things. Sadness is an individual issue, it is an emotion not a state of mind, and lasts as all emotions do for a short while only. This is what all the agony aunts talk about when they say “it’s a phase”. Sadness is a phase; depression on the other hand is a whole other ball game.

A quick test to check whether or not you are depressed

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I love reading, and I can finish a good book in a matter of hours. And as a self-confessed Potterhead the most utter disappointment I felt during my depressed days, was when I couldn’t even get through the first chapter of the, Philosopher’s Stone. Depression affects a lot of your moods and abilities, which leads to the following problem.

3. YOU SCREW YOUR CAREER UP

Yeah as you can probably see that if depression makes you indifferent about the things you love, wait until you see what it does to that boring old job of yours. It’s mayhem. There are days you don’t even want to get out of bed, because waking up would mean going to the dreadful old shithole called ‘office’. And imagine if you have to do your promotion guaranteeing-career making project or that very important final semester thesis in this scenario.

4. IF YOU’RE IN A CREATIVE PROFESSION YOU’RE SCREWED(ER)

One of the nice little gifts the ice prick called depression gives you is leaving you feeling numb all over. Seriously it’s like you can’t feel. Anything. It amazingly gives you the power of 100% not giving a shit, which is in this case not as awesome as it sounds.

Your boss is going to fire you, well fuck that shit. Your house is going to be mortgaged. Meh. Your grandma died. Oh okay. And if you happen to in any creative profession, where feeling is sort of the main criteria, well you might as well shoot yourself in the head (Caution: Hyperbole. Never in any circumstances shoot yourself in the head).

In my case, writer’s block plus depression was one of the worst things ever. Like really, I’d rather get my appendix cut out than feel that way again. Same goes for songwriters, actors, poets, comedians and the like. Creative people channel their emotions and execute them as actual ideas. Like how Shakespeare’s turbulent phase of life contributed to him producing darker tragedies like Hamlet and Macbeth. Now if I were to feel nothing at all, what would I reproduce on paper? That’s right, nothing.

Depression is the second worst enemy to creative productivity.The first being overbearing relatives and engineering.

indian dad meme
Beta leave all this depression and all and go study
5. NO ONE IS AS SELFLESS AS THEY PROCLAIM TO BE

Remember those weird kids you used to play with, the ones who used to take their dolls/teddy with them everywhere, pretend to talk and make plans with them, and the creepy looking doll just kind of sat there with that awkward fake grin plastered into their faces. Well, when you are depressed YOU become that doll and most of your loved ones remain with only a shadow of your true selves. That is the reason most of them want you to “get over it” so badly, they miss the old you. And I know it’s not fair to blame them but depression is like drowning, and you can swim against the current all you like but the water gets over your head one day or the other and you just remain there flailing your arms, and most of the time you are saved only when someone grabs your hand and pulls you out of the water. Sometimes you just need somebody to carry you.

Samcarriesfrodo
Everyone needs a Sam in their lives
You got to communicate with your loved ones, let them know there is a problem, seek their help. And guys if you see anybody you know suffering from any of the warning signs for depression please talk to them, and mostly be patient.

  1. BECAUSE DEPRESSION IS EXASPERATING.

Depression leads you to push away the most important people in your life, like I said before you simply stop feeling anything. Add that with the lovely feelings of guilt and worthlessness depression leaves you with, you simply feel yourself ‘not worthy’ of the other person, when they try to help. Even comparisons to sharmaji’s kids don’t destroy your self-esteem as well as being depressed does. You are so doubtful in every move you make. “Is this fine?” “Am I doing it right?” “Will people like my work?” and no these aren’t the normal case of jitters everyone gets while undertaking a new venture, these questions start swarming your mind when you do the most mundane of things. Like, locking your home, or cooking dinner, or prepare the presentation of your monthly sales report which you’ve been doing, like, forever. And people are just the opposite of helpful, and sometimes you just want to punch people in the face.

  1. YOU GET THE SHITTIEST RESPONSES AND REMEDIES. EVER.

Sample this gem from a close relative of mine.  When Deepika Padukone, one of India’s leading actresses announced that she went through depression, I was quite vocal in her support and when this lady heard me, she said “You know all this depression and all is not real, hamare zamane mey toh aisa kuch nahi tha, it is just weakness of the brain when you don’t eat properly. She diets so much for all her movies, no wonder she got depression”. Yes this is an actual response I got from a real person and no she isn’t a time traveller from the eighteen hundreds. This folks is a perfect example of what ignorance leads to.  People with depression get to hear the most amazing advices ever, ranging from “Try not to think about it” to “It’s all in your head” to my favourite “Have you tried not being depressed?” People just think that depression is like those monsters under your bed that you can just wish away. I have had lots of people tell me to “Don’t worry and be happy” when that is exactly the problem. Your brain’s chemical activity changes when you are depressed quite effectively rendering you incapable of being happy. And it’s not just that depression affects a lot of other parts of your body too.

  1. DEPRESSION IS NOT JUST LIMITED TO YOUR MIND

Your body gets fucked up in a number of ways too. Altered brain activity in our neurotransmitters, increases production of hormones like serotonin, that decrease our capability to withstand pain leading to increase in body aches and lower sex drives. Depression also fucks up our immune system badly making the person more susceptible to common colds and other viral infections. Other physical problems include increased fatigue, insomnia, increased irritability, heart problems, fluctuations in blood pressure etc. So basically depression is that broken time machine that ages you instantly instead of taking you to the future.

This is why we need more awareness on the issue of mental health, so that the illness of the mind can be accepted without any problem and treated at par with physical ailments, but unfortunately it is still going to be a long way till that happens because…

  1. MENTAL DISORDERS ARE STILL A STIGMA

Let’s stop sugar coating things and tell the truth as it is now. We Indians have zero sensitivity when it comes to mental health. Zero. Where psychiatrists are still teased with the ‘pagalon ka doctor’ tag and Bollywood movies like Bhool Bhulaiyya and the pathetic Humshakals show such a warped, twisted and almost perverted version of what it’s like to be mentally ill.  Most men deny being depressed as it would seem a negation of their masculinity and most women deny it as it would seem that they are not content with their marriage or children (no matter if that is actually the case), depression is a proof that being ‘settled’ doesn’t guarantee your peace of mind, and this goes against everything Indian society has been brandishing as a recipe for success and happiness. And it doesn’t matter how many lives depression takes each year, it is still considered trivial complication at its best. And sometimes depression or being bipolar or schizophrenic aren’t even recognised as separate and complicated problems, they are all clumped together under ‘pagal’, and as Bollywood has taught everyone pagalpan is cured only when they send you to a pagalkhana (mental asylum) and tie you up before shocking your brains out.

This is supposed to be funny
             This is supposed to be funny
  1. BUT THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE

Depression is a horrible experience, but it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it’s a difficult time and yes the fight is really tough. But it is a beautiful world out there and there’s a lot to do and much to explore. It will take time and it will take help. Consider it a new lease of life and throw away all the negativity and the bullshit. Because sometimes you have to be selfish and let things go, in order to heal. Sometimes living a little selfishly is necessary. If you don’t want to live for what you have, live for all that you want, live to make it happen.

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AND THE HATERS GONNA HATE…HATE…HATE…

Before I even finish writing this post I can imagine the sort of reactions I would get and among them would be trolls, fundamentalists and some self-appointed guardians of ‘Indian culture’. And for their benefit I would like to post this trigger warning here.

*This post contains mentions of homosexuality and unending, sometimes emotional supplication for the dignity and rights of fellow human beings. If such obvious applications of democracy and descriptions of acts of true love disturb you then you are free to stop reading this blog immediately. And then you can get back to your Death Eater meeting or skinning puppies or whatever.

Rainbows, rainbows everywhere! It seems the entire internet is being swept away by a wave of common euphoria that celebrates the fact that now two individuals who want to marry and start a family with each other will have no obstacles to stop them. And it was amazing to think even for a moment that I live in such a tolerant world, and then reality hit me. I am an Indian and I love my country and my roots. But this decision was made in the USA, a country literally on the other side of the planet. Yeah I’m happy that there is respect and tolerance for the LGBT community in at least some part of the world. But mostly it’s a deep sadness that this world is not my own. My world is where, forget marrying, it is a thought-crime to even love a person of another sex. My world is where the only identity ga along with a few other misguided countries y people are given is that of comic relief in a mindless Bollywood masala flick. My world, along with a few other misguided countries, recently voted against benefits to these people and in the UN no less, and even when they had nothing to gain by this. My world is where is love is still not given the respect it deserves. It is a world where persecution happens if a man loves another man, or a woman of a different religion, or a different caste, or a different gotra, or simply when someone loves at all. While I’m happy it’s all rainbows and smiles for a few in this world, it saddens me that my very own people – a few of my fellow Indians – have still nothing but dark stormy clouds up ahead for them.

Yes all this saddens me, but there are things that give me hope: Like how many of the pro-LGBT posts on my wall where posted or shared by Indians, like how a Indian mother places a matrimonial ad looking for the perfect groom for her son, how a fashion brand’s new ad has two lovely women in lovely clothes who are totally in love, how slowly but steadily things are changing. These are my people too. They too are fellow Indians. And I’m proud of them. My pride is in their acceptance of LGBT pride. And one day India will have its rainbow too.

And if you are looking to spew venom by calling such a beautiful things such as love ‘unnatural’ or ‘demonic’ or ‘disgusting’ please don’t bother to comment, because you see love is love, whether it’s between Adam and Eve or Adam or Steve, what is unnatural is hate. What is demonic is discrimination. And what is disgusting is you all haters.

Sisters before Misters

So it was just another day, of me doing nothing but casually scrolling through my Instagram, and suddenly I see this gem of a post.

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It was posted by woman. And that got me thinking, hey men don’t seem to have these problems so why do we?

Imagine the situation X was at a club last night and had – fully informed and consensual – sex with Y, and the next day they are telling their friends about it.

Now if X was a man:

Friend: Dude where were you last night?

X: *grins* with a pretty woman

Friend 2: Dude you got laid, awesome!

X: Just no strings attached.

Friend 3: Damn!

Now if X was a woman:

Friend:  Babe where were you last night?

X: I was with a guy.

Friend 2: Oh my god! Who was he? Where does he live? What does he do?

X: Just no strings attached.

Friend 2: Oh okay…

Friend 3: *after X leaves* Wow! When did she become so slutty?

Now, wait and think for a moment. How many times have you heard a man say “That guy sleeps around, he’s not good and I won’t talk to him” and how many times have you heard a woman repeat the same thing about another woman. Really girls? What is wrong with you all? Why all the hate?

If women and their choices are not respected by other women, then it is audacious to hope that men will. The constant bullying by our structured patriarchal system has women fighting for their share in the world. And this fight gets dirty. Women ruthlessly put down other women in claims to highlight themselves as ‘better’ in some way. So any women accepting her sexuality is deemed a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’, by women who chose to project themselves as morally superior. It’s the same way a woman would fat shame a curvy girl, or judge another woman for having a career. To advance in this society we often stick to the out-dated rules society imposes on us. To earn a place, a position, some respect. It is just that years of conditioning to be the “weaker” sex has somehow diminished our self-esteem; it has left us seeking approval of men, because it’s been taught to us that it’s what matters. It is the same reason why many women are so cold to their daughters, because they genuinely think that having a son would have raised their position in society – it’s a survival tactic. Women are taught to believe that whatever they do is irrelevant unless they have a man by their sides and catching the right guy is what it’s all about. This leads women to think of other women as competition. Men are jealous too…true, but it’s mostly after they enter into a relationship that their territorial instincts lead them to behave the way they do. But women judge more harshly and more quickly. In a world that is not easy for a woman, where everyone from our fathers to our brothers to distant uncles and neighbourhood aunties, dictate and judge the way you dress, eat, behave, smile, talk, walk, sit, read, socialize and love, when a girl finally decides to break free to do something not accepted for her gender, or not allowed, or not recommended, that girl deserves your support. Not your judgement, never your judgement. This is one of the things that I admire the boys for, they have such a strong sense of brotherhood. We women can definitely learn a thing or too.

You are a woman, she is a woman. You are not ‘better’ because you are a virgin, or because you are a stay at home mom, or a mom at all. You are not better, because you have a body that is deemed sexy by hypocritical modern standards. You are not better because you chose to live with a pain in the ass boyfriend/husband instead of dumping his ass. You are not better because you wear a hijab, saree, salwar, while she wears jeans or a short skirt. You are not better because you do pooja every day or namaz while she’s an atheist, or just simply doesn’t. You are not better because you chose different from some women. What makes you better is being kinder, more sincere, more hard-working, more intelligent and more accepting than the other woman. You are better when you touch more lives than other woman, when you do more good than her.

In fact, there is no need to be a better ‘woman’, no need at all, what you do need is to be a better ‘human being’.

So the next time some dude says ‘Bros before Hoes’, do not help him in pointing out so called “hoes” how ‘bout you reply with ‘Sisters before Misters’.

Spread the love chickas.