Saturday, April 20, 2013

Date a girl who isn't afraid

**In case you don't know the format of "date a girl who...", Google it. It has some stellar (and corny) posts that went viral. I am writing this because I live in Delhi, India and am at a loss to articulate how I feel as a woman about safety.**

Date a girl who isn't afraid. Date a girl who isn't afraid of you, her parents, her entire extended family, teachers, the police, politicians, others' opinions and of embarrassing herself. She will probably be like a pot of boiling, molten substances. You might see her everywhere, all the time, more than any other girl you know. Her opinions maybe ridiculous and her bravado may seem foolish at times. Admit to yourself she is trouble.

Find a girl who doesn't seem to be afraid. Go closer and smile at her understandingly to tell her that you have a hint about how many people she makes unhappy as she steps out waving her bag and flailing her arms, walking with a careless hop in the most unsuspecting of places, at a time when no one seems to be around, doing nothing at all. Follow her as she loiters endlessly. If you are taller, match your steps silently and watch what a world takes away from her within an hour of joyful loitering.

Keep watching out for a girl who isn't afraid because there is a daily possibility that someone will want to squeeze her, pinch her and undress her in the middle of the crowded market. Step back as she continues to walk and ends up being slapped on the bottom. Her cheeks will turn a bright crimson and the molten substances may spill out from within. Look up at the sky of densely impossible clouds. You may see them form familiar faces who have no confidence in her ability to walk by herself and be left to her devices. That is when you should walk up to her.
Face the tearing girl who is on the verge of being afraid and don't offer her your critique of the society. Shake her hand and take a minute to admire her. Not her face, not her body, but the warm, stubborn extension of her wherever she walks. It's like her walk builds a little garden of not-so-afraid wherever she goes.

Propose to be around her, express your earnest desire to know her and in the same breath, admit your terror at the risks she chooses to take. In her enthusiasm, she might topple her bag full of books and biscuits and flowers and a knife, maybe. Avoid the urge to start sermonizing on self defense, Swiss knives and pepper sprays. Her mouth might be half open with no words coming out. You might get an inkling that she's been through this before. At least twenty times. If she hesitates, don't chase her until she relents.

It's painful to date a girl who isn't afraid. What can you offer? How much will she accept of your genuine, non-chauvinistic support? But, you should know it is an immense pang of relief for her when you say that rape isn't about the loss of dignity. She will be your statement to the world, your illustration of balanced feminisms and of honest changes by walking through the world day and night.

Plan long walks, to lanes, gardens, slums and the beach. Make sure you've seen them all with her in the morning, afternoon, evening and the winter night. Kiss her in public view, nibble at her ear to tell her you are equally unafraid of how you feel, where you are and what you do. Don't forget to sing. And whistle.

Find a girl who isn't afraid and soon enough you will know what scares her. Be with her and make sure, that a few years later you both know more girls who aren't afraid.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The end of the first job

So, I am moving on. Almost no one is unhappy that I quit, including me. For those who love me, there is absolute confidence that I will move on to do better things. I've often told myself how it is absolutely necessary to not get comfortable in a spot, city, job, relationship, program. Ironically, I've always said that after having arrived at a new place, job, program, relationship; asked myself, wondered what I will do after what I haven't even begun yet. This was me, at least a year ago. I would call myself the insider/outsider and I think others called me (to my face and otherwise) the forever-discontent-trouble-maker. As you can surmise, I am not a fan of systems, team meetings, group work, departments and such. In the past one year I've secretly admitted to so many occasional-delvers-into-my-life that I loathe asking for favors and meeting people to solve their problems. Similarly, I cannot suffer idiots, if I see a luddite I call her one, I've been lauded/hit with descriptives like clear and articulate. Have I changed in the past year? Obviously, yes.
I would do all this with no hesitation a year ago. To do a small detour/parentheses, not all of you will agree with what I have written of me so far. That is because, like most of you have realized, I span a vast, vast territory of people. That is the only strength that I can own up to any day. I am very awkward but I will always have something to talk to you about. I can be funny as some of you know. I used to feel pretty, I feel cleaner and not so arty anymore. I don't click pictures with my camera and I've cut my hair short. The point is, almost none of you see my expanse of relationships the way I do. That is where my skills work like magic in keeping clean cubicles of every person I've ever met, like a file with their stories in the strangest of their phases and moments. I might have pictures, incidents, secrets, lost interests, love stories - everything about them/you. But, today I wonder, what use is this little museum inside of me to the real world where I've been hustling for a year? Does all this matter?
The change in me has been about tempering myself. I've cried hoarse to many of you about the kind of people I have to work with (study with, volunteer with, intern with, live with, reach out to, travel with - the post is not *only* about you or you). It was a new phase and degree of hustling. I traveled a lot in this one year. I was forced to make new friends with some of you because I had to work with you. I did implementation in office. I did theory in class. I crashed in the room. I visited home after a whole year. For the first time ever, my parents experimented with the thrill of giving a surprise gift on my birthday. A lot of firsts, you can see.
Come to think of it, I've never really imagined a realistic and immediate profession. It's always been between finishing three thousand word papers in one night and being a professor, politician or world traveler (as soon as possible, like right now). So yeah, we fall from imaginary stars, we lose some love and we sit down close in the face of uncertainty. Wake up to a morning of non-work and reconcile with the idea of all that you have so far other-ed - non-work, aimless, lost, nothing-much, what next, don't know, yeah-me-I-don't-have-a-clue-either. It's not so bad outside my head. I can be employed in generic professions. I can teach, do journalism, write reports and such. But, those do nothing to convey the panoramic and conflicted perspective that I have acquired so far in my work, study and life. That is why I am not jumping to another job. Most things come to me by eliminating things I don't want to do. Maybe that explains a strong craving stench in me for some stability in personal life. I find the idea of freelance work dreadful.
Till I find a new peg, it is going to be all about addressing uncertainty. And, I know that needs some courage and some pro-active measures. Maybe not yet. I think I want to go home for now. Or be loved and pampered. Life gets better, right?