6 things that road trips teach you.

I went on a couple of road trips in the past couple of months. And I love road trips. The chance to drive along open highways and expressways give one the feeling of absolute contentment. That said, I love to drive too. Driving outside the hallowed moon-surfaced precincts of Mumbai, one first come across roads that are, well, not craters! It is such a pleasant breeze to drive on roads that are smooth. Yes, the highway does have occasional ditches, but that is pardonable, given that this is India.

So what do road trips teach you?

  1. Road trips teach you a renewed love for the vehicle.

You hear a tyre being impregnated by a nail, over the music that you are playing. You learn to respect this mechanical extension of you. You value and are filled with respect and pride for the brother who loaned you his car. And say a silent prayer for him.

  1. Road trips teach you patience.

And when your only passenger is the epitome of patience, it rubs on you. And it is nice to hear some different gaalis from her when some jerk decides to well, be a jerk on the road. It is calming in a different sort of way.

  1. Road trips teach you to respect Nature.

The changes of the colours of the earth, the sun, the moon, the grass and aromas of the places you are visiting; the vistas, the ability to stop and smell the roses, in our case, the marigolds, the vineyards and the fragrance of sunset; following the Super Moon of 2016, as she follows our car to now appear only in 2025.

  1. Road trips teach you to value your co-pilot, friend and co-conspirator.

I totally understand Bonnie & Clyde.

  1. Road trips teach you to value silence.

The lull in conversation; the switching off of music and listening to where you traverse; of listening to the deafening silence in your head; this and a lot more.

So, if you are too tired to speak, sit next to me, because I, too, am fluent in silence. R. Arnold

  1. Road trips teach you to look deeper.

To look at the value of the people, the vehicle, the art of driving, the life you live, the life you want to live, to look deeper than merely seeing.

Drive. Explore. Live.

 

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Spotlight

 

Just watched Spotlight (2015) directed by Tom McCarthy. A movie on child molestation and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church at the hands of priests in the Boston (MA) area. And I must say it is so near home. Anyone who has been part of a church choir, or the altar boys, or even played badminton in the Stone Hall beneath the Chapel, or dusted and arranged the bookcases of priests, knows what I am talking of, and some of us have gone through suggestive words by these priests.

I am glad I was taught to be open and chat about the day, and I had a good dialogue with my mom who recognized the sentiments behind those words and stopped us from playing badminton, and spending extra time with the priests. I know of a newly ordained priest closer home, who had been sodomized and hence left the priesthood, just after his ordination, before his first Mass.  So I am talking Bombay and Goa – two heavy bastions of the Catholic community.

So what the Spotlight movie talks of is real. A couple of years back the Pope Benedict XVI apologized for these pedophile priests. Never mind that those priests were finally taken away and put in glorious places in the Vatican. The trauma that his flock instilled in their community is here to stay. It is a known fact, yet hidden by Catholic Guilt. Not only are children subject to victimization, even nuns too. A former nun published a book on it, “Amen – The Autobiography of a Nun” by Sister Jesme (Penguin).

A lot of Catholics take priests to be representatives of God. But do they follow the holiness? Celibacy is one of the sacrosanct vows that they have to take. But as humans first and men, it is not easy to be celibate. It is easy to be tempted. I know of a lady following a priest to every parish he was stationed, in the hope of finally getting him. And I know of priests who have quit after years of being a priest and married their fellow parishioners too. But I also heard enough of priests and their shenanigans.

As the movie depicts, kids from poorer families, broken homes, disturbed homes these are the vulnerable prey. It is an indelible scar and very humanely portrayed in the movie. Men 30-40 years later breaking down and crying, urging the reporters to ‘get them.’

This movie is a reality that deserved to be brought to light. Dig in and you will find many more right in your city. It won’t surprise me.

Spotlight truly deserved the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Academy Award; the Oscars were this time, right on some counts.

 

 

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Discrimination and Mumbai

Just caught the end of the News Hour on Times Now. The discussion on a Muslim not getting housing in Mumbai. The politicians saying there is no discrimination. What utter crap! My name is Sabira Fernandes. I am of Goan heritage and was raised a Catholic. I was named after Sabira Merchant, who is a Muslim. I have been asked if one of my parents is Muslim. No they are both Goan Catholics, and my heritage goes back generations. In fact, I am sometimes amused and surprised, if at interviews, my religion, or the etymology of my name does not come up. Yes internationally it is illegal to ask such questions, but it is routine in India, even in multinational companies. And I am talking of large multinational companies who have been here for 50+ years in India.

Secondly, a little more than a decade ago, when I was looking at buying a house, at one builder’s office I stood in one queue, and my sister in another. At the point when I said my name – I usually don’t give my surname – I was told there was no place, all the flats were sold out. I went to the queue where my sister was in, and she said we were going to see the sample flats. My sister’s name is Sunita, as Hindu as it can get, and we were royally ushered in. On questioning the builder’s representative, we were told that “Yes, we have an unwritten rule towards ‘certain’ communities; Why didn’t you say ‘Fernandes’, we would have shown you the sample flats.”

So no discrimination, my left foot!

And this has emerged even larger after the Mumbai Riots.

During the Bombay Riots 1991-92, I was urged to respond to ‘Fernandes’, not Sabira, because ‘you never know what would happen!’ My boss who was a Hindu, and stayed in Bandra, used to roam with my identity card, (we had similar hairstyles and facial features were not too discernble on those tiny atrocious snaps on the ID card). Passing through riot-torn Mahim, she could pass off as ‘Catholic’, which was a safe religion to be in. Ofcourse the consequences of identity theft had not hit me then.

My India is the MOST racist place I have ever been. When I was in college, during the ‘hair perm’ craze, I was once tanned black after a week on a beach. I could pass of as an African, with my skin and curly permed hair and walking through Colaba, I heard the taunts from the shopkeepers. I learned new words that day. The innocence of youth shocked into reality.

I have a Muslim friend, who got a Domicile Certificate done. Why? “Because you never know when I will have to prove that I am an Indian.” Such is the trepidation.

As a lady with a Goan heritage, it is not unusual to have my country people treat me as if I was a foreigner. Especially North Indians, who haven’t moved too much off North.

Also Christians, are still considered ‘outsiders’.

Is this India? The politicians milk religion for their pockets. And the country suffers. Divide and rule. The Indian politicians have taken a step further, divide and increase hatred.

My experiences.

So don’t tell me there is no discrimination. I have stories to tell!

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India. Cry my beloved Country.

All this while I was trying to be polite and say ‘mindsets’ should be changed, mothers are to be blamed; but the sad truth is, the men mentality needs to be changed. Mothers follow the age old custom. Men control and mothers-in-law control even more.

But rape is now the everyday story. With 70% or rapes not being reported. Society and law and police make the woman suffer even more than the actual act. Nirbhaya awakened the need for safety, but also made men realise that they can go free and dance triumphantly. When lawyers support curtailing women, what can one do?

I say castrate the rapists. Make them suffer.

Burn their bodies in 60% burns. Make them suffer.

Douse the fires and leave them to fend for themselves. Make them suffer.

A stronger law should be enforced. And enforced is the operative word. Strict enforcement. Not just mere words.

I have been at the receiving end of cat-calls, yes that was the term used then, I had priests, boys who are now priests, or have wives who are priests, scar me with their sexist statements. (Come to think of it, they had no sisters). To be asked for ‘favours’ to have your brother clear papers is just appalling. And yes it happens in Mumbai. Innocence is aggressively lost.

Yes they are real. My breasts are real; they have been so since I was 12. Breast augmentation was not done in the mid ‘80s in India. At 16, no one does plastic surgery on their breasts. I hated my body. And at 40 for another priest to pass sexist statements, makes me want to hate those people. Body structure is genetic, or ‘god’ given, if you must. As much as I think I am over it, it surfaces. My hope, Karma will deal with these people.

So when I spout ire at Indian men, it is because I have been there!

So yes, suffering to them men.

Emotional scarring can be forgotten or repressed, but emotional pain surfaces. Rape is like a new fad in this country. All because these men know they will get away with it. And men get away with it!

I always maintained Mumbai was safe. You have to learn to value the sanctity of a woman, whether unborn, in the womb, or 3, or 72. What is the sense of praying to Durga, when her daughters in Kolkatta are brutalised; or to Laxmi or Saraswati when teaching and learning is levelled for a woman and hence financial independence is lost.

We are being shamed at international levels. I am hurt. India is now the rape capital of the world. India is now the religious intolerant country of the world. Is this the land of Ashoka? And Chanakya? And the Mauriyas? Or Akbar? Of Gandhi? Of non violence. Of secularism. Of freedom!

I wish gods were real, so they could strike these perpetrators of idiocy.

How can I do something!

How can we do something?

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How you do anything is how you do everything.

Sometimes I think I have very high standards and I get irritated when they are not met. Or niceties are relegated to the background. Especially amongst friends. Simple things as being on time or informing about not being on time, or returning a call, or keeping to promises made.

Basically your ‘word’ good enough. Is your ‘word’ worth its weight in gold. Does it hold any value?

Relationships are business transactions too. If you can be on time and value a business meeting, the same is for life, and friends. You’ve got to value the transaction/friendship. Would you conduct a business meeting in the manner you treat friends? Relationships are a transaction. Just because it is not monetary, does not mean it has no value. Whatever happened to civil behaviour? Did respect for one another go out with the age? Professing love and friendship and acting differently, the opposite, does not cut it. Just because it is friends, you cannot and must not take them for granted. They will be there yes. But then it is like stretching a rubber band. Once it snaps back, guess whom it will sting. It’s not always about you.

Someone once remarked ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’. Extrapolating that to areas of your life, this statement is a reality check. Jumping a signal, littering in private, not respecting another’s time, or love, or nature, or animals, are some thoughts that are true to everyday behaviour. What happens in one arena, is how it will happen in other arenas too. It is good to say I am thankful, or grateful. But are you truly? Or just words that you throw thinking you will get brownie points. Karmically, or otherwise?

So in effect if you don’t respect the girl, get ready to handle the b!tch you created.

What you give out reflects back. Life is a mirror of what you created. Isaac Newton got it wrong here; not every action has an opposite reaction.

Sometimes, it is about Integrity. And sometimes integrity is missing in people, because the core is weak. What you think, what you say, what you do, should be aligned, else you will not be believed. Actions speak louder than words. Very loud. Integrity cannot be lost. It is like trust. It is earned over a period of time; but lost with just an iota of doubt, in an instance.

Listen to that which is not said. Read between the lines, not just the words. A lot is said when it is not said.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

But then again the corollary is (more words-of-wisdom gyaan alert) if you think you are not getting what you want. Look back and see what you are giving. If you are always giving, guess what, you will be the gilded doormat. Learn to accept, or learn to walk away.

So, how you do anything is how you do everything. Think about it!

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Thank you!

So now some friends are scared to talk to me for fear of ending up as a feature in my blogs. But that is how the stream of consciousness works. Interaction with people is always fodder for a note. It may be interesting, or scathing, or humorous, or downright weird. But those are my feelings towards you and your actions. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. You are mine, as much as I am yours.

So yes, I love what you do for me, I love what you cook for me, I love that you are there for me, I love that I can call you funny names, and I love that you have a lovely distortion to my name; I hate that you are sometimes not there when I want, but I do appreciate you. I love that you push me forward, to run, to live, to get a life; I love that I can b!tch about other people to you in confidence and then you guide me to see from their point of view; I love it when I can give my gyaan, my wisdom and you patiently listen, and sometimes yawn. i love it when you call me when I’m in my worst phase, from across the seas. you just know! I love that you satisfy me.

I thank you. And ask your forgiveness. You are the wind beneath my wings, and I need you now.

So whether I know you all my life, and all your life, or 25 years, or 10 years, or 6 years …

I love you

Thank you.

Atma Namaste. I bow to the divinity in you.

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I can fade into the night

I can fade into the night, very easily.

It is the point when I just don’t care about you, or about things. I have been down the crabby path, and I know what it is like. I have been there, done that, laughed through it all and you haven’t seen my fears, or realised my darkness, or read it through my eyes. My eyes do more talking than my laugh, which smiles and bears it all.

Do you really know me?

I will make time for you. I will do things for you. It is just the way I am. Helpful, to the point of being used. That’s how I feel sometimes. I will agree to meet you, shower my hospitality on you. Have my place calm and inspire you. Just don’t abuse my nicety. When I say ‘no’ you will finally realise, if at all. All promises. All excuses. All hurt. I have waited. After all, my name means ‘patience’.

Really, do you know me?

Is it you ego? Is it your insecurity? Are you human enough? Or are you just a chauvinist who thinks only of yourself. Am I your gilded bird?

When I let go… When will I let go?

Do you know how much it hurts to let you go? You pushed me away. If you don’t want my presence, I will acknowledge your wishes. Can’t; won’t be the golden doormat anymore.

When I let go, I. Let. Go.

I will miss you. Or will I?

Memories fade eventually.

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