And now we talk of culture

Culture….when I think of the quintessential feature of Indian culture I think of tolerance and respect.

Having lived in the Middle East, and that too in one of the more liberal nations, I still know how fortunate we expats were to be able to go to a church or a temple when there were others across borders nearby who couldn’t for fear of persecution and prosecution. When I was taught that India is a secular nation, it warmed my heart. I mean, how beautiful is it that we are not defined by the majority religion, instead, we have the fundamental right…the freedom to profess the faith of our choice. How many people in the world have suffered for their beliefs? While here we are, a highly populous country where you can worship as you wish knowing that for the most part, it makes no difference to anyone.

When I watched PK, that controversial Aamir Khan movie, my favourite scene was the one where he looks for a stamp on a baby to see what determines the faith to which he would belong. As I see it, religion is something you inherit from your parents and whether you decide to openly profess those practices or ignore the rituals completely is a choice you’re allowed to make.

secular(1)My closest friends belong to different faiths and I don’t care. Never have and never will. All I know is that I would trust them with my life and even the more precious life of my child. I know that they are good people. Isn’t that all that matters to most of us? That the people we call friends are good people? Does anyone truly care if they eat beef or pork or drink alcohol? Does it make a difference to anybody if they pray at a church or temple or mosque or not at all? I would like to think not. I would like to believe that it is only certain fringe elements of society that are trying to make popular a different tune… Sure, we have witnessed violent religious clashes in the past, but somehow until recently it seemed all for some political advantage  or the other and common people; like you and I were just victims. Why does the case seem different today? In my eyes, being of a certain community could never make you more or less Indian.

India…glorious India where children grew up waiting for festivals of their neighbours to burst crackers, light diyas and devour delicious sweets or help decorate trees, sing Christmas carols and eat rich plum-cake or even poke their heads into kitchens waiting for a serving of delicious biriyani that’s got their tummies rumbling. That is my India….not this one we seem to be turning into. Not one where I am fearful my entire opening paragraph to this post needs to be converted to the past tense. Not one where we have forgotten how to live and let live. And most definitely not one where more and more of us seem to actually care whether the person sitting next to us on a bus is a Mary or Ahmed or Radha….

******

Photo credit: Here

Written for Indispire – 57 hosted on Indiblogger.in. “A lot is opposed as being ‘against Indian culture’. What is Indian culture? #IndianCulture”

UBC20: Following that dream

When I was about eleven or twelve, I started keeping a diary. But, I didn’t write about my day. I wrote poetry, short essays, stories and scripts instead and when I was fifteen, I printed them all and spiral bound them in something I called “The literary works of Preeti Farias – Part 1” ( Fancy title don’t you think 🙂 ). Even though my parents thought I had a decent bit of talent and I was encouraged to write; the idea was to treat it as a hobby, never as a career. It was looked at as something I could do when I was forty-five, had earned a fair bit, and had chosen to retire early from a regular job. The regular job for me (since I had no interest in medicine or engineering) is a finance one. So, I write on the side.

Today, parents are a little more accepting of “alternate” careers. Photography, journalism, anchoring TV shows, music, writing were all career-390757_1280supposed to be hobbies when I was growing up. But, it’s changing. These days, a lot of people with insistent parents end up pursuing professional courses only to start doing what they are passionate about once they are through. They end up having the added benefit of having the more “acceptable” degree to fall back on in case it doesn’t work out like they want.

True, it might be a while before just about any child of Indian descent can walk up to her/his parents and say s/he wants to be a chef in a restaurant or something like that but, there is hope! The tide is turning and I honestly think that the drive to follow dreams is thriving in the new generation.

******

Written for IndiSpire on Indiblogger as well as for the Ultimate Blog Challenge

/

UBC14: This much is true

When she was little,
They pulled her cheeks.
They said she was cute
They called her sweet.

As she grew older,
Chubby she remained
But they no longer praised her
Just called her rude names.
So she didn’t go out much
Stayed at home instead.
Chose to be alone
Sometimes crying in bed.
When she flipped on the switch
To watch some TV,
The women on there
Were all so skinny.
She looked in the mirror
That hanged in her room
Instead of happiness,
All it increased was gloom.
Her face was too round,
Her arms too fat
Her hips were too wide
Her stomach far from flat.
All she wanted
Was for them to see
What she was like
Not her body.
She spent a long time,
Trying to become thin
She knew chubby was out.
Angles were in.
But try as she would,
She looked almost the same.
Slowly she came to terms
With the shape she would remain.

Holding her head high,
Now, she goes out,
Her chubby face
Wearing a smile on the mouth
The arms may still
Be too fat
But she couldn’t care
Less about that.
To feel accepted,
She knew this was true:

You need to accept yourself
Before others can accept you.
******
/

What if it was you?

Too many of us find it hard to accept people of different sexual orientation. I suppose it’s because we are the majority. But what if you were the minority? Somehow we have ended up in a world where it’s considered normal to be with someone of the opposite sex. We are just used to it. So, we don’t know how to deal with the idea of men being with other men or women with other women. It makes a lot of us uncomfortable.

Not enough of us see that it takes a tremendous amount of courage for people who are different that way to be able to share their uniqueness with other people. Most of us just treat them like they are carrying some sort of disease and avoid them if possible. People bully them and make fun of them without really understanding the kind of effect those cruel words could have on them.

But, they are people…and people are people whoever they fall in love with. However different they may seem to you.

Although this video talks specifically about bullying people of different sexual orientation, it sends a louder, stronger message about the effect that bullying can have on young children.

It is a beautiful video that really speaks volumes. It’s long. But worth every second of your time.

Watch. Learn. Accept. Change.

******

I don’t own this video or rights to it. I just think that everyone needs to see it.