I CHOSE TO BE A JOURNALIST, NOT AN EMPLOYEE

One leg on the bed, another on the floor as I decide between attending the meeting and making breakfast. You cannot skip either of them, can you? But you can survive on a cup of coffee and some cookies as your boss is all riled up in search of ‘NEWS’.

Journalism, they say, isn’t an easy profession. But is the responsibility difficult? Or people who have shouldered them? 

I remember struggling to wake up every morning and replacing the cup of coffee that I finished at 3 am with another one at 8 am. Trust me, it was never by choice.

I realized I was adding one extra spoon of coffee with every passing month but nothing could freshen me up.

NEWS NEWS NEWS! CRIME, CASTE, HEALTH, POLITICS, EDUCATION, SO MUCH!

Something I stepped into ‘to increase my horizon’, managed to trap me and put me in a cocoon. I realized I had lost the ability to question, comprehend and realize what I was doing because of the idea of “just get done with it”.

3 stories in a day, 2 in the pipeline, 4 in my head, 3 in my boss’ notes. But what took away the limelight was that one story by someone else that missed my attention.  

At first, I thought it was very normal for my mind to be ‘preoccupied’ until I understood that all my thoughts that probably were never executed, came in the way of others. What was alarming is that there were no personal-professional boundaries.

I remember writing a story I strongly felt was crucial for people to know. I researched well and was eager to read it myself. But did I write it well? No.

I also remember not eating well that afternoon. I remember standing in the kitchen with my laptop on the fridge as I ‘HAD TO’ submit the story.

Something that gave me immense learning, suddenly became a piece of submission. It lost its essence and clearly did not indicate my effort.

Juggling between ‘did I put sugar in my coffee’ and ‘how will I submit this by 3pm’, I saw my passion for journalism take a backseat. I had become an employee, not a reporter. 

And one day, I chose the balance. I chose to pursue my passion and not a job.

I chose to live for my stories and what drives me and not a monthly salary (it’s often ‘pocket money’ in this profession)

Do I have a plan? No.

But I do have time. To work, plan, think and reflect on all of them.

It’s not good money but I feel a lot closer to my passion. 

The idea was always to give people ‘news that deserves their attention’. It couldn’t have been possible if I lost mine. 

Just Do It! NOW!

We often wait for our life to give us opportunities for us to change something and start afresh.

Shifting to a new city, moving into a new house, going to college, changing a job, sometimes, these are our reasons to make some alterations to our life.

We think of losing weight before a vacation. We think of pursuing a hobby after shifting to a new house.

I’ve always thought I’ll make a schedule, wake up early, workout, do some yoga once I shift to a new place.

Not just that, my idea of waking up early for a cup of coffee is dependent on my new house.

But why?

Why are we so apprehensive about making new beginnings in the middle of our everyday life?

Why do we wait for things to change to find the strength to do something that we always wanted to?

If you want to start going for a run. Do it today! Not tomorrow because your new locality has a good track.

If you wanna learn an instrument, follow an art, do it today.

If you wanna end things with someone or confess your love to them, do it now!

Don’t let anything or anyone decide it for you.

New beginnings bring us the motivation to start something new. But they often do not come at the right time.

And the right time is now!

Commitment Requires A Lot Of You, Not All Of You

Hi,

What you’re about to read now comes from a place of experience, ignorance and an intention to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I hope you find it in yourself to understand these issues and gather the courage to identify them and pluck them out of your life.

Some things in life start as a joke. Then you tend to find them cute and ignore them. You ignore the red flags and walk past them because you think you won’t have to cross them again.

Well, that’s where the trouble begins.

It took me some time to realise that we can never find the “correct one”, we create it, together.

This is true in case of a job, relationship, companionship, anything that requires commitment.

It is easy to identify strong signs like a boss who abuses you, a partner who uses violence to control you, a friend who breaks your trust. But, we often fail to identify signs that are alarming but often not in the forefront.

You start disliking your boss when they disrespect you or take out personal grudges. But how often do you realise if the same boss tried to bring insecurities in you?

You won’t realise that. Why? Because you will see that as ‘negative motivation’ and work harder to prove yourself to him or her.

Isn’t this the case with relationships as well?

Not all signs leave bruises or scars, but are equally devastating.

One day you will ignore it, the other day you will laugh over it. And by the time you realise that it is toxic and traumatising, they have already got a license to put you through that again and again.

I was once told that “I am responsible for my insecurities. I am responsible for over-thinking, for feeling unworthy, jealous.”

And like many of you, I believed that.

I started thinking twice before sharing what was in my mind. I started questioning my thoughts.

Instead of focusing on why I am feeling a certain why, my focus was on what if the other person gets angry?

There is a very small difference between being considerate and being foolish.

I let someone stab my self-esteem. Once, twice, and many more times.

What was my job?

Stay quiet, control and don’t provoke.

When we let someone get condescending and authoritative, we have already lost the battle.

Someone in constant denial can bring you to your lowest.

Don’t linger for too long to identify these signs. If you think they are bothering you, showing some courage needs to be your first step.

Commitment requires a lot of you, but not all of you.

When Life Is Everything Within The Four Walls

As we are in the middle of a health crisis, this blog feels like reading a book by people who braved wars, bloodshed, deaths and so much more. The only difference is that this time, I am a part of the chaos.

May 8, 2021, two years into the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Crores of people infected with a deadly virus, lakhs in hospitals, some lost their loved ones, others fearing for their lives or their close ones.

As I write this blog at 11:56 PM, I can hear an ambulance on the road near my house. Somehow it did not block my chain of thoughts because it has become normal. 

Now when I hear an ambulance, it is not just a siren. I do a silent prayer hoping whoever is in the ambulance has the strength to fight. 

The situation right now is devastating. I have seen the most insensitive become considerate.

I am not writing this piece to give you information about the virus. You already have enough of it, or maybe more. Some on your TV screens, others on your phone.

I am penning down my thoughts only because I know that these words will not just resonate with me in future but everybody else who reads them.

Many of us have read about the ongoing crisis, others have experienced and some have been bringing us information from ground zero. But what is that one thing that binds all of us together? UNCERTAINTY.

While I do enjoy surprises and I am thrilled to see what life has in store for me, I have been extremely uncomfortable with the uncertainty of my survival or the basic things that once constituted my day in a normal world.

Last I went to see a friend was in April 2021. Didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to do that for long.

Last I saw a movie in a theatre was in 2020. Didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to do that for long.

Last I went to a restaurant to eat was when I randomly dressed up without a mask and stepped out of my house with only my wallet. Didn’t know I would be stuck to Instagram to cook all that I love to eat.

Life has become uncertain.

One day it is someone you last met in 2014 testing positive, the other day, you know someone next door passed away due to the infection.

While this may not have affected all of us, it definitely has changed the way we look at life. My 10 year plans have now been pushed 20 years ahead. I do not know when I will see my friends, family, colleagues again.

While on one hand, we are bored of the pandemic figures, the fear of losing our loved ones is grappling us everyday.

Life isn’t smooth, I was told, but watching it come to a standstill has shaken me. 

There was a time I was scared if I would be able to match the pace of my changing life. And now? I want to live two days in one. I want to do things that take me away from this world that has stopped and shut itself.

We are living in a world where we are confined within four walls for years so as to escape one day. If this is life, what would it be to not live?  

As I write down these thoughts, I hope all of us have the strength to fight this crisis and emerge stronger! Stay safe!

Can You Escape The Social Chaos?

I wake up on a sunday with my phone under my pillow. I can hear birds chirping around me but I woke up to vibrations of notifications, messages and updates. 

The next thing I know, I am scrolling through all the data, pictures, election results, political fights, breakups, memes while I am in the washroom. 

That is how my day begins.

I switch between platforms as I grab my first bite. I cannot lift my head up to see if I am eating alone or with someone. This bombardment of data does create an existential crisis.

I can see my virtual friends using more and more filters, using captions that can change the way their life is perceived or put up stories about things they had no part to play in, but definitely creating an impact on other’s minds who see them as this ‘socially acceptable person’ or someone with a complete life.

I can see how people whom I spoke to last week about their breakup were up and uploading images till 3am last night. 

What do you understand of this?

We, as humans, have started looking at social media as some sort of a pacifier. It is like a space full of self doubt, low confidence, low esteem and also the same place where you feel you will heal yourself because it has so much to offer.

The next thing I know, I am reading about elections in the United States. Donald Trump’s comments on Joe Biden. Protests, mass demonstrations, vaccines for coronavirus, wildfires. There is so much to grab at once.

All the thoughts that I should have on a day with no laptop on my lap are washed away as some companies wish to divert my mind to what is happening near the white house or maybe why my ex put up a picture with another girl.

The number of hours I am spending on my screen is helping someone in the US mint money or even win elections.

This is a trap! 

All that was created to connect us and eradicate a digital divide has created chaos! 

Our thoughts, actions, reactions and decisions, all are determined and controlled by someone who feels he has the responsibility to calm down this mess.

Someone sitting behind super computers now knows my next action, my next click and how much time will I be looking at a cute dog video on Facebook. Does this not scare you?

This space wasn’t created by those who knew about mental health, addictions and the cost of giving up everything for a shallow virtual world. It was created by people who wished to bring technology in our lives in an attempt to replace the functioning of our brains with some artificial intelligence that they thought was a better substitute.

What you saw as a well connected network is now a fight. A fight to survive amid these radiations, fake news, manipulated information and excessive data.

It is evening and a post that I had put up on how increasing screen time is harmful for humans has 288 likes. It was 261 at 3:35 pm and 275 at 3:38 pm.

I want acceptance for what I just preached to the world on a platform that I criticise for snatching away my quality time. This trap has no escape.

Life On First Floor

Today evening, I was on call with someone who has been a very active part of my daily schedule

We had a very random conversation, where I mentioned how I have been stuck on the first floor since last two months and how badly I miss the usual things..

Roads, traffic, trees, vehicles and so much more

That is when I realised how this life
From this elevated view has so much to offer
Things I kept neglecting
While I was waiting for normalcy to return

As i stood in the balcony,
I realised how this world had come to a standstill

My evenings are usually spent walking in the balcony,
Sipping my coffee
Talking to people who have now started to relate to how the view from my house looks like

Everyday I learn something new about humans
As i stand in the balcony and look around

I see families walking in the garden area
Strolling at a distance, people discuss issues that they usually didn’t, back when everyone was in a hurry

Today, I noticed how every household had a different story to tell
Each window had a different reality to show

Sounds of couples yelling at each other
Voices of children crying and fighting

I am sure there were happy moments too, when everyone gathered together
For meals and movies together

While I was noticing all this
I saw my aunt
Struggling to prepare snacks at a time when she usually read or watched something alone

I see how she is happy to see her kids and the family around her
And also how she misses stepping out of the kitchen at times, unlike these days when her only getaway is changing the song on carvaan in the kitchen

My uncle is working from home, like the most of us
And has been trying to recreate his office space each day

While we talk about how adjustments come with age

I see my grandfather
Hesitating to come out of his room in the evening
When he sees everyone moving around and doing their things

In the middle of all this what struck my eye was how people are not used to being around each other

It’s surprising how we commit to spend lives with others
Vow to be with them all our lives
And times like these, where we can only be around our people have become ‘difficult’ and ‘confining’ for us, in a place we call ‘home’

Does this signify that even though we call ourselves part of a ‘society’
We still haven’t learnt to live together or share spaces?

We have been so busy in our schedules
That our presence, if more than usual, in our own homes
Has made many other members uncomfortable

Post Midnight Urge To Confess My Love

This is something I had to pen down at night and not wait for the morning.

Something I strong felt at 2:44 am, everyday.

If there is anything you read today, make sure it is this. For those tiny insecurities and complexities within you, if not anything more.

It’s been a year for me in this schedule
Days turn into nights with my mug of coffee on one side and my laptop on the other
I keep writing, everyday
Sometimes politics, sometimes religion, other days about defence and economy

I read and analyse issues
Debate on those that bother me
Curse a lot when I read and report on disturbing issues that jolt me from within

This one year has been about stories
Every story, other than mine

Now when I look back and see anything apart from these news reports
I see a person who is struggling hard each day to make sure she is growing professionally

Tonight, I sit with the same mug of coffee
To write about something not related to anything ‘breaking’ now

There were nights when I was upset
Then there were nights when the smell of my tears on my pillow became normal

Maybe that is why I’ve become sleepless
This new linen doesn’t’ comfort me

Lately, I have been quite vulnerable
Cried in front of the mirror, against the wall
Pat my back and told myself that it’s all okay and maybe it’s just the hormones
I have desperately sought attention and craved for someone who could just understand and be there

Honestly, sometimes you should know when you’re demanding too much!!

In the middle of all this
I was labelled as someone who ends up introspecting only at nights and just needs sleep
Was it really just that?

I was told maybe I didn’t pamper myself enough
Didn’t take out time for myself

What I also realised was that it aint’ just me
There are so many of us
Vulnerable and breaking down at night

To me, nights have always been very comfortable to vent out everything
Be it dancing in front of the mirror with the flashlight or crying on the floor

Lately, what I have observed is that so many of us are under the pressure of ‘doing things’
Just to prove the world wrong?

Why do we forget that
Making ourself that one cup of coffee everyday at that one fixed time, leaving everything else aside
Is love

Why do we forget that listening to our favourite track on repeat
Is love

Consoling ourselves, when we break down
Listening to random TED Talks to uplift ourselves and speaking to OUR people
Is love

This is to all those who feel they’re not doing enough for themselves

Your love for yourself can never be defined by any particular activity, and definitely not by anyone else.
You can do everything in the world and still feel miserable
And you can just do just that one thing everyday and feel blessed

You do not have to pressurize or be harsh on yourself
As long as you have a handful of people and your own little things that make you who you are
You are doing absolutely fine!

Delhi Riots: How Did All The Hatred Go Unnoticed?

Amid burnt vehicles and smouldering houses, the Indian national capital witnessed a nightmare so horrifying that it compelled people to flee their homes and all that they earned and lived for throughout lives. As we read this, the death toll in the national capital is still rising as more people succumb to their injuries.

As per the official data available, as many as 47 people lost their lives and more than 200 were injured during the violence and unrest that shook the national capital. The maelstrom in Delhi ravaged the livelihoods of those who were targeted.

What we saw as an opposition to the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, soon turned into a harrowing communal clash between people from two religions.

People took to streets in large numbers, burnt houses, torched vehicles, attacked places of worship mercilessly took away innocent lives. While all this was happening, fingers were pointed at those who failed to control the situation and the communal hatred. The police, the leaders and the authorities were called inefficient for their inability to take control of the situation.

Amid all this blame game, what we missed out was, how was this hatred allowed to spew? Where did all this begin from? How did this spiral up and turn into an attack on the existence of certain sections of people?

What we failed to ignore was the source of this hatred and all the times this venom was allowed to spread from one to another and every time Muslims were painted as ‘traitors’.

As the opposition to the CAA and the NRC grew, the fear in every person’s mind also multiplied. What did we do to prevent the polarization?

Every time the police forced Muslims to sing Vande Matram and threatened them to demand freedom,every Muslim feared his existence in a country where he was born and so was his upcoming generations.

Every time every liberal openly fanned hatred on social media, attacking one particular religion, shamed them and demonised them, we failed to stop that communal attack.

Every time political leaders, our so-called ‘representatives’ proudly made provocative statements and instigated violence against one community, we failed to stop their flames of hatred and hold them accountable.

Every time a Muslim was forced to chant Jai Shri Ram and lynched to death, we remained silent and let them openly preach hatred against one particular religion.

Every time a soldier or a jawan’s house was targetted because he was a Muslim, people were afraid as they saw the blindness in the hatred that failed to spare those who served the nation.

 

These instances slowly added to the larger hatred and eventually to the violence that claimed human lives and created a divide where one dominates the other.

Amid the violence, several people have fled their homes in the national capital, unsure if they would ever feel safe to return.

When a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Kapil Mishra, after giving an ultimatum and threatening the people to hit the streets in Delhi, offered compensation only for Hindus, it spoke volumes about the divide that has spread and will harm the existence of many.

Several Muslims claim that an atmosphere of fear is being created around them. Do we deny this?

While we proudly claim that peace and harmony are central to the ethos of our nation, we failed to stop the violence perpetrated against Muslims and let the narrative of hate spread on an alarming scale.

Stories from across the country have proved how Muslims were told that they will soon be stripped of their rights to stay in this country and what most of them witnessed in the national capital was much worse.

While the police were mute spectators of all this violence, people fearlessly attacked Muslims, thrashed them and killed them. Stories of atrocities kept increasing as the hatred spread across Delhi.

A project taken up as an attempt to stop illegal immigration turned out to be an attack on our own people. As more and more people lost their lives, the grieving families mourned the loss of their loved ones and feared what was next for them in this “secular” country.

As the dust and the fire settle in Delhi’s warzone and the images and disturbing videos of the attacks fade away, the questions remains, will the fear also disappear? Don’t forget, Delhi is still counting the dead.

MANUAL SCAVENGING OR SCAVENGING MANHOOD?

At present, across much of India, carrying the legacy forward of caste-based custom, people from communities that traditionally worked as “manual scavengers,” still collect human waste everyday and carry it away for disposal at the outskirts of the cities or towns. For some, manual scavenging is not a form of employment but an injustice to slavery and discrimination. This tumultuous dehumanizing process has its roots in the past and has victimized ever person associated or belonging to the Dalit or lower caste groups out of societal pressure and obligations. When parents are ill, children take up the responsibility of cleaning the waste, sewage and so much more in the worst of conditions. It is a legacy that somewhere runs in the family and pressurizes the future generations, irrespective of gender of that particular caste to suffocate and their contributions remain neglected and conditions continue to deteriorate. For many of us, who cannot clean our own washrooms, this anathema of cleaning every sewage tank, septic tanks, railway tracks, etc are ways to make a living for some, out of compulsion, if not by choice.

What we flush down our toilets, have to be cleaned, carried and disposed manually by many in the society without any proper equipment or technology and removing all the filth and dirt with their bare hands. A lot of sewage tanks and drains require humans to clean it manually and not using machines but no efforts have been made to take care of those who are willing to clean it for which they are paid like peanuts and given no respect. A lot of people take up this job as they are unaware of the consequences and health hazards to these practices. Such people and their lives remain unaccounted and the brutal atrocity that they face in every way remains ignored. Issues like safety for women, need for better technology, better wages, health awareness etc, continue to be of immense concern and require urgent intervention of the government.

Many acts have been passed, for example, Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act(1993), Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act(2013), etc but lack proper implementation and the correct people who are willing to take it forward for better results. Many NGOs, like, Safai Karamchari Andolan, continue to provide a helping hand to these practices and aim to eradicate this injustice from the society. Adopting effective and efficient technology can help eradicate manual scavenging and provide better working environment for them. For any country to be developed and protected, ethical behavior is more powerful than the use of arms. Manual scavenging requires reforms in policy implementations, sustainable freedom to workers and public participation more than any sympathy or a politicized narrative. Despite these arguments, manual scavenging continues to be forced upon on the lives of many.

DO WE NEED TO GET RID OF THE INHERENT CASTE SYSTEM?

The issue of caste system that needs to be focused upon is way beyond the political parties backed by castes, the divide in the society on the basis of caste and the discrimination. Caste system has its roots back in the 1500BC when the Aryans arrived in India, and dictated people’s occupation, living, food habits and interaction with other people in the society on the basis of caste divisions. A person was known by his caste group and not his knowledge and capacity or conduct. One of the major objectives of the Constitution of India was to create a homogeneous society irrespective of any fragmentation on any lines, and give equal opportunities to all.

 As a progressive youth, I believe that giving up my surname would take my privilege and lessen the persistent caste discrimination in the nation. Caste system with time has given birth to stereotypes, prejudice and biases. Lack of opportunities in terms of education, employment and others sources to earn a living have been major concerns for the people belonging to the lower and discriminated castes and is disintegrating the society at every level. Instead of dividing the opportunities accessible to everyone on the basis of their caste, their capacity to learn, work and earn should be taken into consideration.

There is an urgent need to eradicate the caste system and not fix it as it is creating a major divide in the society.  Giving up on our surnames can help us get rid of this system that is decaying the society’s coexistence and also affecting something as important as interaction and living with each other. The myths and stigma surrounding the caste system need to be abolished and the system needs to end to provide the present and future generations with a life full of freedom, equality, equity and holistic development. Even in the 21st century, we see people struggling to find a job or even go to school because they are looked down upon on the basis of their castes. The caste system fails to sync with the present society and curbs the rights and opportunities of all. The entire debate on the reservation system shall come to an end with abolishing the caste system as everybody has the right to study, work and travel anywhere irrespective of their last names.

I strongly believe that one’s occupation should not become hereditary in any social system and restrict their social mobility, choices, and freedom. Hence, to get rid of any such obstructions, nobody should encourage the birth of such systems and create hierarchies. Many millennial progressives fail to understand the consequences of this system and continue to carry it forward. Caste system continues to dominate even in the most educated circles and create oppression on many. To become the liberals that we portray ourselves to be on social media, it is important for us to discourage this system and end these privileges based on our caste.