Sunday, November 20, 2011

Musings on Validation

So I was wondering today about this deep rooted, deep seated need for validation that we, as mere mortals, have. How deep seated and deep rooted it is, depends on each of us as individuals. Our upbringing, life, circumstances, gender, society and culture all influence the depth and intensity of this atavistic desire. Or is it just me, who has this intense need for validation of self?

From what dark void inside me does this need arise? And why is it so intense? More to the point, why is it focused on external systems and means of validation? Oh yes, I have done enough self-introspection and psychoanalysis to know the answer. Still I struggle with the answers. Still it is not enough.

I have realized that seeking external validation, and getting it, is a mere drug. An addiction of sorts, that satisfies the occasional craving. Can an intermittent high from an ephemeral compliment even come close to satisfying what is, what has become, an eternal need? Yet I question the very existence of this need, if not its existence, atleast its strength.

Time and again I have seen this inside me, time and again I have realized the one painful truth, that I am not good enough for myself. Why seek external validation, if my internal validation was enough? What lack inside me, that my self-belief is weak and wavering? What depths do I plumb to find inside me worth and confidence in my self?

I know that is the answer. I need to believe more in my own abilities, my own choices, my own self, my own identity. It is only internal validation that will lead to lessening of doubt, fulfilment of self, and the ability to traverse life more confidently. Because internal validation is not ephemeral, not fleeting, not occasional. It is this deep abiding faith in oneself, this deep love for self that gives joy, fulfilment and freedom.

Yes, there is the line of one of my favorite songs goes, ...ik khalish hai hawaaon mein bin tere...(there is an emptiness in the air without you...). But the only person who can fill this void is me. I need to be there for myself. In this time when doubts rage, when things change, when I question my very worth and value. I need to tell myself that I am good enough. Not for the outside world, not for people, not for family, not for friends. I am good enough for myself.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Indian Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Eating Out Alone (OR a 12 Year Old Rant)

I’m talking about a long ago India here, and I have no idea whether this exists anymore. Eating out alone in the US is not a big deal, indeed it is the culturally acceptable norm. It is perfectly okay to sit and eat alone at some place- in fact, it is expected in some of the cafĂ©/bakery sort of places. Where one can sit, eat, ruminate, read, write or Internet surf endlessly. And nobody will blink an eyelid.

As I was eating my lunch today- alone, mind you- I recalled an incident that had occurred almost twelve years or so ago. Obviously, it still rankles, since that is one memory that I have never forgotten. Chinese (Indo-Chinese) food was new on the Indian horizon at that time and I absolutely loved it. There was this one Chinese place near my undergrad school that we would often visit, named Golden Dragon (what else!). Once, I was craving that particular place, food and taste so badly that I just could not stop myself and decided to go there without further delay. Most of my friends were out of town, so I went alone.

I sat there and ate the most wonderfully unhealthy MSG laden vegetarian hot-and-sour soup and Manchurian (dishes that nobody in China has ever heard of). I suddenly heard a really snarky voice at my adjacent table say loudly … “mujhe pata nahi log baahar akele kaise khaa lete hain” (I don’t understand how people can eat out alone). Spoken out loudly enough to make sure I heard. I still remember the disdain in that voice.

I’ve never forgotten that incident. Almost every time I eat out alone, I recall this. I wonder what was going on in that person’s mind as he said this. I wish I had said something. I wish I had not been hurt. I wish I could meet him again and give him a resounding slap! I was just satisfying a primal urge- to eat some delicious food that I was craving. I wish I had not felt bad about doing this one thing I wanted to do for myself.

Eating out alone- especially for a girl, ye heavens! - was overstepping certain circumscribed societal norms. It wasn’t accepted, it wasn’t common, and hence it was worth commenting upon. Indian cultural norms are defined, created and delineated to keep women in their place, inside. The outside is seen as the site of potential breach, be it of norms, principles or people. Indian women, as the moral and physical upholders of Indian culture, are not allowed to breach anything. Be it norms, principles or boundaries. Be they physical, socio-cultural or psychological.

I can only hope things are different now. From what I hear about the new India, I sure hope that women can go and eat out alone as, when and where they want. All the Chinese, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, American, even Indian food that they want to eat. Without the world judging them in any way. Next time this happens to me, I’ll make sure I dump the bowl of soup on the speaker’s head.
No matter how delicious it is.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Blog Anniversary Post: Six years together

A friend of mine today mentioned that she wanted to start her own blog. So we were talking about it, and I was reminiscing about the day I started this blog. And suddenly it struck me, it was on THIS VERY DAY, six years ago. Yes, this blog was born on November 03, 2005. Went back in time (to the first ever post) and checked. Indeed, the first post was on November 03, 2005. Just "Testing" :-)

So many memories and moments came flooding back. I was extremely new to the US at that time, had been here only for about two months. Was lonely and miserable and had no friends and wanted to go back. That is how this blog was born. Since I had nobody to talk to, I decided to talk to this space. My blog, my friend that would listen to all my rants and pain and sorrow and share it with me.

That is indeed what has happened. We have come a long long way together, since that fateful day six years ago. My blog has always been the repository of my emotions, thoughts, feelings, expressions and rants. It has stayed with me through my highs and lows. It has been a true hamsafar of sorts, growing and evolving as my thoughts and I evolved. It has been both my aks and aaina...

I was wondering why it is not called a blog birthday, but a blog anniversary. And then I realized, that it is a day that we both came together. It marks an important milestone for both of us. So here is wishing us both a happy anniversary, and many many more years of sharing and togetherness!

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