Ten things I love about India

It is only fair that after my last post about my problems with India, I write about things I absolutely love about India. A friend pointed out that despite all the hatred, I might still be patriotic towards the country and I wanted to explore this further. Besides, this post will be like a stress therapy for my mind if I focus on the positive side of things.
I have tried to examine positive things with each point that I had made against India in the previous post.

1. Respect for women
I wrote in the last post about how I hate women’s inequality for women in India. I am going to counter this by saying that the Indian society has an inherent respect for women where they are considered the symbols for purity (Goddess Ganga), wealth (Goddess Laxmi), fertility (Goddess Parvati), knowledge (Goddess Saraswati), patriotism (Bharat Mata) and many more. These Goddesses are as powerful as any of the male Gods in mythology and are adored throughout India. Every person in India is taught to acknowledge and respect women for their being. There are many countries where historically the men were supposed to have a higher status in the society and women lacked many civil rights. In comparison, India has always considered a man to be incomplete without a woman. These values have a deep meaning for Indians and it reflects in their attitude towards women in many ways. For example, an Indian man would generally always speak with decency without the use of any foul language in front of a woman. Also, in some regions, if a man touches a woman by its feet by mistake, they would sincerely apologise and say a little prayer in their mind for forgiveness from God. In Sikhism, a man and a woman have equal rights for everything. The Sikh scriptures consider both genders as having the same soul.

Within the Constitution, women have been given equal rights as men in many aspects and India is one of the few countries that have had an active role of women in politics. While many “developed” countries are yet to elect female Heads of Government, India has had a woman Prime Minister, a woman President, a woman Speaker, a woman Leader of Opposition and many many women heads of government in various Ministries, villages, cities, and states. And these women in politics are never considered to be subordinate to men by their colleagues or by the general public.

Unfortunately,  this respect for women is often translated by mean as needing protection of different forms of symbolism for women. The protective instinct is shown by using power or control and that’s where the problem of inequality comes into place. However,  the basic premise of respect of women in the society remains the same. I love that Indians respect women. The only change required is the translation of this respect into attitudes towards women.

2. Spirituality and Lack of Materialism

While I complained about the rising fundamentalism in India in my previous post, I must counter this by suggesting that I love the fact that India is so spiritual and lacks materialism. Of course, one could argue that India may be becoming more and more material by the day. But the fact is that when I compare the greed for money, power and status in many western countries with the Indian society, I find that Indians are much more satisfied and happy with what they have. It is not that Indians lack goals in life or may not be able to achieve wealth and status. They do have goals but those goals are beyond just earning lots of money and owning mansions. People generally just want to be satisfied with their life, have a loving family and not worry about providing some basic necessities of good food, good clothes and a big enough house. I understand that a part of the reason for such humble ambitions is that people in India often see much worse conditions around them (homelessness, poverty, unemployment). As a result, they may think that they always feel thankful for what they have. But I believe that a large part of the reason for non-materialism in India is spirituality and importance given to inner peace, karma and charity. Almost every Indian donates to charity if they can, whether it be through charitable or religious organisations. They genuinely believe that they should share what they have with people who don’t. And at the end of the day, all Indians want is to have a peaceful death, and in case of many Hindus, a humble death with moksha (nirvana) at the bank of River Ganges in Varanasi. This attitude of India is inspirational for the entire world.

Love this documentary about Varanasi and it captures spirituality in India beautifully.

3. Indian Mythology

I absolutely love Indian mythology. I love the stories of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses and their life on earth and Heaven. I absolutely love the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. And the stories of Sikh gurus, the Panj Pyaare, and other religious texts in Sikhism have so much to teach. Take any faith in India, there is so much to learn from them. All of them contain such deep analysis of human behaviour and human conscience. I feel sad when I hear people who are not aware of these wonderful stories and choose to ignore them by saying they are morally biased. I think that there is a deliberate point made in these stories to show the various aspects of Good and Evil. I love the fact that Indian mythology doesn’t have any pure white or pure black characters. Every character is grey, just like humans, and that’s what makes it so interesting to me. In fact, I think that if people would read and analyse these religious texts, stories and scriptures properly, they would learn so much about how to deal with all the social issues that I had pointed out in my last post.

Can I please ask you to watch this video explaining a short story in Hindu mythology? It’s a bit long but have patience, it makes a good point 🙂

4. Recognition of the Third Gender

While I criticized India in the last post for not recognising the existence or rights of LGBT community, I counter this by appreciating the fact that India is one of the very few countries that genuinely respect and recognise the Hijra community. Hijra is a community of people who do not identify themselves as a man or a woman and often dress in feminine clothes. Recently in 2014, the Supreme Court officially declared India as having three genders- Male, Female and Transgender. Here, the definition of transgender is the Hijra community and they are slightly different from the Western definition of transgender. I love that Hijras are welcomed in India as a part of their culture. There are many instances in Indian mythology where transgenders had such important roles in epics such as Mahabharata. In fact, the ancient Indian scriptures recognise many many more types of genders than these three. In all family celebrations in India, the Hijra community are welcomed to give their blessings to the family. It is considered to be bad luck to refuse to acknowledge or welcome Hijras in your home for such occasions. And these traditions have been going on for a long time in India’s history. While the West has started recognising the other gender only recently, the recognition of transgenders in India has long been a part of the Indian society and it is indeed something that India should be very proud of.

5. Curiosity

I love the fact that Indian population is so curious and analytical about other cultures. I make this point against the argument I gave for racism in my last post. People in India are genuinely interested in learning about other cultures, lifestyles, and history. Given that the Indian education system only covers a small part of the world history, Indians are very well aware of the historical events of their own country as well the world. And if they are not aware, they are curious to know, to understand and to analyse. Perhaps this has to do with the inherent inquisitiveness of the Indian society. I mean every Indian family knows how everyone in India indulges in gossips about everyone they know. But the good thing is that this inquisitiveness is also translated in learning. And there is a genuine respect for education, learning and work in India. Everyone learns and works in India. People want to learn and they want to work. They don’t want to sit at home.

And this may be the reason why Indians are such fast learners and are well able to compete on an international scale. Just the fact that India has adopted the English language in their daily lifestyle seamlessly shows their brilliant competence in learning a language that is not natively spoken in the country. Besides just being curious about the world, Indians are curious about everything. When I compare the knowledge and awareness of people in other countries with that of Indians, Indians are clearly more aware, more learned, and they understand the importance of knowledge. The young population in India at present is especially curious about the world, about the social and economic issues, about what’s right and what’s wrong and they try to take in as much information as they can. Unlike before, India is not in a separate bubble any more but is a part of a global community.

6. Lovely golden complexion

I love the Indian complexion. I talked about hating racism within India in my last post. The positive thing about me for Indian complexion is that it is so beautiful. This is just my personal thing that I love about India and its people and it probably sounds very vain. I mean not just the fair or dark ones, all complexions are so lovely. I wish people in India would feel more confident and comfortable with their gorgeous golden bodies 🙂

7. Independent Films in India

While Bollywood largely reigns over the Indian movie industry, the independent films, the low and medium-budget movies without big banners or actor brands have been offering the genuinely good, socially developed and technically sound movies for many years. While I agree that Bollywood also makes a few movies that are brilliant and have tried to bring awareness about many social issues, it is the independent films that have pioneered a paradigm change in the Indian film industry. Some of my favourite movies that are not Bollywood and are brilliant in their filmmaking and acting are Water, Lunchbox, Kshay, Filmistaan, Udaan, Ship of Theseus and many more. The actors in these movies are also very socially aware and genuinely put in effort into the art of acting. I love the indie movie scene in India and I cant wait for it to catch up with Bollywood so that many more people in India can appreciate it.

8. Indian food and celebrations

Indian food is something that I miss soooo much! The complexity of flavours and techniques that is involved in Indian food across the country is amazing. And there is not one country in the world where Indian food is not available. I crave Indian food all the time I am outside India and my plans to visit India are always accompanied by a list of restaurants and chat stalls that I must visit.

And the celebrations in India for every festival or family event are so special and meaningful. I love learning about the customs related to every religious event and it’s genuinely awesome to see people celebrating different festivals and events in their own unique way. These events bring families and people together. I absolutely love that. Of course, my family and friends are the things I miss the most about India and these celebrations give me a pretext to visit them and celebrate with them.

9. Informal Economy

I love the informal economy of India that includes the various bazaars at night and the street food stalls on the roads that sell local goods and services for fraction of a price. This informal economy brings a character to the Indian cities and villages. I used to love the weekly ‘budh-bazaar’ (Wednesday market) in my local neighbourhood that was set up by local individuals every Wednesday night. You could get almost everything under the sun. And such great food! I know that lots of cities now have shopping malls and organised markets. But I would still prefer to go to one of these weekly markets because of all their energy and humbleness. My bua (aunt) introduced me to this rags market in Delhi which is so brilliant to buy clothes at fraction of a price. And you’re helping local people here by buying those clothes. I love visiting that place. With the growing popularity of shopping malls, informal economy has a diminshed importance now. I feel that it is the informal economy that brings the humility and non-materialism among the Indian people and I genuinely respect that.

10. Hope

While I complained about Indians being complacent in my last post, here I argue that Indians are hopeful and optimistic. Despite all the criticism for India, for the increasing poverty, unemployment. social issues and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, Indians remain hopeful to be able to address this and lead a good life. They don’t want to be exactly like Western nations. They want to grow in their own way, keeping their basic Indian values intact. The reason for the intolerance debate (and all the reactions to it) is that Indians hope to make a difference by giving their perspective about things. Despite all the corruption and government scandals, Indians remain hopeful and take efforts to operate in this confusing economy. It is this Hope, in fact, that India has grown so much and made a respectful place for itself in the global economy. Hope helps India grow, despite the hopelessness of the Indian politics.

This was an exercise in finding the positive in the often discussed negativeness about India. It has made me realise that while criticism is important, criticism without hope is pointless. I have understood that patriotism is something that is deeply personal and I do care for India at some level. These things I love about India are things that I would fight for. Even if people think I don’t have a right to point out the mistakes that India might be making, I need to fight so that these positive things of India are not consumed by the ever-increasing negatives.

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Things I hate about India

I don’t think I am a patriotic person but I did have some level of attachment to India till recently. I mean I did feel extremely emotional (to the point of tears, in fact) when India won the Cricket World Cup a few years back and I did care who becomes the Prime Minster of India in the recent elections. I guess I still care about India at some level that has got me writing this post. But of late, I have been feeling increasingly irritated, disgusted and repelled by India. Here are the some things I absolutely hate about India. I’m pretty sure I can think of more than just these 7 things but let’s just focus on these first.

  1. Inequality of women

This issue is very important for me because I am a woman and I have experienced this inequality first -hand. Basically, if you are a woman who is born in India, you are fucked. And I know people might argue that things are improving, but are they? With each stage in the lifetime of a woman, there is always a gender issue looming around her existence. Right when she is born, she faces the possibility of female infanticide; this is followed by a bias shown in families towards boys while growing up; when in education, women are encouraged to take up subjects that would require less ambition, no travel, no late night work, such as teaching, office administration or HR; she is supposed to be married off within a certain age or risk being “unmaarriageable”; after marriage, there is a constant pressure of becoming a mother and starting a family; the stress of adjusting to a new family, a new life and keeping the family together is not even mentioned or acknowledged; and these issues goes on and on throughout the girl’s life. And here I haven’t even mentioned the issues of beauty standards (where all girls should be “fair and lovely”), equality rights at workplace, the ever-present danger of sexual assault or rape; primarily being thought of as a daughter, wife or mother rather than as an individual; problems with freedom of sexuality, and in fact, freedom to do whatever she wants. A woman in India always needs permission from someone to pursue anything (whether it’s from her parents, her boyfriend, husband, parents in law). There is always someone who controls her. And if a woman dares to be different and independent, she risks being called selfish, characterless, and having no family values.

I know people might argue that these are not the problems that every girl faces and I agree every girl does not face all these problems. But each problem that I have mentioned here is a big social issue that should be confronted and resolved by the Indian society. I can guarantee that every woman in India has suffered at the hands of the ubiquitous inequality at some point of time in her life. I am certain that if Indian women are placed out of the Indian society, they would be able to achieve much more success and freedom in life.

2. Fundamentalism

This is an issue that has gained extensive attention in the recent times, especially in its association with the current Indian government. I don’t think I even need to give details about how abhorrent the Hindu fundamentalism is. The article by Anish Kapoor referring to the RSS as the ‘Hindu Taliban’ is absolutely a right comparison to Islamic fundamentalism. There is nothing that any Indian could argue to defend against the rise of intolerance for other religions, beliefs and opinions in India. The argument that is often given by people is that ‘Oh you know, we’re not as bad as Taliban or ISIS because we are not at a war, we are not killing people’. But you are. Fundamentalists are killing people (even if it’s not thousands of people) and people are if not encouraging, tolerating this behaviour from these groups. When I hear about how Hindu fundamentalism is translated as patriotic fundamentalism by some Indians is, to say the least, disappointing. I watch this channel called ‘Secular Talk’ on YouTube. This guy gives his argument about Hindu Taliban in the most coherent and concise manner and these are exactly my views about this issue.

3. Intolerance for LGBT community

While the world seems to adopt, respect and accept, if not embrace, the LGBT community, India remains in the Dark Ages with their archaic laws that continue to criminalise “unnatural” sexual acts. I mean this is a country that has a population of one billion people and a certain percentage of that is bound to be homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender. India has chosen to not only ignore their existence but punishing them for their being. It is something that I simply cannot wrap my head around. What is more frustrating is that the Indian cinema that has supposedly evolved into embracing sex and has gone “bold” with their representation of sexually liberated men and women does not seem to recognise the seriousness of this issue either. I see movies that were big hits in India such as Kal Ho Na Ho and Dostana and while these films acknowledge the existence of LGBT, they cannot go past making fun of them and showing them as socially unacceptable. It is a disgrace for a nation that such laws still exist and function and I feel deeply sorry for people of the LGBT community who are suffering in such an hypocritical society. I have honestly lost all hope of development of Indian society to accept LGBT in its present state of rising Hindu fundamentalism.

4. Marital Rape is okay?!?!

As I have grown up and come to understand the complexities of marital relationships in India, I have realised that marital rape is not just a possibility but a reality for many married women in India. The nurtured and encouraged docility of women in the Indian society combined with the respected and preserved tradition of arranged marriages provides a perfect environment for marital rape that is accepted in silence by the woman. And the problem is that the families will encourage this practice and would in fact, point out the problem with the woman if she is not willing to provide pleasure to her husband whenever he demands. After all, that’s what a marriage is for right?? Wrong! I don’t believe or agree with the social institution of ‘marriage’ but I know that it does not mean that the man has the total control over a woman and the woman’s duty is to produce kids and be cast as a slave at home. It is no surprise that this is exactly how the Indian government defends the non-criminalisation of marital rape. They claim that such criminalisation corrodes the institution of marriage. You see, in India, marriage means a completely different thing compared to what it means in other countries that India aspires to be. Of course, the whole concept of arranged marriage is based on this ridiculous social definition of marriage. Isn’t it a tad bit illogical that two strangers who know nothing about each other are expected to have sex on the first night they get to be alone in a room? Isn’t that basically promoting rape? And the fact that the Indian Legislation as well as the Indian Executive refuse to acknowledge this as a social issue is ludicrous. It’s absolutely shameful that marital rape is not criminalised by Indian law nor condemned by the Indian society.

5. Racism

As much as India would like to believe, it is not a multi-cultural country. It is just a cultural country with slight differences in traditions while the basic premise of culture for the entire nation remains the same. There are two types of racism prevalent in India: Racism against people of other races, and racism against Indians from different regions.

Ironically, people in India love people from other races and other countries. Most of the time, they are very welcoming. This is because they of a different colour, they follow different customs, they are from a different society and I think that intrigues people in India who are used to living in this generally mono-cultural nation. You see people taking photos with people from other countries and proudly sharing them with their friends and families. But this welcoming relationship could be very superficial. When you delve deeper into the interactions between an Indian and, let’s say a white female, there are perceptions of the girls being morally loose (being from the West), sexually available and open to intimacy by most Indians (not all, I know). Indian shopkeepers are also more likely to dupe them and cheat them and the “foreigners” are perceived to be dumb because they don’t know how the Indian commerce works. Also, people who are white are much more welcomed by Indians than, for example, people who are asian or black. I found a very disturbing video recently about how Indians treat black people in the country and the kind of abuse that they have to suffer. I’m sharing it here.

When Indians treat people of other races in the way they do, they have absolutely no right to expect being treated fairly when they visit other countries. It’s only last week when i saw a friend on Facebook sharing a status that ‘India team wants the cricket match with West Indies during daytime as the W.I. are not visible at night’. This is supposed to be funny and I saw the status “liked” by at least 10 people, if not more. It shows that there is an inherent lack of respect for other races in the Indian culture.

Now coming to the racism within India. This is mainly to do with India’s obsession with having a fair complexion. North Indians are generally fairer than southern Indians and as a rule, as you go from north to south, people generally tend to go darker in complexion. The amount of stress and abuse that a person with dark complexion goes through their lifetime is incredible. And this is not just occasional abuse from random strangers; it is a daily abuse from your family, friends and colleagues. Basically, if you are dark and ugly, people automatically assume the right to show you down in life. And this, I can say, from a personal experience. Besides people with dark complexion, Indians are also biased against people with Asian features in north-eastern parts of India. It is a norm to call them ‘chinki’ or ‘nepali’ or any other colourful names because it’s supposed to be funny. They are not even considered a part of India.

Racism is a very real problem in India that very few realise. As India is fast developing to becoming a global nation, this is an issue that will come to surface soon enough when all the promised foreign investors do start coming in. Socially, India remains at least a hundred years behind the countries that it aims to catch up to.

6. Bollywood

This is not a social issue. It is just a personal issue for me with Bollywood. I hated movies because of Bollywood. Because the type of stories that they seem to run with are mostly misogynist, chauvinistic, homophobic, patriotic and they just seem to give a social message (sometimes no message at all) that I never identified with. I know that there are Bollywood movies that have very good content and are socially and morally advanced as well. And I understand that the cinemascape in India is changing. But those few actors, directors and film makers who are trying to make a difference are hardly recognised. What is recognised in Bollywood is the lavish sets, foreign settings, glamorous lifestyles, and well-established actors brands. What is disturbing is the Bollywood understands that it has a major influence over the majority of population in India and continues to make films that seem to develop the social issues in the India society even further. When I watch a Bollywood movie, I would hardly ever get the feeling that this film has developed me as a person, or it has developed my thinking as a person. And the fact that Bollywood actors who are role models for a large percentage of the young population have nothing to contribute to the society is appalling. Most of the filmstars lack a sense of understanding of the social issues that India faces, let alone taking a stand against them. I can never imagine any Bollywood actor coming on the stage to get their award and talking about climate change or rights for homosexuals. Nope. I found this YouTube video of Kajol failing miserably at a debate conducted by The Telegraph on rising intolerance in India. It makes me cringe. Bollywood makes me cringe and I know it can do better.

7. Complacency of Indians

This is what enrages me. How can Indians be so complacent about the state of affairs in India? I mean these issues that I pointed out are important. They affect our society. But recently it seems like whenever any point is made against anything in India, people are unable to take criticism and they choose to look the other way. These issues are staring you in the face. And there is no government to be blamed. It is the people. These are essentially people issues. When did the Indian society become so self-absorbed and narcissistic that they are unable to identify anything that may be wrong with them? Isn’t this blind patriotism? Aren’t differences in opinions the way forward for the development of any country? If every country thought their country was the best and remained completely complacent about it, would there be any differences between the First Word, Second World and Third World nations? There are no coherent arguments any more. Every argument about India essentially boils down to a political argument between BJP and Congress. Why? Can we not think beyond politics and look at the society with a rational lens. I am saying this because this is one issue that has deeply hurt me as an Indian. I have seen people who are my friends give their strong thoughts for something that was so ridiculous just because they were a supporter of a certain political faction. It made me think is it me who has changed my perspective about India or has it always been this way?

All these dreams that India and Indians have that our country is going to be among the best economies in the world are all dreams to make money, to have a better life. But will India ever have a better life unless there is a social development of an equal footing?

I used to love India. And it breaks my heart that India has come to a state where I feel ashamed to be associated with such a country.

Depression…it can eat you up :(

I have always been sympathetic towards depression and the effects it has on a person’s life. When I was young I used to watch talk shows where people would discuss their condition of depression and how it has changed their lives. It was at that time that I made a decision to study psychology later in my life and help people suffering from this common but ignored condition. Although I haven’t reached this goal just yet but perhaps some time in the future I would go in that direction in my research. Depression is something that almost everyone of us has experienced in our lives to either a small or a large extent. It is something that is so similar to sadness that people mistake it as a temporary and harmless thing and something that can be fixed by telling a joke or buying you ice cream. It is such a serious condition and may be a symptom of something bigger and much stronger psychological condition. Although I knew all of these things theoretically, when I myself fell into the deep, dark, bottomless pit of depression, I ignored all of my knowledge about the subject and refused to accept or even acknowledge it in me. Unfortunately I was at a stage in life when I had no support of friends, family or loved ones and I was stuck in an obscure small town of a foreign country thousands of miles away from home. I had no friends, no one to talk to, no one to have food with, no one to go shopping with and no one to listen to me. My work comprised of research on one topic and constant, endless reading about the same topic every day on my own without any companions, classmates or fellow students. to add to my misery, I was short on cash, constantly worried about money. And if things could be any worse, my relationship with my boyfriend was not going anywhere because our families could not agree on a date for the wedding (and this is something I had been looking forward to for almost a year now). While I struggled through everyday, life was monotonous and I was constantly stressed about one thing or the other. Soon, I stopped going to my office to work and decided to work from home. I would wake up in the afternoon everyday, constantly procrastinate my work, could not concentrate on anything and always had something depressing on my mind. As this routine continued, I found out the date of the wedding was postponed for two year.  This was the only good thing that I had been looking forward to in my life at this stage and it seemed so far away now. It seemed as if every good thing was running away from me, almost as if I didn’t deserve it. Every day when I woke up, I thought about all those problems I had and would tell myself I deserved it because of the kind of person I am, because I wake up late, because I do not do my work, because I am constantly sad. I became apologetic about everything that was wrong and blamed myself as the reason for everything going wrong. It was as if my whole existence was an apology to the world because every bad thing was because of me. Even as I write this I can feel a lump in my throat because I remember just how difficult this time was. I cried everyday and then felt sorry about it because I shouldn’t have been crying about my insignificant life. At this stage I had completely lost touch with my work and had developed a topsy-turvy sleeping pattern (for which I felt guilty again). I started having thought about how useless and unwanted I am and how this world would be better off without me. A person told me that cigarettes can help you to de-stress and taking his advice, I started smoking. I was drinking almost everyday because it helped me feel lighter. I had two people in the town who I could call friends just because I had met them and talked to them a couple of times before. I started hanging out with them and I put my best face forward, cracked jokes and tried to forget about the depression. I would go out with them, have a smoke, get some drinks in the pub and come back home. At home, I would cry myself to sleep and wake up feeling guilty and useless again. I started suspecting I might have depression but didn’t really believe it. I started searching on the internet about which pills I could take that would make me die. It really did seem like I would just be better off leaving this world causing less pain to myself and everyone around me. What was interesting was when I talked to my boyfriend about it and another close friend about how I have been feeling, I was told to get on with it. Both of them said I was overreacting and that there is no need for me to feel this way. I should have a stronger mind. Both of them said that if they were in my situation they would be getting on just fine because what did I have to complain about- I had a couple of dudes to hang out with, I was doing my PhD like I wanted to, I can always ask my parents for money if I wanted and being a research student, I have all the time in the world to do what I want. This made me feel like it was me who was the problem in this whole situation. It is me who is not hard enough to face the situation, that I am a coward and that I should not be complaining. It made me feel that I am whiny person and I decided not to talk about this again. It was only when I saw some serious physical changes in me due to depression that I decided I needed to get myself diagnosed. I was just so stressed and depressed that I missed my period and didn’t notice it for quite some time. When I did, I searched for reasons why this may have happened and  realised it is because of depression. This was the wake up call that led me thinking that depression can’t ruin my body like this. I have to accept my condition and I must seek help. I searched for various self diagnosing depression tests and scored a medium-high level of depression on almost all of them. After debating for about a week about whether I should seek professional help or not, I decided to give a call to my school counsellor and fix an appointment. It took a week to get the appointment fixed and I remember thinking quite a few times of cancelling it just because I wasn’t ready. I thought it might just be me and I might be exaggerating my symptoms. Surely my life is not important enough to be discussed with a counsellor and surely it is me who is responsible for causing this to myself. I did not want to hear another advice about getting on with it. When I met my counsellor who was a trained psychologist, she gave me a test. When she analysed the results of the test, she looked worried and told me I am on the brink of clinical depression. She started talking to me, asking me things about my life and I told her everything about missing my friends and about my course and my low feelings in the past few months. I somehow kept the wedding date stress to myself because I still thought it was stupid for me to tell her that. From whatever information she got out of me, she was very very sympathetic and was the first one to acknowledge that it is okay for me to be sad. She told me it was okay to cry and that it is only obvious that I should feel this way in my situation. I cannot tell you how relieved I felt when I talked to her. Just to have someone to listen to you sympathetically made such a big difference. It is very rarely that I have ever cried in front of people other than my family and close friends but I could not help but tear up while talking to her. It wasn’t when I was telling her about my problems but it was when she told me that I as so strong to be holding up such as I am. That was all I needed. That someone believes me. That someone acknowledges that I am trying. I am not being a coward and I am in fact trying quite hard to cope up with this. I had two more sessions with my counsellor and by this time, my boyfriend found a job in Dublin and we both decided to move in together. That was the only way I could survive a PhD in a country away from home. My counsellor was ecstatic on hearing this news because both of us had been discussing what would be the best option for me to get better and I had almost decided to give up on my PhD. Today, I am a happily married, non-smoking woman living in Dublin with my partner for 11 months now and cannot imagine myself in a better place. My partner and I decided to have a civil wedding as soon as possible and the parents have decided the date for the traditional wedding in December 2015. Depression was a very rough journey for me and I have realised that the first step to cure depression is to coming in terms with it. It is only when you recognise that you have a problem can you cure a problem. The support of family and friends is a must because they are the ones who are going to help you through it. But at the same time, don’t let anyone tell you to get on with it. No one knows you better than yourself and you, more than anyone else, would know how strong you are when handling your stress and problems. Depression is a vicious, vicious darkness that engulfs you within it and eats you up from the inside but the important thing is that you identify a light within you in this darkness and use this light to find yourself out of the darkness. Remember, you are always stronger than you think you are. This was an important story for me to share and discuss just to acknowledge that this happened in my life and I got through it. I would love to know your thoughts and your depression stories, if any so please do share in comments. Thanks!