180. Podcast Queen

Podcast Queen

Podcasts are my latest thing, and I have so many observations.

One: People make a lot of mouth noises. It’s rather nauseating.

Two: I seem to prefer higher pitched voices.

Three: People really put a lot into these shows! They are, at least the ones I’ve listened to, mostly well researched, and conscious of being part of a larger dialogue. Amazing. And if you write to them, they write back. Even more amazing. 😉

Four: Wellness for Americans seems to be a lot of cultural and spiritual appropriation, and then calling it their own. Not a fan. The focus on the individual seems to allow for this disingenuous sense of “I am being humble by being open to other practices,” allowing for a neocolonial and lofty Othering (with a veneer of reverence) of the communities that are stolen from. I am not debating this; you guys who know me closely know that I have strong feelings on this subject.

Five: Young South Asians are so creative. Love! This auntie is proud of the collective effort to talk about art, activism, mental health, and much more, with sensitivity and even humor.

For me personally, tuning into ideas this way has helped me a lot. I can send my mind elsewhere when A is being super loud. We don’t have our usual avenues for natural separation, and if he needs to vocalize, so be it, but I also need a means of diversion. It also allows me to attend to my mundane daily tasks without interruption, while still having ideas to ponder.

We have also had three solid weeks of utility crews working loudly on our block, so disconnecting from the noise pollution was essential.

Now that the weather is somewhat cooling down, I am resuming outdoor exercise, and it is a little overwhelming to be out and about again, given that the pandemic is still a grim reality. Having a podcast topic to chew on seems to ease my mind into getting out there. I can enjoy the experience without hyper awareness of joggers and dogs and cyclists and whatnot. And I am amused by how, as I am aware but detached, others seem to take more care to steer clear of me, which, yay, is a new and freeing experience as a minority in this country. Taking up space on sidewalks is a topic that has been written about with great precision*, and I have always found navigating this stuff to be rather incompatible with mental relaxation. It speaks to how entrenched the space issue is that a pandemic is what it has taken to create any sort of change. One can only hope it lasts.

My cumulative impression of podcasts is a sense of people gathering to mull. There is a collective enthusiasm to geek out over something in detail, studying it from all angles, calling in experts, and just appreciating the sound of people engaging, not saying what we hear so often in the world—oh, I find the larger discourse overwhelming, and don’t want to partake. Well, podcasts are a way of letting the people in our lives be who don’t want to engage with the things we like, and turning to those who have put in time and effort to dance us down avenues and boulevards of analysis and feeling. So much fun to be had.

One of my favorites is MannMukti. It is a South Asian podcast about mental health, and I love it. The best media is the kind where you want to yell back “BUT WHAT ABOUT…” because you are so happy that people are talking about something important to you, and you see something of yours and your loved ones’ experiences in it.

I wish I could remember the specific episode, but that is not going to happen, given how long my to-do list is today, so I shall just place a link to their website**. Anyway, in one episode, the show host and his guest got sidetracked into talking about Bollywood because, well, who doesn’t when desis get together. They talked about how uncomfortable the viewing experience can be with the family. Because the movies are so hyperemotional, and usually our families don’t discuss things we consider private. They give us a way to experience closure which we rarely get in our own families.

The discussion got back on track, but I thought about Bollywood some more after that. So many desis still view romantic love through a mistrustful lens, but in the movies, it is front and center. Also, women are not meant to own our sexuality, so watching how patriarchal and punitive the plots can be towards women is very triggering and deserves a conversation, which often does not take place.

Those of us who do use Bollywood to talk about issues with our kids still end up being faced with Gen Z being baffled by us placing movies with plots that celebrate injustice, gloss over sexual violence, and circumscribe women’s lives, on pedestals. And they are not wrong to call us out. Every time a guy in a song says he wants to hide a beloved woman away so that only he can have her in his life, I cringe. These are false ideas of love that we can actually unlearn. And we should also unlearn the idea that being chosen by a guy, then brought into a home that will extract our physical and emotional labor, and lay claim to our fertility and our children, but never treat us as cherished members of our families by marriage is just how women have to agree to live. No thank you.

If you are wondering where the segue to autism lies in this piece, there isn’t one. Sometimes, living in the land of autism means I don’t want to talk about it. And that’s okay.

Radha.

Sources:

  • Do Not Move Off The Sidewalk Challenge: Holding Your Space in A White World – WriteSomeShit
  • Be Mad. We STILL Ain’t Moving Off The Sidewalk! – WriteSomeShit

** Podcasts | MannMukti

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