07:47 hrs, At The Temple

My country is a land of 330 million gods, and over 2 million places of worship; that we know of. You might wake up one morning and find your favorite tree hideout covered in multicolored ribbons and worshipped and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

We are a land of religious zealots, religious politics and religious riots. But, the majority of our people are just ordinary people searching for some faith and finding it in one of the various ways of life that are preached as a religion.

The reason I’m talking about religion is because, as the title says, today, I’ve been brought to visit a temple by my mother. I protested hotly. But, deaf ears. So, here I am, walking around the structure and writing this in my head.

I don’t identify myself as an atheist. Because, even if I don’t believe in ritualistic religion or a god with form and name, I do take some comfort in blaming a higher power when things go wrong in life. Like my mother said, when something is out of your hands, don’t you ask for divine guidance? A miracle?

My answer to that is: miracles don’t happen. At least, not in a divine sense. The miracles that I know of occurred because one person decided to care about a fellow person. And so, a village becomes self-sustaining in spite of the drought; a cardiomyopathic patient receives a young beating heart; an orphan gets adopted and a child on the streets gets admitted to school.

Now, if you want to see divine providence in the kindness of people, that’s your prerogative. But, I prefer trusting in what I see and what I see is that, as much as we complain that the world is going to dogs, it’s not really.

Yes, neighbours don’t know neighbours; there are too many selfies and kids talk back more than they ever used to. But also, social issues are able to be discussed and argued in an open space, medical care is flourishing by leaps and bounds and ever since demonetisation happened in my country, I’ve been feeling a sudden kinship with my fellow broke countrymen.

My philosophy is: having faith is not wrong. Having beliefs is not wrong. But, when your faith or when your belief system is coming in the way of your humanity, then, something is surely wrong. When your faith justifies the killing of your fellow people; when your beliefs make you insensitive to the grief of someone who lost a loved one; when your “God” apparently lets you sleep peacefully at night even after the role you’ve played in the violent destruction of something or some one, then, please take a good long look at yourself- because something is very very wrong.

A person’s average lifespan, as of now, is 79 years. And throughout these 79 years, the innate survival instinct that we are all born with, keeps reminding us, however subconsciously, that in the end, we are alone. 79 years is a long time to live with that kind of a reminder. So, it’s understandable that we turn to a higher power who knows all, who sees all and who has the ability to grant wishes. It’s understandable that we make up rituals and prayers and protocols that will, allegedly, bring us closer to that higher power. All of this is understandable. But, when you shell out a hundred bucks for the temple priest without second thought, but, turn your face away from the one-legged beggar outside its gate, I don’t understand. When, in your hurry to make your prescribed rounds around the sanctum, you push and pull with scant thought for the rest of the devotees around you, I refuse to understand. And when people start killing people in the name of god, I’m horrified, I’m furious, I’m heart-broken, but, in no way am I close to understanding.

See, I’ve been told by my mother that faith can bring about miracles. Religion makes me question faith. So, I refuse to be a part of any religion; I refuse to indulge in rituals and rules. Instead, I’ve decided to place my faith in people. In the miracles I see happening everyday: when an old man is helped down the stairs by a stranger, when an older woman gives up her seat for a young pregnant lady and when a friend stands up to bullies for her friend; in these, I will place my faith.

For any act of kindness, that you’ve ever shown, I thank you.





The topic of conversation was boobs…

The topic of conversation was boobs.

“You really think they are some kind of playthings, don’t you?” I asked the guy.

The guy blushed in reply and dragged his eyes away from my (rather ample) chest.

“It’s ok,” I smirked at him. What I was thinking though- round, fluffy and erotic- how could they be anything but playthings??!!! What was God thinking??? Oh! I forget, God is a guy too! (One smartass of a mastermind…)

And with that single thought, I’ve taken the entire female populace through an whole gamut of emotions- righteous anger (when I equated boobs…oops…breasts to playthings), contemptuous assent (when I took on God) and then, just plain contempt ‘coz that last line was one of admiration rather than disgust.

So what did I end up with? Oh yes, the entire female populace- gamut of emotions- against me- damn it! Not again!

The problem with being the girl who doesn’t think like other girls (yes, I realize how presumptuous I sound) is that, well, the “other girls” can get a wee bit NOT fond of me. This shouldn’t actually be a problem unless you happen to live in a hostel for girls, in a place where males happen to outnumber females 5:1 and their attitude just happens to give the phrase “male chauvinism” an entirely new meaning.

Well, I do live in such a world.

Apparently, Indian army is still that one place where you can say: “Men can do and shall do” and get away with it; and so, I study in an Armed Forces (notice the capitals) college where they have 105 seats allotted for boys and a measly concession of 25 for girls; unfair???!!!!

For all those guys who started reading this ‘coz they saw the word “boobs” and are now beginning to think, “Oh hell! One more feministic tattle!”- NO! This is NOT a feminist! This is the rant of a girl who thinks Sexual Freedom is really important and is shouted down- not just by the embarrassed glares of the “other girls”, but also by the sneeringly judgmental leers passed by the male populace.

Many of us proudly boast that we are in the 21st century now and then, whip out from our pockets, the newest i-phone model which has the functional capacity of a telephone, camera, notebook, laptop, gaming arcade, jukebox, sketchbook and even a journal all compacted into a light, slim fit package that you can carry about in your pocket. I wish it had also included the functional capacity of an open mind- ‘coz that seems to be the one thing that always misses the time train, how many ever stops it makes.

Why is it so difficult for us to give a chance to something as fundamental as sexual freedom??

Is it because it is such a different concept? Or somewhat of a new fad??

Well, it is neither!

You know the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit?

Well, I don’t believe there was any “forbidden fruit”. All that happened was that time played its little trick, made them grow up and helped them realize that Eve’s boobs could do more than just jiggle when she ran and Adam’s dick could be tucked in a better place than just between his legs. That, ladies and gentlemen, should be the most popular version narrated of the origin of sex.

Since then, sex never took a backseat. It reared its head in every sphere of evolution, civilization and scientification.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Krishna and his 10,000 wives (he should have written the Kama sutra what with all the positions he must have discovered in his “endeavors” :P), Paganism, Cupid and his Indian version- Manmadha, Helen of Troy and Paris, the sordid affairs of the Greek gods and goddesses, Cleopatra (I love this woman as much as I fear her!), Shakespeare… to modern day politics (Sarkozy, Clinton, Nehru etc etc)- these are just a few instances that popped into my head now. If I take up a research project, I would end up filling pages and pages with just such examples! My point, though, is- Sex is NEVER off the table- not then, not now, not ever.

So why is it that we, most of whom believe in the adage- “Old is Gold”- refuse to look sex in the eye when it has been around since long before we were?! Why is sexual freedom treated as such an alien idea, when it is actually our narrow minded “civilized” beliefs that invaded its privacy and snatched away its free will??

They say sex is receiving much more acceptance now, in the society, than it used to before. They are calling it the age of sexual liberation. I don’t think so. at least, not just yet. I will call us sexually liberated when I can walk home in the middle of the night wearing a miniskirt and boots, on the arm of a man, and not be violently judged for it.

When I wake up to a morning in a world where it is okay to have sex and talk sex, where the words “slut” and “whore” are stripped of  their vulgar undesirability, where every eyebrow that raises in an unnecessarily intrusive question is snapped down, then, I will call us sexually liberated.