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August 26, 2010 / Shalini Ambastha

LadyLike-Who me???

It’s been a while since I last wrote and my last two posts have been saddening to say the least. Now, this happy soul was craving to write something light and chirpy. But since the creative juices aren’t really helping, I’m taking up a topic that was doing rounds of the blogosphere some time back. It was being played like a game wherein ladies would talk about their habits/ reveal secrets about themselves which are considered as “sins against gender-stereotypes”.

So, scribbled below are ten things about me that aren’t necessarily masculine but many of them would definitely make a quintessential lady cringe in horror.

  • I look at make-up components/articles (not really sure what’s the right word to be used) as distant objects of fancy, nice to look at from a distance but errrr, what to do I with them exactly? Pink may look good on girls but it’s definitely not my colour.
  • I was the proud bearer of a unibrow till the age of twenty one.
  • I do not like receiving flowers; I think they’re better off alive.
  • During my NCC days at college, I’ve huffed and puffed in heat and dust, fired some real bullets and participated in rifle drills wherein you slap your hands repeatedly against the rifle butt to make them hard and throw the rifle up in the air by pushing against the iron foresight that leaves deep gashes in your hand. Btw, I cleared my NCC ‘C’ certificate exam with an A grade. 🙂
  • This one’s a latest addition: I swear at the drop of a hat and like it’s nobody’s business. I’m not very proud of it and would like to give my mouth a good rinse very soon.
  • I love to dance, give me music and you cannot hold me straight. But guess what, ten out of ten times you’ll find me engrossed doing the glorious cobra-snake charmer dance or the dhinchak bhangra on the dance floor rather than the graceful feminine moves.
  • Before the corporate world happened, I was a record holder for never carrying a handkerchief. My sweaty forehead always found refuge on my sleeves while the soiled hands went straight to the jeans making them darker by the day.
  • Sneakers have always been my favourite footwear. So much so that my girlfriends refused to take me out if I didn’t ditch them for a pair of heels!
  • I am capable of some serious bashing up; so stalkers and despos beware! In fact, I and my gutsy friends went after a crazy stalker some time back and would have beaten him black and blue had he not been saved by the public that day.
  • Lastly, I CAN carry my own luggage and I know how to open doors…thank you gentlemen!

As I finish the first draft of this post, my dear friend says the above points hold true for most of the non-girlies; but what the heck! This is MY blog and I shall write as I please. 😀

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July 15, 2010 / Shalini Ambastha

The Dual Life

She was ten and had not been taught about the good and the bad touch yet; but she sensed that something was wrong when dad walked into her room that night. He said it was alright as he held her close to him but her father had never given her warm hugs before. She felt uncomfortable and tried to wriggle her tiny frame out of his grasp. He scolded her for being such nuisance and asked her to do as he said. She had always been scared of her father so she lay there quietly as he went about his little game. As he walked out, he threatened her not to tell mummy about this. She bit into the pillow and let out a muffled cry.

She started dreading the nights and hated her mother for not being able to protect her. The mother who was busy with a high flying political career never had enough time for her. The girl herself was a brilliant student and this sudden and brutal blow of fate did not come with a study leave. Threatened by her father that her grades should not fall, she was expected to study and top her exams in the morning and become his whore during the night. It was as if she was living a dual life; a quiet, obedient child during the day that was raped and crushed every night. She was the neighbours’ envy, but every night she prayed that no child should have a fate like hers.

She was strong enough to put those traumatic years behind her and shape her life as per her will. When she received the university gold medal and had job offers from leading firms, her dad hugged her saying she was his son and he was so proud of her. While one part of her wanted to shove him off and just run away, the other part realised that he was old and weak now and that it was too late for her to bring up ghosts of the past.

Torn between the two parts and unable to submit to one, she continued living as the dutiful daughter, even though her heart cringed in hatred every time she saw her father. She was the boss whom people looked up to, the loving wifey and the caring mum. To an observer, their family was just perfect with all the ingredients for love and happiness in perfect blend.  Yet, her husband fails to understand why she never lets the kids stay with Grandpa.

(Note: This post is inspired by a report on child sexual abuse that I came across some time back. Statistics by WHO state that 1 in 10 children is sexually abused. While 30-40% of victims are abused by a family member, only 10% are victimised by a complete stranger.

Over 30% victims never disclose the experience to anyone and continue to let the demons torment them.)

May 10, 2010 / Shalini Ambastha

DWL

Out of the versatile NDA lingo learnt from my kid brother, there is one term that describes my current state of mind aptly. It is ‘DWL’, which stands for ‘Disgusted with Life’. I know this is too strong a term to use and things could be far worse but somehow they are pretty bad already to allow the usage.

I feel drained; physically, mentally, emotionally and totally. Professionally, I am stuck at a place that promises to take away my sanity slowly but surely, and morph me in a manner so that I am never going to miss it. I have worked before so I am sure it’s not the sudden transition from a student to a corporate that has caused this. There has to be something seriously wrong here. In fact, I am seriously considering keeping a smelly sock or a rotten shoe near my workstation to keep the bad energies away.

Personally, I am turning into the little rebel that my family never had. Two years in a hostel, living life as per my whims and fancies hasn’t really helped and it’s not too long before my parents would finally ask me either to mend my ways or show me the way out.

Emotionally, I am a complete mess. I am, or at least used to be, a happy person who used to be cackling like an idiot all the time and now though I try hard to smile, all I can manage is a grimace. It seems as if nobody is able to understand me and that shouldn’t be too hard to believe considering I myself am not able to understand as to what is it that I really want.

It is amusing how as children we were always so sure about what we really wanted from life; how we could just keep our finger on one particular thing that was most important to us out of a list of things. And now, as we grow up, all the education and the best of training just end up confusing us all the more. I know of hundreds of things that I can do and do them well; yet I’m unsure of what I really WANT to do.

On my way back from a recent trip to Jaipur, I was really fascinated when I spotted freshly ploughed fields and since then my mind has been constantly cajoling me to give up the corporate life and go become a farmer, back to the simple pleasures of life. So, I think I am going to request my grandparents to let me take care of their fields for a while.

As you must have realised by now, it is in a state of delirium that I write this post and that I am not to be taken too seriously. There is no quitting my job for a while now and I’m sure my grandparents love their fields far too much to hand them over to a maniac like me. Meanwhile, this writing therapy seems to have worked and I feel far better now, or may be its just sleep taking over, numbing my senses slowly…..I don’t know again 🙂

April 20, 2010 / Shalini Ambastha

The Realisation

I saw a naked man. No, it was not a little child running around naked refusing to take a bath despite the mother’s cajoling and threats. It was a middle aged man, perhaps in his forties, taking bath at a roadside hand pump.

He caught my attention as I was waiting in a queue at a railway station for a tatkal reservation one morning. Bizarrely enough, the sight of him there in that state did not shock or repulse me. Instead I was intrigued and continued looking in his direction. Here was a man doing what he had to do and I cannot say that he was completely oblivious of his surroundings. He was fully aware that there could be a hundred eyes watching him at that time and yet that was not his immediate concern at that moment.

He quietly washed his clothes and finished with his bath. Thereafter, he squeezed the water out the clothes he had just washed and put them on one by one, slowly and with a lot of patience. Obviously, he had just one set of clothes. However, I was not moved to pity with this realisation because my mind was already busy, recalling how irritated I get in wet clothes on being caught in an accidental downpour.

Done with his bathing and cleaning business, the man was now ready to go. I realised that he was partially blind as he sought the help of a young man to cross the road. As the boy helped him cross the road and they walked past me to reach the platform, they had managed to strike a conversation and I could see that he was talking jovially and joking around with the boy. And here I was, cribbing that I had forgotten my MP3 player and still had one more hour to wait.

April 10, 2010 / Shalini Ambastha

The Changed Name

Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name?”. As it turns out, ‘nothing’ is not really the right answer to this. Few months back, I mentioned to some of my dear friends that I have had a change in my name (officially that is!) and the name that they know me by is not the one I have always had. To add to their surprise, I told them that ‘Neha Chanchal’ is the name I carried for the first ten years of my existence and boy! Some reaction they had!!

Ok, so the story goes like this: my dad and my uncle, upon my birth, decided to show their profound love for me by giving me the most beautiful name that they had in their respective minds. As a result, I was ‘Shalini’ in my dad’s official records and ‘Neha Chanchal ‘in my primary school records. After a lot of confusion and missed scholarships during my initial academic years, dad’s decision prevailed and my name was solemnly changed to ‘Shalini’ and ‘Neha Chanchal’ was lost somewhere in the sands of time.

I adapted to my new identity pretty smoothly since it was accompanied by a lot of other changes (change in location, change in school etc.). Not much thought was spared for the lost name in the last 13 years until a few months back. During a casual chitchat with my friends, it came to my mind out of nowhere and was blurted out before I realised it.

The reaction that followed made me regret my decision right away. A number of ‘EEEEWWWWs’ were heard in unison and everyone around could be seen clutching their bellies, laughing. According to one dear friend, the name brought to her the imagery of a scrawny, irritating young girl who could be seen talking incessantly. It was only when my dear roomie came to my rescue, saying she loved my old name more than my current one, that I could smile again.

Following that incident, the name comes to my mind pretty often, so much so that it has become the subject of my first blog post. On a recent visit to my best friend, I suppressed my urge to tell him the story of my changed name, unsure of his reaction. Nevertheless, I think of Neha, and it brings back to me the memories of a chirpy little girl, shortest in her class but with big dreams in her eyes, ready to take on the world.

Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name?”. As it turns out, ‘nothing’ is not really the right answer to this. Few months back, I mentioned to some of my dear friends that I have had a change in my name (officially that is!) and the name that they know me by is not the one I have always had. To add to their surprise, I told them that ‘Neha Chanchal’ is the name I carried for the first ten years of my existence and boy! Some reaction they had!!

Ok, so the story goes like this: my dad and my uncle, upon my birth, decided to show their profound love for me by giving me the most beautiful name that they had in their respective minds. As a result, I was ‘Shalini’ in my dad’s official records and ‘Neha Chanchal ‘in my primary school records. After a lot of confusion and missed scholarships during my initial academic years, dad’s decision prevailed and my name was solemnly changed to ‘Shalini’ and ‘Neha Chanchal’ was lost somewhere in the sands of time.

I adapted to my new identity pretty smoothly since it was accompanied by a lot of other changes (change in location, change in school etc.). Not much thought was spared for the lost name in the last 13 years until a few months back. During a casual chitchat with my friends, it came to my mind out of nowhere and was blurted out before I realised it.

The reaction that followed made me regret my decision right away. A number of ‘EEEEWWWWs’ were heard in unison and everyone around could be seen clutching their bellies, laughing. According to one dear friend, the name brought to her the imagery of a scrawny, irritating young girl who could be seen talking incessantly. It was only when my dear roomie came to my rescue, saying she loved my old name more than my current one, that I could smile again.

Following that incident, the name comes to my mind pretty often, so much so that it has become the subject of my first blog post. On a recent visit to my best friend, I suppressed my urge to tell him the story of my changed name, unsure of his reaction. Nevertheless, I think of Neha, and it brings back to me the memories of a chirpy little girl, shortest in her class but with big dreams in her eyes, ready to take on the world.