What It Means To Be A Woman

On the 8th of March we celebrated International Women’s Day, like we do every year. In college, me and all the other girls in my class were given a packet of chilli power with a message that said, “Spice up the eyes of all those words dare harass you.” Looking at that packet one couldn’t help but think that we live in a society where we actually might have to use this on someone one day or another. We live in a world where some women are still not allowed to venture outside without a male companion by their side. A world that sometimes looks down on you for taking certain decisions or living a certain way of you are a woman. But on other hand, we now live in a world where women are CEOs of muti-nationals and Vice Chancellors of countries. The same world that thought women were incompetent to drive (Read UAE), now thinks we deserve the right to drive if we choose to.

Being a woman in today’s world is a complicated affair. We are constantly processing threats and looking at infinite opportunities all at the same time. It’s not all great for us out in the world, but it’s not all that bad either.

So what exactly does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

I asked a few women and this is what they had to say.

And I’d like to present it to you in a three part photo-series.




Zoya Mateen, 22.

For me, womanhood is simply the art of becoming. It’s an inward journey rather than an outward one. I choose to give very little, or perhaps no importance to what someone might choose to identify me as. Sometimes a Muslim, sometimes a woman, the daunting expectations that come when you combine the two. Add a dash of modernity and a spoonful of arbitrary judgements on what I wear what I eat say or think and I already feel like I’m going crazy!
So no. I refuse to listen to them. I refuse to let them choose for me. My battle is within me.

I’m proud of who I am. my gender, faith or thinking have very little role to play individually in making me feel like that. Womanhood for me is this act of faith in yourself. For whoever I am and whatever I can be. I have the strength to accept myself and in the process learn, learn and keep learning

dsc_0061228821267.jpg Zoya is an artist.

Prashasti Awasthi, 21.

Being a woman is a tiring job especially when you advocate feminism. One is always misunderstood.
Having said that I can’t trade being a woman with anything else. It is the most powerful and amazing feeling. We are endowed with the quality of a nurturer and an empath. I cherish it as much as I cherish my physical growth.
I feel fortunate to be chosen to be a woman.

dsc_0047714435329.jpg Prashasti is a war journalist in the making.



Well, one thing we can agree on is that ‘womanhood’ cannot be defined. It can be perhaps be perceived in different ways by different people. In the upcoming days I will be showcasing more such women sharing their perceptions on womanhood, and what it is to be a woman in 2018. Stay tuned!



The Real Deal .

Plato once said , “Every heart sings a song incomplete , until another heart whispers back .”

I wonder if that stands true even today . In a world where our ears are muffed with headphones , and our eyes buried into our smartphones , I doubt we might even hear that whisper !
Other than that , who has time for such whispers ?
All we want is small talk and Tinder chats . Non sexual conversations don’t seem to get us anywhere !

Gone are the days when a relationship between two people didn’t just happen overnight .
It took patience , understanding and love to build one !

I’m not saying that the all ‘love’ of today is fake . I’m saying that it’s so difficult to find something true and lasting !

Blind dates , speed dates , horoscope dates you name it , and there’s a type of dating system for everything under the sun !
But to what end ?

Dating today resembles a blind man’s game . No one knows what we’re looking for , no one knows where we’re going , Hey, we don’t even know why we’re doing it !
One date after another , one person after the other , the cycle is vicious and endless .
By the time we actually meet the right person , we are so tired of this game that we just give up and convince ourselves that our ‘Soulmate’ doesn’t exist .

People have started differentiating between Love ,Sex and Emotional attachment !
When in reality , none of these can survive without the other .
Hook-ups and quickies are in trend . No commitments , no strings attached . They sound so tempting and uncomplicated , so inviting !
But are they really what they look like ? Is it really that simple ?
Instead of making it my personal opinion , I’d like to paint this picture according to what science has to say about us .
Humans are built in such a way that intimacy is related to a emotional connection . I literally hear everyone today telling ,”Oh ! It’s no big deal , it’s just sex .” Or , “oh ! We’re just dating casually .”
Well science disagrees with you my friends . If we were to get intimate , and have sex with every other person we felt like , we might as well be called animals . We are different because, the millions of years of evolution have instilled in us , a sense of “Humanity” that includes the emotional attachment to the person we are with (partner) .
Sure , you can still argue with this and say that it is possible to have emotionally detached relationships , But I’d rather side with science on this one .

I’d rather look for something real . Something that is not only about physical attraction . Something that is more than just sex . Something that is greater than just a sense of mutual liking .
I want the whole deal . I want the comfortable silences along with unending conversations .
I want us to have insatiable thirst for each other . I want us to Like ,Love and Lust for each other . I want the good days and the bad . I want passion and complete submission . Most importantly I want it to be “Us” , not just ‘me’ or ‘you ‘ .
And I’m sure like me there are still many others who would say the same . So this one is for them ! The ‘Ol style people . The ones who still believe in the concept of “Us” . Who want “Forever Afters ” . Who are convinced that it’s worth having a ‘life partner’ than a ‘sex partner’ .
To those who still think that “For eternity “always better than “For the time being ” .
So go on , whisper in the air ; And hope with all your heart that the universe will call someone to whisper back !

Work ,Work ,Work !

I apologise if the title was  misleading , No , this is not about Rihanna’s new song !

This is about something that can make us cringe on a lazy day and  can even  steal a smile ! Well , I’m talking about hard-work .

Since the beginning of age , man has tried to make his life simpler . Hard-work has always been something that’s a little too difficult for him to digest .

The world today markets “The easy way out ” . Come to us they say , And you won’t have to chose between a slice of pizza ,and an hour at the gym . Come to us and , we will give you all the success you could wish for . Shortcuts are “In” .

Everyone wants results without efforts . Results without consequences to their half willed actions . We tend to appreciate instant gratification rather than long standing gains .
We expect to maintain unrealistic standards with little or no effort to achieve them .
We are surrounded by people who have no interest in telling you the truth of what goes behind the making of a dream . All they do is sell you the false idea , that you can have everything you wish for , within the blink of an eye .
And the sad part is too many of us have bought that idea .

We are seeing an increase in the ‘suicides’ , ‘divorces’ , ‘murders’, ‘rape’ . They might all seem completely different from each other , but they share the same conscience . Of Neglect , Apathy and Surrender . Of utter defeat and hopelessness .
Think about it , a couple that was married for 2 years decides to part ways on grounds of “incorrigible differences ” .
A girl who has failed her entrance test three consecutive times , decides that death would be a better option than facing defeat again .
A rapist let’s insatiable lustful desires to take control and gives in .A murder might imagine that , to take someone’s life is a necessity , that there is no other option apart from that !

Why did these people do what they did ?
One simple answer would be , they failed to work it out . They thought life would be a piece of cake , but Oh Boy , were they wrong !

It takes effort and energy to do anything at all ; Be it excelling at academics , getting that beach body you always wanted , Getting over that girlfriend who cheated on you (oh that just drains you, of life ! ) , Maintaining relations with your parents  or Attaining spiritual enlightenment .

Giving up always seems like a easier and pleasant option , but struggling through it all and persevering is the undermined winner always !

You have to fight no matter how hard it might get .
You have to aspire to be better everyday . You have to toil , sweat and work every muscle to get what you want without giving in .
Shortcuts might take you places , but at what cost ?
Easy might sound nice , but is it potent ?
These are questions you have to ask yourself .
And it’s rightly said , “If it’s easy , it probably ain’t right ! ”
Which runs true on most accounts .

So don’t be afraid of “work” ! Embrace the pain and discomfort . And time will surely bring you lasting and beautiful results .

It’s all about balance .

Today’s world is coloured in extremes . It’s either too much of something , or too less of it .
On one hand we have people like Donald Trump who thrive on narcissism and intolerance and then on the other hand we have instances like the recent visit of Barack Obama to Cuba , that signifies acceptance and harmony .
We have the Taliban and LeT who have set their souls on devouring humanity and collapsing the foundation of the society , And then in the same environment we have people like Malala Yusaifza who strive to build the society and restore the stolen order .
We have innumerable billionaires on the rise , but we also have hit an all time low of people below the poverty level .
I can give a ton of such examples where each party defies the purpose and existence of the other .
Two forces that collide continually to no end .

The Chinese believe in the Yin and Yang . This belief emphasises on the necessity of opposite forces . Dark v/s light , good v/s bad and how other such opposite forces MUST come together in harmony for a universal existence .

We can hence say that ‘ good ‘ loses significance in the absence of ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ . That , good times need to be cherished when times get tough .
We might want everything to be perfect all the time . We might want everything to go according to our plan , to the last detail . But imagine a perfect world where everything is only sunshine and rainbows . In such a world nothing would ever be good enough . Success would never be an accomplishment , because we would never have known failure .
On a lighter note think about this , you might never know what a good hair day is , if you never knew what a bad day looked like !
We would never realise happiness because we would never have experienced sadness ! We would never love , because we wouldn’t know hatred !

We are so affected by the negativity in our lives that we fail to appreciate the goodness . We fail to count the blessings . We let the bad memories corrupt the good ones too . We collapse under the pressure , lose control and give up .

My point is that if your life looks like one big tragedy and if nothing seems to be working in your favour , you don’t need to get all worked up . Instead , all you need to do is reminisce the good days . Draw your inspiration from positivity and be optimistic about the future .
You need to understand that the good days are here only to BALANCE out the bad ones .

After all , as they say , “It’s a bad day , not a bad life ! “

The good v/s The intolerant

Today’s newspaper stirred up so many emotions in me . Both positive and negative .Of anger and appreciation . Of utter disgust and hope .

So it all started when I read the first news ,which really shook me up . There stands a man grimly smiling followed by the headline “politicians should start sadhana “.

At first glance I thought it is some meditative technique ,but I soon discovered it was far from that . This man stands on  democratic soil and says that other religions have no right to exist !

It is ridiculous that people say such things even today !

Apparently some people think that certain ancient ludicrous religious idologies ,that bear no democratic relevance today , should be the basis for a country’s governance .

Here stands a man who denies equality to anyone else other than a selected sect of the society  ,and this he does with so much confidence .

It drove me to a point where I questioned my living in such a country ,coexisting with such narcissistic and extremist groups.

It both drove me mad and rendered me scared and helpless .

And then as every other mumbaikar  does , I handed our country’s fate to the Gods and turned the page for another story that gripped my attention like this one .

And then came a pleasant surprise ,that drew away the bitter aftertaste of the earlier news .

A boy merely 17, Eshan Balbale ,stands on a bridge that he himself built . Now what was so special about a bridge built for some random slumdwellers ?

Well this boy was featured in the “unsung heroes of Mumbai page”

As I read his story a sense of relief and hope rose within me .

What was so starkly different about this boy was that unlike the earlier extremist who was hellbound on erasing all traces of other religions ,this youngster did something for the good of everyone around him ,something pure and unadulterated that benefited all religions the same

He did a simple task of building a bridge over a nullah , so that children could crossover to attend their daily classes without hassle . Compassion and goodwill prevailed over his senses .

This youngster proves that it is possible to be selfless and giving ,in a time where everyone else wants to TAKE and fight for their own “RIGHT

It made me happy to have realized  that I share my existence with a person like  Eshan .

To know that even though there are elements of hatred and violence in this world , there will always be elements of goodness and kindness , and these elements will ALWAYS , that’s right ,they will always win over the former !

Death of a dream .

Bright as the morning sunshine

Blissfully as can be

She was hopeful and determined

She was full of awe and curiosity

But the world was a dangerous, dangerous  place

It was no land for this ignorantly happy girl !

They prowled and snared just for a chance .

The moment she’d look away

On her ,they’d let All hell unfurl !

Naive and still oblivious ,

The girl thought the world was hers to take ,

With all her might she set out on a journey ,

Not knowing what was at stake …

She skipped about gleefully,

She was optimistic and strong

She assumed she was almost there and that’s where things started to go wrong ….

And alas on that fateful day ,

As she was onward on her journey The world finally got hold of her

It all came thundering down ..before she could even understand the cacophony !

She was tortured and annihilated

Stripped of her spirit

She was denied that fundamental purpose

To stand up for herself ..

To travel and adventure ..to reach out and fulfil her destiny

Beyond any redemption now

She was Murdered in cold blood

She was punished for not having  obeyed

She wouldn’t have suffered if she had just stayed

But since she decided to listen to herself

The girl called Dreams lied mutilated and slayed .

How many of us really follow our dreams ? How many of us really have the courage to do so ? It is a scary question , isn’t it ?

Most of us just give up under the pressure , try and follow norms set by the society .

And dreams ? Well , they are just smothered …and left for dead .