Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tenant? No, you have no rights.

The good feeling about this year is quickly fading. Remember the obstacles I mentioned in my last post? Yes, they are making their presence felt.

I’ve said this before and I can’t say it enough—being a single, professional girl living in Mumbai is anything but fun and easy. I’m not discounting the fun bit, but it is hard. For some reason, because you come from outside the city and you’re not married, people judge you. People who you think are probably not so judgemental, judge you and how. Of course, I am also blindly following stereotypes by believing that certain communities are not judgemental, but now I know better.

If you are a single person from outside Bombay, living on rent, beware—you must not have friends or a social life. You must also have a job wherein you can be back home by 6pm (which means please get out of office by 5-5:30pm, given the duration of travel in this city), and once home, please stay put and do not exit the building. God forbid you have friends over for dinner, it will be instantly assumed that you are drinking, taking drugs, having loud, wild, trippy rave-like parties, even though, miraculously, you cannot be heard. But considering that your neighbours have their ears peeled to your wall, you are in trouble.

It doesn’t matter if you come from good, decent, well-to-do, cultured families in a different part of the country. Once you come to Bombay as a single person, you become a whore, someone brought up in a jhopar-patti, someone with no values, and someone who leads a life of no purpose or direction. You are a tenant and an outsider, so you are a nobody with no rights. Make no mistake that just because you are paying rent and a deposit, and not living in a hostel or paying guest accommodation, that you have the same rights as your neighbours, who ‘own’ their apartments, and hence the building, society and all moral judgment. You are not like any other citizen in this democratic (this word is as always, used fast and loose)—you have no rights. I have been told this point blank – no joke.

People sometimes amaze me. I am blessed with a family who has always *always* been supportive of all my decisions and actions. As a result of which, I have *never* had to lie to my folks. When I started dating, I would bring the boyfriends home; when I started smoking, I would smoke in my own house and though it wasn’t discussed openly till recently, I never had to lie. When I turned 18, my dad took me for a drink; any other *personal* situations could always be discussed with my mom (and I mean, anything). My sister of course, has always been and continues to be my best friend, my rock-solid pillar of support and the one who will fight the world to protect me. My family always told me, tell us the truth rather than lie and do things behind our backs. And I did, to the point where today, I am the worst liar on the surface of this planet.

So understandably, if I am not lying to my own family, I find it wrong and painful to have to lie to other people’s families, to landlords and to neighbours. I’m not a drunk, I’m not a slut and I’m not a bum. I’m an independent adult, earning my own living, leading my own life. The values in me have been inculcated by my grandfather, so I know I cannot be wrong on that front.

So how then, do people, on the pretence of society, values and ethics, become better than me by poking their noses into other people’s business; by making the lives of others hell; by bitching to some people about certain others, etc.? How is it that just because they have monthly EMIs on their heads, rather than a monthly rent, like me, they become more cultured, valued and powerful? I have my own house in my home city too; that doesn’t mean that I’m better than my neighbours who are tenants.

It is because of people like this that rapes are condoned in this country. If a girl has boys over at her place, she becomes a whore and then if she is raped, even if it’s outside her home, she was asking for it. I won’t be unfair; it’s not like all the landlords I’ve dealt with in my last eight years in this city has been so—but you’d be surprised at what people can be like. At least I am.

The only good thing is that because I’m a tenant, I’m not rooted to one place. I don’t have to deal with troublesome, small-minded neighbours, and spineless, stereotypical landlords—I can walk away as I please. So, I guess it’s time to walk. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

I met a man...

I met a man a few months ago. He saw me and immediately knew what was wrong. I cried before him and was not embarrassed. He suggested I wear a ring—a yellow sapphire. It’s pretty, though not as pretty as I’d like, and my friends don’t think it’s pretty at all. But I don’t mind it. He told me I am a creative person and I’ve made the right decision. He told me to write my book and that someday he would read it. He told me my heart was broken and would be so, but then he saw my tears, and knew they were true, so told me not to give up hope. He told me that I would face many obstacles in life; that my path was not easy—but that I had to fight it out. He told me to take a leaf out of his book. He hasn’t walked in years, in decades. He told me that if he could overcome the obstacles, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to. I promised that I’d try.

Today, my tears have dried and my heart has mended. I’m still wearing the ring, I’m still writing my book and I’m still in love. But he is no longer here. The man I met a few months ago, who inspired me more than anyone has in a while, is gone for good. Much before his time. He was a special man, he should have stayed.

I feel strange. I met this man only once. A man who deeply cares about me took me to this man, to help me find direction. And when I met this man, I wanted to believe everything he told me, even though I normally don’t—believe or wear rings. But I believed and accepted the hope he gave me. And yet, now he’s gone.
I’m telling my friends that this man is gone, and they ask me, were you close? No, we weren’t. Did you spend a lot of time with him? No, I didn’t. So why are you so upset? What are your tears for? I don’t know. I feel sad; I feel a void I didn’t think I could.

Do you have to know a person for decades to feel his/her loss? Do you have to spend a lot of time with him to miss his presence in this world? I don’t know. Perhaps. Then why do I feel so? Why do I feel uncomfortable in my gut? Why do I feel the bile of fear rising in my throat? Why am I scared that what he said may come true, and my heart will break again? That I’ll be unable to overcome the obstacles? Why can I not speak my heart openly to the one person I can otherwise tell everything? Why do I suddenly feel like I’m fighting a losing battle?

I met this man a few months ago, and today the man is gone for good. I didn’t know him too well and yet I mourn. Why do I feel so? I feel... I feel like running back home. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

It's gonna be a good good year!

Ten days into the New Year and no blog post?! Chee chee. Well that’s what happens when you have a job and all. Sigh.

But I gotta good good feeling about this year. Once I get used to writing 2013, all will be well. Maybe because unlike others, 13 has always been lucky for me. Or perhaps because 2013 adds up to 6, an even number. Either way, win-win!

The New Year started with a bang, with me hosting one of the most fun parties in a while. I was surrounded with the people I love, the people they love and the people those people love too. In short, I knew very few of the guests before that night and yet had a complete blast! And this was after I spent a wonderful Christmas with my bestie and her family in Goa, with her mom feeding us silly, and me picking up a few Goan recipes (perhaps to impress a certain other mother *wink wink*).

This blast-ful New Year’s Eve was followed up by a loud and crazy visit from my ACJ friends. Ten girls in one apartment—need I say more? But in short, they all loved Bombay, something that us Bombay folk, felt strangely proud of. Yes, I am now of the Bombay folk. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or bad.

And soon, once I can swim out of the sea of work I’m drowning in long enough to escape, I go home! Yes, mere yaar ki shaadi is almost here! Super excited about seeing my fams, eating home food, and doing lots of work at this wedding (yes, I am the Best Woman, as it were, and I have been warned that I may lose a few kilos during those days). The first one of my school gang is going down and this is big! The best part—he’s so happy and so in love that it almost restores my faith in humanity, soulmates, the universe etc. More on this special union (yes, I’m cheesy) once I’m back.

I have decided that this year is going to be the year of reckoning for me. I like the way that sounds so it may or may not be true.  But I have decided, or rather redecided, since I’ve decided this again, that this year I’m going to make things happen. I’m going try and fix things that are not right in my life, including friendships, relationships, my finances, my goals, etc. And, in case I see that anything is beyond repair, I will let that go with grace (that is, as much grace I can muster). I know how hard that is for me to do, but I’m going to do it. Since I’m usually an emo mess, the friendship/relationship bit may be the focal point. If it’s a long-standing friendship, I will fight tooth and nail to save it. If the person truly doesn’t want me in his/her life anymore, I will let him/her go—no hard feelings. If I’m meant to be with certain someone, I will make it work. If not, then maybe it is truly time to let go and move on. But I will be positive, and I will try and make those things that I want, happen. SPARTA.

Choices or destiny—it’s a little bit of both. My destiny depends on the choices I make, and the choices I make depend on the direction destiny has taken me. But I refuse to blame this year for anything. I can feel it in my bones that it’s gonna be a good one. And I’m also trying to convince people around me of the same—I’ve become quite the champion for this year!

I truly hope and wish this year is better for everyone, whether I know you or not, because God knows we need one. But work a little harder, love a little more, smile a little wider and hug a little tighter—just try it and see. It might not work, but then again, it just might and you might just end up having the best year of your life.