Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Dress Code

Recently, I took a trip to Bangalore, in the south of India to spend a few days with my brother who goes to a boarding school in the city. I spent 6 days, I stayed with my aunt, her two sons, my uncle and my brother who took a few days off school to stay with us.

Me, personally, I'm very much into women rights, it's a matter that is very personal and very important to me. I work in a global service called Daraja Academy which partners with a girls school in Kenya. But mainly, I think that equal rights across genders is important. This trip that I took really opened my eyes to the gender discrimination that exists in my own home country of India.

First incident that I want to talk about is the current "clothing policy" that exists for girls in Bangalore and other cities across India. Living in Singapore, I have had the privilege of being able to wear whatever I want. I have been able to wear shorts or tank tops or dresses without someone saying that it is inappropriate. But even if, there are still "dress codes" in my school that exist only for the girls. There still is a very gender biased dress code in Singapore, which is a fairly westernized country with little gender discrimination.

It was a Friday, my mother, brother and I were getting ready to visit my moms brother, his wife and son. I got dressed and I put on a maroon dress with small black dots all around it. It was fairly long, ending right at my knee, and it had spaghetti straps. Also, I put on a black cardigan that covered my arms and shoulders well because I was used to being told that what I was wearing was not suitable for India. I was taught from a young age to cover up my body, especially in India. After putting the outfit on, I thought that I was well covered and I felt comfortable in what I was wearing.

But regardless of my feelings, my mother told me, gently but sternly that I couldn't leave the house in that. Immediately I got annoyed, I was happy with my outfit choice and I wanted to wear it out. But she insisted that I change. So I did, just to make her happy but I wasn't happy myself.

India, no secrets, is known for its high rates of rape and sexual assault against women, though it is decreasing slowly, it still is there. It has become a more clear fact that women cannot wear what they please without having a man look at them as a sexual toy. It is known to women that they must cover themselves up and to not dress "inappropriately" so men look at them with respect. I'm not saying that this applies to every country, because it doesn't but it does to certain countries, and India is definitely one of them.

But my problem is that women get blamed for feeling comfortable. I've read many YouTube comments, tweets, comments on news reports about sexual assaults, and quite a few people have said things like, "she was asking for it, dressing like that", "look at what she's wearing, of course she was going to get raped" and other comments that I wouldn't like to show in this post.

Are these people really going to turn the blame around and say that a woman was asking to get raped for wearing clothes she is comfortable in? Are they saying that if a woman was wearing a short skirt or a short dress, that makes sexual assault okay? Because that's exactly what it looks like.

If its hot outside, if it's 30 degrees celsius outside, why should I spend the day wearing jeans and a full sleeved top when I can feel comfortable and wear shorts and a tee-shirt?

Girls should be taught to love their bodies and feel comfortable in what they wear. If a girl feels comfortable in a short skirt, then she should be allowed to wear one and not be constantly shamed for it. The idea of clothes being a distraction is purely underestimating the male population. If a boy is distracted by a girls shoulders or a girls thighs, and cannot focus of his own life, then that is his problem. It's not the girls fault. By telling girls that it is their fault, you are indirectly contributing to rape culture with victim blaming. 

Why are there rules that girls can't wear these things but boys can? Basically, you are telling a girl that because they're a girl, they have cover up. You punish girls by saying that "they're a distraction". You are saying that a boy's education is more important than a girl's. Girl should not be shamed and humiliated and held responsible for boys' reactions to their bodies. Girls are more than distractions. Why must we point the finger of blame to girls when they are viewed sexually? Boys can control themselves well enough and if they can't, then it's their problem, not mine. We should teach boys that girls are not sexual objects instead of telling girls to cover up.

We should teach girls to be confident. So many people say that they are all for gender equality and they think that women deserve to be treated equally and yet, they do nothing to fix the daily issues that women face. 

Practice what you preach, think before you speak and stop the discrimination. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

More of my Paintings

Hello, it's been a while hasn't it? Well, good news, I'm back! I haven't been writing for while, occasionally, I do write down a few short stories but none of them really make me happy. Most of them seem really weird or immature and I was just never happy with them so I never really published any of them. Although, I have been working on a story, slightly larger and longer than i normally write but I'm going to keep it private for a while, maybe someday, I'll get the courage to share it with you guys. Anyway, I am going back to an old post of mine in which I shared a couple of my paintings with you and lately, I've done some very interesting pieces that I really want to share so here are a couple of new paintings that I have done!

Here is one piece that I did pretty recently using acrylic as the medium. It is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln



Here is a piece that I actually did a while ago but I just really love it and I want to share it with you.


Here is another piece that I also did a while back and again, I really like it so I wanted to share it with you.



Here is another recent piece that is actually a very African way of painting and it was inspired by an African artist named Chidi Okoye and it is a picture of mother and daughter.

So these are all the paintings that I am sharing at the moment. I have plenty more and when I'm ready, i'll share more! Hopefully you liked my paintings!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Themes : My Perspective

Everyone reads books, watches movies or TV shows and listens to music. Whether it be just one, or all of them and everyone of us can say that we love doing these activities but why? All these activities have something important that they share with each other. They are all about the same thing.

Every book, movie, tv show or song is based around a theme. A theme could be anything like love, hope, death, family, relationships, etc. These themes make it appealing to the audience because it is something you can relate to. For example, when you are listening to a Taylor Swift song about her relationship or watching FRIENDS, they incorporate stories and themes that you, as a viewer can relate too.


These themes are basically our essence, It integrates different portions of our life, adds a little bit of an exaggeration and publishes it to the world. To me, I feel like there are a certain amount of themes that everyone in the world can relate to, something like death, family, love, loss, relationships and happiness. These "universal themes" can make any form of entertainment amusing or deeply spiritual because it means something to you.


Speaking in terms of a neuroscientist, when you're brain hears or watches something pleasurable, it releases a chemical called dopamine which spreads across your brain and makes you feel happy and/or excited.


These themes are what connects us as humans, it proves that everyone in the world are very similar because everyone goes through the same kind of experiences. They prove to us that everyone understands what you're going through and you're not alone. This is why authors, directors, screenwriters and musicians keep coming back to the same theme. Because people can relate.


Think all the way back to when Shakespeare wrote and compare it to authors like John Green or JK Rowling. They all wrote about similar themes and their stories are very much different but the inner meaning of the message they tried to get to the readers were pretty much the same.



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cinderella With A Twist

Everyone knows the magical tale of Cinderella. It's an overrated tale that puts unrealistic image in little girls minds. Many of these little girls grow up waiting for their Prince Charming or their Fairy Godmother but they are just going to be disappointed. I decided that I want to re-write this tale my way. I replaced elements of magic to self motivation, the perfect ending to an even more perfect one. Not only does this give people a more realistic view but it encourages people to fight for what they want, stand up for themselves and believe that anything is possible. 

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful, blond haired girl in the picturesque town on Chesterville. There was something unusual about this girl, a good kind of unusual and her father knew it. The father-daughter duo were extremely close until the young girl turned 8 and her mother died. It took her father a year to move on and marry a woman he met on his walk back home. This woman had two daughters who were even worse than their mother. She kept all her inner feelings aside and allowed the marriage, even though no one asked for her permission. The next few years, she stayed out of her family's way keeping everything to herself until tragedy struck and her father died of a terminal cancer.

This, now 14 year old girl was named Ella. The death of her father turned a corner in her step family. Their generally nasty attitudes turned into an even worse one. They physically and mentally abused Ella by making her clean the house, cook, wash the dishes and basically do all the chores a maid did. They never let her step out of the house except for school and grocery shopping. They kept the girl in unfair custody making her do everything and anything they wanted her to do. Her foul stepsisters even made her a nickname when Ella was cleaning the cinders. Her new, more oftenly used name was "Cinderella".

By the time Ella was 18, she had seen less of the world than a sewer rat. Her stepmother and stepsisters didn't see it but there was a small flame building up inside Ella and sooner or later, she was going to break into a fit of rage. The sick work they made Ella do was soon going to result in her leaving them and heading off to do what she wanted. What really got to her was that they never bothered to appreciate the things she did which they obviously took for granted. Instead of saying "Thank You", they told her to scam. Instead of saying "Please", they told her to hurry up or they would cut off her hair.

Ella was almost 19 years old when the Annual Prince's Ball came along. Her family, excuse me, stepfamily were never invited but this year was an exception. A lovely handwritten letter was left on their doorstep inviting them for the special party. The next week was a hasty set of events. Cinderella was busier than ever in stitching up their dresses, polishing shoes, plus the regular amount of work she did.

By the time the day of the Ball arrived, all the 4 dresses were fully stitched, the 4 sets of shoes were polished and all the jewelry was laid out, ready to be chosen. The three wicked woman walk into the room and immediately notice the extra set of clothing, shoes and jewelry. The stepmother walks forward, laughing before saying, "Oh Cinderella! You're not coming with us! I bet you thought you were but I have a huge list of things for you to do."

Words cannot describe how disappointed Ella was. After holding her tears in for 2 hours while helping them get ready, she began sobbing rather heavily the second that her stepfamily left. The fire inside of her finally ignited. She pushed herself up and began to get ready. She washed her face, cleansed her body and slipped into a silver and blue dress she stitched herself before. She wore her special glass heels that her father gave her, which surprisingly still fit. She brushed her hair and included a little hair bow.

Her complete transformation took her about an hour. She ran out of the house, motivated to go to that ball. She took a cab to the ballroom in the centre of town. Chesterville was very small and only had one stoplight so it took Ella a very short time to reach the ball. As Ella ran up to the big doors to the ballroom, she promised herself that she would leave by midnight, otherwise she would get caught by her stepmother. 

Her entrance to the ball was rather spectacular. She pushed the doors open and just stood there. She knew that all eyes were fixated on her. She began her walk into the ballroom but she was interrupted by the one and only Prince Charming. 

"Why, hello there! Don't you look lovely tonight! I don't believe we've met, my name is Eric, Prince Charming" he said rather boastfully. 
"Hello! My name is Ella, Cinderella" she said mimicking his boastful way of talking.

The next two hours of the ball, Ella spent all that time with Eric as they got to know each other. They shared personal stories and experiences and helped each other out. It was the most nicest conversation Ella had had since her father died. She told him all about her situation, she asked him for advice, he gave her advice, helped her out.

But Ella's time was running out. It was 10 minutes to midnight and Ella was still deep in conversation with Eric. She had to leave or she would never hear the end of it. Hours passed and Ella and Eric still spoke over the lovely harpist that goes by the name of "June Blue Harper". Rather ironic.

Ella left the ball at 2am right at the end of the ball. It was obvious that she had no intent on working for her stepmother anymore. She knew what she wanted, and she knew what she didn't want, and she definitely didn't want any more of this abuse. It was finally time for her to stand up for herself.

The second Ella walked through the front door of her house she could hear her stepmother yelling at her. 

"Enough!" Ella yelled to get her stepmother to stop talking "I am sick and tired of doing all the work in this house and I am not doing it anymore. I am an 18 year old woman and I don't deserve this anymore. I don't know what my father was thinking when he married you. I tried. I tried so hard to see the goodness in you and your daughters but that side never surfaced. For years, I have been afraid to stand up to you. I kept giving you another chance to be better but you couldn't be helped.  I am an adult and you don't have the right to keep me here anymore so I have made up my mind. I am going to go to college, explore the world, meet new people and have a good time" 

"Oh okay! And where are you going to get the money?" her stepmother said in a snobbish tone

"This is my house. My father left it to me in his will and the law says that it will be in my custody when I turn 18. I will sell it and use that money. I hope you realize that I am not your puppet anymore. A very wise friend I met today at the ball told me that sometimes I have to forget how I feel and remember what I deserve. He told me to take a chance, and here I am because life is a chance. A chance I want to take advantage of.  I am a strong human being with individual rights and I am finally standing up for myself because I deserve it!"

Over the next year, Ella really pulled her life together. She applied to many colleges and was accepted into an array of them. She scored a job in a community service called "Kids For The Future". She dedicated her life to making sure that no child ever had to go through what she went through. She wanted to make a difference and she did. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Dreaming..

Have you ever had one night where it's physically impossible for you to lie down and sleep peacefully? That one night where, for some reason, you found yourself drinking a cup of milk at 3:00am? That one night where you fell off your bed attempting to get comfortable? 

Well, I recently did and let me tell you, I didn't feel like Sleeping Beauty at all. I woke up like a billion times after a billion different nightmares. It might be an exaggeration but it's true, not to the exact numbers though. I had this one dream where I was in a pond full of fish and I was lying on a fish and then, I woke up. I wonder what that means, I guess I need to see a psychiatrist to find out the answer! 

Let me tell you a little about myself, I am a freak. I live my life in a way in which I NEED to know everything. The true meaning behind a dream, a thought, a story, a life, a soul, anything and everything that I encounter throughout my short yet experienced life. I don't know whether that crazy gene is generically passed down or I developed it as I grew up but it's there, somewhere in my body and it's growing bigger and bigger as we speak. I am a neat freak, a perfectionist and, I guess, now, an insomniac that must know everything.   I researched what fish in dreams might be. Since I dreamt that I fell into a fish pond and I was lying on one which almost tried to kill me, the site www.dreammoods.com said that:

To dream that you fall into a clear pond signifies good fortune and reciprocal love.

To dream that an unusually large fish is attacking you suggests that you are avoiding some emotional issue that is growing into a huge problem.

This just proves how desperate I was to know the hidden meaning behind my crazy hallucination, we call, dreams. But if you actually read the two hidden meanings are the opposite. The first one says that I will experience good fortune and "love" and the other one says that I am avoiding an issue. 

As I mentioned before, I had quite a few dreams. The other dream I had was that I was in a shootout and there were three men in black suits trying to killing me. So according to the site, 

To dream that someone is shooting you with a gun suggests that you are experiencing some confrontation in your waking life. You feel victimised in a situation or that you are being targeted.

I know, crazy. But the more I thought about the meaning behind these, seemingly meaningless dreams, the more I wasted my time lying on my bed when I could have done so much more. I think that I was wasting too much time thinking about something that wasn't real than I was spending time with my friends or my family or doing work that could actually help me in life. 

“Dreams, if they're any good, are always a little bit crazy. ” 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Writer's Block

My blog to me is a place where I can showcase my writing and let people know that I can write but recently, I don’t have anything to write about. I have writer’s block as many famous writers would say, and I think that the only way to overcome writer’s block is to forget about it so I did and this is what I finally came up with:

...............................................................................................................................................

NOTHING! I have no idea what to write about, so I finally made up my mind to sit down and find a nice blogging challenge which I could do for my blog but everything I looked at was asking me to write about myself and I prefer to write fiction because my life is boring. Fiction, to me, is an escape. A way to forget about my life and talk about a made up character which has formed itself inside my mind. I know that I can write. I have been told by my friends, family and teachers that I should write more. Especially by my mother who keeps badgering me to write but I cannot write when someone tells me to write. I write when I feel like it. I write when I have a plot line which is pounding in my head, telling me to write it down. 

Okay, picture this, the sun is pouring through my windows. I squint to look out my window and I see a bird. Then I close my eyes and continue with whatever I was doing. An hour or two passes by until I realize that I have to go for my art class. I get out of my house, get into a bus and sit down. I whip out my phone and I just start typing in my notes an idea, that initially came to me when I saw a sign that said “CCTV Cameras Operating” and this is what I came up with:

I keep my face invisible from the CCTV cameras in the bus. My legs shake as the reality of my current situation and what it will be like after I have successfully completed the heist. I get up slowly, at the same time, my hand reaches towards the 45mm pistol hidden behind my pink, plaid shirt. I stand up and make my way through the narrow lane between the two columns of seats. As I reach the front of the bus, I pull the gun out and hold it parallel to my face. I can feel my hand stiffening as I make a 2 second eye contact with every one of the passengers. I can see the fear in each one of their eyes as they think of their loved ones. I order them to empty their wallets. As each one of them reaches into their purses or pockets, I see her. I see a woman who didn't move an inch, instead she sat their with a smug smile as she giggled under her breath. She looks up and we make eye contact. I shoot her an angry look and in return she gives me an innocent yet brave look. Her legs stretch as she stands up. The pressure on the trigger tightens as I watch the woman stand up. I couldn't help but admire her confidence in standing up to me. I began to think that she didn't notice the 45mm gun in my hand. Her hand shifts across her body, she pushes her shirt up and I see a golden glint. The sun was shining upon a police badge, lodged between her jeans and her skin. I felt a soul move behind me. I turned around in a panic. My eyes were now fixed upon a man in his mid-30's. He wore a leather jacket. He mimicked the woman's actions. He lifted is navy shirt and the gold badge glinted in my eyes. They two of them smiled as they realized their accomplishments in capturing me. I drop the weapon as I kneel down and put my hands on my head. I knew the drill. As she handcuffed me with my hands behind my back, the man reads out my rights, "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law". A sense of failure surged through my veins as the man pushed my head down and into the black police car.”

Pretty lame right? And all of this came from a sign which just informed people that there were cameras in the bus. That’s when it hit me. This whole passage did not just come from the sign, it came from my head (and the crime show I was watching just before I left). That’s also when I realised that, since I like mystery and crime so much, I should write about that. But then, I remembered the stories that I have written before which were all based on 2 universal themes. 2 themes that I believe no one can go wrong with, death and family. I was playing it safe. I did not want to step out of my comfort zone. I did not want to take that leap because I knew that the stories I have written before were good because people can relate to it. In other words, it is universal.

So after this, as I like to call it,  “mid-writer crisis”, I have decided that my blog is not going to be just for my stories. It’s going to be my voice. Referring back to what my English teacher told us, “your blog is your megaphone” or microphone or bullhorn. I don’t remember the exact words. So, this is my megaphone and I am screaming in your ear all of my ideas, right now. Be prepared for some extreme and timid ideas because, in my brain, there’s a lot going on. A lot of nonsense and a lot of genius. I am like an active volcano that can erupt any time so, get ready, TO RUN!!


(I’m kidding!! Don’t run, I won’t hurt you) 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

I Am From - My Version

Here is a poem I wrote a few months ago. I finsihed it and it just was left unnoticed for a while. I was never sure on whether I should post it but I decided that I will, so here it is. I hope you like it..

I am from a land
    a land filled with beauty but no one to take care of it
I am from a land
    misunderstood, dull and blind


I am from a land
   of outgoing, loud people
I am from a land
   of the rich and the poor


I am from a villa in the south
   a place to call home
Parents who work, parents who love
   a brother behind a wall, soundproof


I am from broken bikes and swinging swings
   from London, from Paris, from flights, from trains
I am a traveller
   intrigued by the world


I am from a condo in the east
   8 pools for my enjoyment
Friends to laugh with, enemies to fight with
   gossip, rumours, laughter and tears


I am from a worn out school
 unit tests and assessments
I am from awkward silences
 from teachers that yell, from teachers that scare


I am from a shut mouth
 afraid to speak up, say how I feel
I am from the empty seat in the back
 someone to fill up the seat


I am from big dreams, a big heart
 but scared to pursue, scared to love
I am the interior designer, the writer, the federal agent
 dreams of mine, yet to be fulfilled

I am from the strokes by my brush
 the canvas, the water, the colour
I am from an art class in the corner
the girl splattered with paint


I am from a posh life by the Reservoir
 a small house, a small space
I am from a stocked wardrobe
 filled with clothes but nothing to wear


My life is being forged
 manufactured behind doors I cannot reach
There’s time lost, there’s time left ahead
 its my turn to show the world
 the magic behind my personality


I am from a life in the making.