Small annoyances

All of us woke, progressive, ahead-of-the-game folks: why are we watching Indian Matchmaking? Why are we watching it and posting about it, even if to make fun of it? We know this stuff. We know it’s going to be cringe-worthy, it’s going to trigger us, we know it doesn’t need more eyeballs. I’ve watched a lot of timepass TV in the last four months, but I’ve consciously decided I’m going to stay away from things that no longer sit with my values. And considering I’m always feeling like there’s not even Indian content that’s made for an audience like me, I feel even more strongly that I can no longer give into this sort of voyeuristic, guilty-pleasure viewing. If I want better, I’ve got to choose better.

I wish everyone would stop with the memes, the hot-takes and even the mockery. The show doesn’t need more eyeballs, and certainly not confirmation and proof of how many eyeballs have been directed towards it.

I’m not entirely sure what the sweet spot between showing the grotesque reality of a socio-cultural structure like this, and making an informed commentary relevant to this moment in time is, but just seeing the trailer, I feel like this is not it. We have to move past skimming the surface by embracing enough wokeness to garner brownie points and profit from it through viewership, while sidestepping delving into the depths of an issue so problematic and in need of exploration.

***

So deeply disappointed in Kangana Ranaut of late. I’ve been slowly sliding out of that fandom for over the last year or so, but nothing made me exit faster than the way she’s been piling on her own agenda onto the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput. Deeply distressing to watch the way she’s using her words, targeting and verbally abusing the same group of people she claims she belongs to and is fighting the cause for. It makes no sense anymore.

I’ve tossed this around in my head a lot in the past. Wondering if it is my conditioning that makes an aggressive, opinionated woman uncomfortable for me to take. But it isn’t. It’s the hypocrisy, the double standards, the blatant pandering one toxic establishment in the name of bucking the foundations of another. Most of all it’s the total lack of empathy and foolhardiness of her arrogance that is making me shame my head every time she opens her mouth.

***

I’ve been wondering about this whole Bollywood debacle that’s droned on and on and on with absolutely no new insights being offered for a month now, and wondering how and why it’s occupying so much primetime news space, in a country and at a time when the pandemic is literally raging fury, floods are ravaging significant parts, while others are drowning in anarchy and complete breakdown of law and order. So many states reeling under the effects of a broken health system, no real, dependable answers and numbers from health officials from any corner about what we have on our hands and how we’re dealing, even four months into this.

But we’re so happy to get behind relative non issues like nepotism? Like we’re well on our way to finding that vaccine and making is available to the country? Like we’ve solved hunger, poverty and education?

This is where I smell a rat and call bullshit on Kangana’s rampage. She is a well trained arm of the forces that be. Extremely erudite in understanding the goals of the propaganda machine, fitting right in, harnessing all her clout and skills to deliver. Distractions, histrionics, dangerous rhetoric, pretend nationalism couched in nice sounding intentions. She’s aced this act since 2014. And she has been well rewarded for it.

So while the nation burns, lets please keep focusing on Bollywood and imagined issues of any relevance.

***

I was late to catch up on the Shubham Mishra video, but heck, it gave me chills to watch it and hear his impassioned words. I felt really physically afraid, in my body, thinking about the number of men — his entire army of followers — who would be emboldened by those words. And it really stoked a fire that’s been slowly gathering steam in the pit of my belly: 

I do not feel safe in this country. I do not feel safe to be a woman. I do not feel safe on the Internet. I do not feel safe in this society. I do not feel safe.

It has taken a lot of work to feel well, whole, and safe in my body. And I have made huge strides in this aspect. But it takes so little to slip back into fear.

Stepped out for a walk with VC this evening. My first outing in over 10 days. I decided to run ahead. And in no time at all, I realised I was being stared the fuck out. A feeling and a sense of self consciousness that I’d lost touch with because I’ve worked hard to move past it in many ways, and I’ve been indoors for the larger part of this year, which has given me space to stretch myself out. And forget others’ eyeballs.

My first instinct was to check if my nipples were showing. Second, double take over my clothes to see what was “inappropriate”. It is this deeply ingrained. Subconsciously, it is so easy to feel unsafe, and then blame ourselves for any danger we might feel.

I know it’s not much better elsewhere. But overall, I’m just so sick of this country. I’m just so done.

***

Even today, so far into this whole situation I saw loads of people without masks on. Old people without masks taking evening walks, mums pushing strollers with babies in them without masks on, construction site workers and contractors milling around without masks on, street-side vendors without masks on. All while I was sweating it out under my mask, while running. Making big glaring eyes at all of them, almost as if to cancel out their stares at whatever the hell they found so interesting to stare at me for.

***

But here’s a sunshiney picture from today. The skies were blindingly blue, but it wasn’t hot. The air was thin, cool and light to the touch. After several nights of heavy rain, and many rainy, wet days, it was lovely today.

And we came out of lockdown today. Two reasons why I decided to get out.

One year ago: Unpretty
Four years ago: Homebody

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