So, it is official.  Aamir Khan inspires me to write in my blog.  It was due to him – specifically his show Satyamev Jayate – that I wrote in my blog after 7 months in 2012 (a year – as most people who know me know – was the absolute worst year of my life), and although (from what I understand), he did not direct/produce this film, there is something about him and the work he does that inspires me (this time, to write in my blog for the first time in 15 months) and makes me want to share my personal truth.

& I want to be very clear about that:  this post is about MY personal truth, and my sharing these words in a public forum is not an imposition or me dismissing anyone else’s personal truth – no matter how much what I believe opposes/contradicts what anyone else believes.

I am making that disclaimer because 1) That’s really my approach about all things.  I am not here to say that what I believe is right and what anyone else believes is wrong, but – as with everything I talk about – I share what I believe based on my life experiences and the lens through which I see the world.  2)  This post is about religion, which is quite possibly the most polarizing and “controversial” thing to talk about, but here I am, being my “crazy controversial” self (said with dripping sarcasm, because I truly think that most of what I say isn’t controversial at all – unless equality and treating people fairly is controversial – but what simply feels controversial to far too many is someone & that, too, a woman, speaking their personal truth so unapologetically and with conviction and passion when most people are afraid to say anything for fear of being judged or persecuted for their beliefs.  Shoot, most people consciously choose to not even “like” or comment on stuff on Facebook, because they are so in their heads about what others might think).

I am not plagued by any such fear, so I “like” my freaking heart out and speak freely, openly, frequently, and always unapologetically.  I make it known where I stand, what I stand for, and what I believe; accordingly, I have no problem being not liked – for reals in non-FB life – because of it.

On that note… yesterday, when I posted about going to see PK, I said that I was “excited to see what Bollywood’s highest grossing film – supposedly one completely aligned with my beliefs about religion – is all about!”  Having watched the film, I can that – in every way, shape, and form – this movie depicts what I believe about religion and have believed since the ripe age of 9. My mom (a devout Hindu) has always been uber religious and so many of my memories from growing up involved going to temple.  However, as the concepts of science, logic & reasoning were introduced to me by my dad and various things that I gravitated towards (like the stories of Gandhi, MLK, etc.) turned me into this young and spunky person who questioned/challenged (very politely) everything and refused to accept things because 1) they are a certain way and 2) people say this is how they are supposed to be, religion became something I began to doubt.

I asked my mom questions like “why do we believe in so and so God, but Aisha believes in this God and Jason in this one and Susan in another…?”  When she would tell me they were all the same God, I did not buy it.  It seemed like something nice to say, but that no one really believed or practiced that.  I asked her why we fasted (more like why she fasted; I have never fasted a day in my life because as I like to say nowadays “God ain’t got no time for that!”), why could not we eat meat on Tuesdays, why did we give money at temple, why so much of what we did felt arbitrary and without any real reason or logic, and a hundred other questions…

She tried explaining, but again, it just felt like an explanation in vain.

During that time, a family friend Auntie of ours, Shobha Auntie, had started a Havan group.  The group did not focus on any religious stories, there were no deities and accordingly, there was no idol worship and we did not do or say anything without a reason.  If we lit a fire, there was science behind it; if we recited a mantra, we learned what every word meant and how it applied to our lives.  Shobha Auntie’s execution of this monthly Havan group during the formative years of my life literally changed the trajectory of what I believed and who I am.  I remember stating to my parents at 14 that I would no longer be going to temple, because the God I believed in did not need me to go to a physical place of worship (where most of the time felt like a social hang out of sorts that was much less about God and anything related to God, but about a scene where people went to be seen & bribed God and his “managers” – the pandits and such).

I did not go to another temple for 9 years until a family friend of ours got married and, after that, I decided that I could go to the temple as long as I knew why I was there for other people’s (primarily my mom & dad’s) happiness, which was fine by me. Now fast forward to watching PK last night.  *Spoiler Alert* (if you haven’t seen the previews, read articles or other posts on the movie, I am not giving away any of the plot – just the basic message which has been talked about everywhere).  The only other time I have watched a film and felt it was so aligned with what I believe and how I live my life was when I watched the documentary, I Am (another movie that inspired a blog post).

I know some people in the motherland are losing their minds over the film which they find to be blasphemous and offensive, but I personally thought the film was the most beautiful and (in my biased opinion) most accurate depiction of the hypocrisy of religion – NOT God – and the ironic and often terrible ways that people live their lives in accordance with (or more like the opposite of) their said religion. I loved how he highlighted the one thing I would say the most to my mom growing up: “I am a Hindu only because I was born to Hindu parents.  If you & dad had died in a car accident after I was born and I was adopted by Muslims, I would be Muslim” to which she had no reply.  & this has something that has dumbfounded me forever… how very religious people respond to the FACT that no one is BORN the religion they practice and that it is taught to them as is every ritual and rule associated to said religion

Most of all I loved how Khan’s character said that he believed in the God that created all of us, but not the God that all of us created. BOOM, *Mic Drop!*  I cannot think of a truer statement for me personally because I, too, believe in and love the intangible God who doesn’t need his ego stroked by having us visit him in temples & churches, who doesn’t make us jump through hoops or demands we prove our devotion to him (God is not so sick and twisted that he gets off on our challenges and trials in an effort to prove our belief in him thereby proving us *worthy* of getting what we want), who “favors” some and not others (how terrible would God be if he picked favorites and passively let people suffer OR how powerful of a God would he be if the Devil was “winning” in so many millions people’s of lives who are suffering every day?), who does not accept our bribes and our bartering (I visited Vrindavan in India and experienced first hand the racket that is religion like when I wasn’t allowed into a certain temple unless I paid 500 rupees or people literally trampled over me in another temple in an effort to get place their “deluxe puja packages” at God’s feet trying to bribe him for something or another), who could care less what we ate, how we prayed or anything else so trifling (or so hypocritical and contradictory; for example, all the vegetarian Hindus who rock their leather sofas & shoes but look down on meat-eating Hindus), who doesn’t need us to pray to, protect or serve him (God is not a narcissist)… and who most of all,  just wants us to believe in ourselves and care for each other & if we were to do just that, everything that God – if one exists – actually wants would happen all on its own.

But back to the film which basically addressed everything I said above and blatantly called out every hypocrisy of EVERY religion.  It was so perfectly done under the (very necessary) guise of comedy and executed in a way that will undoubtedly make millions of people take pause and think about their own belief in God and religion.

To me, religion is a total (yet quite brilliant) racket… it is man-made to control people with fear, and holy sh!t is fear a great motivator (sadly though, is quite superficial, meaningless and hypocritical ways).  God, however, who I believe in – in a very high level and broadway – ONLY because of the profound empathy I feel for people who will never be able to do a damn thing for me, is not motivated by fear and punishment… just love and THAT is what PK depicted so very brilliantly.

Again, I believe in the God who created us… not the God who we created, and, to me, God is so very basic (not in the offensive way the word is used nowadays), but simple in that believing in God is not about punishment, salvation or reaching heaven/moksha or hell/rebirth, but simply about being a good person (what I have always tried to assure my mom with – that God would be thoroughly pleased with who and how I am – when she expresses concern about my disbelief/ non-practising) & my religion is humanity and kindness (unless pushed, then I will #cutsomeone) while everything else before, after and in between is just noise…

That’s all from me for now.  Thanks, Aamir.

Published on 11/20/2012. Changed privacy setting back to public on 4/5/2012 after my public live video share to my Facebook page (link to follow) about SABA North America allowing my ex to run for their board. More receipts to be shared, and I am in complete awe that I had the ability to write this – actually, do ANY of what I did – while living through what felt like a Lifetime horror movie and while experiencing PTSD & depression (which I did not cognitively perceive until my flurry of naive justice-seeking activity stopped) as I was just in non-stop “fight/flight” survival mode until then. 

The below is to provide context to my OPEN LETTER TO JUDGE BALL-REED (scroll to Nov. 20), because my story is important for 2 reasons:  1)  Without it, it would be difficult to fully understand just how wrong Judge Patrice Ball-Reed got it (click here to see her ruling) and 2) to open up the public’s eyes to how this broken system further victimizes victims and why domestic violence as an issue is not taken as seriously as it should.

AN OPEN LETTER TO “HONORABLE” JUDGE BALL-REED (Cook County Domestic Violence Court, 555 West Harrison Street, Room 201),

Dear Judge Ball-Reed,

I hope that after seeing you in court countless times over 7 months – for what must have been one of your longest and most memorable cases – that you remember my name, because I will never be able to forget yours. I am writing to you regarding your ruling on October 30th to dismiss my order of protection case and to tell you that you got it COMPLETELY WRONG.

Not only did you get it wrong, your ruling was ill-informed (as you very clearly did not read critical documentation submitted during the proceedings), and, most of all, it was condescending and offensive (particularly when you implied that my story was implausible because – from not ending the relationship at a friend’s suggestion to not being able to fight him off during the physical altercation in spite of being 3 weeks post-LUNG surgery – I did not act the way you would have had you been in my shoes). To be perfectly clear, the ONLY thing you served that day was a grave injustice to all women who have ever been a victim of gender-based violence and then had both their abusers and the system turn things against them and revictimize and further traumatize them.

Please know that it is with 100% confidence that I am saying you got it wrong in such a public manner, because I can conclusively, via documentation, PROVE (as I did in court) the following: 1) That there WAS a physical incident the night of Mar 2-3. 2) That the story my ex (who is an attorney) and his BFF (who is an Assistant US Attorney) told was a complete lie, 3) That I was blackmailed with a picture of me using a toilet in his apartment (we proved foundation for this e-mail which was submitted to you as evidence) and for which the EXIF data shows that it was from his exact longitude & latitude as well as his exact floor. He lied under oath and said that the bathroom in the photo wasn’t his, and 4) That he stalked, harassed and threatened me and also harassed and threatened my family. In other words, I FULLY met the preponderance of evidence required to secure an Order of Protection. In spite of this, you held my case to the standard of a criminal case, requiring me to prove what he did beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt.

FYI, just as a friendly reminder: evidence includes your testimony and any other proof you have of the alleged abuse.

Even though this case could and should have been a criminal case, it was not – it was only a civil case filed purely for PROTECTION, not seeking any punishment, retribution or retaliation whatsoever.

Perhaps the confusion came from my ex having a CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY represent him, who manipulated technicalities/loopholes in the system, so that I was unable to submit the PREVIOUS 2-YEAR PLENARY Order of Protection against my ex from another woman, unable to speak to my own and/or to subpoenaed phone records, and could not show all my evidence because, for certain items, I could not prove “foundation.” For example, I couldn’t speak to the texts I received stating he knew where my parents lived and where my father worked, and threatening that I “Could have avoided so much,” because the texts came from a number that I could only have proven was him had I just been able to speak to the subpoenaed phone records (FYI, those 2 numbers are in the public record in the first petitioner’s case).

When my father testified, he was not allowed to speak to the threatening e-mail he received at his work e-mail address, that had the same exact 4 pictures (with the same exact titles and EXIF data) as the blackmail e-mail I received, all because the e-mail to my father came from a fictitious e-mail address.

Despite countless items that we were unable to speak to and submit into evidence, we WERE able to prove foundation for both the “fix this or else” blackmail e-mail and the threatening texts from him telling me that “the very thing you are desperately trying to avoid is going to blow up in your face.”  Even though these pieces of evidence were both read out loud in testimony and submitted as evidence for your review, you very clearly missed these entirely. Perhaps you were sleeping for that part, and yes, Judge Ball-Reed, in addition to not being able to see the faces of 2 of my witnesses at any point during their testimony due to 2 monitors blocking your view, at least 4 people can attest to your sleeping in court on October 30th.

When it came to making your ruling, rather than base it on 3 days of testimony from a total of 4 witnesses corroborating my story (one of whom is one of his clients) and the above-mentioned evidence, you based it on the closing argument of his lawyer, who told you that giving me an order or protection would be an insult to women who were “actually” abused and that your court had a reputation for giving out OOPs like candy. Accordingly, when you went back to deliberate for all of 30 minutes, instead of reviewing my 6-page affidavit (which you had clearly never read) or the evidence, you found an obscure e-mail that I wrote to him to STOP abusive behavior and took ONE line out of context to come to the determination that I was simply not the type of woman who wanted to be a victim (I would love to know what kind of woman wants to be a victim).

Furthermore, because I didn’t “get at least one in” during the physical altercation as you would have or end the relationship per my “BFF/bestie,” my story was implausible. It was as if I was the FIRST domestic violence victim who did not successfully fight off her abuser, did not call the police to report the abuse the first chance she had, did not end the relationship when recommended by friends/family and who stayed in an abusive relationship out of fear of threats and/or due to continued manipulation by her abuser. Judge Ball-Reed, I’m sure you are very familiar that it takes a woman an average of SEVEN times to leave her abuser, and I only dated him for 3 months.

I understand that there is a process to challenge your ruling, but unfortunately, after spending the greater part of my life savings these past 7 months only to receive your unfathomable ruling, I can no longer afford to file an appeal. Therefore, I am writing this open letter hoping that I will be able to have an opportunity to meet with a CPD 18th District Detective and a State’s Attorney to simply present my case as well as the previous Petitioner’s case (still within the 2-year statute of limitations). Even if criminal charges are not pursued, I will be able to rest assured that I have taken all action possible against this 2-time offender, who, when (absolutely no question of “if”) he continues this behavior towards women – especially South Asian women – some poor woman will either commit suicide or be killed as I could have been.

With great disappointment in the American “Justice” system,

His, your, & the system’s victim

NBC’s Outsourced, a comedy centered around the lives of call center employees in India and their non-Indian managers, seemed to be a polarizing comedy amongst South Asians.  I personally loved it not only because it was set in India and made me non-stop LOL at everything that is amazing, absurd and amusing about the motherland, but because it was the first and only comedy that I could watch with my parents where they understood the majority of the jokes.

My absolute favorite character on the show was Manmeet, played by Sacha Dhawan; Manmeet was the perfect blend of hopeful, mischievous, endearing, charming, good-hearted & funny all while being sweetly naive to the workings of women (although I do not think anyone on the show or in real life has that quite figured out), and one thing that my gut told me about the person playing him was that he was kind.

2018 Relaunch 7-years-after-this-post editAt this juncture in my life (& I have no crystal ball to tell you about the future), I have no desire to be dating/in a relationship/with a life partner/married or have kids. For the first time (& after 20+ years of caring so much about this as the “end-all-be-all” life goal), I don’t care at all and am fully engaged in a relationship with myself. I love my own company, feel no lack, and – accordingly – feel complete and whole on my own; it is an absolutely revolutionary feeling and I wish I could have known it in my 20’s. More on that later…

Fasting – to find a husband/for your husband…

Before anyone gets upset at me over this post, when it comes to religion, spirituality, politics, and everything in between, we all believe in different things and practice those beliefs differently.  This post is about my beliefs with no disrespect intended towards anyone or any assertion that my beliefs are right and that anyone else’s is wrong, especially considering that every woman in my family believes in fasting and my mom is probably the most die-hard of them all.   Having said that, I know this post will still run plenty of people the wrong way.

2018 relaunch afterthought: This post was written before “the events of 2012” (me becoming a domestic violence survivor) – almost exactly 6 months before that night that changed my life forever – and, looking back, I am so in awe (both in good and bad ways) of the person who wrote the below…

When I was in my 20’s, when single women in their 30’s would say things like “just wait, your 30’s are the best time of your life,” I am not going to lie but I always felt a pang of “awe” for them because it felt like a need-to-say-so-that-you-feel-better-about-your-life cliched type of thing because – let’s keep it real – that couldn’t possibly be true.

& now that I am past the always exciting “Hoorah!” of turning the big 3-0 and am in my “early 30’s,” I know that the expected thing to say in this post would be YES, your 30’s are the best time of your life, but I will not say that because I haven’t lived long enough to give an accurate assessment but more than that, I ideally believe that the best time of your life is not any particular decade or some time that you wax nostalgic about but the moment that we are in now, because shoot, we are just lucky to be here (something I remind myself of often because I know at least 20 under-30 somethings – either directly or indirectly – who aren’t here today).

Disclaimer (& 2018 edit): This and many other posts were written between 2009 and 2011; during this time, I was very much so interested in finding a “life partner,” getting married, having kids and “being settled.” Now, at this juncture in my life (not because I am jaded by what I lived through or anything like that), I am not seeking any of these things. I am enjoying being just me and completely free; instead of seeking a relationship withy anyone else, I am fully engaged in one – for the first time in my life – with myself.

Four years ago today, my brother & sister in-law got married and although I know that they’ll likely be horrified at a blog post dedicated to them (sorry!), I hope they do not mind too much and for the purpose of this post, my brother will be bro (what I actually call him & errr… I am sure I did not have to explain that one! =P) & my sister in-law will be “Isha” or my SIL.

Although this is a post that – at it’s core – is about Broisha, I must first digress and talk about my last post, What Good Looks Like, which was a really interesting experience for me.  After publishing that post, I received about 10 messages from friends telling me that it was one of their favorites, several guy friends who I saw out that following weekend told me that they really enjoyed it (which, I am not going to lie, I heart those guys for not getting caught up in their heads over admitting that they read my blog), & for the first time in a long time, I received comments on one of my posts.

August 4, 2007 – Wedding Speech for Broisha (ignore my worse than normal grammar; this was written the way I wanted to say it and never with the intention that anyone would ever read it).

“Hi everyone, just in case this gets lengthy, I’d like to apologize in advance; the thing is that I’ve had this speech running through my head ever since R & M started dating. My Ram-like brother has finally met his Sita & I couldn’t be any happier.

Please don’t mind me for going on about R; my brother, who I warmly like to call, the Bro, is humble to a fault & I finally get to sing his praises.  Whether you’ve known R for a lifetime or are just getting to know him, it’s clear that there is something unique about him – he has a genuine kindness, unlike anyone you’ve ever met.  R is the son, brother, friend, colleague, doctor & even one-time acquaintance, who makes every person that comes into his life feel important… Unlike so many others who act this way with a purpose, R is this way because he is simply a really nice guy.  Now I’m the extremely lucky sister because R was born this way & I got to reap all the benefits – I love reminiscing about our childhood & my unique big-brother experience because R never beat me up or tormented me – minus a few mind games here or there – instead he held my hand & let me tag along for the ride.  Sure I’m a big wimp because of it, but it’s all good!  I know a few of you might be curious about those mind games – let’s just say that during our Star Trek phase R managed to have me clean up his room many times at Mach 10 speed. You’d think I would’ve learned after the first time!  There are other stories but they’re really just embarrassing for me.  Thankfully, I can also tell you stories of hero-Toddler R rescuing me from a fire or my incredibly thoughtful grown-up “Bro” who sends flowers to his sister on Valentine’s day 🙂

Hi everyone,

I’m sure I did not come up with the term “e-communicating,” but – in my mind – I would like to think that I did and if you have followed my blog, you know that when it comes to e-communicating (texting, e-mailing, chatting & FB) as it relates to dating, I am not a fan.  My stance on the topic has always been that people are not necessarily their authentic selves via these forms of communication… This is not something they do knowingly, but – more often than not – they are way bolder (usually far more flirtatious & forward) than they would be on the phone or in-person… Most of us are much more comfortable when we are able to write our thoughts than we would be if we had to say them out loud.

2018 Relaunch 7-years-after-this-post editAt this juncture in my life (& I have no crystal ball to tell you about the future), I have no desire to be dating/in a relationship/with a life partner/married or have kids. For the first time (& after 20+ years of caring so much about this as the “end-all-be-all” life goal), I don’t care at all and am fully engaged in a relationship with myself. I love my own company, feel no lack, and – accordingly – feel complete and whole on my own; it is an absolutely revolutionary feeling and I wish I could have known it in my 20’s. More on that later…

While I was on my way to the gym on Monday morning, I was listening to the radio and heard a segment on Hot 99.5 that discussed the “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” article published in the Wall Street Journal & written by Kay S. Hymowitz who “argues that too many men in their 20’s are living in a new kind of extended adolescence.”  What was interesting about the I Want a Silver Fox Podcast was that one of the hosts (a 29 year old female) essentially wrote off all 20-something males as pretty much being incapable of being serious about dating and encouraged them to just sow their oats (even though I am born & raised here there are some expressions I will never understand) because that’s what they “should” be doing.  What was even more interesting was that at the end of the segment, a 22-year old male called in saying that he was ready to settle down (get married, have kids, etc.) and everyone made fun of and balked at him.