Attempt #2834729 at daily journaling

This is the first of what will hopefully be daily, casual, stream-of-consciousness blogging. I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of journaling — I have too many half-used notebooks cluttering my bookshelves to count. But, I have yet to maintain a solid streak of daily writing beyond just a couple days.

When I went to India, I was in second grade and scheduled to miss a lot of school because of the trip. One of my assignments by my well-intentioned teacher was to write every day about my experiences abroad. The first couple pages of my notebook was filled with detailed descriptions and cultural insight by my 7-year-old self, but the rest of the pages were left bare for the rest of my two-month trip.

When I returned, and realized with panic that I had a near empty journal to fill and turn in to my teacher within the next two days, it was absolutely miserable. Jet-lagged and bleary-eyed, I remember going through my dad’s itinerary of my travels, trying to trace back what I was doing each day of my trip to come up with journal entries.

Each post became shorter and shorter in frustration, and the entire project turned into a notebook filled with every possible construction of the sentence, “Played with cousins.”

Hopefully, this attempt will be a little more productive and successful than that unfortunate experience. The goal is to write a post that is not structured, and at least 250 words. This is my promise, in writing to not cop out. No gif articles. No listicles. No links to videos. No double-dipping into past writing, or writing from class. LeT’s dO DiS.

India Playlist

Amidst the cacophony and hustle and bustle, the moments that I really felt I was soaking up my surroundings during my travels was in the back seat of the car with the local radio station playing. These are not necessarily the most current songs of the moment, but they are what formed the acoustic scenery of my visit to India.

Track Listing:

  1. London Thumakada – from the movie Queen
  2. Chandelier – Sia
  3. Retrograde – James Blake
  4. Nagada Sang Dol – from the movie Goliyon ki Ras Leela: Ram-Leela
  5. Islands – The xx
  6. Kabira – from the movie Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani
  7. Sunn Raha Hai Na Tu – from the movie Aashiqui 2
  8. Leave Your Lover – Sam Smith
  9. Bounce – Iggy Azalea
  10. Baby Doll – from the movie Ragini MMS
  11. Magic – Coldplay
  12. Tumhi Ho Bandhu – from the movie Cocktail
  13. Stay High (Habits Remix) – Tove Lo
  14. Hookah Bar – from the movie Khiladi 786
  15. Summer – Calvin Harris

Picture source: i1.ytimg.com

Why I take issue with most Indian Soap Operas’ treatment of women

My home has a lot of Hindi TV playing, and through the many hours and seasons, I’ve noticed (and have becomes especially frustrated) with certain disturbing trends in the majority of the television shows that are so widely viewed and loved by its audience.

Indian serials perpetuate a Madonna-Whore complex. In brief, the Madonna-Whore complex is this notion that women exist only on two opposite poles: one is the celebrated “Madonna,” the symbol of all that is pure, chaste, virtuous, soft-spoken, meek, etc. while the other is the scorned “Whore,” embodying the opposite. In most Indian soap operas, the main female protagonist is loved and admired because of a few choice characteristics: modesty, humility, loyalty, unquestioning subservience to the elders of her home, and the ability to quietly tolerate any and all hardship without protest; in short, is the archetypical Madonna. The female antagonist, on the other hand, is written to be loathed for her ambition, outspokenness, and/or desire to challenge the traditional hierarchical family structure. She almost always dresses in a less demure way than the female lead, and has more jarring makeup. She may have had a *gasp* divorce, is married a second time, or is a young woman who plans on snatching away the female lead’s man.

This dichotomy is so infuriating, because it’s perpetuated in show after show, episode after episode, as the antagonist female’s independence, self-reliance, and outspokenness is demonized in the face of the protagonist’s subservient/maternal/tolerating nature. The few times a female lead begins to take a more proactive, non-passive role is when her family’s honor is at stake– which is very noble and honorable I guess, but we never see her do the same for herself. Indian serials need to stop glorifying this over the top, self-sacrificing nature that reinforces the idea that a woman’s only role is to serve others around her. We need more female protagonist characters that seek out success for themselves. 

Indian serials’ female characters’ entire lives revolve solely around acquiring/serving the significant male figure in their life. Indian culture is obsessed with marriage. The central theme of the majority of the Hindi serials on air right now is either the struggle to get married, or the struggle to maintain a marriage. And we get it. Yes, marriage is a milestone in life–but it’s not the sole reason for existence.

In a similar strain to my previous point, women in Hindi T.V. serials need to be more independent– not just from a character’s standpoint of being financial and emotional independence, but from the writer’s point as well. A sort of litmus test: Her character should be complex and developed enough that if you take out the significant male characters from her life, she can still stand as a believable character and  complete human being, instead of an empty shell of dependent emotions and responses to the actions of those around her. If she can’t, then the character is too weak to even put into the story. Give her as complex of a backstory as the male lead. Write her a history, a reputation, that doesn’t solely revolve around her past romantic interests.

Hindi television’s main problem is that it lacks not only protagonist strong women to begin with, but is completely devoid of complex women. This quote has been making rounds on Tumblr, and I feel it perfectly encapsulates the crux of my argument.

“Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. They are all ok, and all those things could exist in the same woman. ” –Lori

More excellent commentary on the role of females in media (not just in Indian media, but in general) can also be found here and here

Tides

Cultural paradoxes have had a permanent presence in my life. Living in an immigrant family with strong Indian traditions and proud identity while simultaneously moving to the most conservative, liberal, rural, and urban regions of America has certainly brought some interesting experiences. My numerous encounters with such cultural variations have broadened my view of society and my personal identity, and have convinced me of two facts: one, that exposure to diverse peoples and unique perspectives are the only methods of promoting tolerance, and second, that I want to devote my life to playing an active role in this process of enrichment.

I was born in Texas, and then moved to Maryland, California, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and South Florida. The diversity within this country has become one with my identity. I have witnessed both incredible acceptance, and incredible intolerance, and have been able to identify the root cause of these attitudes at a young age because of my unique perspective. The more informed we are of the great range of cultural norms that exist in the world—the more we realize that the world is not neatly cut into right or wrong, black or white, good or bad—the greater tolerance we exhibit in our interactions with people.

Until the high school, I felt, as most first generation Americans must feel: caught between the culture, traditions, and values of two seemingly irreconcilable fronts. What initiated the spark that altered my outlook was a World History class, taught by an especially influential and intriguing teacher. The course showed me that this process that I was a part of were tides on a shore, with migration at the crest, and assimilation as it crashed on the beach—ceaseless and unstoppable. From the dawn of humanity, human beings are traveling, taking in new experiences, and facing new challenges with resiliency, armed only with knowledge gained by encounters with unique people of various backgrounds. For me to not capitalize on my unique opportunity was ridiculous, and I now know how fortunate I am to have the wisdom and guidance of two entirely different cultures. The strong sense of family and community from Indian culture, and the boldness and individuality of the country I live in are qualities that I have striven to maintain and cultivate in my personality.

This multicultural perspective is a quality I bring to every endeavor of mine; it goes without saying that in today’s immensely interconnected world, a global view is not only desirable, but also crucial for success. It has been my travels in this country, in tandem with my uniquely Indian upbringing that has fostered in me this desire to spread acceptance through the formation of informed, insightful, and educated opinions instead of the preconceived prejudices that tend to reign supreme. I plan on communicating my experiences in an effort to promote a tolerance and open-mindedness that transcends all bounds of ethnicity, profession, socioeconomic background, and all other demarcations that divide us.