Tuesday, December 11, 2018

30 and beyond!

I turn thirty later this week and have been going through the motions of feeling scared, extremely anxious, excited (because I love birthdays), reflective, and concerned that I haven’t done many of the  things I set out to do when I first turned twenty-one.

A lot of people tell me that my feelings are unwarranted, that being thirty isn’t a big deal, and that nothing changes. And while nothing might change from a day to day perspective, I worry that the feeling of you have your whole life ahead of you that one feels through their twenties will suddenly diminish. That feeling of regret over not accomplishing the many things – big and small – will set it. So here I am taking steps to avoid those feelings by preempting them (such a grown up thing to do!)!

The first step is to look back at this past decade and marvel at the many things (some awesome, some routine) that I have accomplished (or at least ticked off my list!). Whether it was leaving home and moving to a different country, hustling for my first job, having my first real paycheck, buying extravagant gifts for family and friends, traveling to the many places on a never ending bucket list, getting married to my best friend, ticking off some professional goals, investing and saving money (and losing money learning to do that), learning to enjoy food and culinary experiences, having grown up furniture, getting published, or many many other things, there is certainly a lot to be proud of! So, a pat on the back for surviving my twenties and doing a pretty decent job at that!

The next is to understand the lessons I have learned and to make sure I keep them close to me – whether it is understanding that some relationships are meant to end when they do, or that some friends do truly become family, or that money can come and go but your integrity is what always remains, that family does come first, or that it is okay to do things for you, and that, all said and done, you are responsible for your own happiness. My twenties taught me that your word is important, that you are accountable for your actions, and that being true yourself is the greatest gift you will give yourself and the people who love you.

I also know that I now need to find something new to look forward to; all my life that was my thirtieth birthday. I never thought to look beyond that. So, with that, here is my list for the thirty (+one) things to do before my thirty (+one) birthday next year.
  1. Travel alone – For all the traveling I have done, I have never truly traveled alone to a place where I know no one. So, in the next year, that’s the number one thing to do.
  2. Get a tattoo – I have grown up afraid of needles and the feeling of permanency tattoos bring with them. This year, it’s time to conquer that.
  3. Go to a really tall building and look down for one minute – This might seem strange to some but I have a fear of heights and this is my small way to help conquer it.
  4. Take care of my health – I have never had a full body exam or made regular appointments with doctors; I go see the right one when something is wrong. This year, I aim to correct that and engage in preventative care that I know is so important.
  5. Get healthy – I don’t only mean lose weight or go to the gym x times a week. I mean really get healthy – eat the right food for me, find a balance between indulgence and control, pick up an activity that I do for longer than one month.
  6. Let people around me know what they mean to me – send handwritten notes, care packages, send them a message, pick up the phone more.
  7. Learn a language – I have zero (proven) ability to learn languages. So this year, let’s see if we can change that!
  8. Take a dance lessons – I always took dance lessons when I was younger. Somewhere, I lost that interest in learning new dance forms. This year, let’s do it.
  9. Take a class – I haven’t taken a class (outside of the bar exam) in over 6 years. This year, I want to learn something new. Maybe more about technology, maybe about arts and culture.
  10. Get that dreaded professional certification – I have been putting this off for a few years. Making sure it is on this list is my way of staying accountable.
  11. (Re) start a blog – I love food, eating out and sometimes cooking it myself. I also love(d) to write. This year, I am going start blogging more.
  12. Read 31 books – I always marvel at how people find the time to read so many books each year and have always wanted to do that myself. It is going to take discipline but we are going to get it done.
  13. Watch 31 movies – I probably do anyway, but let’s make it an item to tick off the list!
  14. Make a frivolous purchase – Even though I buy what I need, want or feel is worth it, I have never bought anything just because. This year, I want to see how that feels like.
  15. Host a dinner party – I love hosting people at our home but I almost always cater a large part of it. This year, I want to through a true dinner party – fancy plates, home cooked food, good wine, flower arrangements – the whole shebang.
  16. Send postcards – This is something I do once in a while but now, every trip I take this year, I want to send at least one postcard each time. I know I would love to receive a handwritten note from another person’s travels so me doing it for someone else just seems right.
  17. Sponsor a girl child – I have been doing things like these on and off but I haven’t been able to truly sponsor the education of anyone in entirety. This year, I hope to make a small but meaningful change in another person’s life.
  18. Wake up 30 minutes earlier – Imagine all that I could accomplish – a homemade breakfast, that glass of warm water with honey, making the bed, oh, the things I could do are endless!
  19. Meditate – I have started and failed at this goal SO. MANY. TIMES. Maybe this year I am finally able to concentrate for 5 minutes a day without distracting myself?
  20. Write more – My early twenties included a lot of writing. I even wrote a book of poetry for my best friend as a teenager. This year, I want to write more.
  21. Learn photography – I love clicking photographs but I am not so good at it. Apple offers free classes, so maybe that’s a way to do it!
  22. Meet one new person a week – I was extremely good at meeting new people and networking when it came to making professional connections back in day. This is something I want to emulate in my personal life and start back on professionally.
  23. Plant a tree – because why not.
  24. Say yes for an entire week – I read about this a little while ago; I want to have a “yes” week. What this means is that, within reason, I will say yes to anything anyone asks me to do.
  25. See the opera – This is something that just seems so cultural and grown up that I it’s been on my list forever. Time to do it.
  26. Surprise someone.
  27. Have a picnic in the park – I have lived in New York for over 4 years now. How have I not already done this?!
  28. Complete the 31 countries in 31 years list I have!
  29. Perform at a karaoke bar – Something I have only ever done in large groups. I am a terrible singer and have something of a stage fright when it comes to this.
  30. Unplug for an entire day – no television, no emails, no technology.
  31. Write down 31 things I am grateful for.

Writing this was scary but exhilarating. I have put down thoughts and wants I didn’t even realize I had! But, time to celebrate this week and then continue celebrating every week after that while checking things off this list!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Premarital sex and live-in relationships – clearing the legal misconception!

Typing Madras High Court in the Google search today brought with it many results. Most of them with the heading that roughly meant having premarital sex would equal to being married. There was no mention of the minimum time you had to have lived together, no mention of any facts of the case and certainly no mention of the principles if any laid down by the judgment. My first thought was that of anger and frustration. I began to wonder if we were ever going to stop being regressive and maybe accept the way society was progressing and work with that? Then I felt helplessness that even if a 20 something year old wanted to make a choice to live his life a certain way he would be unable to do so for the fear of being tagged as “married” and all that came with it, especially if the relationship ended badly. Finally, I wondered – could the Madras High Court, after the only other case regarding premarital sex that created such social media frenzy was an appeal in the Supreme Court from the same court, pass a regressive judgment after the Supreme Court has passed a fairly progressive one only a few years ago?

The Supreme Court in the Khushboo Case[1] had taken a neutral and progressive stance with respect to premarital sex and live-in relationships that “the acceptance of premarital sex and live-in relationships is viewed by some as an attack on the centrality of marriage. While there can be no doubt that in India, marriage is an important social institution, we must also keep our minds open to the fact that there are certain individuals or groups who do not hold the same view. To be sure, there are some indigenous groups within our country wherein sexual relations outside the marital setting are accepted as a normal occurrence. Even in the societal mainstream, there are a significant number of people who see nothing wrong in engaging in premarital sex”

The Madras High Court case in question, in my mind is one which was dealing with maintenance a woman wanted for herself and her two children, who were born as a result of her relationship with the man and this fact had been endorsed by the man himself on the birth certificate. The man had deserted the women and took the plea that they were never married and hence he was not liable to pay any maintenance. The women on the other hand stated that they had married and she was his legitimate wife and the children his legitimate children. It is thus safe to assume that the case dealt with the scenario where the man and women were living together for a number of years and had given birth to not one but two children, clearly showing that it was consensual. It in no way was a case which was passing judgment over whether premarital sex was permitted between two heterogeneous adults and what the consequences of the same would be.

I believe the lines that created such social media frenzy among people are “...if any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations," and “Wedding solemnisation was only a customary right, but not a mandatory one.” While I agree that the graphic details that one is subjected to reading the various news articles and the direct language used by the Judge to deal with the issue have attributed to the outcry, the larger section of the public (and media community) seems to have completely ignored the legal standpoint of the order passed by the Madras High Court – which being a legal order should be viewed accordingly!

Dealing with a similar fact pattern, over two decades ago the Supreme Court in S.P.S. Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan[2] had held that “if man and woman are living under the same roof and cohabiting for a number of years, there will be a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as husband and wife and the children born to them will not be illegitimate.”  Further, in 2010 the Supreme Court in D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal introduced very clearer the concept of common law marriages in India and stated that "a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ is akin to a common law marriage. Common law marriages require that although not being formally married:
(a) The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.
(b) They must be of legal age to marry.
(c) They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.
(d) They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time"
According to my understanding, the Madras High Court has used the same parameters for reaching its conclusion, and the judgment seems to be in conformity with the law laid down by the Supreme Court. The hue and cry created over this is something I fail to understand since the principle is literally the law of the land since over two decades now and has been continually reinforced as well by the courts.

Another view that most people seem to be have been taking (or fearing) is that if they are with someone long enough, it can be attributed to be a marriage, without either one of them intending it to be so. Personally I don’t think that unless you are in a live-in relationship, this order or any other similar order has any bearing on your life. If however you are in a live-in relationship and are living like a married couple, then what the Supreme Court in 2010 stated has bearing on your life - that a live in relationship when continued for a long time, cannot be termed as "walk in and walkout" relationship and there is presumption of marriage under Section 114 of Evidence Act[3].

Whether we are becoming a progressive society or heading towards becoming a socially intolerant and regressive society is something we decide as a whole, and not something the courts of the country are commenting upon. However, to settle the fears, you can have premarital sex or continue to live the way you deem fit, and the Madras High Court order in no way puts into jeopardy your freedom to do so. With respect to the basic principle of being labelled married or the children you have as legitimate – the Supreme Court has stated that since 1992. For the unaware, at least this brings to fore an important principle laid down by our courts.  

[1] JT 2010 (4) SC 478
[2] AIR 1992 SC 756
[3] Madan Mohan Singh v. Rajni Kant;  AIR2010SC2933

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Resistant to change

It is no longer about a rape, or about those dying a gruesome death
Nor about a terrorist attack, or the limbs going up in the air

The people we are becoming, is like a man in a cave
Ruthless and callous, unforgiving about the need for the next prey

Scream and shout we do, revolt and riot all around
But people suffering everywhere, it’s just become a passing phase

The feeling of disgust, the gut telling us to make a change,
We sit in our comforts, condemning those for the ill fates

We talk about resistance, about the answers we need
The humanity and compassion we talk about, is all just a show, a game

No one to take the first step, to make a concrete change,
It’s all about a momentary thought, from transformation to just refrain

Maybe someday in the future, a civilization there will be
Where life is treasured, the cowards and inhumane caged.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On the foothills of change

On the foothills of change, afraid to take a step forward
Holding on to the memories, the feelings of warmth and comfort
Laughter and joy that existed is now nowhere to be found
When it becomes all about anger and revenge, it is time to move on

On the foothills of change, afraid to take a step forward
To let go of the moments and the memoirs of happiness around
The dreams of yesterday begin to come tumbling down
Hope there remains, but nothing to hold on

On the foothills of change, we must take a step forward
With hopes of freedom and confidence, of dreams abound
To embrace the chance we are being given, without scowls
Move on from the black hole and march ahead from here on

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I am a girl and I don't know what that means anymore...

I am a girl. A girl who has always lived in a metropolis environment, who has had the free reign to gain an education I aspired to have. A girl who has had the fortune to be a born into a fairly accepting and open minded family, where I had certain rules to follow but was allowed to be the person I wanted to be. A girl who has not seen the women of her family clad from head to toe but instead dressed as one felt comfortable, who has kept traditional wear as something associated with functions and festivals. A girl who has grown up in an environment where moderation is key but having a drink isn’t a crime, where the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer has been favored by most.

I am a girl. A girl who has been allowed to have friends who are boys, who I have grown up playing sports with, who I have extensively used public transport with. A girl who was told very early on that a driver and car isn’t at her disposable and to learn how to use the local train as a daily mode of transport, to use the rickshaws and taxi’s whenever it was needed. A girl who is allowed to stay out late at night just as long as the parents know where I am headed and have given a time I will be back, who is allowed to travel by herself without a person maneuvering her every move.

I am a girl. A girl who has had the opportunity to live in a foreign land all by herself, who has taken care of rent, utilities, groceries and everything else in between. A girl who has grown up knowing that while bad people exist out there, the world is primarily made up of people like you and me. A girl who has always thought that if I keep to myself and be my own person it is my right and another has no business in it. A girl who has been allowed the same privileges her brother has, who has been given the same upbringing and who is allowed to choose a career that she deemed fit for herself.

I am a girl. A girl who is suddenly realizing that all her life she lived in a myth, was lied to and nothing is really as it seems. A girl who is now told that if she wears a sleeveless top or a short skirt she is propositioning herself, asking to be raped or molested or looked at by a random eye. A girl who is learning that just because I go out to the bar, or hold a drink, I am giving permission to all the men present there to have a roving eye because they apparently are unable to hold their testosterone or alcohol. A girl who is now aware that having guys as friends or being in a relationship with someone means that she is an open invitation to all the boys she hangs out with because if you are for one, apparently you are for all.

I am a girl. A girl who now fears opening the newspaper for being told another woman was stabbed to death because someone else’s husband thought his wife was cheating on him. A girl who is getting aware of the reality that if she breaks up with someone the guy might come by and throw acid on her face. A girl who is scared to walk the streets at night for she doesn’t know from where a group of guys may pounce on her and treat her as their treasured prey. A girl who worries writing her thoughts on a social networking site for she doesn’t know who is monitoring it anymore. A girl whose parents now worry when she leaves home and are worried till she is back in her room at night.

I am girl. And apparently that gives you the right to pass lewd remarks, to be crude, to stare, and to maybe even molest me or rape me if you think I am sending such a signal to you.

I am girl and I don’t know what that means anymore… Maybe you do?