Feelings emotions while living with Asperger’s Syndrome

Crush of an Aspie


I am an adult who was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s which is a form of autism. This means my brain is not wired like the rest of the people who may be reading this article. It is a developmental disorder, something I was born with and is accompanied with difficulty in social interaction and communication. Just like our fingerprints, no two autistic people are same and that is why it is called a spectrum disorder as the symptoms and characteristics vary from person to person.


As an Aspie (person with Asperger’s) I feel love and other emotions just like rest of you but with a twist.


Usually people feel attracted towards someone and go and share their feelings and then have some good time. I on the other hand, tend to obsess over my crushes. I will never go and tell them because I am super shy and feel very uncomfortable expressing and communicating what I actually feel.  

Over a period of time I have realised I feel way too much emotionally about various things which one generally tend to overlook on a day to day basis. For example I can’t talk impolitely to a tele caller as I may hurt their feeling, I can’t push or abuse a beggar so I say no to them with folded hands. Aspies are generally empaths, we can feel what others are feeling.

These emotions and feelings are actually like a wall of water which tends to pin you down and wash you along with it and you can only gasp for air while everyone else around you is able to breathe perfectly fine.


Coming back to crushes, one of my earliest crush was when I was 18, I had gone to someone’s home and was sitting and sipping tea when this girl walked in and I stood up with my mouth open looking at her, she had this aura around her which was really soothing, the kind of feeling I guess a cat gets before sitting and sleeping in your lap.

Her voice was like music to my ears, I kept taking hidden glances at her and then she moved into her room and my mom had to ask me to close my mouth which was wide open.


Only few very close friends know about her and what I actually felt that day. She has a boyfriend and I try and avoid them most of the time since then. I end  up having a anxiety attack whenever I meet or see her. I start fidgeting, sweating, having flashbacks of various memories of embarrassing moments, couldn’t talk properly, become jumpy and it all ends with me getting angry because of the overload of emotions.

I know it’s a crush and I don’t want anything from her but if its a crush it should have gone by now.

After my therapy and talking to other aspies I realised a crush just doesn’t disappear for me, I tend to obsess over them. I end up thinking about them each and every moment for a long time, mostly because of the lasting impact they left on me, for what it made me feel, the peace and calm that followed on seeing her which is rare for an aspie because our mind is literally overloaded with so many sensory inputs being received from our environment every second.


Anyways, it’s more than 10 years now, the anxiety attacks have reduced, I still feel a bit uncomfortable around her but I have more in my plate than before. I have realised what I felt was valid and there is nothing creepy about the way I feel. What I had was very natural. I have dated few people after that and am currently in a happy relationship with a wonderful woman (I will tell you more about her some other day)

Writer : @theboywhogrewupasanaspie. He is an adult with late diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

Hidden Pockets has been running a counselling service as well as a WhatsApp number for people who might have any doubts on Sexual and Reproductive health ( 8861713567) .

10 ways to reduce Periods Pain

Periods ! They haunt my body and soul. And most of the time they go above and beyond the ways to ruin my days. And it’s the same for most of the girls.

But regular periods are a sign that your body is working normally and many of us experience different kind of discomfort during the cycle.

So far, scientific support for the claim that any remedy can treat the menstrual cramp is limited. But we have herbal medicine which offer relief without any side effects and those are easily available in our house. For me, after trying over the counter medicines for a very long period, my body stopped responding to them and I had to turn my head towards herbal remedies.

But top of any remedies , it’s water water and water.

  1. Water : Staying hydrated don’t curb your cramping directly, but it will definitely help with bloating and better if its fennel water.
  2. Tea Person : Being a tea person, I run on the fuel called ‘Ginger tea’ during my periods.
  3. Chinese Herbs : And yes, I have have become a huge fan of chinese herbs lately. They  are more effective than most of the over the counter medications I tried.

And, if you are wondering what is chinese herbs, those are our cinnamon bark,fennel,licorice root,Chinese angelica root and red peony root.

4. Medicinal plants have a significant role in women’s health care, during   menstruation, pregnancy, birth and postpartum care in many rural areas of the world.

5. Herbal remedies can not only help to ease the pain but also calm emotions and help a speedy recovery. Raspberry leaf is one of the best when it comes to uterine muscles.

Make a raspberry tea for yourself if you are a tea person, if not, Make raspberry tea ice cubes.

6. Chamomile also do wonders when it comes to labor pain and relieving tension.

Some aroma please :

A women not only needs pain relief during her pregnancy, we all need emotional balance Right.?

7. An oil massage, enhanced with herbs will relax muscles. Chamomile, rose , lavender… we have a big list.

8. Lavender is calming and strengthening and its aroma is proven to relieve depression and irritability.

Period cramps and problems are common but usually are not considered serious. We take care of our teeth, we take care of our hair, we take care of our heart and bones and every part of our body seriously but, why not our womb.?

Ayurveda :

According to the classical ayurveda, A healthy menstrual cycle has bright red color flow, which does not stain the clothes and has an odor but that’s not foul and

most importantly has an amount that is an average four anjalees ( A single anjalee is an amount that would fit into your one cupped hand), but i should say it varies on each of us.

9. Pacifying diet lifestyle, yoga and pranayama, breast massage, castor oil packs,hydration,salt scrub are most common methods for easy periods according to ayurveda but first of all, you need to find out your body type before trying any ayurvedic medicines. Same like western medicine, ayurveda also do not recommend self medication.

Taking a treatment without knowing your body type can create serious issues. If you still have doubts around ayurveda, remember that ayurveda is one of the oldest healing science.

And can we trust western medications completely.?

Nope, we can not!

10. So before getting into any treatments, understand that every women’s periods has its own ‘personality’ and just because your friend got a different length for bleeding and shorter or longer circle, it doesn’t mean that you also have to get the same.

Understand your cycle and break your head only if something out of the ordinary happens!

Happy periods!

Would you visit a counsellor for your mental health? I did.

Misfit? They Call me.

This is my depressive episode, getting longer. Did you go through depression?

Have you ever feel like misfit? a misfit maverick? Well, I am in that club .

Like everyone else, I too grew up believing that in order to be happy, I need to belong somewhere – a society, a country, a social circle and finally, a family.

As wikipedia states,“belongingness is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group.”

But still why am I feeling that I don’t belong anywhere.? Around three years back during a session, my psychologist told me (I was taking treatment for depression and anxiety disorder), that I am more of an “empath”.

But what does that mean?

Okay, Empaths are very sensitive about the energy and emotions of other people and every time I see or hear something sad about someone, I get really upset. And my unconscious mind constantly creating a sense of detachment, not to be a part of anyone’s life, be a loner , that way I can save several heartaches-I believe.

And, my psychologist calls me “Starsoul”.

I have a mission here – just being ME. That’s enough. It’s all I have to do. But that’s not easy. I feel so much pain while struggling to fit in here.I just sometimes need someone to recognise my pain and express it – that I know it’s been heard.

I have difficulties to understand why there is so much pain in the world and had to suppress my sensitivity, No… I don’t belong here… I just took a human cover.

And it’s tough to deal with the feeling that I don’t really fit in.

I feel alone. I feel sad. I feel isolated. And those feelings hurt! And I kind of love that hurt.

My eyes well with tears and I begin to crumble inside myself. Nobody notices and while I like it that way, I feel alone.
I cover myself , wear a smile, talk loud and laugh hard. And I wonder what would people say if they knew the truth- What if they knew what lies beneath these layers.

My thoughts running races at night, chasing nothing at all.. all night long.
I’m on a deserted island being surrounded by the crashing waves of depression.

Stigma. A mark of disgrace and shame. For having an depression or any kind of mental illness. If I were to come out of hiding, to reveal myself as someone who needs help, Would I be stamped as “crazy”? Would people look at me differently?

I was terrified. I was ashamed to step into a counselling centre for the first time. I wasn’t really aware of what depression is. there was only one word spinning in my head.

I may be crazy. Mental illness.?? Ohh God No. I have seen people with mental illness in movies, chained, locked in cell– scratching head and staring at infinity, curled up in the corner of a room with things scattered all around..

No- No- No.

These movies pastes stereotypes and labels onto people who struggle, or worse, sweeps them under the rug completely.Stigma begets lies and misinformation to the public which leads to discomfort and fear when the topic of mental illness arises. An even worse fear is the fear that stares those with mental illness in the face.

People become afraid to speak up, afraid to reach out, afraid to seek help.

I am a lucky one. Too many people struggling with depression and anxiety disorder choose to remain silent because the moment they reveal the thoughts circling inside of their head, they aren’t met with love. They are met with stigma’s ugly face. They struggle alone in dark for moments which feels like a lifetime.

Their negative self- esteem is validated through others ignorance. Their tears are visible  only to themselves.

If you are one of those people, please hear me: You are enough. You are worth it. You matter. Some people make you feel small because they don’t understand.

I live with depression and anxiety issues , and sometimes I feel like I live far away from this planet of “normal” humans. I am an alien. No- We are humans- with a very tender heart which has no strength to take the pain this world gives us. We are the true “Normal Humans”.

Share a little amount of love to everyone around us. Who knows how we can make someone’s life better. Sometimes a touch is enough. A pat on the shoulder. A tender look straight into the eyes.

Spread Love.

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

PS : Hidden Pockets have started scheduling appointments for counselling especially related to sexual and reproductive health. You can schedule an appointment by clicking the link on the left top most corner.

Talk to Us! We Care.

Depression and Me

You feel bad– You take pill — Problem solved.

I am a 28 year old single women, living away from family since I am 18.

All alone in big cities , miles and miles away from family, I was always the occasional visitor to home.

Life has shown me it’s different colors , sometimes black sometimes white but most of the times gray.

But everyone around me sees me as the most happiest person on earth. Very few know about the depression and anxiety I have been

through. Nasty breakups, financial crisis, ill health, job changes, working as a team leader in a male dominated industry isn’t so easy. Especially for a girl who hailed from a small village in kerala.

Lots of people asks me how I am happy and pumped up all the time.

I would never say that I have “cured” my anxiety. That just seems silly to me.

I have made a list of things which I have to give more importance in life, to be precise, a checklist.

I am able to continue living my life anyway, as happy as I can be?

You bet I can.

I didn’t always feel this way.

When I was 14, I first experienced the “Bad Touch” but wasn’t able to understand and do anything about it instead I choose to remain silent and avoid the situation, like many girls do.

There must be something wrong with me to feel this way– I thought.

During the struggles of life, which most of us face, we tend to forget what we are actually capable of. We tend to forget our strengths and feed on our weaknesses.

For most of my life, If I felt sick, I went to the doctor who gave me a pill and made everything better. Never gone too deep to the roots of the cause. Western medicine led me to believe this was how health care worked.

You feel bad– You take pill — Problem solved.

The same approach even when anxiety wrecked my world.

Anxiousness, panic attacks, Night terrors– the answer was pills.

There were nights when I cried out so loud for no reason- then I would look at my mirror and talk to myself,

that made me feel like I am not alone.

I saw doctors, therapists– you name it. Everyone offered me pills, good sleep, drink water, engage yourself to the things you love— but nothing seemed to help, after all I didn’t love even a single thing around me.

I decided I should change– I should start finding beauty in everything– no matter how hard it is.

I made friends, I started dating. But I was too bad at choosing.

Some of them used me for financial benefits, it’s not always true that girls suck the money out of men and leave.

Most of the time its other way around.

I realized I am the therapist for my problems. I started my dance practices, started writing, read books without even looking what sort of story it contains.

Slowly.. Very slowly..

I was able to choose my books, believe me — if you can choose the right book to read, rest all will come naturally.

I decided- No more doctors– No more feeling sick– No more feeling bad about myself.

I am enough– I worth more than what I received.

Those nights, A fire lit inside me like I had never felt before. As if I had hit rock bottom and the only way to backup was to rise to the occasion.

It took far too long for me to realize that I had it all wrong. I had no one to guide but only me.

The moment I took accountability for my happiness is when I realized how stupid I was all along.

I made some simple lifestyle changes that drastically improved my situation.

That’s why I tell people I never cured my problems, I learned how to manage it.

We all can do that, I believe.

There wasn’t actually anything wrong with me, it was all my mind playing games with me when I was alone.

I started enjoying my solitude.

To manage this , I had to become proactive.

Do not fight your feelings , instead recognize it for what it is and allow it to fade by its own.

It took me a painfully long time to learn this art.

But if you let go, You allow yourself to be free.

I rose from the pit of despair and conquered my fears.

Today, I happily manage my problems, but I sure as hell I haven’t “cured” it.

Writer :

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

Do you follow some rules for Casual relationships?

Living alone in a city, is never really easy. One is always looking for that one person to talk to, maybe sleep with, or just cuddle with. And being a women, it just becomes all the more tough. It is like people already  a moral code around have how to live alone in a city.

I was born on October 2nd. Woah! What a great day to step into this beautiful world!

Birthday of the Father of our Nation and I got holidays on my birthday during my schooling and even when I started working- Privileges of being born on a public holiday.

And  now , tell me how someone can forget this date and do not wish me on my birthday- any excuses.? Ohh maybe you are not good at remembering dates – but I am not very convinced with that – in this world of social media- you can never forget an important date.

So here goes the conclusion: That simply shows your place in his/her life.

This year, on my birthday, as usual  I got my public holiday off from work but still  I was feeling sad. A guy that I have been sleeping with, had not wished me and in the afternoon I was simply laying on my bed ignoring every other calls and wishes.

I felt so stupid.

I don’t want any commitments. honestly!

But I see a birthday wish as a sign of respect . I would like to be acknowledged on my birthday especially when I have very few people to show up with love. And about love, Yeah.. a birthday wish is a fair amount of love to carry all over the year. I choose to have sex with him because sex is phenomenal. And before him I was not very much aware of the ecstatic feelings our bodies can give us. And when we are together we are actually genuinely laugh and have pretty good conversations and he is one of the nicest human I have ever came in contact with.

I act like I don’t care about not receiving a well wish from him .
Like Damn. I thought at least we were friends—but I guess I am not even a ‘Friend’
But  wait.. Am I being over dramatic?

He may had no idea that him not wishing me birthday would become a matter of life and death for me. We are not exactly in an ideal relationship and as far as I know, he is really really bad with dates . If he can nearly miss his international flight due to his forgetfulness, this is nothing.

So here I implemented a key aspect : Stop Counting.

I wanted to hear from him but he did not call or text and in this I forgot the people who took their time out to wish me. I should appreciate the friends and family who wished and forget this specific guy I wanted to hear from.

When I say forget, It’s just about forgetting this incident- not forgetting him.

Living alone in this big city, I have very few people to rely on and he is one.

He is the solace , we are having great sex, he makes me laugh- and moreover, no strings of attachment so far.

It’s great,Isn’t it ?

It is!

So stop counting and start living.

Writer :

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

Why did my termination of pregnancy have to be this painful?

Hello. I just wanted to share the story of the most traumatic event of my life in the beginning of 2017. I feel like other people could benefit from this and not make the mistakes I made. So, I was just beginning to be sexually active and ended up having unprotected sex on multiple occasions because I wasn’t aware of the absolute necessity of condoms.

However, on the times that there was ejaculation in me, I took an emergency contraceptive pill, thus thinking I had successfully avoided at least pregnancy.

 

However around New year’s I started feeling a dull pain around my abdomen and the area between my vagina and anus (perineum) but ignored it for about a week. A friend advised me to test myself for pregnancy and I tested positive. I was aware or hopeful that an abortion is a relatively easy procedure, so I went to a gynaecologist to get it. It was fortunate that the gynaecologist was an experienced, non judgemental personAnd she asked me to get an ultrasound and a HcG done. I paid her one thousand rupees but in retrospect I’m thankful I spent that money instead of procuring abortion pills from somewhere as I had also considered at a point. Anyway I got a total of four different tests for HCG done, in three different places. And only the third time, at a super speciality hospital were they able to fully confirm that it was an ectopic pregnancy.

I was 18 and had no way I could tell my parents about it. I used up all the money (around 20k) getting various tests and ultrasounds done and due to the incompetence of the earlier two clinics and the pricey third hospital.

The last hospital  wanted to admit me asap as an ectopic pregnancy at the stage I was in (6-8 weeks) could be life threatening. However I didn’t have the money that they were demanding, and there was no way I could ask for it, without telling my parents, and that proved to be the hardest part. Finally in a very difficult call I told my  father about it and he asked me to come home and said that he would get me admitted in AIIMS. He sounded calm, maybe because he was at work. I went home and my parents had a difficult time wrapping their head around what my diagnoses was, the fetus had attached itself in my right fallopian tube and because of the pressure the tube has burst and I had severe bleeding in my uterus. After the internal ultrasounds were done, it would be difficult for me to walk even.

My mother delayed taking me to the hospital because she wanted me to suffer and once I came back home my father’s calmness went away and he just became apathetic.

They didn’t take me to a hospital for another two days in which my friends kept persuading them, and finally when the pain because too unbearable, my mother took me to another hospital, where I waited for several hours as there were I think very few beds/ very few doctors. There was a lady waiting with me whose child had stopped moving and was probably dead, at the end of her third trimester, but her husband and mother in law were extremely casual and apathetic about it. Of course, the milieu was traumatic and added to my overall mental state, and at various points I kept thinking about killing myself, but it was heightened the most that day. Ultimately that hospital did not have the infrastructure to deal with a case like mine so they sent me to big hospital There I was admitted in the emergency ward. The hospital treated me with very little empathy and my mental state was severely deteriorating, but at least they were quick and efficient unlike the other private clinics. They decided to operate on me, to perform a selpingectomy via a laproscopy. It was done on the 20th of January.

The medical emergency/problem was taken care of, but the lasting impact it had on my mental state hasn’t been taken care of till now.

My parents still remember that and are cold towards me, not understanding the excruciating pain I had to suffer through all this. My mother once blamed my ‘character’ for my sister getting home late and tried to stab me in the stomach and I injured my hand trying to defend myself. There was blood everywhere. Even after the surgery, I have what are probably adhesions that are quite painful on some days.

For a very long time, I didnt want to go to college or anywhere at all, even now I have terrible anxiety and I have fucked up my graduation because I wasn’t ablet to concentrate on my studies at all..

And the lack of support from my parents didn’t help. I have become a different person now, sometimes I remember how alone I felt going from clinic to clinic trying to know what was wrong with me, and just not having the energy to do anything but still having to go out to put an end to the pain. I didn’t know how dangerous an ectopic pregnancy could be, and I have realised that there is very little awareness generally amongst people still.This is cathartic for me, and even after close to two years of the incident, even though my mental health has started to improve, I feel phantom pains in my abdomen and am terrified of anything going wrong with my reproductive parts, even something as simple as a UTI sent me into the same spiral of depression. I break down very often in frustration, I recently had a yeast infection and it immobilized me, especially because I feel afraid to discuss these problems with my mother, even though our relationship too has improved. I cannot stand the thought of needles and I’m afraid of blood from my vagina.Of course I understand that an ectopic pregnancy is just a medical condition.

However the way I was treated and because of lack of support of any kind, as well as the desperation and pain I had to be in in the days when I going clinic to clinic have probably traumatized me forever. Added to that was the hopelessness, I didn’t know what to do at all, and until my friends intervened with my parents, I didnt know if I could even survive.

Thank you for reading this. I’m much better now, though the slightest of problems sets me on the same path. Abortion and pregnancy termination of any kind shouldn’t be this traumatic, and I really hope people like you ( Hidden Pockets) will be able to bring about a change (:

 

Editor’s note : We are extremely grateful to this person who shared her story with us and wanted to ensure that nobody should feel lonely and should go through what she went through alone.

We want to again emphasise the fact that Hidden Pockets is just a WhatsApp away : 08861713567. Trust Hidden Pockets. We Care.

Ex-orcism?- How Did I Finally Leave a Miserable Love Life?

We answer your doubts around sexual and reproductive health.

WhatsApp us at : 8861713567

Yes it is about an exorcism ! It’s about how I chased a demon out of my life.

I met this amazing man in Goa. Handsome, educated, from an affluent family and I fell on my knees the very first time I met him and soon he asked me out. Eventually we became the most celebrated couple in our circle. Things were all well and good for the first 7 months and then boom, we decided to take it to the next level,

We both Virgins; decided to have sex one fine morning.

Stress was circling around us but we did it… YES- we did it and miserably failed – anxiety and fear over ruled our hormones. But we never quit, tried over and over again, and we did it.

Wow the feelings.

Pain and pleasure of passion, mourns and murmurs.

I touched him, kissed him and circled around him like he is the sacred gift sent from up. I spent every breathing moment consumed by his presence around me.

But then things started changing, our happiness started fading each day.

He wanted more.

But what more? I was confused! I was giving my all- Love , Sex, Money and what not.?

Doing his laundry , his assignments, work excels and everything I can. And I believed it’s the duty of a good girlfriend. Still I was lacking something.

He replied to my Love texts in a rough way saying “it’s your problem that you love me so much, did I ask you.?” And he started comparing me with his endless list of ex girlfriends. I was heartbroken but still did all my so called duties.

Our days were filled with arguments and I sobbed all nights wondering where I went wrong. Our changes were noticeable and my near and dear ones started questioning my dark circles.

I was unable to listen to those who watched me struggle and spent 3 years doing everything I could to try to force a man to love me, and in the process I forgot how to love myself.

For 3 years I chased. I begged. I cried. Nothing seemed to work. He would come around when he wanted sex but would push me away when he got his fix. It was a never ending cycle of depression and humiliation.

I became insomniac- Never touched my pen to write my heart out, never said a word to my parents.

The sex once we enjoyed become a nightmare for me. He was so addicted to porn and wanted to experiment everything he saw on the screen- I pray to almighty that he should climax soon- I wasn’t able to take the tight slaps anymore and he wasn’t ready to stop it as my tears is what helped him to reach an orgasm- He wanted me to tell endless imaginary stories about how I made out with my boss, brother, his friends etc in order to get pleasure .

Still, I couldn’t stop loving him. I was afraid that if I did he would forget me. For 3 years I lived in fear of losing someone I deeply loved but never really had in the first place.

I slaughtered my dignity with my crazy behaviour, and I still couldn’t understand why he would treat me with such little care. But how could he not? I treated myself with so little love and respect, why would he treat me any different?

I tried to kill myself, tried to run away from the place – My friends were there to save me.

And slowly, I was able to move on. Then months later he told me he loved me. He wanted a second chance, he wanted to be a better man- he wanted me back.

But I already read the book- I knew how the story ends!

I chased a man who never really loved me because I was emotionally sick.

I think the hardest part of this three-year ordeal was accepting that my perspective of reality was just a fantasy I had created in my mind. It was hard to come to terms with the reality that he is less than perfect.

Part of me hates myself for holding on for so long. I could have saved myself years of heartache and gallons of tears if I had just accepted that I couldn’t make him love me. Instead, I spent years questioning over and over why he couldn’t.

Loving someone who doesn’t love us back, or even worse, someone who loves someone else, is the most painful thing in the world. But the most important thing we can do for ourselves is accept that certain things are beyond our control and take responsibility for the things that are.

We need to listen to that inner voice that tells us we deserve to be loved. And we need to accept that some people will never love us, no matter what we do.

Writer :

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

Why every Indian man should watch (Stree) movie?

 

It is a rarity that we have feminist and sexist jokes in the same movie and everybody in the hall is laughing at it, with the same intensity. Stree is a movie made on a village that can be anywhere in india, using the language which is very familiar and colloquial to the big part of the country, and is trying to be feminist without using a single jargon of it. and that is what makes this movie such a winner. 

a) O Stree kal Aana

A beautiful writing on every wall written with red colour. 

This seems like a perfect joke in a country where women fear to walk in the streets. But this movie is about to turn this joke and make the other half, the men; fear for their lives for the next 2 hours.

A movie which talks about fears of men and yet slightly and very innocently talks about all the atrocities done on women in the name of righteousness. It is not just men who fear her, but even women of the village who fear that she will pick their men. 

A very simple plot; where every year, for 4 days a ghost comes to the village and takes away the men of the village. And men are willing to wear sarees and bangles just to ensure that the ghost does not pick them. The gender roles are happily reversed just to protect themselves.

 

b) O Stree aana. 

Even though the hero keeps thinking he is meant for higher calling, he is aware of the fact that he is an excellent tailor and is really good at making women’s clothes. His work becomes even though important when they realises his work is equated to art in the secret to destroying the ghost. 

The men are not so masculine, they are kind and willing to be part of women’s lives as long as they are happy. 

There are instances in the movie, where the male protagonists themselves justify the act of the ghost and feel that the village needs to pay for their sins. As a prostitute the ghost had made everyone happy and when she decided to stay with her lover, they killed them. How unfair? and men in the movie feel for the prostate/ghost.

And this point is repeated throughout the movie, that people of the village are the ones to be blamed for their attitude towards women.

c) O stree who can read and is intelligent.

There is a strong emphasis on strong women, even though most of these women were either dead or were ghost. 

As they say the ghost ( who is the ghost of a prostitute who used  to live in the village) is somebody who is well read cos she can read the writing on the wall, very patient as she patiently comes back the next day.

The only person who could save the village had to be a son of a tawaif ( courtesan) ( or tawaif zada). and this scene is dealt so gracefully. Even though the hero breaks down on realising his mother was a courtesan, he comes to term the next day and goes back and defends his mother and her profession. 

There are two things that the ghost needs, love and respect. Something that the hero realises and utters in the end of the movie, to convince his friends that they need to better prepared to face her and indeed have to give her what she rightly deserves. 

Even when the dance number happens, there are body guards who ensure that she is treated well, and she finishes on time. When the call girl comes to entertain one of the guys, nobody misbehaves with her. 

d) Yes Means Yes

A beautiful point justified and reiterated through the movie, by the act of a ghost. How does a man resist the stree? Simple. Just don’t look back. She will come and try to lure you and all you have to do is to resist her. She will ask you consensually to join her. 

Her kidnapping style is odd and simple, as rightly pointed, she asks consent first, calls you three times and only when the man turns around, she attacks them. 

How very different from the style of men, who generally just kidnap the women and there is never consent or for that matter any requesting. 

She could not kill the hero as he had love in is eyes but somehow the other men did not have that, and she easily dragged them with her. 

All the ghost sought was for some love and respect. 

 

E) Stree is a satire on what Indian women feel on a daily basis and how could men actually make this situation a bit better. 

The only fact that I could laugh throughout the movie was that this only happens in movies. I knew no where people to be precise men were scared of being kidnapped or taken away, this is indeed cinema, but for women in my country ( India) this was a reality. and even though it was sheer for 2 hours, I was glad the other sex or the second sex ( men) would be forced to live it through a cinema. 

In the end the hero urges not to kill the ghost as he claims that he is different and he does not want to be like of the rest of the tribe who unjustly punished a women. He calls on a higher duty where he seeks his friends and village to be more courteous towards a woman who indeed took care of her. 

Images : from the internet.

 

 

 

Trans Vision set to transcend transgender discrimination using YouTube Videos

A key point in the National Law Services Authority versus the Union of India (2014) (popularly known as the NALSA judgement) was its definition of gender identity.

“Gender Identity refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of body which may involve a freely chosen, modification of body appearance or functions by medical, surgical or other means and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms. Gender identity, therefore, refers to an individual’s self- identification as a man, woman, transgender or other identified category.”

Two years later, The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 failed to protect this right to self-identification and instead, defines a transgender as follows: A transgender person means a person who is— (A) neither wholly female nor wholly male; or (B) a combination of female or male; or (C) neither female nor male; and whose sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at the time of birth, and includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.

It is in this backdrop that Rachana Mudraboyina, a transgender activist herself, founded Trans Vision, a YouTube channel that aims to correct misunderstandings about the Transgender community and make their needs and rights part of mainstream discourse. According to Rachana, judgements and rules can make a difference only when perceptions are challenged. As she jokes in this interview with Hidden Pockets, “It is only when perceptions are challenged that chemical reactions take place in the brain and there will be some change.”

Trans Vision is a Hyderabad-based channel that wants to counter perceptions about the Transgender community by putting accurate and scientific information online, beginning with: Who is a transgender?

Trans Vision and its journey

What has been the thinking behind creating a YouTube channel such as Trans Vision?

Every week, in Telangana and the Hyderabad region, we hear of at least 2-3 incidents of violence against transgender people- from assault to acid attacks. In the background of this, Swabhimana Sabha [Pride March] and the NALSA judgement, we formed a collective to try and address the issue. Most violence stems from discrimination and stigma and we believe that the best way to stop this is by removing misconceptions about the community. We wanted to cultivate a valid and healthy environment to discuss and remove these prejudices. When I surfed on the internet, I realised that there were so many misconceptions about the trans-community. A lot of them were in Hindi and spoke about how trans-people were born because of a hormonal imbalance in the parent’s biology, astrological reasons like being conceived on an inauspicious day and so on. These misconceptions were spread among millions of subscribers. We thought that if wrongful information can be uploaded and spread so easily, why not try to put things right using the same media. By creating dialogue and changing perceptions, maybe we could change the situation of crime and violence against the community.

Which are areas where you felt that discrimination is still rampant despite the progress made by society in terms of LGBTQ rights?

Discrimination in terms of the identity of a trans-person, in the education and employment sectors are three areas that hurts the community most. Even though we are citizens of India, many transgender people do not have ID cards recognising them in gender they identify with. Without a general name-change policy, the government eliminates and excludes them from various social schemes allowing for a livelihood, housing, etc. It is a big crisis. Many people talk about why so many of us are either involved in sex work or begging. They look at the end product without understanding the systemic failure that led us here. We have been systematically excluded from traditional education and employment systems and this is what the end product looks like. Employment is a third area of extreme discrimination. While policies like NALSA exist, unless the ground reality- the negative perception towards the trans-community changes, nothing will change on the ground. While policies try to help us get jobs or an education, stereotypes are thrust upon us. Where is the space for a trans-child in the image of a family? We have a continuing lack of gender information and gender sensitivity with only two visible genders whereas, it is universally accepted that gender is a spectrum that varies, and often, along with cultural identities. Unless these variations are brought out in dialogue, perceptions are not challenged. It is only when perceptions are challenged that chemical reactions take place in the brain and there will be some change.

What has the journey been like from the time the idea was initiated to today- when the first few videos have already been put up on the YouTube channel?

Initially, we though that we would do something using mobile cameras. But when we discussed it, Moses Tulasi, producer and director of the movie Walking the Walk suggested we create our own media and he would provide technical assistance. It took us about six months to get here. Right now, a few episodes in Telugu, Kannada and Urdu are on Youtube. The videos in Telugu have got good response.

When we began shooting, we realised that each episode costs about INR 11,000-12,000 including studio costs, travel, and equipment and to accommodate for the fact that each of us lost our day’s income. Whatever we produced so far is out of our savings. And we are unemployed, doing either sex work or begging.

What kind of problems did you face in bringing out this channel? Do they reflect the problems or discrimination you faced as a transwoman?

Money was our biggest challenge and now that we have reached the halfway mark, we are a little more confident about getting the full money. [Trans Vision successfully reached the target amount of its crowd funding campaign.]

Another challenge was that most donors wanted to remain anonymous mainly because it was for a trans-cause. This, we felt beat the objective of the channel, that people be open about being a transgender or about supporting transgenders.

Trans Vision’s content

What are some of the misconceptions, myths and topics that will be discussed about in the coming months? 

There are many misconceptions about how a trans-person is born, that it is a genetic disease and so on. These misconceptions are the first target of our discussions. There are other misconceptions such as there are no celebrity trans-genders- national or international- we want to talk about them, the books and movies made on transgender lives. We will also talk about international policies, judgements and legal issues. Some of our episodes will deal with the historical and cultural aspects of the transgender community- such as Tamil Nadu’s Koovagam festival. We have also planned episodes where we will trace trans-characters in Hindu mythology and talk about their roles in mythological history.

Is there a reason behind choosing Kannada, Telugu and Urdu to spread your message? What is your future vision for the channel?

Our target is the vernacular masses. Hindi has a large audience but there are a large number of Telugu, Kannada and Urdu speaking audience as well. We want to bring our message to the masses and we felt these languages were more suitable. More audience means we can reach a larger number of people. We hope that one day our YouTube channel becomes a TV Channel and we are able to provide employment to a lot more members from our community.

How do you think the videos will be used? 

We hope that it can be used as a subject for gender sensitisation. We hear that in some places in Karnataka, the videos are being used to sensitise people on gender issues.

How do you decide on the kind of content that needs to be created on your channel? Do you engage with your audiences?

In the first season, we will mostly be providing information that dispels perceptions and prejudices against the transgender community. We hope that in season 2, we can bring in a few celebrities, talk to them about the stigmas and misconceptions they have heard and what they think about these prejudices and use it as an opportunity to correct them. We hope that when people listen to their hero’s statements and opinions, they are a little more willing to listen. We do engage with our audience. We invite them to ask questions. So far, there haven’t been many but as more episodes are aired, we believe there will be more questions and comments. The comments so far have been encouraging.

 

Do you think you will face the same discrimination and prejudices from the audience watching your programme?

 

Family is the first unit that excludes trans-people and this is where the message really needs to go. In terms or trolling or negative feedback, we welcome all feedback as long as it helps foster dialogue. If someone says something negative, we hope that others speak against it and that’s how a dialogue happens- by discussing differing opinions.

 

Challenges that continue to persist for the transgender community

What kind of changes are you hoping will come about thanks to Trans Vision, which will eventually allow people who identify as transgender to live a life of dignity?

I would like to refer to tangible rather than the intangible [benefits]. With Trans Vision, a few people will also get the option of working in something other than sex work-another livelihood option. Second is the main objective of changing perceptions and motivating people to come forward.

Are judgements [such as NALSA] and other government initiatives enough to see actual change on the ground? What else needs to be done? 

 

Judgements like NALSA give hope to the community. As I said earlier, they make us more visible. But judgements, orders and rules alone will not make the situation better. Despite the NALSA, judgement, the government is now bringing out a Transgender Protection Bill, but there are many issues with it. For instance, IDs will be given only after a screening process, in which persons have to stand nude before a screening community. The point is that judgements and government orders alone will not change anything unless we change the perception of people. It is the people who run governments and implement orders and bias and prejudice always seeps in.

Is the situation changing today? Are we seeing more acceptance, although discrimination persists?

We need to break the silence and not treat it [violation of human rights] as a ‘trans’ issue but as a gender issue. Even feminist spaces were not very inclusive of the transgender community, even though we are fighting along the same lines as the feminist movement. We are minorities and so if no one speaks up, everyone is silent. However, this silence is slowly being broken. Arundathi Roy is writing a book on a transgender woman. We are a collective ally with feminist and student movements and many a time they have come forward in solidarity. There were occasions when we could not even entire police stations to complain against violence or discrimination, let alone file a FIR, but they have come forward to help us. These are our allies.

Can you tell us how perceptions towards the transgender community have changed over the years and have allowed or not allowed the community to live a life of dignity?

For me, dignity is a relative term. The only community that had some respect was the hijra community. They are a collective community and their respect comes from a hint of religion and culture attached to their identity. But then the power within these communities flow from top to bottom and there are infringements of human rights within the community.

On the other hand when there is discrimination from outside, they ignore it. They have internalised the stigma and violation of human rights, blaming it on fate and simply accepting it. However, because of trans-activists before me who fought for our rights, the newer generation of transgenders have some hope. There is hope for a mainstream education and employment. NALSA has been used as a tool in this regard.

Considering that the general awareness levels even among the transgender community is less, do you intend to also talk to the transgender community to talk about their inclusion in different ways?

Of course. We will be talking about different groups within the transgender community and trying to dispel all myths and misconceptions around everybody in the community. This is not just about empowering different communities but also having a dialogue and saying we exist, they exist.

What has the Telangana government done with respect to transgender inclusion? Have they executed the five centrally sponsored schemes? 

They have done absolutely nothing. They are silent. We have visited the secretariat many times, but every time it is the same question: how many are you? We are not an important vote bank for them. However, we are trying and we are optimistic. I think the ground reality now is of a silent, peaceful and growing resistance.

About the writer: Merlin Francis is a journalist currently working as Editor at the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy. She writes on issues of social justice, climate change and women empowerment. 

Re-Defining ‘Indianness’: Mitigating hate crimes and discrimination of ‘outsiders’

“Strangers have become migrants. Migrants have become Neighbours.

But have they crossed the Rubicon to become friends?”

                                                                                    ~ Sanjoy Hazarika

When a former BJP MP, Mr. Tarun Vijay proclaimed in April 2017, “If we were racist, why would we have all the entire south…Tamil, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra…why do we live with them? We have black people around us,” his comments were rather unsurprising. They were drenched in age old biases and ideas of power, prestige, physical appearance and right and wrong. The irony of what he said, was that he was countering claims of rampant inherent xenophobia and racism in Indians, in the wake of the attacks on people of African origin.

Whether it is the mutual discrimination of North Indians and South Indians, or the discrimination of people from the North Eastern states, or the discrimination based on skin colour and physical characteristics, India has a problem with ‘different’. Different here refers to things that are perceived as ‘un-Indian’. This invites the need for defining ‘Indianness’.

In his talk titled ‘Strangers, Migrants, and Neighbours: Defining Discrimination & Indianness’, at the Nehru Memorial Library, on July 18, 2017, Sanjoy Hazarika, the Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, touched upon these issues, drawing upon his decades of experience and knowledge.

Mr. Hazarika presented a very unique argument, one that can’t be seen in most mainstream news outlets. He spoke with resignation initially, on the daunting numbers of Indians forced to partake in ‘distress migration’. This forced migration could be a result of climate change factors (such as flooding), which causes loss of home, livelihood and security of persons. It could also be a result of developmental projects, and conflict (such as border violence or the insurgency in the North Eastern states).

Migration due to ‘increased aspirations’, giving various examples of migrants from UP, Bihar, the North East as a whole, to the four metros in India, which meant increased awareness of the culture and heritage of these regions, across India. The influx of such migrants did not happen without problems. The case of Nido Tanya, a boy from Arunachal Pradesh who was beaten to death in New Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar in 2014, was highlighted. There are many examples all around India of such hate crimes and violence against Indians from the North East part of India.

Attempting to racially profile a country like India, is an endeavour that is doomed to failure even before it begins. Think about it. Can anyone define India? Or explain what characteristics – mental and physical – make an Indian? This land with its assortment of cultures, religions, beliefs, languages, skin colours, physical features, lifestyles, clothing and art forms, cannot be boxed in with a one-size-fits-all type of dressing. This is fact that we all accept, but only in theory. Inherently, each of us come with biases and ideas galore about people who are dissimilar to us, in whatever way. There isn’t a single part of this country where people do not judge ‘outsiders’, and berate them for coming and ‘changing the local culture’ or ‘taking away the jobs and seats in colleges’. Every city, village and state is proud of its heritage and culture, where ‘locals’ feel the need to fiercely protect the same from the ‘onslaught’ of migrants. It is as though we were wired to fear both being different from the environment, and accepting those who are different from the environment we are used to.

Irrespective of this, migration still happens all across India. Mr. Hazarika says that this is because of the combination of increased aspirations and the youth of India (who are the ones who migrate in search of better opportunities), engaging with the idea of India, as a land of aspirations. ‘The Indian Dream’, as he referred to it, was that India was one country, and anybody from anywhere could reach their goals if they were prepared to work hard towards them.

Here lies the novelty of his argument (novelty when compared to the general discourse on the subject). He said that in spite of the ‘micro-aggression’ which north easterners (or any migrants for that matter) faced from the locals, only emboldened their resolve to stay and engage, in order to create their own space in the new diverse Indian diaspora. Migrants would assert their right to equality as protected by the Indian Constitution, and find ways to adapt to their new and in some cases hostile environments. The fact that many North Easterners stayed in Bangalore, and that many returned after leaving the city in 2012-2013, during the peak of the tensions, was testament of this resilience and engagement with the ideas of Indian and Indianness. By trying to carve out their role and space in Indian discourse and everyday living, migrants are challenging notions held by local populations, and generating awareness of the true extent of Indian Diversity.

Additionally, these outsiders or migrants, upon returning home would in turn challenge the notions of their elders, creating space for people to come settle in their home towns. This, in the long run, will, according to Mr. Hazarika, change the definitions of what an Indian sounds or looks or lives like.

As it stands today, one segment of the Indian population has gone beyond differences and have integrated. There is another segment, however, that remains stuck in the past, holding onto older notions of Indianness and what India should look and feel like. Mr. Hazarika quoted Bhupen Hazarika’s song, ‘if humans don’t think of humans, who will?’ Systemic changes, such as better representation in police forces across the country, as well as changes in the content of our education were necessary to help this process of integration. In schools, greater emphasis on lands and peoples outside the city in question is needed, as is emphasis on civility and togetherness. The automatic fear of the different and fear to be different needs challenging and overcoming. Anti-racism and hate crime penalising laws were necessary, to facilitate this process of ‘becoming friends’, which will take decades before it reaches a point of stability.

If anything, Mr. Hazarika, can only be accused of making idealistic points (a point that did come up during the Q&A Session), in the manner in which he has simplified the issues and the potential solutions. The same, however, cannot be said for his narrative of the process of integration. His astute observations on the process that is change cannot be disregarded. It’s not merely in poetry that we find light at the end of the tunnel, or that from conflict and chaos, a new order can emerge.

Though India is not a homogenous entity, we see the creation of a new Indian diaspora. It is one that wants to work for their own goals or for the country at large, irrespective of the differences in skin colour, physical traits and any other aspect of diversity that Indians may bear. Migration itself will generate this changed outlook. It can be facilitated by protecting the agents of change, namely the migrants, by enacting and implementing strong anti-discrimination laws that penalise violence or discrimination of migrants on the basis of their physical appearances.

About the writer:

Shambhavi Ravishankar is a human rights lawyer and an ardent lover of writing and reading, who believes in the pen being mightier than the sword!