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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Girl About Town: Why I Threw The Guy Out Of The Pub

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So of course after all the sudden and unwanted attention that comes along a girl's way when she is alone at a pub, there are some amazing talents out there who just take that form of unwanted attention to an all new level.

If you are not a regular reader here and did not read about my interesting experience at the bar and the episode about the 'unwritten code' you may want to check that out too ;)

This time I was happily single and happily on my own at a table. The music was good and so was my drink, and I was happy watching others dance and groove and was enjoying the smiles and the evening unraveling.

So suddenly there comes this guy and just comes and stands at my table, no drink in hand coz I realized within seconds that he was already out of his mind drunk, and the 'hero' came and stood right next to me, even as his very decent friend was trying to get him out of there. I could see the friend was already embarrassed, that he could see I was not amused. And then??

The moron does an SRK pose, with his arms going out on both sides and singing along to the English tracks albeit with an SRK pose !!! He surely doesn't know which Khan camp I am on, else he may have tried a different pose, just saying ;)

It went on for about half a minute or so, while I told the guy to move away and that I was not getting amused. The pose was going on and then the guy decided to get even closer, at which point I got up, ready to push him off when the friend finally managed to pull him away and leave.

I got back to being with myself and was just getting back to the mood when the guy came back again, this time alone. I knew what my reaction would be, so I gestured him to stop right there, while he was still a little away from where I was sitting. Of course a no or a gesture that means no is quite incomprehensible to most guys and they have a hard time deciphering the same.

So alas the fool came over.

And then Debo got up. And asked him to get up and get out. And held his hand and walked him towards the door. And glared and shouted. And people started staring. And women smiled at me and smirked at him. And guys stared him and looked at me with weird eyes that said they were contemplating what this mad woman would do next.

And then as I went out with the guy and the staff and some of the bouncers, I gave him a piece of my mind. And told him that I wanted to push and slap him but I was sparing him that humiliation as he was already facing a lot of it.

And his response?

'But you can't slap me or push me na?'

And my response. "Of course I can. I am just still trying to be polite and in control here."

And his response again. "But you know I love you and you love me too, so you won't slap me."

I guess I should just do a facepalm and leave it there......

Of course he was thrown out ;)

- Debolina Raja

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tales From The Lift: LIZZY Boy !!!!

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If you read the title, which I'm kind of guessing you already did, you really know that that's all there is to this Tales From The Lift  series and that it will even be enough if I leave it at that..

But let me continue...

So as usual I was heading out last night to my night walk, which is one of those hours that I really look forward to each day, an hour and a half of non-stop walking and loud loud music in my ears, that time when I switch out everyone and everything else.

So I was waiting for the lift and was queuing up some favourite tracks while listening to some already. The lift arrives and I get in without looking anywhere, alone and happy.

And then the doors closed.

And they actually closed.

And I was alone.

In the lift.

With him.

As I looked into his eyes I realized he had already been eyeing me, and he was looking at me with that dedication that said he was just that much into me, and not at all interested in what was going on around him.

I knew I had to look somewhere else then.

I knew I had to tear my eyes off of him.

But I still wasn't able to.

It was as if he had hypnotized me.

With that unblinking stare, the look that told me it was only me that mattered to him then.

I could feel my heartbeat rising, my pulse was already racing like there was going to be no tomorrow ever again.

Had he followed me in?

Was he stalking me?

How did he know I would take the lift right at that moment?

I couldn't breathe then, even though I was trying, and his eyes were all that I could see.

I knew then that he had me hypnotized, completely.

And then the doors of the lift opened.

There was no one outside, and as I was trying to run out, I could see he was making a dash for the door too.

But I managed to escape. Finally. From his grasp.

I knew I was saved last night.

From him.

From being eaten up alive by him..... the lizzard.....

Ohhh someone help !!!!!! 

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Girl About Town: No Woman No Bar No Cheer Ladies

"It is an unwritten code that a woman standing alone at a bar in India is looking to hook up" said someone who is a part of the F&B industry, a keen observer, a reader of people's attitude and someone who is an insider to the world that revolves around revelers, singles who are out there to enjoy their own company, singles who are looking and people in general who go out to have a good time and by the time that time is up, are either going back after having a good time or giving someone else a bad time. Depends.

Did I agree to the statement? Was I angry? Did I take it the right (or wrong) way?

I was appalled, upset, angry, feeling misunderstood, feeling that my basic right was being given an entirely different angle, feeling really really bad. It felt that my simple pleasure and freedom to go out, enjoy a drink and some music on my own, without needing someone else to come up to me and make small talk or do those beery-leery rattles that rattle me no end, was being snatched away from me.

I was not angry at the person, I was angry at the code of conduct that is supposedly in place.

And after having spent quite a few evenings out on my own, with my own company, just enjoying myself at the bar, I have come to realize that there is actually some (or maybe quite a lot) weight in what that statement is all about.

It is ridiculous no doubt.

I have forever been the person who never likes to sit down at a pub or a club. Call me hyper or bursting with energy or what not, but that is not the idea. When I head out on my own to a bar, all I want to do is to enjoy the music, stand at the bar and check out the different drinks that are being made and the way the bartenders make magic with those flowing liquids. I love to see other couples happy and dancing and looking into each others' eyes and doing those mushy things that are oh-so-cute but are maybe past me now, those wonderful people who sit together and chat the night away. I enjoy the feeling that I am there with me, relaxing for that moment, letting all else float out somewhere else for those few hours.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tales From The Lift: Eye Spy You!

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It's been some time I came out with some more tales from my very interesting lift. Not that there haven't been instances, huh, imagine! ;)

Just wondering, what all would the camera in my lift have to say if we did give it a chance to speak out? Nice thought na? ;) hehehehehehe

Well well all you lovely and probably crazy people who still keep coming back and reading what I write (I love you all so much for doing that you know!!!!) everyone, that is everyone who sees me or knows me, knows that I am kind of a nut case, the one who is beyond any hope of repair, the one who has not a care left in the world and the one who won't really listen. Bang on, of course they are right!

So I was just wondering about the many perceptions people have of me, and not going to alllll the ones that they have (I am so lucky to be given a host of options you see) but some of the most common ones....

So it is that I am a night bat, a mad cat (just for the record I love only dogs and cannot stand cats though), I am the one who makes the watchmen in my building jump out of their dreams and their seats at 3 in the morning, banging on their windows to open the gate quickly quickly quickly, even as I stand jumping up and down on the road, I am the one known to go out late late late and return home even later later later, I am the one known to walk walk walk when everyone else seems to be coming back from their walks and going home to get cozy, I am the one known to be rude and arrogant and snobbish and someone who does not at all like to be approached for a quick hi, whether I am out on my walk or out at a bar having a good time with myself, I am the one known to look through people and react as if I don't know them, I am the one known to go all out and confront people, no matter who they are and no matter what others around me may advise me.

I am the one known to not have any rules......

My lift knows me too though....

I am the one who is fidgety, who is wary of strangers and known people alike, who loves to chat and talk and not stop at all but still finds it difficult to look in the eye and talk, I am the one who loves to go out and dance through the night, the one who can spend the entire day sitting at the beach, looking out at the waves crashing, feeling happy and relaxed and sad and desperately alone all at the same time, I am the one who loves to always have music in my head, I am the one who is claustrophobic and always looking up at the camera in my lift to feel assured that if I get trapped then maybe someone will come and rescue me before it is too late, I am the one who will give out a smile the first time to someone I know but will be very wary and shy the next time on if that smile was never returned and will try all that I can to turn into a shadow the next time the person is around.

I am the one who has all the positivity in the world and the one who has no hope.....I know I have turned utterly mad....I can tell you that...

But I love the fact that there still is so much sanity in this insanity!

So long my lovelies......I hope you stay happy and healthy and have the good fortune to have loving and caring people around you.....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Keeping Your Elderly Loved One Safe in a Nursing Home

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The concept of a joint family has been around in India from as far back as one can think of. It's only from the last generation that the nuclear family has finally made its way in the Indian social system, and not without coming under the scanner for a lot of 'preconceived' notions.

Conventional Indian families (read joint families) have criticized the concept of nuclear families in India, blaming the family members of blindly aping western social practices and ticking such Indians off as people who are not ready to take care of their extended family, including their parents, and shirking responsibility.

Of course being born and brought up in a nuclear family and living on my own now in a city where I have no relative at all, I have never felt it a selfish or easy choice. Sure it is important to adapt to the changing times, and our lifestyle and work requirements have taken us away from our families for some time now. But I still do not consider this a situation where someone can point a finger and say we are shirking responsibilities.

In Indian families, you see, even if you live in a nuclear family, your parents almost always come and stay with you once they are retired or old. It is not the norm to let your parents stay on their own, and letting them choose to live in a home for the elderly will almost certainly make you the black sheep, one who will be the center of gossip everywhere.

My parents are retired, my parents are old, but they are living on their own in a very happy and independent way, in a different city from mine. I personally do not know anyone whose parents live in a home for the elderly, and I don't even know of anyone who may know someone whose parents or a family member has lived in a home for the elderly. So it was quite interesting for me to read this guest post, again by the wonderful Landon Biehl, and see how convenient and nice it can actually be for senior citizens if they wish to stay in a special home.

To each his or her own, but if you are planning to look for a special home for any elderly member of your family, please make sure you go through this post to find the best and safest place for that loved person to be.

Guest Post
When daily tasks become difficult and living alone proves to be too dangerous, it may be time to help your elderly loved one make a decision about his or her future. For many seniors, moving to a nursing home is a common next step. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 1.5 million residents live in nearly 16,000 nursing homes across the United States. Nursing homes provide a variety for residents with all kinds of needs from medication monitoring to memory care to occupational or speech therapy. While moving an elderly relative to a nursing home can be a stressful and overwhelming journey, there is also a sense of comfort and relief knowing that your loved one will be cared for by knowledgeable staff.

Monday, September 21, 2015

You Love You Lose You Give Up And Still You Live

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We all fall in love and we fight for our love and we tell the world that it can leave us be and we have finally found the person we want to be with so all is great and beautiful and perfect. We continue to be happy.

Some of us fall out of love too....and then what?

Maybe we are forced in a corner from where there is no backing out, and once you see your partner in a certain light, you just cannot get back those feelings or that love you once had....what if your partner has always been like this, but you, just as the quintessential fool in love, thought that things would change and he or she would stop doing whatever it is that is being done wrong, maybe you kept closing your eyes to all those lies and rudeness and feelings of inadequacy that were thrown your way and still believed you could make it work?

And what if after all these years you know you cannot, you just cannot fake it anymore? To the world, to your family and friends, and most importantly, to yourself?

And what if you may still like him and wish him or her to be happy and safe, but maybe you do not love your partner in the same way as before, and simply want to come to a decision where both of you remain friends for life, both of you set each other free to go out on your own ways to find your own self and your happiness....

Sounds fair maybe.

But maybe your partner is smart enough to not let you go and maybe your partner is smart enough to have already thought of their own future and made it secure, for themselves at least, and all the while given you the false hope and belief of being your true well-wisher. They tell you that once you really want to leave, you can leave everything else behind and start out from scratch, no matter that you spent the best part of your life caring and looking after a home or family, which helped your partner be where he or she is today, and the same thing comes back to bite you when you realize you don't have anyone to fall back on, nowhere to go, no one to ask for help and you are realize you have given up everything by being a fool in love, by trusting, by placing your everything in the hands of only one person who now has the ultimate power to take it all away and will gladly do so.

Maybe you continue smiling in front of others. Maybe you keep putting up those pictures of a happy family. Maybe you keep living together.

Maybe you can never ask for help because in your heart, you fear you will not get it, or maybe you want to leave, but those beautiful additions that came in your life after you were married, those tiny fingers and those chubby cheeks that you created, are at threat of being turned into pawns, and maybe that is all you want to avoid. That is all that matters to you and maybe your partner knows that all too well.

Maybe the person you thought could be your friend for life, if not your partner for ever after, is not even that, but maybe, just maybe, you will still have to continue living together, for at least as long as those chubby cheeks and those tiny fingers grow up and know that you love them, you truly do, and that you did not walk out even though you were so unhappy each day, just so that your partner would not take them away and tell them what a horrible person you are, when you know you are not.

Maybe no one will ever know, till years and years to come, maybe you will never be able to ask for help, for as long as you live with your thoughts your tears your fears bottled inside you, there is never any hope left.

There is no hope of love anymore, there is no hope of being loved in its true sense or being able to love back or fee loved, and maybe, in a way, it is your end, the end.

It's a sad ending to the start of a sad phase in your life, is it not? Yes it is......

 - Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why The Indian Audience Needs More Short Stories: A Quick Chat With Director Shamik Sen Gupta, On Storytelling And Playing With Ideas

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Recently I was blown over an ad 'film' that crossed all records in the ad viewing history of sorts. I am talking about the ad that was made for a brand called Anouk, and even though it had three parts to it, the story that got most talked about was titled The Visit, that featured a young couple who were about to meet the parents, only, in this case, the couple happened to be of the same sex - lesbians. And we all know what 'that' does to our society. I loved the ad, especially as I have always supported the freedom of sexual choices in adults, and have believed that love should not be chained down to age, gender and other such unnecessary words or social barriers. In case you haven't seen the ad yet or are not sure about what I'm saying here, check it out HERE

The ad was actually an online release that was made in the form of a short story, and yes, it was made beautifully, nothing crass or unpalatable about it, and thankfully not made in a way in which many of our Bollywood pieces have 'generalized' and depicted females in same sex relationships. Both the girls in this ad were feminine, and there was no deliberate attempt to give one the 'male' identity as part of a couple.

I did write a lot about the ad, and that is how the director of the ad series, Shamik Sen Gupta, got in touch with me. If you would like to read the review of a few short series I loved, including the Anouk one, you can do it HERE

Shamik was kind enough to share some of his works for my viewing, and I was blown by the beauty in his story telling. I loved it, and again, as I have said earlier, I felt really sad that we, as audiences who would love to see more of such stories, are never given a chance to experience them on the big screen. That is what started our chat and discussion, and here is a look at what I talked to Shamik about his story telling and with Pallavi, his co-director for the short film Playground.

Debo: How come the interest in 'shorts'? Did you always want to get into the crisper version of story telling or is it a stepping stone to lengthier versions of the same? 
PALLAVI: Short is a challenging form of storytelling. It is as difficult or easy as features. But short films are economically easier to make. I am interested in both formats as a storyteller.
SHAMIK: Shorts are a form of films in their own right. Apart from a structure and grammar which is different from a full length feature, it also offers immense freedom especially in the new digital cinema age. That said, its also an extremely challenging form - especially when the ambition of most shorts is to find its way into festivals, in front of a discerning audience of cinephiles and jury. Apart from that, shorts are a great way to prepare oneself towards longer formats of storytelling.

Debo: When did you first come up with a short film and what was it about?
PALLAVI: This is the first short fiction film that I've (co) written and directed. I've worked as an assistant for a couple of feature films and as an actor in a couple of films. Before this I've made a student short called 'Skin' along with my classmate Sophia Bosch. 'Skin' held a microscopic mirror to the beauty treatments that the skin is regularly subjected to. After a filmmaking course in Sweden and Bengaluru, my friend Shamik Sen Gupta and I founded a media outfit- Sweet Spot Pvt Limited. Our first project was a documentary- 'Bookshelves at 17000 ft.' that follows an NGO that's setting up libraries in government schools in Ladakh. 
SHAMIK: I started making films in 2011, with Zinfandel, my first short film – which is about the life of a home delivery kid and his voyeuristic tendencies as he goes around a housing complex delivering stuff. Beyond that I have directed several short films, documentaries and ad films. My list of other short films include – In a Flash (2013), Bookshelves at 17000 Feet (2013), Playgrounds (2015) and the Anouk Series (2015).

Debo: As a movie maker, do you see the Indian audience open to short films yet? Or is there more interest in the international audience for the kind of work you do?
PALLAVI: I definitely see a growth in the number of short films that are being made, and a rise in the attendance to short film festivals. But I guess in our country, it will always be a niche audience that will like, view and encourage short films. Our audiences still have to warm up to non-commercial formats of storytelling. World over, the short film format has seen a steady rise in audience. The biggest challenge for short films is exhibition. I guess now with more and more people opting to get their entertainment from the net (net series, internet releases etc) short films too have a chance of being showcased and presented as sale-able content.  
SHAMIK: The Internet savvy audiences in India have access to short films, more than ever. Though, the same audiences are fed and brought up on a diet of formula feature fare. So their expectations from a short are not always aligned to the visions of independent short film-makers. Similarly, emerging short filmmakers delving into this new form have a long way to go compared to world standards. We often see filmmakers going gaga in social media about their making it to the Cannes Short Film Corner. Though this is no small feat, Cannes Short Film corner is just a showcase of shorts from around the world – but selection in that section is not the same as being accepted in the Cannes Court Metrage, the actual short film festival. The standards of the Cannes festival and all international festivals of similar repute are very high, and we Indian filmmakers have a long way to go before we become festival staples.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You Were Raped? It's Your Fault - Why Did You Go Out??

First let’s check out the story version (which, by the way, is not very far from how it is in reality)…

Anushka Sharma’s character has to head out at night. She gets in her car, starts driving, and is assaulted by four men on the road. When she goes to report the incident, the first thing the officer asks her partner is “Why did you ‘allow’ her to go out at night?”

This may be ‘just’ a movie, but the problem is that this is not something that stays ‘just’ within the movie, nor is there anything just (read fair) about it.

As a nation, we may be participating in campaigns and pride walks and coloring our profile pictures in the hues of the rainbow, signifying freedom, liberation, understanding and love. But what we continue to do collectively as a society is far from the rosy or the rainbow hue. As a nation, we still do not know how to respect individuals, how to treat our women and girls, how to be sensitive to someone’s pain, or how to accept the fact that yes, a woman can have a mind of her own, that she can move beyond the realm of being ‘allowed’ to do things, that a no means a no, and that there are certain boundaries that should never be crossed.

As a nation, as a society, as humans, we have been failing on that front over and over and yet over again.

The Anushka Sharma character was in a movie. Now here is another incident that is not in a story, but in fact, happened for real, as do so many other similar ones, with just the names and faces being different.

For convenience sake and to not reveal any names, let’s call the girl ‘she’ and the boy ‘he’

‘She’ and ‘he’ were friends, and ‘she’ had made it very clear to ‘he’ from the start that that was all their friendship was about. ‘she’ was already happy with someone else and was settled in her relationship. ‘he’ knew about it and was a family friend, being friends with both ‘she’ and her partner. ‘he’ was single and having a good time, and would occasionally tell ‘she’ about the many friends he met or the girls he dated. Theirs was an easy friendship, where they hardly met but could always connect over the phone on a variety of topics like news, culture, society, politics, entertainment and such…

It had been a long time they met up, so ‘she’ and ‘he’ decided to head out to party with friends. They planned a night when everyone would be able to catch up and headed to a bar. All was fine. But then the weather got stormy and they had to wait out at the bar till it got a little better and by the time the storm was a little under control, it got late and ‘she’ was uncomfortable taking a cab home alone. ‘he’ offered to let her stay at his place, assuring her that ‘she’ had nothing to worry, that ‘he’ would sleep in a separate room and ‘she’ could take a cab the moment it became dawn. ‘she’ trusted ‘he’ and was sure ‘he’ knew that there was nothing on ‘she’s’ mind, so agreed to the same.

Once at ‘he’s’ place they went to sleep in their separate rooms. ‘she’ was not happy about the fact that she had to stay back, but knew it was better than taking a cab alone in a stormy night. A weird feeling woke ‘she’ up and she realized it was ‘he.’ ‘she’ realized what was happening but was too shocked initially to react. When ‘she’ saw that ‘he’ was not going to stop, ‘she’ told ‘he’ to stop, that it was not something on her mind and that ‘he’ was mistaken if he thought that ‘she’ thought of their relationship in this way.

Of course ‘he’ took it as a personal insult and made it clear that saying no was the wrong answer, one that was forcing him to act the way he was acting now. Later, after ‘he’ raped ‘she’, ‘she’ tried to search for her phone and call her partner and a cab, but could not find it anywhere. The door had been locked from inside and ‘she’ realized that she would have to play it smart and not make ‘he’ more aggravated, that her first priority was to leave the place and reach home.

As light was approaching, ‘she’ acted normal and asked ‘he’ if he had seen her phone. ‘he’ returned the phone to ‘she’, saying he had taken it away and hidden it because he did not want ‘she’ to leave. ‘she’ did not say anything and instead kept acting normal. Once the cab arrived ‘she’ immediately left.

‘she’ was not sure whether to go to the police or stay quiet about it, but was worried about her health, so decided to go to her doctor and confide. At the clinic, the first question the doctor asked was to ‘she’s’ partner – “how could you allow her to go out at night? What kind of a woman does that? Of course it was her fault that this has happened. And if she ever goes out again at night, she should be prepared to face it again. Who knows, maybe she did it out of choice and is now lying.”  

The doctor also refused to do a checkup, saying she was not allowed to touch ‘such’ cases.

The incident at the doctor’s clinic rattled ‘she’ much more than the real incident. ‘she’ felt tainted and started thinking that it was really her fault that she had been raped, that had she not gone out it would not have happened. She went into severe depression but continued to act normal, trying to make sense of what had happened and what was happening. ‘she’ was also worried about an impending pregnancy and the thought of getting pregnant or having to abort was both killing her at the same time. Whatever little thoughts she had about filing a report were given up after ‘she’ saw the reaction of the doctor, who was a female.

At present: ‘She’ is out of her depression, knows that it was not her fault, and is getting back to life the way she has always known it, but is extremely wary of friends now as much as she is wary of strangers. ‘he’ denied any involvement and told ‘she’ that she was mistaken, that no kind of physical contact had taken place, whether forced or consensual.

Rape Statistics In India:
As per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB):

  • Rape is the most common crime that is committed against women
  • Every day, at least 93 women are raped in India
  • In almost 98.2 percent of the rape cases, the offender was known to the victim
  • 21,467 cases of rape were 'reported' in the year 2008 whereas the number increased to 33,707 in the year 2013
  • The most unsafe cities in India based on the reported number of rapes are Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Pune, in that order
  • The highest amount of rape cases occur in the age group 18 to 35

Rape Statistics Around The World:

  • According to the UN, women in the age group 15 to 44 are at a higher risk from rape than from cancer, automobile accidents and other health and medical conditions
  • According to WHO, at least 35 percent women have experienced sexual violence from their partner or friend in their lifetime

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Bit Of Love And You'll Heal The Wounds....Mine And Yours

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*all rights of the above art work belong to the rightful owner

I came back today after watching the much-awaited movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan, starring my ever so favourite Salman Khan. Of course the main reason of writing this post is not to talk about the movie, but a comment that I made after coming home that made me think of wanting to write a tad bit more.

After witnessing the immense happiness in the crowd post the ending of the movie, the comment I made was, ‘’Maybe we should start screening Salman Khan movies on the India-Pakistan border, I am sure it will end all our enmity and make us human beings, instead of Hindus and Muslims.”

I stand by what I said.

I have always chosen the people in my life based on the love I feel for them or the genuine love and concern they have for me. Religion, caste, language and even geographical restraints have never been a cause of concern or choosing. I do not have any issues eating at a particular person’s house based on what image they pray to, what clothes they wear, what language they speak at home or which part of the world they originally are from.

To me – it really does not make any difference.

A few days back I was discussing about the concept of love and what it means to me. To me, love is not just restricted to being in a physical relationship with someone (of course, that does require love too, at least for me), but what I mean is that love comes in different forms and styles. Love is not just the emotion that a couple may feel. It is very much the emotion that you feel for your parent, for your child, for a very dear friend, for a baby you met a few times, for someone you have only briefly met but know for a fact that you will connect instantly the next time you meet. There are so many shades of love.

And I am the kind of person who grows with love, who needs the different forms of love to sustain, to grow, to continue to live. And I love back equally strongly. Those who know me know that I am a fiercely protective and possessive person, and for those I love, I can go to any lengths whatsoever.

It truly helps me to connect to those special people in my life I really really love, and there are only a handful of such amazing people I am lucky to know in my life – I have chosen it to be that way. I have consciously removed all those people from my life who I do not really love. And every time I am low and out of sorts, all I need is to get back a little bit of that positivity and energy from those I love, and I am back with a bang, fully recharged and raring to go.

It does make a difference – love – especially the type that is not judgmental and does not come with any preconceived notions.

- Debolina Raja

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, July 10, 2015

Cut It Out - Just Drive! Guest Post By Landon Biehl

A few days back, I got a mail from Landon, saying that he had read one of my articles Why Do Teens Engage In Texting And Driving and that he himself has been actively campaigning to spread awareness about the same. Teenagers end up putting themselves in extreme danger when they indulge in cell phone or gadget use while driving, and sadly, statistics only show how big the problem is. 

As being an aware and responsible citizen himself, Landon feels it is best to spread the word and share the information with as many people as possible. Of course I wanted to have him here for a guest post. So here is what Landon has to share about the dangers of teenagers who drive while being engaged in gadget use. It's worth a read!

How many of you are tired of constantly seeing cars and other motorists on the road swerve in and out of lanes? Or, nearly rear end another motorist, or run a stoplight where they shouldn’t have? Then, when you pull up next to them and take a glance in their direction, you see a phone in their hand, or up to their ear.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Of Shorts, And Performances, And Ads And Acting: Some Reels In Real Lights

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There was a time when I was a movie buff, and almost any new good movie that released was a sure-shot puller. Things have changed a lot for me now.

Of course I do love movies still, and I make it a point to try and watch as many of those as possible, provided they are of my sensibility (you all know my Sallu craziness so for now I won't deviate there) ;)

Coming back to what I was saying earlier, there has been a change in my style of viewing for sure, and as I am getting older (let's read it as 'mature') I am definitely getting better at accepting, exploring, grasping and appreciating art forms in different styles.

One such art form that I seem to be loving a lot of late is the short movie genre.

Short movies are typically those step-children of our Indian cinema that may posses greater potential than their larger-than-life siblings, but are always at a loss when it comes to presenting themselves in front of a wider audience. Of course the general consensus is that those who watch short movies are the typical art movie junta (and I personally have no qualms about being called one, I love art films), but I also love many of the typical masala movies. It is still beyond my understanding as to why we have to get slotted towards a particular mind-frame when being 'allowed' to watch a movie.

Some time back I was really excited to read about the PVR collab where the movie theater franchise would partner with some of the best movie directors of the world (both full length and short features) and play them as part of their editor's choice movie selections. Sadly, the initiative is yet to kick off. I understand that as a money-making machine, movie halls always want to be sure of how much profit they will make when they showcase a certain movie. Maybe short films have still not given them that return. But that does not mean they do not deserve a showing. In fact, as someone who has been an avid short film lover for quite some time now, I feel that making a good short film is way more difficult than making a full length, as you have barely a three to twenty minute frame in which you have to squeeze in every part of the story, from character buildup to narration to connecting  the past to the present and taking it ahead to the future, to developing a bond, to help the audience connect and even to take you into that realm where you can safely and very clearly start making your own interpretations. There is no doubt about it that the work a short film goes through is way more advanced than a full-length, even though the Indian audience has to grow up and understand the same, and stop missing out on some amazing work (movie owners, if you read this, know that there is a huge segment out there that is constantly watching short films, so go for it!).

Thursday, June 25, 2015

You May Ask Me My Age, Thank You

That's the past few weeks or so, bare faced and with hardly any makeup on save a dark kohl and an almost eaten up remnant of a lipstick.....and clicking myself on a phone cam.

That's not even combed out, on a road trip heading out somewhere I don't remember, but it was a five to six hour journey, so by the time I had clicked this as a fun selfie, I was already quite far from being 'groomed.' Not that I had started out looking very groomed though. The point is, I am kind of comfortable being this way...

I am 34, and no, I have no worries in sharing my age. A fun thing that I still get a lot is when people ask me questions and hints trying to know my age, but feel awkward asking me point blank. I always ease them by telling them my age myself. 'Never ask a man his income and a woman her age...' The old-age etiquette line we've been listening to almost all our life is kind of redundant now I feel. And very sexist. And very uncool. And very unnecessary.

Not that you have to tell me how old you are or how much you make or have stashed away in a cozy nest in your bank. Does not interest me either.

With so much around us changing and gender dictats shifting constantly, it is no longer polite to ask anything to anyone, or maybe it is okay to ask anyone anything. Depends.

Looking around, I see so many men in their supposedly settled age who are still struggling to make it, to have a stable pay, to get all those things that men (I speak in terms of general social thoughts in this case and not my own at all) are supposed to have 'achieved' by the time they are a certain age - a house, a car, a trophy wife (of course, its the truth), kids (ya, men get to hear that too, ask the nosy family members), who look fab, don't have a pot belly or a receding hairline, who seem to be stress free and are always up for a party. Men who sport their salt and pepper the way it is meant to be, dashing and charming, men with those old-world mannerisms that make a woman feel special, equal, loved, cherished, treasured if you may. Men who have made a mark and are happy to flaunt it, young boys who walk up to you in a bar, want to chat up, have that obvious look in their eyes and leave once you tell them to get up and go, men who leer and will not take no for an answer, men who will always ask if you are comfortable with them being around. Men who are committed and not looking, men who are always looking.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wow You Don't Look Like A Mom...Good Or Bad? Depends....

I used to get this comment a lot earlier (when I was more kilos heavier) and I am suddenly getting to hear it again a lot....some kilos lighter maybe but overall the way I was.....

I really don't see any change in me...whether it is the number on the weighing scale (that I've stopped looking at a long time back - my struggles with losing weight and wanting to look thin are well-known to my friends), my moods, my openness which often gets misconstrued, my sudden aloofness from everyone, including those I really really love, my depression, withdrawal, my chirpiness, happiness and the excitement and happiness I feel and express when I meet friends I really really love... It's still all the same.

The one thing that has suddenly made me very wary is the comment - 'you don't look like a mom.'

It's a good and a bad thing for me .........

When a friend tells me I am not looking like a mom, I take it to be in a good sense, that I may have lost some weight, or that I am not grumpy or hassled or walking around like a zombie with dark circles around my eyes .....

When a stranger tells me on social media that I don't look like a mom, I am always very uncomfortable. Of late I have started telling strangers, men to be precise, my age and that I have two kids, especially when I know their interest in me is veering towards a particular direction. It has become more of a defense mechanism rather. And I find that it helps.....I have reached a stage in life where I am not looking anymore. Really....

The relationships I have (and a relationship is not just being married or being in a particular 'couple' kind of love with someone) in my life mean a lot to me, and I have always steered clear of boxing them in one particular column. It does not work for me that way....

For me, if I like someone I like could be a boy, a girl, a man, a woman, someone I have met only once in my life, or someone I meet maybe once in 5 or 6 months, or even less, it all depends on how comfortable I am with that person and how happy it makes me to see them...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tales From The Lift: Of Midnight Walks In The Rain And A Leechy Neighbour Again

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It's the perfect time to call him the 'leech' - those blood sucking irritating things that just won't go away no matter what you do - it's rain time here in Mumbai now, the time when these creepy things can be seen around, all pun intended, and they sure make a presence felt around us, come rain or not (here I am of course talking about the four limbed variety if you may).

So those who are close to me know me that I absolutely love rains, that I absolutely love walking at night, and that an absolutely amazing combo for me is walking in the rain....I love it...and of course without an umbrella or a raincoat (that would so defeat the purpose for me).

So last night I had a great walk of an hour around midnight. The rains were sometimes a light drizzle and sometimes a lovely downpour, and I was enjoying myself thoroughly. The breeze was crazy, coming in from the sea and literally pushing me and almost throwing me off balance so many times that it was even more fun (no, I am not saying that I am as light as a feather, but I mean that the wind was so strong that it managed to push me).....I even got visited by a few bat family members. No, I don't really like them though and feel they are best experienced in a book I might be reading to get the spooks, coz that is just what they manage to do - give me the spooks....But they did come in flying down and above, circled a few times then left, or maybe I failed to notice.

An hour done, I wrapped up my music, took a last few cool down rounds and headed towards the lift. There was no one around, and it was all quiet and fine....

Till the doors opened and oh yucks no....that absolute irritant of a man that I really cannot stand (and all credits to him that he knows I cannot stand him yet he continues to do what he does) comes out of the lift and does what ??????

The moment the doors open (he saw me even as they were just opening) he gave that sick smile of his and I knew he was alone. I'll come back to that soon....So he comes out and comes over straight to me, even as I have no smile on my face, but I know my expression already told him I was not interested to talk. AT ALL....

So he comes over and in an almost whistle says 'whoa ho ho .... look who's back....and look who's been doing something great with did you lose so much weight?'

Did he really think I would talk to him about it? Moron.....

And even though I said nothing he came up with his hand extended (for a lame handshake of an excuse) and I crossed him and went inside the lift. He turned back and came towards me, saying something out of which I heard 'I saw your pictures day before' and I was wondering what pictures? Where can he see my pictures? I don't have him on any social media, I don't even know his name for crying out loud....and I was really puzzled.

It was when I came home I realized he is a friend of a common friend's friend, and that is how he reached my pictures....I was not concerned that he had checked me out online, most frustrated good for nothing people can only do that - check out others' profiles and become the quiet online stalkers. But of course I have loads of pictures of my kids on the site, and I got the common friend thread snapped out.

So what makes this man behave like this over and over again?

If it was me in my earlier days he would have been slapped and shamed and given the shit of his life by now. I have however, toned down, a lot of which has happened after I became a mom, as somehow, I always try to sort out things calmly for as long as possible.

But this man from the lift (that is how he originally met me and started exhibiting his creepiness) has now literally spilled out of the lift....

And there is a pattern.....

Any time he meets me when I am with someone else or he is with someone else or there is any third person in the vicinity, he will never come near me. No. All he does is just nod his head and give a polite formal smile, as if he just happened to see me and is doing a courtesy out of living in the same building.

And when he meets me with just him and me being the people around? Then comes out his creepiness. From what I do to where I go out with friends to what tattoos I have and where I have and what do they mean and why I got them done and comments about what I am wearing or how I am looking or why I am returning when I am to everything else that is clearly none of his business. No...

This man is getting too pally for my comfort.

A few days back I was talking to a friend and was telling him how the 'uncle' category men have a tendency to prey on women and girls who are genuinely not interested in them. He told me he had never noticed it, or rather not given it any thought, but I told him to keep an eye out next time.

The funniest remark this man made was that I remind him of someone, and that he can't tell me who it is, as for that he will have to come to my place and tell me 'personally.' To which I told him that I only let my friends come home and not any stranger, even if from the building....He understood, it was clear from his face, but he chooses to play it like that.

This man is getting to really bug me now...the fun side being that I get to share so much about him in the tales....and maybe one day he will help me add a violent or really angry twist to it....Tales From The Lift...Woman Hits Man Black And Blue With Her Boots.....

I'm kind of liking the title idea, whatsay? ;)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tales From The Lift And More: I Know You Are Staring And Judging

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It happens almost all the time. And the worst part is that I know, maybe. So it is not another of those lift tales that is just unique to my building, I am sure it is something most women and young girls can associate with.

So whenever I enter the lift, I make it a point to not look around and see who all is there. I am generally not interested. If there is someone I know, they always give me a shoutout. So that's that.

Standing in a corner, with my headphones in place, and most likely a gum in my mouth, I always try to be as quiet and as inconspicuous as possible, because I hate it when people look at me, or rather, stare. So even if I am standing quietly, minding my own songs and music, or just staring like a zombie at the numbers flashing through the lift screen, the passengers invariably take a look. At the tattoos first of all. Really? It's still such a big deal? Why? I have encountered this sudden urge of strangers, mostly Indian male type age group and mentality here, who have been really really interested in knowing more about my tattoos (I am sure they do the same with any woman they come across who has a tattoo!).

And once they start checking out the tattoo, it doesn't take them too long to check out the person who's wearing the tattoo....

And the worst as well as the fun part is - I always give them the stare back...I always end up looking them up and down, making it obvious to them that I am staring. And not in a nice way. And sometimes, I have also raised my eyebrow, asking without asking - 'what do you want'

And they have stopped then.

I sometimes feel we are progressing somewhere, and I am sometimes sure that that progress for some is strictly going to the gutters....cheerios to them there then.....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Brand New Myntra Ad That Happens To Also Have Lesbians For The First Time In Indian Ad History

As an ad that has taken the virtual world and even the news and print media by storm, this delightfully delectable short film version of an ad does deserve all the credit and love that is garnering. The ad that I am talking about is the one titled The Visit that has been produced by Avishek Ghosh of Hectic Content and has been currently doing the rounds as a virtual ad for Myntra.

I will not get into the right or wrong about Section 377 and whether or not the Indian system needs to wake up to something - we have all done it to death by now, and I have already spoken my mind about it on various platforms. I know that those who sit with that leash of power out there somewhere already know what the thinking woman and man in India feels about it. But alas, we still do not have the power to really make it look as normal as it already is...then that's a story for another post here someday.

Coming back to the ad, it's beauty lies not in the fact that it shows two girls who are in love and are willingly choosing to be with each other. For me, it's beauty lies in the fact that no where during the ad do you feel that the makers have tried to capitalize on it. In fact, you can rightly say that it is the exact opposite - where the makers have 'come out' with what they feel is something very normal, that should not be raising any eyebrows, and that the couple showed in the ad are as regular as the so-called man-woman relationship, and that it just happens to be that instead of a man and woman being together, it is a woman and be it....

A quick chat with producer and editor Avishek Ghosh on the thought behind the ad....HERE

You can check out the ad HERE

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Weighing Scale Of Relationships

So what happens when people reach a stage when they are together, but when the element of their relationship just comes down to what one has done or not done for the other?

Maybe relationships are meant to turn into weighing scales, maybe they just turn so for some, while others continue to live happy and content lives, who knows...

The winner in a relationship, or on the face of it, finally is the one who decides to become the spokesperson for that relationship. Maybe telling friends how hard you have worked at it without your partner really putting in much, or how much you have earned and worked so hard while your partner maybe only brought in peanuts, or not even that, or how much initiative you take to stay together as a couple while your partner is just a cold and unresponsive person, with zero interest or love for you.

You may be the winner if you can call up all your friends and tell them how much you have toiled for it, while your partner has actually done nothing and just been there...that's all....You can also be the winner if you make sure every conversation you have with others is peppered with talks about how much you love your partner and how you have eyes for no other and how your partner is the only thought that's on your mind, 24 X 7.

Of course you will be the winner here, especially if your partner does not believe in discussing relationships in front of others or proclaiming love in front of the world without actually doing it in action with the partner for real. And you will also be the winner if you have a partner who never

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What About Me? Do You Know Me?

Does my face look fine? Do I look okay? Do I look bad?

Have I put on too much weight? Maybe quite a lot, or maybe just a tad?

My shade of red lipstick, is it a tad bit slutty?

Do I always look ‘cute’, even though I may feel ‘naughty’?

How do I wear my hair, should I put it up or down?

Do people like what they see, or do they barely hide a frown?

Do they see the pain and the hurt, that lurks behind that red shade?

Do they know how bad I feel, when I crave the love that’s not there?

Do they know all the pains I quietly hide in my heart?

Maybe that missing moment, maybe a love that’s lost?

Maybe a sudden fright that I am battling all alone

Maybe the things I had then, but all that’s now gone?

Do they know how all the good things, I hold on to so tight?

That shine bright in the daylight but can quietly slip off in the night?

How the tears that stay hidden, behind those perfect put-on smiles

How all those insecurities smother me, when they sweep me in their tide?

How every single morning, is a battle just like another day,

When I try to grasp on to reality, but still try to dream it up my way?

The juggle that goes on, as a woman, as a mommy, as a me.

All the office work the house and the beyond, do they know me, do they see the real me?

What about me?

Do I know the real me?

Do I see her?

I am but just another woman…..

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, March 5, 2015

India's Daughter Is India's No More........

Yes, there has been a lot of hue and cry of late, as India, or should I say, the Indian babu, has decided to turn our beautiful (yes, we still have that hope, don’t we!) country into a ban-pradesh (a country that bans everything, faster than you could wink that wink mind you!).

First came the beef ban in Maharashtra. Well, I don’t eat beef, not for any ‘specific’ reasons, but just because I haven’t developed that taste yet. And looks like the government made up its mind that it wouldn’t let me develop that taste either. So what about all those amazing eating joints that are so popular in Bombay (oops, sorry wait, did I just use the banned word Bombay when I should have said Mumbai?) and are always a big crowd puller? Or, okay, if you did decide to ban beef, what did the poor chicken do? Or the tame lamb? Did their cluckety-cluck or bleating not reach your ears? Or were you just trying to grab those vote banks and tuck them safely in your expensive babu suits, telling the masses that you were putting a restraining order on serving the ma of the country (yes, in India, a cow is considered a mother, yet so many daughters like Nirbhaya are…well….) while actually the truth is that it is bullocks that come under this act? The Maharashtra government already has a very old ban on serving cow meat and this time round, the political party simply played a smart move by saying they are banning ‘beef’ which was easily and majorly interpreted to be as ‘cow’ meat (smart na!).

Okay, that was a gastronomical issue…one that is definitely going to have many repercussions.
So now that we are done with the ma of India, the next topic – of course, the daughter of India, or, India’s Daughter.

How many of you have seen the offensive video that apparently disturbed certain ministers so much that they decided it was one of the most derogatory things they had ever seen and had to absolutely protect the public’s sentiments from watching it?

I have. And what I saw was something that made me realize exactly how important it was for the public to see it.

So what exactly is this documentary titled India’s Daughter about?