What is the limit on complimenting a woman for her physical appearance before it becomes objectification?

While on the bus home, I overheard a man talking to the driver, “Oh, I love women. I started working for this woman, who has a fabulous a**. Red hot a**…..” and he went on talking more about her physical appearance, which I must say, I am very glad that I didn’t understand. Although in the beginning of the conversation, my expression started with a smile… very soon, it didn’t feel right. So how did a statement that could have been a legit appreciation turn into pure sexual objectification?

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This conversation made me think. About my own experiences as well as the ones I read in newspapers or saw on TV. Obviously, this is no new topic for any of us. We see it, experience it and some of us are contributing to it, every single day.

It’s not easy being a woman these days, whether women/men think that you are physically attractive or not. While you may rather be known for your knowledge, power, your artistic skills or for your personality, the society just can’t help but stare at you as a sexual object at some point. Wait a minute, we do the same with men too, but as we all know, women are subjected to this at a higher rate. I am sure most of the actors are appreciated more for their “hot bodies” or “muscles”, than for their performances. So, pretty much whatever category you belong to, there is always sexual objectification.

Of course, we all want to appreciate beauty, it is a very natural part of the attraction and yes, it includes the physical beauty associated with people around you. But it seems that there is a certain limit to this appreciation before you convert the other person into an object available for mere sexual pleasure. The commonality of how often these comments turn into us subjectively judging others based on their physical appearance doesn’t make it seem right. So, where is the line that’s dividing these two categories?

Honestly, I have no idea. It is a very complicated and strong topic to really understand.

Sometimes, it seems that it depends on the relationship with the person who is commenting. For example, if your husband or boyfriend calls you “a hot piece of a**”, you will certainly take it as a compliment but if a stranger says the same thing, it might sound different. Doesn’t it?

When it comes to the workplace, being “hot” can be a two-sided mirror. If it is considered an asset, you might receive better evaluations, your co-workers might love to hang out with you because you are physically attractive but if it is considered more as a liability, then you are probably encountering decreased professional appreciation. Be it positive or negative, one’s professional ability should never be related to their level of physical attractiveness.

In the year 2013, then president Mr. Obama was subjected to criticism when he called an attorney general as “the best looking attorney general in the country”. A lot of people condemned his statement by saying that it was not in the context of the topic, in spite of him appreciating her for her “brilliant”, “tough” and “dedicated” working nature. Although the attorney didn’t consider it as an offense but rather took it as a compliment, the outrage from extremist groups seemed primarily based on the context it was used. Of course, this was no Trump’s sexist comment, and Mr. Obama, being the amazing man that he always is, apologized for his statement, and everyone accepted it and he is still our most favorite president, isn’t he?

Ok, back to our topic. -_-

Another line I think should also be drawn based on how the statement “impacts” a person. If you watched “13 reasons why”, you probably remember a scene where a group of high school boys rates their class girls based on their “Best and Worst” physical characteristics. The female protagonist, Hannah, was ranked for “best a**”. The girl considers it as an offensive sexual insult but the guys try to find their way out by saying that it was a harmless comment/compliment. However, in this case, the girl gets affected by it and this objectification becomes one of the 13 reasons for her to kill herself.

Since there are multiple ways for a compliment to actually make you feel worse or turn into a slap on your face, I think it is important that everyone thinks about it. The choice is ours, whether to choose to let our sexist, misogynistic social situations continue to hurt others or to not become a slave of our subconscious forces and respect the other person.

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What do you think about sexual objectification? Comment below and share what you think is a line that separates a compliment from a sexual objectification.

If interested, this post (Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son) explains how one should react to sexual objectification. From a father’s perspective. Do give it a read 🙂

 

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I am only 22.95 plus tax

If you know that I am 22 years old, then you probably read my blog post in 2016. But, guys, let’s accept it.. Time is always faster than us. Especially when it’s your birthday, it goes “Weeeee”. Anyway, it is my birthday in 10days. I can’t believe that another year just passed by. I remember crying about turning 22, which seemed like yesterday and here I am, yet again, turning another year old. Like for anyone else, 2016 has been good and bad to me in several ways.

Experiences always help shape our life. I realized few important life lessons last year.

  • You win some, you lose some.
  • You cannot simply control everything and everyone around you.
  • Nothing stays forever unless you care enough for it.
  • Do not let anyone-anyone take control of your life. You earn it!
  • People walk in and out of your life, only few stay.
  • Priorities change.

All the philosophy aside, 2016 has been another ‘interesting’ year in this journey. Following are few significant things that happened to me (in no particular order).

  • My li’l brother got placed during his final year placement season. Which also means, very soon he will sponsor my trip to India. Thanks, bro! 😉 😛
  • I am successfully (maybe?) finishing my Masters program and will be converting to Ph.D. this year. Yaay!
  • I made a new friend. This dude is very intelligent and kind. He is one of those few students who is favored by all the teachers and students!! I know how awesome it is, because hey, been there. B-)
  • Trump wins. Period.
  • Junaid bought me a guitar.
  • Canada 150.
  • Traveled to Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver.
  • Started living alone. 1br unit. All me, only me. woohoo.
  • I discovered that I was in fact born with an artsy package from my parents. Before I start bragging about it, hey, I am innately good at acrylic painting.
  • 14 years of Trisha-ism and Megastar is back! 😛
  • My facebook feed is filled with pictures of engagements, weddings, and babies. Another period.

Overall, 22 was a very special year!! Life just got exciting. I’m determined my 23 will be a whole lot better.

I hate to say this, but guys, I am 23 years wiser now.

 

 

 

 

Grass is never greener, unless you water it.

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place… and it doesn´t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But ain’t about how hard you hit… It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward… how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That´s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you worth, go out and get what you worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying: You ain´t what you wanna be because of somebody. Cowards do that and that ain´t you! You´re better than that, you can make your life a result of yourself.

There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly endures. Life is really simple.. But we insist on making it complicated. If you actually think about it, most of us try to fill ourself with vulnerability, excuses, fear, fault-expectations, etc.. Can we just stay with this moment?

Living life as it is, is pretty simple. When it rains look for a rainbow.. When it’s dark look for stars. The beauty of life doesn’t only depend on how happy you are.. but also on how happy others are because of you. Spending today complaining about yesterday doesn’t make tomorrow any better. The hardest part is to wake up in the morning and remembering what you were trying to forget last night. Everyone wants happiness. No one wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a rain.

 

Like my friend says, “Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself and know that everything in life has a purpose. There are no mistakes or coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from….”

If you have to, learn it the hard way. Most of the times, these are the most important lessons we actually learn. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

 

via Daily Prompt: Learning

 

Learning

Chetan Bhagat, Orientation day speech -Symbiosis, Pune

This is a very inspiring speech for college fresh(wo)men. I had always admired Chetan Bhagat for his amazing writings. Enjoyed every piece that I have read so far. Guess what, this speech makes me love him even more!! Read through guys, I bet you will love it too.

Chetan Bhagat, wish you came for my orientation day! 😛

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Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated.  The first day in college is one of them.  When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates – there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party – several months in advance – just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake.

I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost.   So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp’s flame. The first aspect is nurturing – to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.

To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn’t any external measure – a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house.

Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement. But it isn’t the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr. Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won’t be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday? They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature’s design. Are you? Goals will help you do that. I must add, don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.

There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes – Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school, where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark – don’t take life seriously. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. The teacher said – don’t be serious, be sincere. This quote has defined my work ever since. Whether its my writing, my job, my relationships or any of my goals. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. There is heaps of praise, there is intense criticism. If I take it all seriously, how will I write? Or rather, how will I live? Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up? It’s ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.

I’ve told you three things – reasonable goals, balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. However, there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. These must be guarded against. These are disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loneliness of purpose.

Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don’t go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. You will feel miserable. You will want to quit, like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades – how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you. But it’s life. If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember – if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that’s where you want to be.

Disappointment’ s cousin is  Frustration, the second storm.  Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. This is especially relevant in India. From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don’t know if you chose the right goal. After books, I set the goal of writing for Bollywood, as I thought they needed writers. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years to get close to  a release. Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person. How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved – movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly, seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result – at least I was learning how to write scripts, having a side plan – I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life – friends, food, travel can help you overcome it. Remember, nothing is to be taken seriously. Frustration is a sign somewhere, you took it too seriously.

Unfairness – this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, pedigree find it easier to make it – not just in Bollywood, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities in India, so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than you. In fact, to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty damm lucky by Indian standards. Let’s be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don’t. I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. However, I don’t get literary praise. It’s ok. I don’t look like Aishwarya Rai, but I have two boys who I think are more beautiful than her. It’s ok. Don’t let unfairness kill your spark.

Finally, the last point that can kill your spark is Isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique. When you are little, all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman. As you grow older to college, you still are a lot like your friends. But ten years later and you realize you are unique. What you want, what you believe in, what makes you feel, may be different from even the people closest to you. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

There you go. I’ve told you the four thunderstorms – disappointment, frustration, unfairness and isolation. You cannot avoid them, as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die.

I welcome you again to the most wonderful  years of your life. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college. But I also hope that ten years later as well, your eyes will shine the same way as they do today. That you will Keep the Spark alive, not only through college, but through the next 2,500 weekends. And I hope not just you, but my whole country will keep that spark alive, as we really need it now more than any moment in history. And there is something cool about saying – I come from the land of a billion sparks.

Thank You.

Home Style Indian Chicken Biryani

Disclaimer: This is not intended to expect a cooking blog from me.

My blog will always be open to discuss several kinds of topics. I just wanted to write this one recipe out not just for my friends, also because I need to document this somewhere myself 😛 That’s why decided to go online. Anyway, the point is that I had tried various recipes online for Indian Chicken Biryani but didn’t get that satisfaction or the best results. Today, I cooked it using my Aunt’s (Friend’s mom) recipe and I cannot tell you guys enough, but it was heavenly. All the hours of cooking was so worth I was also enjoying my happy tears. 

Here you go!

Ingredients:

Chicken – 500gm
Basmati Rice – 1.5 big cups
Onions – 3 medium / 2 large
Tomatoes – 1
Cashew nuts  – 2 table spoons
Garlic 
Ginger
Lemon – 1
Cilanthro / Coriander
Mint leaves
Chilli-powder 
Salt
Turmeric
Garam Masala powder
Biryani masala
Oil

Procedure:

1. Wash the chicken, cut in small pieces, add chilli-powder, salt and lemon, let it marinate until we need it.
2. Cut 1 large onion or 1.5 medium onions. Add oil to the pan, fry the onions. When the onions are turning brown, add cashew nuts and let them fry for few minutes. Make sure you aren’t frying them for too long as they might get burnt. Add chopped mint and cilanthro to this while turning it off and keep it aside.
3. Wash rice, cook it in a 1:2 ratio or whatever works fine for the rice you are using. Add two teaspoons of oil and a pinch of salt to this before you start cooking. 
4. Now, while the rice is left for cooking, cut the remaining onions, tomato into small pieces. You can prefer to use cut pieces of ginger and garlic or use ginger garlic paste.
5. Add oil to a pan, fry the marinated chicken pieces in this (deep frying not required), until you feel it is half cooked.
6. Now add onions to this and fry them together. When the onions are half cooked, add ginger/garlic to the pan and fry them for few minutes.
7. Now add cut tomatoes, biryani masala, garam masala, turmeric and a little bit of salt to this and keep frying until it’s properly cooked. At the end, add chopped cilanthro and mint to this and keep it aside.

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8. While you are making this masala, also make sure to keep an eye on the boiling rice, make sure to turn it off and drain the water when it’s 95% done.
9. Once rice is done, take a pot, add the masala you had made along with the chicken, at the bottom. Add cooked rice above this, and then add the mixture of fried onions and cashewnuts from our second step on the top. 
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10.Close the pot and let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Definitely make sure that you aren’t burning the masala beneath the layers. Cook it on a medium flame.

That’s it, you can now mix your rice with the onions and cashews on the top, and the masala at the bottom according to your taste and serve.

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P.S: This is “Jannath” home recipe. Thanks to Junaid for giving this to me.

Work – Life, how is it not balanced?

I am often asked to manage my work-life balance. Everyone believes that I live in the lab and that I don’t have a life. But, what is this balance really? I keep pondering about it. Are we implying that work is negative? Can work not be my life? Is it that my work and life are competing for my attention?

According to me, work and life are not separate. They are the same. For me, there is only one thing, LIFE. Work is what defines me as a person. I always loved research work, and now I am doing my graduate studies to achieve one of my biggest dreams, which I consider to be my life. How is it not good? Work is part of my life, it’s not competing with anything. For me, work is the reason why I get up in the morning. I mean, we are making a living out of it, but is that it? For someone like me, it’s not about making a living, I would have opted for a different field if I wanted only that.

Just think, what are you really if not for that “work”? Of-course, it is “only work” if you don’t like it. If you love what you are doing, it feels like your life. It depends on how you look at your life and work.

Are we able to measure the work-life balance? How will you ever know if there is a balance. I do not disagree that we need good proportion of everything in life. I mean, setting goals to visit family, friends, spend some time off work and all, is great, definitely. You cannot live by eating only pizzas, it’s harmful. (Believe me, been there).
For me, even when I am out, sometimes I just cannot get my head out of work. What’s the point? If I feel burnt out, I will definitely take a break. Shouldn’t I just be doing what I think fulfills me, instead of going by the social norms?

I am very glad that I don’t go with the regular expressions of loving/ awaiting Friday evenings and hating Monday mornings. For me, everyday is a happy day, whether or not it is weekend.

It might not be true for everyone, well,

Some people live where they work. Others just visit.

 – Seanan McGuire

Play in dirt: It’s not DIRTY

As I have been discussing a lot on social causes lately, I thought it would be fun to learn some science now, you know, after all I am an aspiring scientist and all. 😀 😉

Evolution, as most of us know is a process of change in heritable traits over successive generations, which is the key reason for diversity. Ever since the migration of humans from Africa, there have been several changes over the years, from as small as physical appearance to several other inherent genetic changes. For ex., although all of us started from Chimpanzees (dark skinned), after the evolution, people from different parts of the world are identified based on different skin type and other physical traits. The skin color is because of the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to hair, skin etc. Dark skinned people have more melanin than light skinned people and this is because, in most of the hot countries, our skin develops a defense mechanism by producing melanin to protect itself from harmful sun rays. However, people from colder regions, who aren’t exposed to sun on a regular basis, do not have the need to produce melanin and are more susceptible to damage from sun, as compared to others.

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This said, evolution is not limited to the gap of generations, it happens even during the life-time of a person, based on the environmental factors his body is exposed to. Thanks to the modern hygiene and sanitation conditions, we have reduced risk of a lot of diseases. Unfortunately, as we know, too much good is not really good. This is what “Hygiene Hypothesis” is about. It says that “a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (such as the gut flora), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing the natural development of the immune system”. Yes, you heard it right. Being exposed to micro-organisms from young age primes your body’s immune system, which is the fighter against pathogens and others diseases, to successfully fight against a lot of common infections. 

A fun fact: “Our cells are outnumbered 100 to one by the much smaller bacteria”.

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Human body consists of trillions of microbes. These microbes not only live in more or less peaceful coexistence with the human body but beneficial in several ways. They help in digesting our food, adjust our immune system, protect our skin from infections, play a role in obesity and severe digestive woes. The major microbiome is in the large intestine, where microbes aid digestion, create vitamins and deter harmful microbes. Skin and noses are other hotspots.

microbiome

We’d be dead meat without our beneficial bacteria, if only because they crowd out harmful bacteria. However, the microbiota varies from individual to individual, based on environmental factors and life-style. For ex., research has shown that children who grow up on farms have lower allergy and asthma rates, due to regular exposure to microorganisms present in farm soil, which recreates the microbiome. Nevertheless, timing and the intensity of exposure also matters. However, all the antibacterial soaps, antibacterial sprays, antibacterial cleaning wipes, antibiotics and a myriad of disinfecting cleaning products prevents formation of healthy bacteria although it is providing sterile environment. Therefore, it is important to improve these beneficial bacteria, how do we do that? Probiotic rich foods and supplements are a great start, but they are missing an important factor: Soil-Based Organisms (SBOs). These soil based organisms have stronger strains of beneficial bacteria that can survive through the digestive system and provide the most benefit. While fermented foods and probiotic supplements can also be very beneficial, some of these strains do not survive through the digestive system. 

So what does it mean? It means that all of our cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing could be doing more harm than good at times. 

“What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her  book, Why Dirt Is Good: “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”

Various cultures have known the health benefits of dirt for centuries and there is an old saying that “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die”. It seems there is wisdom in this old saying.  😛 😉

What should we do now? 1. Go outside 2.Eat dirt.  (I’m only kidding 😛 Haha!)

Just let your kids play in the gardens or in the organic mud with bare foot, make sure there are no harmful chemicals sprayed in that mud though. Do-not be a cleanliness freak. 😛 May be just maintain a good balance.

Stay dirty, Stay healthy! 😉  

Learnt now? 😛 You’re welcome!! 😂

Sayonara! 😀