The mandatory end-of-year post!

“2010 was” is a hashtag that is trending right now on Twitter. But I honestly don’t know what 2010 was for me. It certainly was a learning experience, as every minute is. But it was also a year when I rediscovered myself. It was a year when I felt alternatively on top of the world and in the depths of despair. At the end of every year, life affords us a choice: look back and regret, or look forward and plan. Right now, I feel like doing neither. I know today is December 31 and a few hours ahead, our friends in Kiribati (or is it some other Pacific island?) will welcome the New Year in all pomp and splendor. But I also know that like many other things, it’s just a date. So, on this date (like any other) I choose to think about what I learnt.

1. This year I learnt that love and hate are just two sides of a coin. I learnt that the more you love someone, the more likely you are to hate that person. I learnt that this holds true irrespective of the relationship you share with him/her.

2. This year I learnt that some things are better left unsaid. I learnt that silences speak better than words, especially in situations where words cannot convey what eyes can. I also learnt that those who really love you will read and understand the language of the eyes and that those who don’t are not worth your while anyway.

3. This year I learnt that like love, friendships can be made instantly. I also learnt that unlike falling out of love, the break of friendship can also be brutally abrupt and sudden. I learnt that it is always possible to survive that break of friendship because ultimately you’re all you have.

4. This year I learnt that some experiences, however painful can be cathartic and help you overcome a pain you never knew existed.

5. This year I learnt that age is just a number. Having celebrated my 28 years of existence, I feel more beautiful and vibrant than I did ten years ago. I learnt that the number of years you’ve walked this earth has nothing to do with who you are and how people perceive you.

6. On that note, I learnt that I still have three years to go to be at my most attractive because apparently, women are at sexiest at 31! 😉 And, if you’re the one who said it, please remember that that was the greatest compliment I’ve ever received!

7. This year I learnt to never say no to any experience because it might just be the most wonderful you’ve ever had in life! I also learnt that sometimes you just need to throw caution to the winds and live your life for what it is worth.

8. And finally, this year I learnt that I love to receive compliments and that they actually make me a nicer person, more beautiful, happier and most contented with life!

So, on this note, what did you learn? Did you too, like me, learn that some things in life should never be compromised and that some others should be discarded because we longer have any use of them? And finally, if you’re reading this, kindly de-lurk. I would love to know who my readers are!

Reasons to write

With 83 posts in 2007, steadily declining to a measly 16 (now 17) in 2010, I decided to make a New Year resolution: to post at least once every two days. Now, all of us make such irrational and impulsive resolutions at the end of the year, more out of desperation than any measure of sanity. But the point is I want to write. I want to be slightly more prolific than I have been this past year. I realize that my blogging break is more because I have slacked off and not bothered to keep myself abreast of happenings around the world, than because of any genuine problem with writing.

But, that’s not what this post is about. I, like the big-mouth fool I am, decided to share this resolution with the world on Facebook. Now, you might ask me if I am not being a bigger fool by sharing it with the world outside Facebook by writing about it on my blog. The answer is most probably a yes! But again, this is my space and I will say what I want. So, to get back to the point, I shared this with friends on Facebook. The term “friend” is probably not the most appropriate here, but that’s another post for another day. Within seconds of my posting the status, one commented asking me to take a complete blogging break, and get out to meet the “real” world and make “real” friends, see people with “real” faces and have some “real” fun! Another promptly commented saying he completely agreed with the first: which is what brings me to the purpose of this post.

I don’t understand why so many people confuse blogging with social networking. If I can stay connected with people on Facebook or Orkut or LinkedIn 24/7, why can I not blog with as much passion? Why is blogging considered such a waste of time that I get random advice about stepping out into the real world? I have mentioned in the past that writing for me is about expressing ideas, feelings, thoughts and desires. That writing is a creative outlet that keeps me happy and satisfied. I have also said that by choosing to blog under my real name and by linking my blog to my accounts in Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, I am probably risking censure and slander. But the very fact that I am still at it, four years on, is an indication of how much this really means to me.

I don’t write for people to read and comment. I find comments and discussion extremely stimulating and would love to respond and interact if people chose to comment. But I don’t write expecting people to leave all else and follow my blog. I don’t look at my blog as a social networking tool that will permit me to make friends in the virtual world. Of the 280-odd friends on my friends’ list on FB, there are probably just a couple whom I have never met. Also, the fact that I have never met them does not make them any less “real” or the friendship any less important. Friendships made in the virtual world can be as stimulating as those made in real life. I write because I feel like expressing myself. I run a blog because it gives me a platform to publish those writings, which would otherwise remain unread and unnoticed.

I can’t reiterate this enough. My blog is my every own personal space. It is my sacred haven and my refuge. I choose to share it with those who care enough to read. But, a world outside also exists. I also have friends and family in the real world. I also do fun things like singing, dancing, attending concerts, going to lunches and dinners and discussing a range of topics with those I meet. Am I being unreasonable and unrealistic in expecting people to understand this simple fact? I honestly have no answer to that question. All I know is, I will write no matter what anybody says or does. I will write because it means something to me. I don’t promise to publish 15 times a month like I resolved for New Year, but I will certainly try to be a little more prolific that in the past few months. Until next time, have fun and celebrate the coming of a very happy new year!

The science behind “fair & lovely”

Nanopolitan points me to this link, which to me is indicative of a much deeper bias against dark skin. The Department of Science and Technology, in collaboration with Procter and Gamble has launched the December challenge inviting scientists to come up with skin-whitening solutions more effective than hydroquinone.

To me, the very fact that the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India is willing to invest money and energy in research to “Equal or better efficacy in reducing facial hyper-pigmented spots or lighten basal skin color tone vs. 2% hydroquinone without notable side effects (e.g., irritation),” is indicative of a deep-seated bias against dark skin and a belief that darkness, pigmentation or tanning are undesirable. While I completely understand research to find effective cures for skin diseases and disorders such as leukoderma, eczemas and acne, I simply do not understand the obvious government sanction for finding ways to make your skin whiter.

I do agree that hyperpigmentation can lead to skin disorders and medical problems sometimes, but from my experience, most young men and women use products such as “Fair & Lovely” just because of the perception that white equals beautiful. I thought that by now, it was a well-established fact that the melanine protects skin from several skin problems and even cancer. Frankly, I would rather be dark and healthy than fair and acne-ridden. I have wheatish skin myself and have never found that to be a handicap. As Abi says at the Nanopolitan, the irony is sometimes too much to take.

What message are we sending out to our children? That only fair is beautiful and that anything less than that is unacceptable? Let’s not get into this fair and lovely trap. Let’s not give something as superficial and irrelevant as skin colour so much importance that a government-sponsored award is given to research on skin-whitening.