Why do women carry bags?

It’s one of the many “Why do women…” questions that we come across quite frequently in our lives. The usual answers are quite logical, such as “they have to carry so many things..”. However, the last time I answered something like this, I was struck with this realization that people’s lifestyle items are not add-ons but are an indication of thoughtlessness.

Women’s clothing, accessories and everything from what they need to what they want are all designed around how they must look. “Well, men care about looks too?!” Yes but their comfort & convenience comes first.

Women – form over function

Men – function over form

Maybe I jumped the gun.

History proves that women were confined to home spaces & spent most of their time decorating it. The time they socialised, they had to showcase how well they took care of themselves. And this was inferred from how good they looked. Tight corsets that they must fit in and wide dresses that extended to a space for two. No questions asked, it made them look good. Or so the patriarchal society wanted. Smaller steps, slower walk and a restrained existence – it all appealed to the society. And thus emerged the definition of a “Good Looking Woman”.

Times changed. Women were no longer sitting, knitting or just watering plants. They were doing what matched their intellect, abilities and interests. Naturally they had to move around more. They started wearing trousers, shorts and whatever made their movement more convenient. However, if we looked closely at the design of these clothes and wearable items, they are all created keeping in mind a historical outlook.

Why are woman’s jeans so tight that the pockets are useless? Why are stilettos around when heels were invented for men to ride horses? Why are skirts designed to hug the lower part of a female body?

I know that many women want to draw their perfect figures since that makes them look attractive. But how many of them really think about what defines this attraction quotient? Impressions between men & women are perceived and yes, we can’t deny certain conditions that we’ve grown up with. However, if we don’t set out to redefine our outlook by putting our practical needs first, we will not move towards a more evolved society.

The most comfortable clothes I have, were bought for Mt. Kilimanjaro expedition. I can carry money, cellphone, paper and a lot many things in those trousers & jackets and still feel comfortable walking. However, if I can’t find a party-wear that can take some of the basic things that I need, I will end up carrying a bag to keep my items safe.

Last week, I was in Amsterdam walking for days in my flat-bellies. I had the most unbearable foot pain since the shoes didn’t provide enough padding. I was again stuck with the same disappointment. I wore my sport-shoes with my skirt, dress and everything else for the rest of the trip.

Brands come up with walking shoes for women, partying shoes, sports shoes and boots while men mostly have shoes (except the sports part). Why can’t we throw away the perfect woman image?

I really want to be able to buy what I need and not be enticed by what’s cool. I would like to be able to choose something fancy when I feel like instead of being presented with stylish clothes all the time. Yes, nobody is stopping me from doing that but my rant is aimed at those who question why I am the way I am. Because they refuse to see different.

A woman is different from man but her image need not be beautiful by her figure, the smile, the eyes and her perfume. She could be what she wants and not what she ‘should want’.

Seriously, how about some functional fashion here? 

 

 

 

 

 

How YouTube taught me how to swim

6 years ago, I had joined swimming lessons in Brisbane, Australia where I was paying & learning per class. After a couple of classes, I could float and also learnt the leg movement for freestyle swimming. But even after 10 sessions, I was unable to learn the breathing technique. That was the end of my first real attempt at learning how to swim.

Last year (2013), I joined another monthly group class in Bangalore. The teacher turned out to be as strict as Adolph Hitler but sleazy like no 56-year old. Yes, the second class was a disappointing revelation of the wrong kind of teacher to learn anything from. I & my cousin went out looking for another place to learn. I was getting desperate as I knew I enjoyed the water but had a deep desire to cruise through it like it was home. I found a pool guard who offered to train me. Just watching him swim was so calming and inspiring at the same time. My aspiration found a definition. Alas, I couldn’t keep up with the schedule or the discipline to follow through the course.

This year I moved to San Francisco and from the balcony of my 8th floor flat, I could see the beautiful landscape pool that stood in the centre of the concrete jungle. I had lots of free time and a pool calling out. I decided to jump and figure out how to swim. However, I did something different. One of my friends had learnt to swim by watching YouTube videos. I decided to give it a try.

Week 1 & Week 2 – Fix freestyle swimming

I was able to get the hand movement right, my breathing position became comfortable and I developed a standard speed of movement. Most of all, I was able to do 10 laps, each lap of 100 feet by the end of Week 2. I had developed a course, count and goal for every swimming lesson.

The two videos that helped me were :

How to pull under water

How to swim faster

I continued to practice these till I got better. But then it was time for the next lesson.

Week 4 & Week 5 : Breaststroke

I like the way butterfly stroke or breaststroke looks when people swim. Naturally I wanted to learn it. However, my last attempt ended in me giving up, since I couldn’t bring my head out of the water the right way. It’s after I checked my video lessons that I realized I was doing it all wrong. I noted the sequence of hand and leg movement, and tried it through the width of the pool in 4 feet water. A few sessions went in just getting the style right. Few days later, I started my laps with breaststroke and continued in freestyle for the deeper end. It’s amazing how gradually I could increase the distance for breaststrokes and one day, I was cheering for myself because I completed an entire lap moving like a butterfly in water.

That was the day I truly wanted to acknowledge how immensely useful YouTube swimming videos are.

Simply Swim – Perfect Breastroke

Speedo (Slightly more instructional)

And here I am, swimming through a pool in my friend’s apartment (I didn’t do my sessions here).

Of course, having a swimming pool in your apartment area is a big advantage and that accelerated my learning as well.

I hope to be able to dive into a pool someday soon.

 

 

Possessions

The word can be a noun, a verb, an experience or an after-effect. Shuhei Morita’s animated short film is all of it, and more. The film’s introduction is with a Japanese belief that “in 100 years, objects will acquire souls and trick people”. One can quite easily guess what the film is all about. But wait, your guess is as good as mine. The colorful, spooky, cheeky and cute skit is full of surprises and it intrigues you in a way that you would be left craving for more.

It’s really too short for a creative masterpiece.

Possessions

Artwork on the characters is larger than life yet very life-like. Every stroke of an illustration seems to hold value. The graphic design also renders a culturally centric yet globally appealing personality to everything. The film is animated in Manga style mixed with occasional film noir. At the top of the treat is the visual depth, as a new visual layer unfolds with every narrative twist. It’s like a flip book, except the pages are transparent.

The original language of the film is Japanese but nothing seems to be lost in translation as the English subtitles seem to befit the storyline very well. The plot is in-tune with the fast yet deep changes that are redefining world societies. Ironically the story is crafted and narrated in a very childlike way. So, a 5-year old may not get the final message but will nevertheless be spellbound with the elaborate, evocative art. And a 50-year-old may not relate to the voice of the characters but will definitely connect with their spirits.

The only disappointment, which probably is intentional, is that after trapping you with its magical show, it suddenly ends. It’s like you were really enjoying the meal when it got over and you smirk at your own expectation of it being everlasting. At that moment, if you were truly enjoying the film, you would be subconsciously widening your eyes as if that would help you see more; know more; feel more. You would realise that the film has indeed, in its own special way, possessed you.

Thunderstruck

I can’t believe I didn’t hear these guys before. The Croation boys are nothing short of adrenaline rich music-cocktails.

This particular cover of AC/DC’s original sounds mostly inspired and very mildly copied. Because I hear a range of instruments and it transports me to some Carnatic Classical concerts with the sound of Ghatam at 3:19 and gamakka-loaded violin bowing throughout. Of course, the rock-effect is unmissable. I have replayed this uncountable times and I have noticed more than I should have.

Like at 2:34, I saw the little girl in the audience loosening up with the head swaying with the beats and hands raised in the air. In fact, I now associate my growing-up with the change in expressions, emotions that the girl portrays. The Indian classical training that i went through and the concerts that i attended came alive as I noticed the cultured, proper and withheld hearts watching 2Cellos play. I was being trained to be a part of that tradition. It was after 20 years of believing tradition is culture and I had to preserve it , that I realised I was wrong.

Life liberated me when I found it in myself. And culture defined me when I discovered it in freedom.

OTN Monster

“That shampoo bottle is going to fall on it; the blade is going to cut through it; that high-heeled woman is going to step on it; you are going to keep the table on it”

Startled, I wake up; every day, during the day.

When I cook, when I eat, when I clean, when I swim, when I walk – every moment and every activity is an opportunity for the nightmare to show up. Except it shows up whenever I’m not sleeping. As if I get any good sleep anyway.

There is blood, there’s flesh everywhere; it’s a psychopath’s masterpiece and a sociopath’s well-forgotten moment. It’s meaningless yet full of possibilities. It unfolds itself whenever it feels like, as if I’m its only curator, only audience and the only admirer.

Let me tell you how it entered my life first.

I have this toenail problem. My nails just fall off, like I were a witch or something. They call it ‘calcium deficiency’ but no amount of milk has managed to keep my nails from coming-off on the slightest touch. It’s funny that even during my wedding, when my feet were painted, my toes were the eyesores in the beautiful henna design. But I am used to my topless toe. So, why is it any different now?

One of my toenails decided to die a few days back. No pain, no warning, nothing.

“Oh well.” I thought and went on with my life.

Until that disturbing morning when I was about to go and swim, and this nagging feeling that something is going to go grossly wrong, grew in me. I thought that if I stepped into the pool with that toe exposed, I would hit some random corners while swimming and the water will turn red.

I just bandaged that nail and swam. It helped for a few days.

Yesterday, I was taking shower. So, I used the shampoo and kept the new, big bottle back into the shelf just above the bathtub.

“Thud”, I heard a loud noise.

The bottle fell next to my feet and in a second, the open-toenail(OTN) monster came laughing in front of me.

“What if it had fallen onto my nail?” I freaked out.

I had my breakfast and the monster was still yelling intermittently in my head. I wasn’t able to understand why I was feeling the way I was. And why in the world would I let bother something as trivial as a broken toenail to take over my sanity? Why?

And then, at that moment I realised and saw very, very clearly.

I had nothing really to do. Sure I was taking care of the house, sure I was watching films, reading books and meeting friends. In fact, whenever I would do any of those activities, this OTN monster will not dare to fool around with me. However, I had no real daily engagement to keep my brain busy. I hadn’t been sleeping well. I had been living without a fulfilling occupation, like never before. I had been idle.

Like they say, “An empty mind is a devil’s workshop.”

In my case, it’s the OTP Monster’s flesh&blood studio these days.

Taste of Success

“Cheers!” The group shouted together.

It was my life’s most important evening. I was in Grand Plaza with my clients and representatives of other companies. We had gathered to discuss our respective ideas that would revolutionise the client’s business. Even though I had no idea what each company had to present, I was more than certain that I had a beautiful thought to unveil.

It was an idea born in a Tuesday morning shower and was in its youth by the time I reached my workplace. In less than 30 minutes, I had painted the idea on a 20-slide presentation. Every question, every doubt and every possibility – all clarified in no time. It was effortless, it was magical!

As a Creative Director, I had worked on many brilliant and big ideas. I had helped my team unleash their own creativity and had seen many clients grinning at the success of work done by them. Yes, I had been on the glory ride before but this was different. This gem was from the deepest corner of my heart and it was an initiative that I had decided will not be at the mercy of a client’s approval. I was happy and proud of the spark that had ignited in my head.

A day after I had presented my idea to my supervisor, I was sitting with my client and was waiting to start the fireworks. I was cheering for and appreciating every presentation.

“That was fantastic!” said my client.

I nodded in approval, smiled and gulped down my wine. I was loving the wait even though it was very difficult to hold what I had in my mind. I was tasting success already with every sip of the sweet French wine.

“Sir, would you like one more?” The waiter asked seeing my empty glass.
“Of course!” I said.

I had at least 20 minutes more to preside and I wanted my spirits as high as possible.

“Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!” “Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!”
“Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!” “Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!”
“Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!” “Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!”

I sprung out of the bed. I felt dizzy, I looked around.

“Where am I?” I thought.

It took me some time but I came to my senses and realised that I was in my house. I looked at the clock. To my horror, it was 11am! My phone was ringing aloud. As I picked it up, it stopped ringing. I had 5 missed calls from my supervisor. With great difficulty, I got out of my bed to drink a glass of water. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I opened my laptop and logged into my mailbox. There was one email from my boss.

David, What the hell happened last night? Where are you?
How did the Crimson guys win the project? Can you please call me as soon as possible?

“How the hell?!” I shouted.

My head was spinning. I drank more water and spent a few minutes trying to recall the events of the previous evening. I looked at the glass of water and suddenly remembered my wine glass being filled.

“Then what?” I said to myself.

Like a nightmare, the visuals after that ran in front of my eyes. As I drank up my wine, someone finished their presentation. Everyone stood up to applaud and as I tried to get up, the ceiling had started moving, people’s faces began to melt and the voices faded away. And then there was a loud thud; mostly of my head falling on the table.

“Oh my god!” I shouted and threw the glass of water towards the wall.
“No! No! No!” I howled and punched the wall.
“No! No! No!”

A million nos fell from my mouth that morning. If only one had come out for that last glass of wine. 

Notes of regret

I am listening to Schubert, reading about Mozart & Beethoven and staring at MS Subbalakshmi’s portraits alongside writing this post. At this moment I am reminded of all those times when I thought that music would always be my parallel indulgence as I did something else for a living.

My Guru (music teacher) asked me. “Why don’t you take up BA or something similarly light? It will help you focus on your music more.”

“I can manage engineering and music together.” I replied.

This was 1999. I wish I had listened to somebody then. I wish I had met someone who had beautiful thoughts of freedom, pride of an imaginative mind and the pleasure of enjoying what they had. I wish success wasn’t my only source of inspiration. I wish I didn’t judge people by their ability to solve mathematical problems; I wish I didn’t judge the lives of those travelling with their violins, guitars and their voice. I wish I had the vision to look into the fulfilment that my own talent could give me and I wish I didn’t have the overconfidence of letting all my talents flourish in all circumstances. I wish I could see the wonderful world in my heart.

Today I have the knowledge, the skills and the ability to jump and learn anything I truly want. However, I am struggling between multiple tabs of political articles, Coursera videos and registration websites. I have so many great things to learn and so much time at hand that I am worried that I actually have nothing.

Music – I wish I had kept your notes.