On not having enough time

45347920_10156573222040482_5321167040373850112_nAlert: My post is going to be very different from this photo. So why did I put up this picture? – because I love the contradictions that life has.

My posts are mostly about how we are slaves to consumerism and capitalism and how we are in cages and being dumbed down by the system day by day.

I realised that this is true but there is also so much truth in the fact that we have control over our lives.

We live in a day and age which is the most physically convenient phase in the history of mankind. In an age where we do not have to go to the well to fetch water, do not have to put many efforts into getting the things that we need and want. Do not have to walk for miles to get to our destination. We do not have to wait for days to communicate like it used to be back in those times.

We have become slaves and autopilot robots out of our OWN CHOICES. We have made the system to be what it is right now and we have accepted the system. It is a vicious cycle.

Humans have been at the top of the food chain because it’s only us who have the ability and capability to get things we need close to us and to store things in a manner that we can go on long breaks without much effort. Well, I am not talking about exceptional creatures like some insects who store food. But I am comparing us to most other forms of life we know of.

So if we want to read a book, or learn how to ride a horse, or go for an evening walk or whatever it is that we want to do, we can make time for it. Like we make time for stalking people endlessly and watching shitty videos and reading clickbaity articles on the internet.



In the pursuit of being a minimalist

In a world of consumerism, some might find it rather absurd to live with the bare minimum, or to put it in better words, to live with only the things you need.

We slog our asses off to earn money, to end up buying things we do not need just because we fancy the attention that thing would bring to us.

I took up a 30-day minimalism challenge where starting Oct 1, 2017, I had to get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three, on the third. So forth, and so on, ending with 30 on day 30!

I was able to continue to Day-22 as I had to leave for a retreat after but I realized that I threw away almost everything that I did not need.

From then on, every month, I keep discarding things that I do not need and I realized since then I do not have half the things I owned!

Minimalism is not really limited to discard things you do not need, but it extends to not buying things out of a whim and being thoughtful when purchasing.

It extends to discard behaviors, habits, words, relationships that you do not need or are not benefitting you.

And sometimes, you will not realize how great minimalism is unless you start to implement it.

So are you going to take up the challenge?

A surreal landscape in Nepal

Elephant Resort at the Bardia National Park_
Dusk – A Surreal landscape on the way to the Elephant Resort at the Bardia National Park
Some photographs make you stop and bring back a string of memories so you can live that moment yet again. This is one of those photographs for me, from my post-grad class trip to Far West Nepal.
Between so many assignments to complete and so many people to interview we had our moments of quiet, beauty and contemplation. This walk to the Elephant Resort at Bardia National Park, right before the dusk broke was one of them.
It was a long walk in nature and then we got to spend some time with elephants at the resort and walked back before it was dark.
Click here for more photographs from my Nepal trip.

Aastha: After thoughts

Mansi is a woman next door, a homemaker, she loves her husband Amar and their daughter dearly.

Amar is a college professor. They have enough for all their needs and wants and live in an antique apartment which is given to Amar by his friend and they have made sure that their daughter has the best education possible.

Other students in her class are well-off and they have great shoes, so the daughter asks Mansi to buy expensive shoes for her too. When Mansi discusses this with Amar, he tells her that we all live in a world where nothing is manufactured as per our needs but, in turn, it is our needs that are manufactured. Mansi replies by saying that their daughter is too young to understand this philosophy.

The next day she withdraws Rs 500 from the bank for the shoes and walks into an expensive store. She selects a shoe that she thinks is the best as per what her daughter’s preference but learns that it is for Rs 700 from the shopkeeper. Unaware that Reena, another customer, is eavesdropping this conversation, she is ready to let go of the shoes when Reena stops her and offers to buy the shoes for her. Mansi insists that she cannot accept this as she doesn’t know Reena, but Reena is persistent and asks her to introduce herself if that’s the problem.

Little does Mansi know that Reena is actually a pimp who looks for soft targets like herself to lure them into sex work. Reena offers Mansi a car ride to a hotel she is staying at, and unaware of what will unfold next, Mansi happily agrees and hops into Reena’s car. Mansi had never been to such an expensive hotel before. When Mansi is washing up in the bathroom, Reena has already invited a customer for Mansi. Mansi does not realize anything till the sexual act is over and deeply regrets it. But because of Reena’s subtle threats, she keeps continuing sex work and making money to buy things for herself, her daughter and her husband, things they could not afford with Amar’s humble salary.

It is a long time before Mansi could make Amar understand her predicament, which indicates that it was long before she could stop doing sex work.

The problem is not in the sex work per se, it was about how Mansi was manipulated to do something she did not know she was signing up for, and she kept slipping into it deeper and deeper. It is the same with most of us. We sign up for things that we do not like, to maintain our life, and keep on doing those things on loop because our mind and body are too drained to snap out of our current situation. How our needs, like the shoes Mansi wanted for her daughter are manufactured in the market, and how we run to buy it without thinking for ourselves if we actually need it.

This movie was made in 1997 and it was way ahead of its time and really progressive, I wish we are exposed to more such cinema which urges us to think for ourselves, not the mindless bull-shit that works like opium to dumb us down.

The not so subtle art of negging

“You know the thing about you honey, is that you are not a dumb-fuck.”

“You know I asked you out because I wanted to give you a chance, I see you have a lot of potential.”

If you are a woman, and you have heard these ever, chances are that the person who has made these statements to you has tried to manipulate you.

And I call this a “not-so-subtle art” of negging.

Negging is a manipulative technique that men use to make women feel bad about themselves which makes the woman more vulnerable and prone to not oppose the man’s sexual advances towards her.

It is quite possible that most men are not aware of this term and have learnt this and used it subconsciously.

Chances also are that they have studied literature on how to manipulate woman, for example, there are plenty of forums which speaks of manipulation, not negging in particular.

To sell anyone a thing or an idea you have to make them believe that they are something lesser without it.

“You should wear a dress with vertical stripes, it will make you look less fat.”

“You should put a light lipstick, your lips won’t look so dark(and ugly).”

“Oh use so-and-so conditioner and shampoo, it will give your hair more volume.”

These are very subtle, but manipulative statements nonetheless.

To shield yourself from manipulation, accessibility to a space where things like these are openly discussed is a must.


On freedom and its addiction.

Indian society cannot accept the fact that children have a mind of their own.

Children are reprimanded for doing things they like, that the elders of the society didn’t have a chance to do.

The elders need to be looked at with compassion because they were raised in the same way. They think that since they never hurt their elders, and lived a life of compromise, the next generation should do the same.

This is why the society marries off people at an age where a person would think for himself, try to make sense of the world which would enable him to break the shackles of the society.

With the pressure to adjust to a new life as soon as the individual has finished their education, they don’t have the chance to think and understand the power dynamics of the society.

The society has given freedom a negative connotation, that of unnecessary rebellion. Because most people have not fought for their freedom and they don’t see why should life be lived any differently by the next generation. A life that’s not approved by spouse/ ¬†parent/ family/ relatives and society.

They won’t be happy about others leading a different life, because compromise is glorified! And why should someone get a chance to do what they did not? When all one ends up doing is demotivating the other. To not speak out, to not get into unnecessary hassles, to not be a rebel “without a cause”. When the only thing one wants to do is live one’s life.

But the thing about someone who has read, someone who has travelled, who knows that freedom exists, is that they start getting the taste of freedom.

And they would not want it any other way, because freedom is addictive.

Why India needs the F word

No, I am not talking about fuck, read on!

About a year back, when I was walking towards the Kurla Station with mom, a man pushed me. He looked a little older than me and started laughing when I looked at him. I retaliated by slapping him on his back while he continued to laugh. My mom called up my father, and instead of talking against the man, she said I was creating an unnecessary ruckus on the road.

My mom stated that eve-teasing has been going on for centuries and today’s age is no different. She also told me, if a man touches me inappropriately, I should pretend nothing happened, if I want to live a ‘worry – free’ life.

Two years back, when 10th standard boards results were announced, my family was dancing with joy, less cause my cousin sister scored 91 percent but more because my cousin brother got 50. Everyone had given hope on him, as he believes studying is not important AND he’s going to inherit the ENTIRE property.

A boy his age cannot just make up these beliefs by himself! How he was unknowingly treated as a superior must have formed this idea.

We see so much of gender inequality around not only because of grown-up men, but because even little boys are made to believe that men are superior. It’s not only them who are at fault, but the family and the society at large also make them think they are entitled to women and property.

To make our society a better place for women we need to drop these unsaid laws.

We need a country where gynecologists will not shame and threaten young girls.

We need a place where it will be okay for a 16-year-old girl to have a boyfriend as okay it is for her to give up her career and dreams for marrying at 21-22 and having a kid at 23-24, almost on autopilot mode.

As a girl, we constantly hear that the minute we go out of our homes, we are prone to get raped. Different codes, like do not wear short dresses/ do not wear makeup for ‘do not get raped’. But how many times do boys get told don’t rape?

Why are females made to fear going out, traveling alone, defending themselves?

And all this is from a person who was always against feminism only because she never knew what it means.

Intellectual discussions are the beginning of a change…we must do the little we can to make India a feminist country, a place where woman and men are equal in the true sense of the word.