Andrew is a student of mine. he is one of those students who have fallen by the wayside on his journey towards academic success. He does not do well in studies; cannot write more than a few sentences. He is a very, very slow learner.
Andrew is one of those children whom our education system has failed.
His life revolves around his grandmother, who is his guard against bullies. His father does not know what to do with him, and he does not talk about his mother.
Recently, I saw Andrew dancing on his own in the empty hall as students were leaving after assembly. It was an incredible sight. He was dancing with abandon to the music that was being played. His steps were fast and rhythmic. He was not the slow learner I knew.
I went up to him, extended my hand and said, ‘You are dancing very well.”
Andrew’s face broke into a glorious smile, I saw such joy that it brought tears to my eyes. It struck me that this might have been the only compliment that Andrew had received in a long, very long time.
Andrew’s smile filled me too with joy. I knew I had touched some soft spot of his soul.
A woman becomes a mother with a whole lot of hopes and rosy dreams. Most of those dreams revolve around the tiny bundle of joy you will be holding and feeding and playing with.
Most new mothers are ill-prepared for the time when the tiny bundle of joy grows up, becomes a teen ager, and start having an identity of her own, opinions of her own, which are the polar opposite of yours. Still worse, they do not seem to think that your opinion matters, and that what you think is not applicable to their world. The worst part of all this is that there is absolutely nothing a mother can do, and it drives you nuts.
Social situations and conversing with other people can be an arduous task for some people, especially introverts, who prefer their own company to that of others. However, some situations call for a certain degree of competence in social relations, for example, in one’s job environment or socializing with one’s extended family. There are guidelines that an introvert can follow, so that there is no need to hide when there are visitors in the house!
1. Start slow.
To people who aren’t naturally good at conversation, taking huge steps such as attending major functions, going to parties and get-togethers and hanging out with groups of people, may feel claustrophobic, causing one to withdraw into his own shell. This is why baby steps are important. Start off with talking to people you meet every day, but never have talked to. You could begin by just smiling at them, and asking ‘how do you do’. For many people, this is enough as a conversation starter.
2. Find a hobby and join clubs.
Nowadays, there are clubs or groups for nearly everything. From book-clubs to gardening get-togethers, there is a variety of options to choose from. If you already have a hobby that you wish to experience with others, try to find people with similar interests on Facebook or other social media platforms. You could also learn a new hobby by going to lessons for it. For example, picking up learning the guitar or cultivating an interest in art and literature or learning to paint can introduce you to a lot of new people and if you get serious about it, even open new doors for you.
3. Voice out your questions and suggestions.
If you work in a corporate business and attend meetings often, chances are that you’ve stumbled upon quite a few moments when you thought up of something you thought could be beneficial to the company but kept quiet. Such instances are causes of frustration, as well as negative reinforcements to such behaviour. They push you back into your shell. This also may happen to students who know how to answer their teachers but are far too afraid to. One thing to realize is that it’s okay to slip up sometimes. Sometimes it’s ok to say something that sounds dumb or cringe-worthy. Along with that, people often forget easily, as they have their own lives and own troubles. So the next time you have something to say, just remember that whatever you say, nobody is going to judge you too harshly for it.
4. Compliment others!
Sometimes you’re stuck in a situation where you want to talk to someone but aren’t sure on how to initiate the conversation. Going up to them and complimenting them on their features or what they are wearing is a very pleasant way to strike up a conversation with them. Just make sure that what you say is genuinely felt. Artificiality is something people do not forgive.
5. Seek help.
Most socially awkward people can manage their lives in some way, but some fall prey to extreme nervousness and anxiety in any social situation. Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia disrupts everyday life the individual because of the significant anxiety, embarrassment and self-consciousness caused by a fear of being scrutinized or judged by others. This leads to avoidance behaviour. If lack of social skills is a result of social anxiety disorder or any other psychological block that completely inhibits your ability to socialize whatsoever, it might be time to seek a doctor’s advice.
6. Visualize managing difficult situations
A powerful way to manage difficult situations is to imagine managing them beforehand. For example, if you have a desire to talk to a particular person in a particular setting, visualize the setting and the person. Visualize how you will approach the person and how you will start the conversation. Rehearse the whole scenario many times if needed before you actually do it. This is a very effective way of managing socially awkward situations.
7. Be kind to yourself
One thing to remember is that being shy or introverted is not a problem. Also, no one expects anyone to talk a lot. In fact rambling on and on is not a good strategy to adopt if one wants to fit in in any social situation. All you have to do is to be interested in what is happening, what other people are saying, and listening to them. Listening is more important than talking, and it is a blessing that comes easily to introverts.
Social awkwardness is nothing to be ashamed of. You are good to go with these seven golden strategies.
On a rainy Friday afternoon, I watched Bulbbul on Netflix.
By Indian standards it is a very short movie. It did not move me to tears or rage, but left me reflecting on womanhood in India, or the reality of being a woman in India.
First, the facts. Bulbbul is an Indian supernatural drama film written and directed by Anvita Dutt and produced by Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma. The film stars Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Paoli Dam, Rahul Bose and Parambrata Chattopadhyay. It was released on Netflix on 24th June 2020, and is set in the erstwhile Bengal Presidency in the 1800’s.
Let me capture the story in a nutshell.
Bulbbul is a child bride given in marriage to a man named Indranil, about two decades older than her. But she is more attached to her husband’s youngest brother Satya who is about her age. She is lusted after by another brother of her husband, Mahendra, who is mentally challenged. Bulbbul’s attachment to Satya soon raises suspicions in her husband which are fueled on by Mahendra’s wife Binodini, who is presumed to have an affair with Indranil.
Indranil sends Satya off to London, and in a fit of fury, beats Bulbbul up till her feet are in a pulp. Indranil leaves the Manor soon after. Dr. Sudip, an empathetic doctor treats Bulbbul for her injuries, but Mahendra takes advantage of her helpless condition and rapes her. In the ensuing violence, Bulbbul’s feet are permanently damaged, and she herself appears to have died. Yet she is alive when Binodini comes into the room and cleans Bulbbul’s thighs. Binodini tells her to keep silent, which Bulbbul does.
Satya returns after five years to find Bulbbul a strong and independent woman, running the Manor. A string of murders has happened in the village, and Satya suspects Dr. Sudip. However, it turns out that it was Bulbbul herself who kills the men who wrecked the lives of herself and fellow women. She is the ‘chudail’ – the she-demon with feet turned backwards. She meets a violent end just as Satya discovers the true identity of the ‘chudail’.
There are various themes that the movie handles:
1. Child marriage
The root cause of all evil in the story is child marriage. The uprooting of a child from her home, expecting her to live from then on in a strange household with a strange man is actually the beginning of the whole tragedy. Bulbbul’s friendship with Satya becomes natural and inevitable because of this.
‘A woman’s personal life consists of only her husband,’ says Indranil to Bulbbul, when she says that the book that she was writing with Satya was a personal matter. The movie is in fact a fierce critique of patriarchy, and how women rise from the ashes and fight for what is right. There are many helpless girls and women in Bulbbul who suffer at the hands of cruel fathers and husbands.
3. A reinforcement of the she-demon myth
Women, traditionally, are perceived as gentle, sacrificing creatures with no capacity to rise against those who ill-treat them. If she does, she has to be a she-demon or a witch, even if what she does is morally right. This is what happens in Bulbbul as the heroine turns into a she-demon to mete out revenge, and is a normal lady of the Manor at other times.
4. Oppressive social customs
There are any number of oppressive social customs portrayed in Bulbbul, understandably because the film is set a century back. However, some of those customs exist even now. For example, take the case of Binodini who is married off to a mentally challenged Mahendra. She is forced to marry him, which inevitably leads to her dissatisfaction with life and infidelity. In fact, along with child marriage, the tragedies that happen in Bulbbul are all created by human beings, in the name of social customs and traditions.