Why do we objectify ourselves?

Last night I was lying down on my bed when my dad sat next to me. He took away the phone lying next to my pillow and set it aside.

Dad: “Now that you don’t have your laptop, your phone or a book in your hands, tell me what you’re thinking of?”

Me: “ …. “

Dad: “You’re so busy in life that I’m worried you’ve forgotten to live. You’ve forgotten to set time aside for yourself. For things that matter to you.”

That conversation blew me away. It was so short yet so stern; so informal yet so deep. Had I really forgotten to live?

Wasn’t I doing things that I loved? I love keeping myself busy – it makes my blood rush and gets me excited. I love having a fast-paced life. I love doing stuff.

Frankly speaking, everywhere I go, I see people selling themselves. Why do we objectify ourselves so much? Why do we put a price on everything we do and everyone we meet? Why do boys try to be cool, and girls try to be hot – isn’t that just a way of getting attention – a twisted, psychotic way of bribing others to give you what you want (in this context, admiration/attention). Why can’t we just live a decent life, happy with what we do? Not giving a single f*ck about anyone around us; of not caring about what others think.

I’m not talking from a pedestal. I, myself, love doing things that others would want me to do. I love doing things that I can add to me resume – that I can show off in front of my future bosses. I’ve always wanted to be the perfect candidate – the (prospective) employee that every single company would want to have.  And I know it’s wrong. I know I’m worth more than I give myself credit for. But then again, aren’t we all? Who is to say that one person’s time is worth ten pounds an hour, while another’s is worth a thousand? Why is one girl treated like a Goddess, while others are not even gifted with a second glance? People need to stop being hard on themselves. We need to stop objectifying ourselves. We need to stop comparing one another.

Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.

I’m sorry, but according to this comparison, most of us are fishes. If the world wants someone to climb a tree, I suggest the world goes and finds some monkeys (there are millions of them here anyway).

It’s a societal issue. Since the time we were born, the race had begun. Our parents kept showing us off (or at least tried to) in front of other parents. Then came school – the grade system. “How much did your son get?” became the most asked question. Why does it have to be this way? Society compares students the same way a shopper compares the price of an iPad in two different stores.

Our lives have become so competitive that we’ve forgotten to live, lest we be left behind. But what’s the point of winning this competition? Money? I’d rather die a happy man with no money than an old, beaten and tired man with a huge bank balance.

And it doesn’t just end there. This competitiveness has transcended our commercial lives and has seeped in our personal sphere too. People have started objectifying love now. I’m pretty sure girls carry a boyfriend counter to high-school these days. Why? What’s so great about having a boyfriend? It’s funny how teens call something that lasted a couple of weeks ‘love’. And then they idolize movies like ‘The Notebook’. Hello? Have you learnt nothing at all? Please go study Pythagoras’ theorem, and forget about the ‘cool dude’ sitting in front of you. Stop posing and clicking and posting hundreds of profile pictures just to garner ‘likes’. You’re all beautiful. You don’t need a virtual thumbs up counter to tell you that.  Stop stooping so low. It’s this that makes guys think they can get you.

The problem with all of us is that we worry too much about what others think of us – of where others place us. I think we all need a holiday. A day where we forget everything and everyone. We forget all notions of work and friendship. A day when we are with the one person we have to spend the rest of our lives with – ourselves.

Spend some time with yourself. Remember to live.

Why am I not homesick yet?

Being a fresher isn’t easy. You’re thrown from one institution of education to another – one that is even more intimidating and daunting. I had heard that universities were dismal cavernous structures filled with frenzied students who walked from lecture halls to libraries – reading books and sipping cappuccinos, in the hope that some day they would understand why they were doing what they were doing.

Then I walked into the University of Edinburgh.

During Fresher’s week, I made a lot of friends. Most of them were international students, just like me. It was easier to mingle with them as we all felt we understood each other. Coming to a massive university which has more than 30,000 students is not an easy change for anyone – let alone students who have come from different parts of the world; students who, in addition to getting used to their new life, also have to get accustomed to a country which is culturally different. The fact that the institution is highly ranked and respected and that the lecturers and professors are amongst the top echelon of academics makes the first few weeks even more daunting. It’s easy to feel small and lost – it’s easy to breakdown and miss home.

But I didn’t experience any of it. I didn’t feel small or lost, nor did I feel left out. The only thing I felt was free – I felt independent. I was a bird who had left his nest, and was now soaring majestically in the sky – above and beyond.

Today, it’s been three months since I moved in here. But I am still not homesick, in spite of the fact that most of my friends are. Yes, I’ve kept in touch with my parents and friends – I talk to them nearly every other day.

So is that why I don’t feel homesick? Or is there some other reason?

I went for a walk today – with hot chocolate in one hand and a newspaper in the other. I walked for half an hour with no particular destination in mind; and during this very walk, I realised why I haven’t felt homesick yet:

I haven’t had time to feel homesick. I’ve kept myself so busy, that I’ve had no time at all to even think about being homesick (until now, of course).

Maybe that’s my coping mechanism towards change – and if it is, then it’s a pretty good one.

In three months time, I’ve written three photojournalistic pieces for The Student – UK’s oldest student paper, and have done photography for more than six of their issues. I have represented University of Edinburgh at Oxford International Model UN, and I’m going to represent it at Cambridge International, London International and Harvard World MUN.

Apart from that, I’m also the International Students’ Representative to the Academic Standing Committee of the Edinburgh University Student’s Association (EUSA).

All of this and studies, has rendered my mind catatonic towards thoughts of homesickness.

In hindsight, I don’t know if it’s a good thing – people keep saying burying feelings is not a good thing. But what if doing the very same thing makes your life better? What if your coping mechanism is good for you (and your CV)?

The Tall Girl With Her Weighed-down Head.

The Tall Girl With Her Weighed-down Head

This summer I traveled to India to meet my relatives one last time before heading off to university. On my last day in Bombay, I was having a stroll on Marine lines (which is inarguably one of the most romantic and beautiful spots in India), when I saw a young lady sitting rather dejectedly. The scene reminded me of a somewhat depressing phrase from Stephen Spender’s ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’, which I figured would make an appropriate title for this article.

Frankly, I don’t know why she was so melancholy and I didn’t try to ask her, but for some reason, my thoughts drifted to the current state of women in India. With the number of rape and sexual harassment cases rising in spite of huge protests against these horrible activities, India is slowly inching its way towards global shame.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not just another typical NRI – one who eats hamburgers for breakfast on the streets of New York and then flies to England to have a cup of steaming hot tea; all while criticising his own country. Actually, I’m more patriotic than I choose to show, and that aspect has gotten me worried about the current scenario; worried enough to ask my countrymen as to how such vile and disgusting men are allowed to roam freely in our country?

The other day I read an article written by Michaela Cross , an American student who travelled to India on a college trip and experienced sexual harassment.
As an Indian male, all I could do was hang my head in shame at the thought that a small portion of our community was tarnishing our society.

I’m aware that India isn’t the only country where such acts go on, and singling out a nation, especially when I am a citizen of that nation isn’t the way to go; but I believe that it’s high time we people take action. It’s time we make our voices heard.

But before we do that, we need to change our mentality. Our main fault lies in us branding the victim as the accused. It’s no surprise that rape is the least reported of all crimes, for in reality, it is the victim who must prove her good character, her mental soundness, and her flawless decorum!

 Rape is never the victim’s fault.

Also, a poem I wrote on the same topic a while ago:

She sits and stares,
Into the void – Her eyes tell a story;
Her memories are her only companions. 

The heir of a horrid past,
A successor to the throne of thorns,
Once the better half of a king,
Now branded sinful and impure. 

Her future sealed with blood,
Her emotions foggy; her existence insulted.
Her world unified against her,
Ready to feast over her corpse. 

Her transient soul scalding like red-hot coal,
Staring at the accusing eyes,
Craving for others to be exempted of her fate.

Tell me not how beautiful she is,
I will not be able to bear;
The thought of that faraway bliss,
Of a maiden lovely and fair.

Battles with her eyes I always lose,
She makes me deaf, mute and blind -
Bathed with nectar and crafted with love,
To eclipse the rest of her kind.

Good Ol’ Days – The Cable Nerds.

My friends and I started a new band titled ‘The Cable Nerds’ and this is our first (stop-motion) lyric video.

I wrote the lyrics for this song, and also did video illustrations, writing and photography.

Amol Jacob was in-charge of music and vocals.

Ajin Tom, on the other hand, was responsible for song mixing and video making.

Here are the lyrics:

Good Ol’ Days – The Cable Nerds
(Lyrics by Nishad Sanzagiri)

Beneath the deep blue sky,
The love of man flourishes.
Tributaries merge to form rivers,
And they in turn oceans build.

Chorus – Since I was a kid, I waited till holiday come.
I’d stop by a shop to get a rose.
She’d flood my soul with her charm and beauty.
Making my life worth living.

Beneath the deep blue sky,
The horizon kisses the sea.
The eternal thirst of his heart quenched;
The sky slowly smiles at me.

From heaven to earth,
We walk her hand in mine,
Rays of the sun caress her cheeks,
The moon reddens with jealousy.

Beneath the deep blue sky,
Dew drops spill on flowers,
Swaying creepers; making merry.
I give my heart to someone I love.