I choose to distance myself from “just a difference of political opinion”

Since January 20th, I have come across multiple posts that have the notion that is in my title. My FB timeline has taken a radical new path, and I have deeply involved myself in this so called “just a political opinion.” And not only in the way of constantly sharing all the wrong that I see to the extent of losing “friends” or “follows” in doing so; but also in constantly, excruciatingly, questioning that when the President were ours, really, truly ours even though we do not have voting rights, did “they” feel as anguished as “we” do today? Is this really just a “difference of political opinion”?

No.

You’d label this as a mere difference if to you people needlessly being shot in bars, based on an ignorant judgement of color, were okay.

You’d  label this as “just political” if you condoned walking the streets and lashing out at someone, for some inexplicable internal rage, blended with  ignorance.

It would be a mere difference of red versus blue, if you’d be okay being that customs and border protection agent that in the presence of this new “power” knew not how to handle it.

It would be fine to call it so, if you were alright with your friend not being allowed to use the bathroom that he or she were more comfortable using. Then, you’d be calling it as you saw it. Bare, honest, political difference.

Yes, go ahead and call it “just a political difference of opinion” if you were alright that your child were detained at an international airport because he was from a certain country.

But you are not this person. You can’t be okay with this? Or can you?

Let me tell you why this is not just another election. It is because this time, this choice, has made it ok for the common man to lash out at his neighbor, his brother, his passer by in the street. If you are of a religious bent of mind, aren’t these the very people your God taught you to love? Or did He say, love they neighbor but not if they didn’t come from the same country, or share your skin color, or identify with the same gender prototypes that you do?

I truly do not care who you voted for. But it troubles me that you can see all of these ongoings as just a simple difference of opinion, and choose to bury your head in the sand. I don’t care if you’ve unfollowed or unfriended people because their timelines suddenly turned from cupcakes to activism. I care that you can be this immune to the violence around you.

With our current surroundings we belong to one bubble, or another. So if you’re reading this and you remotely agree with me, send this to one person who is hiding from this terrorism around us. This terrorism that is not created by any external entity.

 

Love, Your Cardboard box

“Where’s your Father?” I ask him, slightly tilting my own head in anticipation of hid head tilt.

Our sweet boy looks at Karan and then goes bounding toward his father like a ball gaining momentum on stairs. If there is a ball or a favorite toy in the path from starting point to Father, an abrupt stop is made to take it along as a precious offering of love, or to just say “Throw the ball for me please!”.

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Father and Son.

Kahlua has always been good at recognizing his “people”. He knew to turn to Nandu, my roommate and sister, his other mother, back in Tallahassee when asked “Where’s Nandu?”, but never without a head tilt.

He knew “Michelle”.

He knows “Lisa”, our car.

He knows “Piggy”, his now mute Green Pig that brings him immense joy. He knows every ball, every toy and his “Throne.”

But ironically, he does not know his “Mother”. It is actually very comical. The one human being who has been a constant hovering annoyance in his life ever since he could learn to reason, he does not know.

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I don’t know my “Mother”.

What’s even funnier is he recently learned that his “Mother” is a cardboard box.

Karan sat him down and asked him repeatedly, “Where’s your Mother?”. After about the second or third time with me anxiously standing by, hoping for a big bounding ball of love to come my way; our child lifted his front right paw, and placed it confidently on a cardboard box.

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“Mother?”

 

Oxytocin flooded my bloodstream anyway, and I laughed. I hugged and kissed our child which is my reaction to just about anything he does anyway.I know he knows I am his mom, but it is very funny that his “Mother” is a cardboard box.

And I know that he knows that his cardboard box and his “Father” will always love him, take care of his every need, brush his teeth, feed him, pick him up when he is too scared to walk, tickle him, give him belly rubs, take him to the vet, and do everything do give him a full, happy, loving life.

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Trained?

Growing up in India I had a love-fright relationship with dogs. (Pick your jaw up. We all grow up only at 30, and sometimes never.) These changes were not frequent, but depended on those around me, and of course on the dog itself. (No matter how much you love them, always make an informed approach, or no approach.) If there was a person in my close and constant surroundings that was extremely scared of dogs, somehow being the fool that I am, I would be scared too. Remove this person from my surroundings, and this would eventually change to my default state – I love you dog. I don’t care what flea bitten, diseased situation you come from – you must be loved.

Anyway, a question I heard a little too often (I attribute some of these occurrences to myself too), was “Is he/she trained?”.

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Who’s askin?

Now as a pet parent my instinct lies in responding with “to/for?”. Until I raised my very own bundle of crazy I never realized that maybe what the people in my land are trying to ask the dog community in general every time they stop of their members is, “Is he/she tame?”

A dog can be trained to Sit, Stay, Hug (yes, my fabulous boy knows how to Hug is parents), Roll over, Search and to Rescue. Which subset of these is the right answer to “Is he/she trained?” When is a dog considered “trained” enough for that answer to be “Yes”?

But is he/she tame?  India has a lot of stray dogs. They are much less now since awareness about Spay/Neuter and Rescue is very prevalent, and many groups are working tirelessly to increase this awareness, and to increase adoptions. So it is most likely that a dog on the street who has a human leashed to him/her is tame. He/she may or may not know any commands, in which case yes maybe some training is in order, but this dog is tame. And I think this is where the confusion of tame/trained stems from. It’s even more confusing that many strays are tame. Many strays are also “trained” meaning they know one or two commands atleast.

Is your dog child “trained”?

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Adopted, Tame, Trained, Spoiled, and Loving it!

Fun little confusing question! I have to say we humans sometimes are neither tame, nor are we trained to do anything useful. In Dwight Schrute’s words “We need a new Plague.”

 

It’s your birthday? Wait, let me unfriend you.

It’s no secret I have a few bones to pick with social media, and technology in general despite being born and brought up by computer science.My qualms about social media, technology, and all the various gadgets that are the evil spawn of computer science were well reinforced by my friend’s blog post on appreciation today. Look at what she has to say, it’s really cool! And don’t forget to Like Pitbull WorldWide on Facebook.

When did a chip become something other than that you dip and enjoy? When did a cookie become something non- ahoy ? And when did a tablet become something that you glare at and develop a characteristic squint, rather than something white and bitter that comes in a blue wrapping that you wash down with water to control a fever ?

It’s not all too bad though. Although I know that if it came to it, I CAN find my way from point A to point B, a part of me is thankful for that sexy lady voice that says “In one hundred feet, your destination will be on the right”. And just yesterday Retail Me Not saved me 20% at Kohls. So .. okay. It’s how the cookie crumbles, right ? Not what it stores in your browser ?

Speaking of privacy, do you ever have this feeling that you have WAY too many Facebook friends ? I do. And what’s more unfortunate is most of them are  acquaintances. Who need not know what is happening with me. Yeah I know that FB has had an “Acquaintances” list built in for a while now complete with the one privacy option that allows you to Show This to Friends Except Acquaintances. Genius. But you have to designate Random Person X as Acquaintance, and you need to have the presence of mind to do this when you accept their friend request (because face it, you are never going to go back and do it later). And THEN, FB will go ahead and tweak their settings in a small, inconspicuous manner so as to reveal ALL your deepest darkest secrets on your Timeline to said acquaintance. So, why are you airing your dirty laundry on your Timeline, you ask. I don’t. But there are enough stupid people out there who do.

Anyway, I keep straying from my point which is this – I realize that I have someone totally unnecessary on my list only when I see their birthday alert. And my brain says to me – Damn girl, why has this person got ANY insight into your life at all ? And my urge is to unfriend them. But come on, it’s their birthday! There is a good chance that they’ve already blocked all my updates anyway because MOST of them are about dogs that need rescuing, or that are up for adoption, or my own dog because he is bloody gorgeous. But what if they haven’t ? Then one day after they turned ‘old’ they won’t be seeing all these awesome updates of my oh so exciting life and realize that I unfriended them. AND they’re ‘old’. Mess, yes ?

So i’ll make a mental note to do it another day. And then like all the other notes that are mental and not on my smart phone, or my calendar this one too finds it’s way into a black hole of forgetfulness and general stupidity that comes from owning a smart phone.What makes this whole birthday thing worse is that I can’t really post a Facebook Status Update about it, even on a day when I do not see an alert, because it’s SOMEONE’s birthday that day. When you combine the probability of having atleast one birthday from among 494 people on a given day , with Murphy’s Laws, you will have pissed atleast ONE person off.

So, the list grows from 494 upwards and the trauma is endless. The social pressure builds. Do I want to break the cycle ?Would you ?

Would you unfriend someone ON THEIR BIRTHDAY ?

ADOPTABLE MIDNIGHT, horrified at the thought of unfriending someone on their birthday!

ADOPTABLE MIDNIGHT, horrified at the thought of unfriending someone on their birthday! Contact cauzicanfl@gmail.com for more information.

I found blood and I saw stars

“You need another boarding pass.”

“Wait, but I have this one…look.”

“Haha, silly girl, no you need another for your next flight. And here, grab those bags and put them over here. ” … “Foreigners!”

I joined the meandering queue for a boarding pass. Damn it,  Mumbai airport, why couldn’t you just print em all for me ? Because, well, you’re Mumbai airport.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport, some ungodly hour on August 11th, 2008. I had almost arrived at my new life. The 16 hour plane ride from Mumbai to New York’s JFK had been my first ever flight..in life. It was also my first ever close, and seemingly never ending encounter with loud Indian children with semi-american accents and overflowing airplane toilets. (Note to all potential international travelers – try to not use the bathroom for the last few hours. Regulate your intake. It’s possible.)

Boarding pass in hand, I exclaimed and swore hard because I was a mere 15 minutes from take off in a major international airport I’d never seen before. I have a Dad that explains everything diagrammatically and Google maps everything before visiting. Unfortunately for me, he gave birth to a girl who listens selectively. So now, sink, or swim.

5 years later today, I know this airport like the back of my hand. I know you can take the plane train to cross concourses and not try and make a mad dash using your almost atrophied from 20 plus hours of travel and dehydration, muscles.

Sure, I missed my flight.

Was I going to sleep over at the airport ? – hell no.

“Excuse me, could you help me ? I missed my final leg. Is there another flight I could get on?”.

“No ma’am we are full, you can have a $6 food coupon”

<<And stuff it where ?>>

“Please, I’m a student. I’ve never been to a foreign country before. I’m scared and alone” <<And I also have crocodile tears to prove it.>>

Sink, or swim ?

“Ok, calm down, let me see what I can do.”

Sink, or swim ?

“Looks like we have an opening for the 9:00 pm one.”

SWIM.

At 10:30 that night, I arrived in Tallahassee. A city I had no idea I would fall in such pure, unadulterated love with. A city that would give me so much to be thankful for, and so many people to love and live for.

Today’s daily prompt asks this:

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?

While I do not consider this being left to fend off for myself, It was overwhelming at first – to come  to a nation unknown, one which does everything exactly opposite, drinks their coffee differently, drives on the other side of the road and the car, expects different mannerisms yet embraces people as different as me; to build a life that I call my own, and mine alone. But the fear of the unknown, the learning process, and the experience of learning to accept people and things around you, and make them yours to love, has been wholesome. I could never have learned to swim like this,  if I hadn’t just picked up and moved, 10,000 miles away from a life that used to be mine.

 

{Photo Sunday} Grumpus Maximus and the importance of Cuddling

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Grumps is usually forced to cuddle. He is not very proactive about it. But because his mom necessitates the daily cuddle, we came upon a skin tag that we really didn’t think should have been there.  Worry not, our favorite doctor said it was benign and took it off. But we know now that cuddling is the most trusted way of finding bumps, lumps and skin tags on canine members of the family. Keep calm and Cuddle on.

Clarity, through a lens.

So ever since I got here I’ve been bitching out on the city. It’s no secret. Every time someone asked me how I have liked it so far, I’ve been honest- I didn’t.  And my worst came out when asked “Don’t you just love it? Who would want to live anywhere else?”- ” No I don’t, many normal people, and you’re arrogant to not realize that.” And that used to be my biggest problem with the City – the arrogant underlying assumption that anyone who would want to live elsewhere is missing a few marbles.

But the negativity was getting the better of me. And those around me. And keeping me from being the best version of myself, for me, and those I share my life with.

My clarity came to me in the form of this negativity and its adverse effect on my surroundings. I decided to stop. I decided to try to be better about trying. You know that line from the world’s best movie? “You’re not trying, you’re whining.”

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Which is also shot here!

Not to fall off the runway too much here, but I decided to try to like the City. Really like. This is my home now. It has a lot to offer. It is one of the most dynamic places to be. There are good, hardworking, creative people. Everyone is trying to build something, to make a life, and to express themselves. Everyone is crazy,  but who am I kidding if I say I am normal. What is normal anyway?

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Guy climbing a tree at Washington Sq. Park

I decided to photograph the city. Document the good things. Bring clarity to my thoughts. Find my space among the 8 million crazies.

One of the most annoying things about the City is that noone gives a shit. And on of the best things about the City is that noone gives a shit. If there is one place in the world you can do what you want to, with no fear of judgement, simply because noone has the time to give a rat’s ass, it is here. And that.. is amazing!

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Free standup comedy at the Village Lantern on Sunday nights.

 

 

The city has most definitely given me back the gift that I was born with, but grew out of – speaking my mind. Not in the ungainly, almost callous manner that I used to, though. But there is an element of liberation. Everything is not taken personally. A push on the Subway is just that, and nothing more. Not something to take back and document on FB after ruminating on it like a psycho, like I did earlier this year.

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The City from the Staten Island Ferry. Free 24×7, and very calming. The silence shocked me. A wonderful evening with my bestie, Nandu.

I have no idea where my time goes, and this helps me be honest about how much I can chew, really, rather than bite off more than I can handle, and then choke on it. This next bit is bad, but I don’t respond to some things if my plate is already full, and I don’t feel bad about it. I go back later sometimes, and say I was caught up, but I don’t apologize for anything. And it is okay.

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Pianist at Washington Sq. Park. 

Seriously, if someone can make the effort to drag a grand piano out to a park to play to make other people happy for their lose change, this place cannot be that bad! I love this guy. He stood up at the end of a piece and said “For those of you who don’t know that one, I played the shit out of it.” Who could not smile at that?

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Grand Central Terminal

I have better pictures of my current favorite place in the world – Grand Central Station, but  don’t know what I did with them. The Oyster Bar is my favorite. This station is quite unlike anything else in the city. It is the only privately owned Subway station in the city, and a bunch of other trains going north also stop here. But the best part for me is how much it feels like stepping into another time. Crucial as it was during World War II, being the busiest hub connecting most of the Eastern US seaboard, Grand Central today is so much nicer than many airports in the country. It is from times when travel was a luxury, suitcases were large, and stays were longer.

My pictures will be unclear and phone captured, but stay tuned for more clicks as I look at the City with a positive lens!

 

Southern girl standing clear of the closing doors.

My first work week in New York is officially over. It was short, like me, barely upto 5 😉 The city is a tough place for a noob anyway, but more so for a little noob.

Little noobs have shorter strides and need more time to get to the train station. Little noobs find it hard to breathe when submerged in a crowd of fast-paced, no nonsense New Yorkers concealing their natural and MTA odors with designer fragrances. Little noobs find it hard to read “Next Stop” signs on subway trains because the large people inadvertently block them. Little noobs have the same problem with street signs. And this little noob gets turned around quite easily!

It is a world of difference from my calm Florida 15 minute drive to work in air conditioning. Which brings me to my point – everything here is more of a fight than it is in other places. In my first week here, I have not understood why people choose to live this life of constant fighting and struggling. Now, before all you “New Yaawkers” jump to your big city’s defense allow me to say – I have spent a lot of time here and in long stretches, and I’ve seen a lot of things that people who live and work here have not, because they don’t have time, and because I had all the time in the world when I was here earlier.  So I know all the theoretical benefits of this city. They just need to sink in for me, and I need to find my special place among the throngs of people.

All my clothes are currently designed to move from air conditioning, to luxurious 100 degree parking for all of 4 seconds, back to serious air conditioning. I’ve had it good so far! No 45 minute fight commute to work, give or take an additional 30 should I need to stop at a pharmacy, or run just any simple errand.

Oh and the fight for parking is insane. Ordinarily no New Yorker in their sane mind would own a car, but I’m far from sane, and really where we live is not that bad, but twice a week I need to switch out where I am parked, for street cleaning. So invariably we are driving around the neighborhood yelling “Spot”, or abusing hydrants or making miserable desperate attempts at parallel parking in way too tiny spots in the city where square inches are more valuable than the rarest blood type. This little girl from Florida and her big black puppy really miss our vast expanses of parking! (Please don’t offer me sage advice of what all I can do to do away with my car. I have my reasons for keeping it for as long as I need to.)

Speaking of vast expanses – we also miss the vast expanses of green where once upon a time we ran free and breathed clean, fresh air. I have not run since I moved, which by definition means, I am miserable. Because each day is a fight. A fight for just getting through the day – just getting to work and back.

The proper thing to do is allow yourself time and healing. And I will. I hope one day I will truly understand why 8 million odd people choose to live on this small island and the small fragments of land that surround it. In the meanwhile I will have this image of this small island suddenly sinking into the water just by the sheer weight of these 8 million, exhausted and constantly fighting individuals.