Disclaimer: This is not a feminist manifesto, recitals of struggles and complaints, our “version” of story or a matrimony portal. Just making sure you are not on the wrong (web)page. :p
So, as you might all know, (some of you out of experience and some out of the memes that circulate) the girl boy ratio in an IIT on an average is, unfortunately, still 1:10. The reasons for this are deep rooted in our society and bound by shackles of our education system, so I would rather not go there. But, I would go to this skewed ratio, and the persistent skewness it brings along.
I have never found the memes regarding girls in engineering funny. I have never understood the stereotypes that are associated with a girl if she can talk Python and Java. I have never felt more judged when I am told “How difficult can it be, there are ten boys for you to choose from”. Excuse me, I didn’t know I was shopping for furniture.
I have met some of the most remarkable, brilliant, resilient and beautiful women here, while studying in an IIT with them. As I talked to more and more of them, I realised how each one of us bring uniqueness to the melange, but also how similar we are on the grounds that unify us. While we have been privileged, to be surrounded by progressive people who respect our personalities and give us a fair platform to compete, I realise not all girls out there are as privileged as us. We still fight that underlying current of gender stereotypes, which mistake me not, strikes us only once in a while, but it does strike us.
This one here, it’s just a light hearted account to capture our essence and stories. The theories we have, our loses (you lose all your fashion sense when the species around you wears the same t-shirt for over a week), our struggles (proxying in an 8AM class which has only one girl and that is you), our talents (we know when you have bathed in water and when in deodrant), our dreams and aspirations (well, I am gonna do it, stop me if you can).
The thing I learned from taking these interviews is it's easy to get people talk about giving their opinions on a product you built or you would have them to use. It takes a lot to get them to open them about themselves, about their lives. To kindle he conversations, I gave them a few words as sparks and full liberty to light it up. Though leading, these words were not binding.
This project, which started just as a class assignment, became so close to my heart in no time. You can find bits and pieces of me when you click on every thumbnail. For every person I interviewed, they presented to me a kaleidoscope of their life to me. It was shimmering and colorful. I hope to make this an ongoing project in my free time. Here is just a sneak peak for you.
I like travelling in memories. Every time I get a moment off to let my thoughts wander, I travel to the past or to the future.
Memories are like places that I travel too. If I travel to the past it is magic. But there has to some real part to it.
I do have fears but they are overtaken by love. Because I have so much love in me, for life, for people, for everything that I am fearless as of now.
I have a stuck a sticky note on my wall, which I read every time I leave my room in the morning. It says “Mission : Make at least one person smile today” So I do it with compliments. I take efforts to notice good things in them to fulfil my mission. I just don’t do it to complete my mission for the day.
I loovee to sinnnggg. I can sing anytime, with any word.
I get crazy ideas in my head. I do them sometimes, I don’t do them sometimes. It’s a colorful brain.
I am brutally honest. I am yet to learn the art to word it right at the right time. Like if there is some discussion going on and I am feeling goofy and I just mimic this “minion says banana” and all of it turns awkward. I then realize it was the way I said ba-naa-naa. Hmm.
The colour pink reminds me of baby’s lips. How they are so soft and moist because they keep eating it. And when you wrap them in a blanket, their cheeks turn pink too and it’s like carrying heaven in your arms. So that’s what pink is for me.
Earlier definition of sexy for me was someone outspoken and confident..you know the one usually feminist gives from a woman’s perspective, not from a man. Ever since I have met my boyfriend, it has changed. He likes it raw, he even detests the filters I put on my photographs. Every time I do to look sexy, dosen’t work on him at all. He likes me as I am. So sexy lost it’s meaning in my dictionary.
Passion should give you joy in what you do, give you peace. Passion is something that should not burn you out or tire you. It should keep you going.
I like to pray, I like to pray a lot. There a lot of time I am lonely and the only person I can talk to without appearing to be crazy is God. That’s like empowering for me.
God is like my fountainhead.
When I say I am ambitious, I am not talking in terms of career. The month before I ran my first marathon, I wasn’t even running 2 kilometers. Somehow I feel ki acchcha kar lenge, and phir ho jata hai! (I will do, and then it happens).
So I started running marathons when…well I saw this marathon being held at Chirapunjee, and I like traveling and so I thought it would be an altogether different feeling of running there. So I registered, and in a month I ran like 75–80 kms. Initially I didn’t even know why I was doing it. But then once I started running, I started enjoying it.
There are days when I do give up. I am not consistent. There is a phase, where you are like running everywhere. And then they are phases I hardly run 20 kms. It’s all about getting out of your room. Once you are out, you run with all you got.
I did a winter trek in Ladakh. The temperature in Leh itself was was -17 degree Celsius and it went as low as -30. We trekked around 5000 kms. Our sun screens froze, there Dry toilets and you had to first de-freeze your wet wipes. For drinking water, they used to get a sac full of ice and melt it. We walked on frozen rivers. At the highest point, when we had to cross the pass, it was then that the sickness struck me. I was walking like a zombie.
Next year I want to register for this Himalayan mountaineering basic course.
It has been on my bucket list for quite a while.
I went to McLeod in a group once, but I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do. So later I went over alone. Explored the cafes , hung out with strangers, it was nice. I also went ahead with a trip to Goa alone. My friend couldn’t accompany me last moment. I chilled on the beaches and ate a lot of seafood.
I landed up in research as I was always a very nerd kid. The nerdy side of me wasn’t satisfied with the primarily hands on discipline of architecture.
I can’t be on an yearlong vacation, I need my books.
I gave up coding for a long time, and then I started it again. I like that part of knowing things and then struggling through it. Like even when I learning to play the guitar or if it’s a trek. It’s like you know “Achcha band baj rahi, koi nahi. Let’s be at it, keep going”.
There is this font that architects used earlier, City Blue Print. So I always I had this thing of getting it exactly the same. On a trip to Nagaland, when I saw someone doing hand-lettering, it gave me the push. I came back and ordered for myself a set of pens to start hand lettering.
Pressure, stroke…every miniscule thing is important to get that font right. I really enjoy the whole process of hand lettering. They, to some extend, kind of reflects my mood.
Everything is magic. The view from Leh hill top, the stars, it’s all magic.
I had very robust unique memories of a few childhood years I spent in Nagaland. So I was always enchanted with Northeast. I was about to leave for New York when the results for IIT Guwahati came. I chose it because I felt like it would give me an opportunity to work with something that is my very own : my country and it’s problems. I was more excited about the course, and I really didn’t think about the other people who will be here.
Having spent ten years in Delhi, I thought I had seen it all, but people there were what-you-feel, you-say kind. That's not the case everywhere. At times, if people are not happy or offended with something, they won't say it directly. So it took me time to acclimatize to that. It took my classmates time to accomodate me as well, because I said a lot of what came to my mind and not everything needs to be taken to heart.
Before coming here I wasn’t really concerned about my stance on feminism. But once I was called a feminazi. And that is when I started thinking why men and women were considered so different; for example 'an assertive guy made a good leader, an assertive girl was bossy and difficult'.
When I go back meet my old friends, I do get the tag that “Okay she is an IITian”. They expect me to be tech savvy and not say stupid stuff. It’s a lot of hard work to keep up to it, but I really do enjoy it. Though I'm never giving up the habit of cracking silly jokes.
I am very ambitious. I don’t want to be in a stagnant or a no brainer job. That would be frustrating.
Also, now I know no particular event or person in my life, or even a series of events or people should be able to define your life without your consent.
I went through a phase of depression in my life. It took me time to realize it wasn’t me but the situation I'm in that made me feel helpless. I'm much stronger now, I think the way out for me was that I had to keep telling myself that I'm are better than this. Do not let any one event or even one person define you, not even all the people or events.
I have a lot of anxiety.I just want to finish my to-do as fast as possible, and then add more to it. After the day of academic work if I'm sitting idle, I think I could have gone for a run instead, if I'm done with that as well, I'd rather read a book or develop some hobby rather than just watch TV.
I get anxious when I just feel I am not meeting my benchmarks, which is funny because I always keep pushing them myself.
I am very rooted to my friends. If I love something or someone, I really like to give my heart and soul to it.
So yeah I over-think, but then I also over-compensate it with devotion.
I am not subtle. I maybe a lot of things, but I am not that. And I am proud about it. Achcha hai toh achcha hai, achcha nahi hai toh…nahi hai yaar. This does get me tagged as the heartless b***h. At first it did bother me, because I am not. But now I am like heartless b***h in your face bro. I am shy too. See, a paradox for you. I am shy in front of new people.
I come from a convent girls school so some of my what-not-to-talk filters are missing. Our sisters used to tell us “Ladies should not be heard, they should be seen.” Guess, I never heard them. Coming to an IIT was was like coming from all-girls school to an all boys college.
I would love to travel alone. Travelling alone gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, and you tend to notice people and details about surroundings that you miss out when you are with your people. I have Milan on my travel bucket list. The shoes, the clothes, the “people”…phew, that would be something.
I go to the city alone and shop the entire day. It irks me if someone is standing there waiting for me to pick and try on, however nice they are. I just go, cover the entire GS road from the start till the last Pantaloons store and come back before the sun sets (just so my parents don’t worry themselves sick).
I don’t find myself sexy. If I put an effort into it, I think I can manage a 10/10. But I don’t feel like it, so I am like a 5/10 in my tracks is good enough too. I find sexy as a compliment derogatory, to be honest. I would take beautiful…hmm ravishing maybe?
Reading has added to my personality so much. You always take away something from books. I have respect for people who read. Guys who read are ultimate levels of sexy.
The biggest turnoff in a guy is when he asks what is your favourite Harry Potter film after you confess you love Harry Potter. Like seriously, film?! Sorry bro.
Permanence of tattoos entices me. I am never in the grey zone, it’s either black or white.
If I decide on something, it’s very hard to shake me from it. Maybe that is why I don’t have regrets either. “Lumos” tattooed in UV ink is in my bucket list of tattoos.
If there is one song that defines me right now it would be Elastic Hearts by Sia
Well, I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart,
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard.
I get anxious when it hits me what if my best is just average for the world. Like what then? But then you consider that and still push through.
I have got a Phoenix tattoo on my back as it represents hope and letting go of the past and overcoming your troubles. And also the fact that it has the Harry Potter connect. Peace out.
The only way you can make me do something is if I want to do it. Though not always, sometimes I have to do things out of compulsion too. Like this frivolous pre-Christmas meet in the month of October that I had to go to. I went there because one of my friends was feeling low and we needed to see there are people who are not miserable enough to celebrate Christmas in October (and to hog on cake).
I won’t do it for everyone, I don’t care about much people. They are annoying, they talk a lot. I either have people as my friends or not-my-friends. People who are my friends get a very high priority in my life, and yes I will go to pre Christmas meets or cut out their design assignments.*She was cutting out my assignment for me as we talked about this. So touched me :D*
I want magic in the world.
I want superpowers, I want people to have superpowers. That will be so much more interesting. I want intergalactic wars and people fighting, showing off their magical powers. I would like to have the superpower of telekinesis (being able to move things with my mind).
You know I have this theory. That maybe initially we were all 2-dimensional objects in 2-dimensional world.
Then we asked god to make us 3-dimensional, and he granted us that. So I am hoping he will grant us magic too if we so wish. And then maybe 4 dimensions. And then we will all misuse it, like we always do and be converted to a 2 dimensional world again. We will all be points and lines, trying to make shapes.
If I had to get one Harry Potter spell tattooed on me, it would be Sectum Sempra (a dark spell that causes a cut which does not heal. It would be nice nn? People annoying you, just use it. Hey! At least I am not using a torture spell like Crucio! I believe in peace.
I admire people who are passionate about their work. If they worship their work and are genuinely excited about it, they have all my respect for it. I hate it when people talk about other people. Why can’t they discuss ideas?
I like the colour pink. I am alright with all the stereotypes associated it, funny we have come such a long way, all educated, and we still associate pink with femininity.
I have this very bad habit of being OCD-ish. I try not to be. But there is this keeda (buzzing insect) in my head, I try to keep it quiet.
I have this strong connection to God. Don’t ask me define God, because I won’t be able to. But I do believe there is a superior being above us, and I think he is a mathematician.
I feel sexy doesn’t have a definition. What is sexy? I don’t differentiate words like pretty, beautiful, etc.
I am not into words and compliments that are function of other people.
I would rather have someone give me a book or a thought (for over thinking) rather than a compliment to make me feel good.
I get anxious a lot. And do have self doubts. You see I was always an average student, but places I ended up had like meritorious toppers. It isn’t even that though, I am one of the top scorers in the exam that landed me in an IIT, but I don’t feel these marks are enough to calibrate my potential.
So I am searching for more to define me.
When I say I have always been ambitious, I won’t say I have always been a topper or anything. But given any task or any set of goals, I always strive to give my best to it. I do not take anything lightly. It does not matter to me if I win it or not, but I will always go through the process very rigorously.
It has been just two years that I have entered into the field of Human Computer Interaction. Initially I was fearful of starting my PhD because it is a huge commitment and I was worried if I would be able to handle it as well as maintain a balance to it. But this work excites me, research excites me.
I have always been like I want to study more, I want to study a lot. So this keeps me going when this field isn’t all easy or exciting.
I tend to keep the first hour of my day for myself..pray, mediate..basically just me and God time. I read the Bible. At times we tend to define all our accomplishments in terms of “I”. We forget God is there. I feel like somewhere we have lost that connection in our fast paced lives, so I make efforts to keep acknowledging His presence.
I take most of the decisions by myself. My family is very supportive of my decisions, that helps. They suggest, but the end decisions is always is mine.
I am striving to be a leader. There have been times, where my teammates tell me that I can act as a gluing agent to bind the team and get work done. For me, I have never left someone struggling with a task or I have just completed it myself if someone is unable to. I make it a point to proceed together. So these tiny traits in me makes me want to believe that I have it in me to lead.
I always do grab an opportunity if it comes my way, even if it scares me. It’s like I know even if I fail, I will just fail and not miss out on something.
Fears are just the same as everyone else, what if I am not able to deliver upto my expectations, as well as that of others. To pull through it, I go back and analyse where all I failed and how did I overcome that. And then tell myself “Thoda sa aur-thoda sa aur” (a little more, a little more)
Now I am at a stage where you focus more on reality than on dreams. I don’t let things that I have to do or become three years later, affect me today.
I give my best today.
I was stubborn. I am stubborn. If I have to do something, I usually end up doing it.
I do want to travel a lot. For me it doesn’t mean visiting exotic locations or trying extreme sports. For me, it’s like exploring the less explored, even if it’s nearby.
My favourite memories are from my bachelor college days. During that time it was like you are doing it, because you are doing it. There were no future clauses and responsibility factors added to it.
I have had very interdisciplinary academic curriculums. So I have learned how to question things, and not accept them as they are.That has hugely shaped me as a person.
Family is something I can always go back to it. That is like the best and the worst part of it. Best because I can take the liberty of coming far, and worst because I might start taking this privilege for granted. But yes, no matter how far I go, I can always trace my way back them.
I believe there should be mystery to a person. I have finished by schooling from three different schools and then bachelors and masters in completely different scenarios and circumstances. So people know divided parts of me.
They will all have to meet up to build the entire me.
Probably some people may define me in ways, the others may not even recognise it. I didn’t do it intentionally, it just happened.
My parents were working so my grandmother brought me up. She has been a strong influence on me and my life. I used to sleep with her in her room. She was very particular about keeping laptop, mobile away and switching off the lights before sleeping. So every night here when switch off the lights before sleeping, I miss her.
The worst pickup line, hmm? So I had made up this imaginary long distance boyfriend to avoid all the drama while I was doing my bachelors. This guy approaches me and tell “Every goalpost is guarded by a goalkeeper, doesn’t mean goals aren’t’ scored!” And it left me wondering…whaatttt!!!
I believe everyone is a story.
My favourite word is “You”. People find it very bizarre.
I love it because of the comfort it offers. It is the only word across languages that I have found can be used for everybody. In hindi, there is tum, aap, tu…but you can be you, or anybody.
I would love to try my hand at journalism. I think I have a knack of holding people together through storytelling. But I have no experience at it and I am so clumsy even about my phone camera. But yeah I will get there.
“Loving myself” would be the theme of my life.
I only give compliments which I genuinely mean. I like people to put efforts into their compliments, that entices me. Why you like my haircut, is it the length, the fringes, the color, what did you like dude, just don’t tell me it’s nice.
I would call myself ambitious. I am a very career oriented person. I want to create my identity and not just be associated with someone else’s. I believe I can do it through my career. I can’t sit out and wait for things to happen, I have to do it.
I am curious. About everything. Everything I do is mostly because I am curious. I joined drama because I was curious, one of the best things I have done till now.
Drama is kinda ironic.You are acting to make it look real, but then you are trying to make it real, but it is not real. So in the end you have this bubble which is right in centre of reality with another bubble in it. You get to lead different lives, when you are that person in that bubble, that gives me the high.
I would really like to perform on Broadway someday, and I think I will get there.
I was ambitious once upon a time, but then at one point I stopped hustling so much. It doesn’t drive me as much now. I know that because till last year I had that in me. Now I know where I want to be, and I am not in a hurry to reach there. I am enjoying the journey and taking my own sweet time.
I am a quantum physics geek. I am going to working on quantum teleportation.
But quantum is no comparison to magic. What’s life without a little magic, right?
So I remember this one day I was just walking towards core 4 on a foggy wintery evening and on a tree sideways, there was just this one flower blooming. This pretty flower, in the middle of nowhere. It filled me with joy, like for those fractions of seconds, magic was very real to me.
I am the kind of girl who would go looking for hidden treasures.
Me and my sister used to play treasure hunts all the time. Build ourselves maps, leave clues and find the treasure all day. Half the time we lost a lot of stuff because we ourselves forgot what ourclues meant.
So one of the just-Kirthi-stories would be the time I tried to sneak in pepper spray through Singapore airport security. I actually forgot to put it in my luggage. So these huge guys with guns and shoot-at-sight privileges walk in and there are like “Where is it? Where? Where?!” and I go “Relax! It’s right here. Nobody’s dying”. Yes. That is what I said when I was getting detained at an airport abroad travelling alone.
I like the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Mass, because it has an independent female assassin as a protagonist, who is very real. Like she has menstrual cramps, and she has problems matching the shoes with the dress, and she does get conscious if her neckline is too deep. People forget that when they write about female protagonists okay, even in movies. It’s either a very macho kinda girl or it’s girly girl. Dude, they are species like us too, just girls.
I am bad at taking compliments. What do you say. And then there is this awkward silence where there are expecting me to say something in return. Why can’t they just say nice things and walk away.