No offence!

No offence – the single most infuriating phrase in the English language – used whenever a person wants to insult you but wants to remove the moral guilt associated with it from themselves.

I’m not sure what a person is thinking when they’re adding no offence to their statements. You’re obviously aware that what you’re going to say is going to seem rude and insulting which is why you’re adding the – “no offence”. Do you really think that if you say “No offence” then I, the listener, won’t take offence? I mean if you come up to me and say “No offence but you’re really ugly”, what do you expect my response to be? Should I thank you for notifying me that I’m ugly and take no offence even though you just insulted me all because you said “No offence”?

We hear this phrase used so many times that it has become common place to use it before insults even when the person using the phrase actually does mean to insult you.

If you’re so concerned about not offending/hurting the person you’re talking to then just avoid saying the words you’re about to say rather than adding no offence to the statement and then proceeding with the insult anyway. It’s like kicking a person purposefully and then saying “Sorry, it was an accident”. Using the words “No offence”  might make you feel that you’ve not said anything rude/insulting just because you said them but it does nothing to stop the person at the receiving end from feeling hurt.

Just a small rant that I felt I needed to get out in the world.

 

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Why eating healthy is a crime in India

Since my childhood, I’ve been a skinny person. Never was into sports, never into nutrition. During college I looked malnourished (Weighed only about 48kgs at 175cms tall) and never gave a thought to what I was and wasn’t eating. However, after struggling with my health for some time and with some influence from friends who were into fitness, I decided it was time to change. For a little over a year now, I’ve been working on my fitness and health and along with getting into an exercise regime have worked on improving my diet as well. As I’ve gotten more into it, I’ve started learning what my body responds well to and to what it doesn’t. As a result of this I’ve cut out on many things but the primary cuts were on processed sugar, dairy. This has not only resulted in me feeling a lot healthier but also in me actually seeing physical changes in my body. However, the Indian society is such that if you tell someone that you’re following a diet or not eating some particular things, most people around you either brand you “fussy” or make it their mission to feed you everything that you’ve cut out because in India (might be everywhere in the world but based on my experiences I’m choosing to comment only on Indian society) not eating from McDonald’s or not having an aerated drink/dairy product is considered a crime.

I went to a friend’s house today and was offered a cold drink. I politely refused saying that I am keeping off processed sugar and hence just a glass of water would be fine. I was asked if I’d like some coffee or tea to which again I refused (since I am cutting on dairy as well). Seeing that I would be forced to have the tea, I put forward my reasons that dairy doesn’t suit me and hence I don’t want any. Upon asked what happens upon drinking milk, I gave them the explanation that I get horrible acne and my stomach feels weird. I was given a look which said – “Oh God, he is so fussy. These aren’t reasons to be cutting out on these things”. Moving on, we went out – I was asked if I would like to eat at Burger King and I refused saying I would eat at home. Was sarcastically asked – “Oh is this a part of your “diet” as well?”. I said yes it was and then was told to cut out all this crap and that they’d force a burger down my throat. Slightly angered (didn’t get highly angry because this isn’t the only time I’ve faced this….more on that later), I replied saying that if I was trying to be more healthier it was my choice and I didn’t expect encouragement from them but I did expect them to respect my choice and my decisions and I could take away the burger they purchased and throw it down the drain as well but I am not forcing my choices on them. A little awkward silence followed and the matter was closed.

The problem here is that this isn’t the only time that this has happened. A little while ago, during an office team lunch, upon refusing to eat a sugar-rich custard, I was told by a colleague that if was her son, she’d shove sugar down my mouth. God save her children. A little before that an Uncle told me proudly that they put sugar in each and every meal that they have and that they can’t live without sugar and neither should I. There too, a big bowl of an Indian dessert was kept forcibly on my plate which I politely went and emptied into the dustbin and told the Uncle that all he’d done was waste that food. A little before that another family friend, who mind you was suffering from obesity (weighing over 130 Kgs and having had doctors tell him to follow a diet), told me that going to the gym wasn’t good for health. When I looked at him with amazement, he told me, with full conviction, “Yeah, all people in the gym take steroids and stuff and they drink those shakes which are full of steroids and then they get all kinds of problems in life”. When asked if I take “those powders and stuff” and hearing an affirmative, he again told me that I was not doing good by taking “steroids”. Apparently the “steroids” (protein shakes) that I take are unhealthier than the glass of beer in his hand (his 3rd for the day).

Throughout this journey of trying to get more conscious about my health, I’ve faced hurdles but the hurdles aren’t the ones that I’ve anticipated. They’ve not been the unavailability of healthier options or the high pricing of whole foods. They’ve rather been the people around me trying to make me feel what I’ve been doing is wrong and making me feel like it’s a crime to be healthier. I’ve been branded – “fussy”, “a rich kid”, “too conscious about looks”. I’ve been told – “Dieting is only for girls” and “You go to the gym, why do you care about what you’re eating?”.  A widespread misconception again is that dieting/exercising is only for weight loss. (My diet has actually helped me gain weight).

This has made me realize that the problem in India is the lack of awareness that people have about diet, nutrition and health. We don’t have gym classes in schools here. All we have is a 45 minute Physical Education (once a week) in which all we’re made to do is run around a field and do some random exercises. We aren’t taught about nutrition and the pros and cons of eating different kinds of food. From our childhood, we are exposed to carbonated drinks, candies and chocolates. We are force fed dairy (especially milk) in our childhood with no one ever stopping to check if it is actually good for the child or not. To make sure that the child drinks his milk, a heaping spoon of sugar/sugary cereal is added to the milk. We’re lovingly given a heap of butter on our morning parathas by our grandmothers.

There is no one who tells a child to eat healthier and we can excuse our parents because there wasn’t enough knowledge out there to help guide them but our generation, even with all available resources, is still doing the same to its children and instead of emulating/encouraging people who are trying to be healthier, we are still trying to discourage and bring them down. This is why why we’ll always look at fitness models and applaud their physiques but keep on lamenting that we can never get such bodies. This is why we’ll always struggle with body image issues. This is why we’ll start eating less (read: dieting) when it’s time to look good in our marriage pictures. This is why eating healthy is a crime in India.

Live, don’t just survive!

“I really want to go to that Coldplay concert. The tickets are so expensive. Let me save the money for something that I actually need. I can listen to them on the radio.”

“I want to go on a trip to Italy. Nah, it’s too much. I could probably pay for it but I’ll need the money for a rainy day.”

“I’m craving to go home to meet my family. Wow, the tickets are so expensive and I’m anyway going 2 months later so let me save the expense.”

“I really want to wear that outfit but people will judge me. Maybe I’ll wear it some other time.”

Sounds familiar? We all do it – push things that we really want to do off to save money for a “rainy day”, to please people who we don’t really know. We go to work, we come back home, we eat, we drink, we do our laundry, and we sleep. Basically, in all this tussle to survive, we somewhere forget how to live. We push away things that we really want to do and probably will never again be able to do. We hide our emotions, forget who we really are and mask our identities to please people who we’ll probably never see again. And, we keep saving money for a “rainy day” and then pass it along as inheritance to our survivors.

What’s the use of the 7/8 digits in your bank account balance if there’s not a smile on your face? What’s the use of the 7/8 digits if they come at the expense of losing touch with your friends and family? What’s the use of the 7/8 digits if you can’t even make it to your best friend’s wedding?

In our strive to win the rat race, we keep on competing and surviving and forget living. We don’t even pause to take a breath.  We don’t enjoy the things that are around us and always keep hoping for a better future. But, how can we hope for a better future if we don’t acknowledge our glorious present. What will we use a benchmark for comparison?

In our eagerness to please other people..people who we don’t even know..don’t even care about, we forget what makes us happy. We conform to social norms, crave for social acceptance. We keep fighting our own happiness to keep pleasing others and by the time we do realize our mistakes it becomes too late.

So, once in a while just stop to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remember – Living for 40 years is better than surviving for 60.

Rejection

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There are moments in life when you find yourself being rejected – be it from a job interview, a relationship or even a small daily activity. When you’re rejected, you find yourself heartbroken,shattered and upset or at least that is what you’re supposed to be. There are times when although you’ve been rejected, you don’t feel upset – you know you’re supposed to but you just don’t. You feel as though you should be sad but you just aren’t. You might not feel anything about it or you might even feel happy…liberated. These are the times when you have to stop and ask yourself if you even wanted it in the first place. Was it something you truly, honestly, passionately wanted? If you don’t feel anything by not getting what you wanted then it’s quite possible that you never wanted it in the first place.

Many times in life we pursue things that we don’t really want. We chase it, running around in circles and never realizing that we never really cared about it. Rejection is the best way to understand if we actually ever wanted it because if rejection doesn’t make you feel anything about it then rejection was probably the best thing that could have happened to you.

Just jump right into it.

Every day of our lives starts with struggles.

I get up in the morning and struggle to get off my bed – “5 minutes more” is the biggest lie I tell myself each day. After about 30 minutes of coaxing myself to get up, I finally decide to just get off my bed. Next comes the shower – “Oh damn, the water’s cold!”. The mental dilemma continues till I finally decide to take the plunge. This goes on throughout the day- from small decisions to big ones- in my mind I already know what the answer is going to be and yet I struggle and waste an hour, two hours, three hours pondering over the same decision and in the end come to the same conclusion that I was at when I had started deciding.

These are every day struggles and we do the same with all our decisions be it the simple decision of the outfit to wear that day or a life changing decision of quitting a job to take on a new one. The small decisions that we put off for 30 minutes have helped me realize that we put off the major life-changing decisions for a corresponding amount of time and end up doing the same thing years later but with a heart full of regret for not having done it earlier.

So, tomorrow I’m going to get up off my bed and jump straight into the shower. Maybe that’ll motivate me to do other things I’ve been procrastinating as well…

In response to the Daily Prompt

“Even a monster has its limits”

Tears. That is what the Nirbhaya documentary has reduced me to. The documentary – “India’s daughter”, which has been banned by the Government for God knows what goddamned reason, is like a wake up call to all Indians telling us that even though the government data shows that we’re progressing with a rapid growth rate, we’ve gone way backwards, past the point from where human society even started.

“Even a monster has its limits” – These are the words of the father of Jyoti, the victim in the Nirbhaya rape case. I’ve never really believed in monsters or demons or the devil. Now I believe it’s all true. A monster is living among us and that monster is the mentality that these people have. Phrases from the documentary are shooting across my mind – “A woman has no place in our society”,”Indian culture is the best culture and our culture does not permit a woman being independent”,”A woman must do housekeeping”,”A woman is like a flower and a man like a thorn”,”A woman is like a diamond, put her outside and a dog will come grab it”. Today, I am ashamed to say that I live in a society where such thoughts are even allowed to take birth and that too in the minds of “educated” people with “degrees”. I have realized that getting a degree in India is easier than gaining admission to an institute.

The defense lawyers even have the courage to go up to the media and say things like “I’d burn my daughter alive if she went out of the house late at night”. These “lawyers” can’t even talk properly and they think they have the right to make comments about how a person (Read Woman) should or should not live. Frankly, I believe that these two lawyers should be hanged along with the convicts. As that is not going to happen, I hope they give birth to free-minded and independent daughters and these daughters should see the documentary and shame their fathers.

The rapist felt no remorse in what he had done. He talked about pulling the intestines out of the girl as if it was such a humanly thing to do. The guy said that girls shouldn’t wear short clothes or go out at night with her friends and what they did was to teach her a lesson. There is no remorse in his eyes. Not even an essence of guilt. He makes even terrorists seem like humanly, god-fearing people.

“A girl shouldn’t go out at night but it’s okay for a guy to go out on the streets naked. Indian society doesn’t permit girls and guys to be friends.” Why should a girl not go out at night? What are you doing better than her that gives you the right to do what you wish and not her? One of the lawyers even said that if a boy and a girl are outside, the only thing that comes to his mind is sex. Wow! I applaud your mentality sir. How proud your wife must be of marrying you, how proud your mother would be of having given birth to you, how proud your sister would be that she ties a Rakhi to your hand, how proud your daughter must be today!

“The girl was inviting rape and shouldn’t have fought back”. Did she sit naked and try to seduce you? Did she ask you to rape her? If no, then she was not “inviting” rape but yes, people who’re saying these words are surely inviting a public flogging. And, why should she not have fought back? What gives you the right to her body?

At 17 years and 6 months old, the “juvenile” who was part of the rape was convicted to 3 years in prison. Although I believe that it’s a good thing that he’ll be available to the public to do whatever they like with him since he has “invited” a lot of things by the crime he has committed, but is the law so stupidly rigid that it cannot be changed for a person who claims to be a juvenile but commits a crime which even older criminals are appalled at.

There are many questions that I’d like to ask these “men” who believe they are better than women and can do anything they want to a woman. What have you done to believe that you are better than  a woman? The rapist claims that he never liked school and so never attended. The rape victim was a medical student  from a poor background, working hard to pay her own education bills. Mr. Unemployed Rapist, how can you even think that you’re better than the girl? The lawyers cant speak a word of English properly and still believe that they are born better just because they’re men. Why should a girl not go out and enjoy her life? Where is it written in Indian culture that girls shouldn’t go out at night? Where is it mentioned that girls are not equivalent to boys? How much of the Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana have you read, that you  go about talking about the Indian culture as if you’re the most cultured people in all of India?

Finally, the government has again showed itself to be a coward and gone ahead and banned this documentary. Why? Because the lawyer mentioned that there are rape cases against MPs and MLAs? It’s not as if we don’t already know that. What will be the outcome of banning a sensible documentary in which many high profile members of society have raised their voices? You ban beef, you ban a documentary, you ban films but rape, that too pre-marital, deserves only a couple of years of punishment. This is our government and such are our laws. After marriage, what gives the husband a right to his wife’s body is beyond me. If there is a right, the wife should be made to sign out a contract before marriage enlisting all such details so that she can know what she is getting into.

I have a mother, grandmother, sisters, friends, aunts, relatives, neighbors – women i’m extremely proud of. They’re doctors, professors, managers, engineers, lawyers, homemakers. They choose to do what they love to do. They work and manage their families and that is how strong women are. Women should have all the rights that men have and any well-educated person would agree to this. Someone who has a different opinion is obviously not educated even if he claims to be.

Jyoti’s mother has tears in her eyes as she talks about the gem of a daughter she had. The rapists’ wife still blindly believes that her husband can do no wrong and that she won’t have a life worth living if her husband dies. Jyoti’s father is choked up when he talks about having to cremate his own daughter. The rapists’ parents are saddened by the thought of having no one to cremate them when they die. So many lives affected and yet the rapist feels no guilt of what he’s done and proudly proclaims that the next generation of rapists will rape and murder a girl and not leave her with the gift of the bare minimum amount of life that they left in her. I have always been proud of being an Indian. Today, I’m ashamed of living in a society where people like these rapists and their lawyers live.

When pigeons talk!

In an ancient temple, a number of pigeons were living happily on the roof top. When the renovation of the temple began for the annual temple feast, the pigeons built their nest on top of a Church nearby. The pigeons already living there were very welcoming and accommodated the new comers warmly.

Christmas was nearing and the Church was given a face lift. All the pigeons had to move out and look for another place. They were fortunate to find a place in a Mosque nearby. The pigeons in the Mosque too welcomed all the newcomers happily.

It was Ramadan time and the Mosque was repainted. All the pigeons now came to the same ancient temple.
One day the pigeons on top found some communal clashes below in a market square. The baby pigeon asked the mother pigeon “Mother, who are these people?”.

The mother replied saying, “They are human beings”. The baby asked, “But why are they fighting with each other”? The mother said “These human beings going to the temple are called ‘Hindus’ and the people going to the Church are called ‘Christians’ and the people going to Mosque are called ‘Muslims’. They are fighting against each other because ”
The Baby pigeon asked, “Why is it so? Look, when we were in the Temple we were called Pigeons, when we were in the church we were called Pigeons and when we were in the Mosque, we were called Pigeons. Similarly shouldn’t they be called just ‘Human beings’ wherever they go”?

The mother Pigeon said, ‘You and me and our Pigeon friends have experienced God and that’s why we are living here in a highly elevated place peacefully. These people are yet to experience God. Hence they are living below us and fighting and killing.”

This is the state of our world today.

Think People! Think!

Hundreds of demonstrations, mosques being bombed, churches being burnt, people being converted and innocent people and even children being killed in the name of God! The world has lost it.

Hate crimes against people of different religions have become so common these days that people have actually forgotten what are the actual principles that their religions stands for. People have forgotten that terrorists and criminals are not Hindus, Muslims or Christians. They are simply terrorists and criminals! Muslim children were killed in Pakistan by Muslims. Children in schools in USA were murdered by Christian guys. Hindus are killed by Hindus everyday. Do not stereotype terrorists or attribute crimes to a single religion or sect is what I appeal. Isn’t it enough that we have terrorists murdering innocents as it is? Why must we turn to becoming terrorists?

People of another ethnicity find it difficult to live in another country even though they’re serving the country as doctors or scientists or teachers because they are targeted when a person from their race or religion commits a crime. How does that even make sense? Why does a person’s religion or race have to come into the picture if he commits a crime? It’s time that we stop assigning religions to terrorists. No religion preaches violence and never will and all of mankind needs to work towards eradicating terrorism and not eradicating a religion.

Think and stop this stupidity!

Leaving you with the lyrics of John Lennon’s Imagine. Perhaps this should be declared the world’s anthem.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Co-authored by Guest Author – Mrinalini Anand

Mrin10396971_10204284079716174_8742608587644894235_oalini is an Interning doctor, born in Germany with Asian ethnicity. She did her schooling in Dehradun, India and her graduation in England and aims to be a surgeon one day. She loves oration, public speaking, and international politcs and has attended and presided over many Model United Nations conferences.

Time is money!

Tell us about the one luxury item you wish you could afford, in as much detail as you can. Paint a picture for us.

There are so many things that I want to do in life…travel to each and every country, try out my hand at different professions, learn as many languages as possible, read as many books as I can, meet a lot of different people and so on and so forth…and there’s so little time. So, if i were to choose one luxury item that I wish I could afford then it has to be time!

How many times have we faced a situation where we’ve said “Oh, if only i had the time!” and just to avoid having to say that sentence I wish I could afford time. There’ve been so many situations in the past few years where I’ve had to be at two places at the same time but could only manage to attend one. Over the past few days itself, I’ve been so busy that I’ve found it hard to manage my schedule and found it hard to find time for writing, blogging and other stuff. It took me 2 days to write a response to this prompt!

“Time is money”. If I had time, I’d do all the things I’ve wanted and want to do. And hence, if I was given an opportunity to buy time, I’d buy it in copious amounts.

**In response to this prompt**

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