Janani Srinivasan

Traveling helps you to overcome random fears. Some people feel awkward to sit and eat in a restaurant by themselves. Especially girls, I have spoken to some and they say it feels odd. Why? Are they scared of being judged?

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Janani Srinivasan is a a true liberalist who believes in making constructive changes in the society. She hails from Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and is currently studying Masters in law from University of Texas. She believes that travelling helps people to connect better with themselves and different communities around them. She also emphasise on doing things for passion rather than just for money. During her conversation with Grey Talks she spoke about her insecurities, travel experiences and her future goals.

 Have you read about Grey Talks….So what made you converse with us?

Firstly , I think it’s a very different concept. I have never come across a blog with this idea. That is you know, talking to strangers, conversing with people and trying to know what they think. I think in this busy and over demanding lifestyle, we just forget to talk to people as who they really are, and rather talk to them when you want something. Talking to people about something different does ease me, and I love talking!

You pointed out the kind of lifestyle that we are living. What is the most irritating thing that you find around you?

We are so technologically dependent! If we don’t carry our cell phones for a day, it feels like “OMG! I did not bring my phone today” and the whole universe seems to be coming to a standstill. It shouldn’t be like that. That’s why I go trekking. I sometimes want to challenge myself to live without electricity, technology, internet for few days and just talk to people. When I took my first solo trip, I did not have smart phones or google maps. I used paper maps. And people used to think I’m stupid. People have thousands of friends on Facebook , I feel they are actually introverts because they are so dependent on technology for company that they forget it’s only a medium.  The actual companionship is with people.

Do you think that the image they want to portray through social mediums is different from the image they have in real life….?

Definitely. It’s a good thing. It’s a bad thing. You know how some people upload their pictures on FB looking extremely happy and market their cool attitude …like one of my friends (she didn’t want to disclose the name), used to do that but,in reality, I knew the pain she was going through because of some personal issues. In a way it’s good because you are trying to heal yourself through the attention you gain, but most importantly, some people think that the other person’s life is perfect and they get depressed. Sometimes jealous. That is not right.

Why are you far away from India…….your family? your friends?

 I like it. See, from the time I was young, I was conditioned to see my father only 6 months a year. In fact the first time my father and I were together for a continuous long period was a year and 7 months and we drove each other crazy! Of course I love my father and I miss him a lot but I don’t want to be with him and it’s the same with him as well. And moreover, I want to find my own life. When I am in India , I feel like whatever goes wrong I can still go home. But here it is not like that, you have to do every single thing by yourself.

So you don’t have a backup options there….

I don’t have a backup option here and I actually like that. It is a little more risky here and I like my independence. I can make my own choices.

 Don’t you think that the persona you carry and your thoughts about your independence tag you as someone who is careless towards their family?

 Some people do say that your father is getting old and all. Well, I tell them its none of their business. And honestly I don’t care about what others think of me. What matters is what I think of myself and what my family thinks of me. It is difficult to judge a person like me who comes from a family setup which is not very common in India. In my family, me, my mother and my father everyone is like this. When my mother used to sail with my father, she used to travel around everywhere on her own because my father was busy in the ship. She inspired me to travel solo and not depend on anyone.

Is there any drawback in being so Independent? Do you, at times feel jealous of your Indian friends who are living in a secure and guarded family setup?

Certainly. For a person who has been so independent all her life, when you get dependence, firstly it takes a long time to depend on someone, but when you finally do, you become over dependent. You have never tasted that. It’s like if you give food to a hungry person, he’s probably going to eat a lot and then fall sick. It happens with me. When I get a person to depend on I go to an extreme extent and depend on them for every damn thing.

What is the last thing that you have read, which left an impact on you?

Well, the most recent thing that I read was the BBC documentary on the ‘Nirbhaya’ case. That was this morning. I actually read the interview of the parents on NDTV. And what I read was that, one of the solutions for sexual abuse is education. But I don’t think that education is the only remedy. The lawyers who spoke without grit were well educated, however, the parents of the girl din’t seem to be that educated, but they spoke more sense. I think education is not the solution to these problems.

Do you think that solutions in India are very classist… By giving lectures and showing videos to slum people, rapes would stop… What about the people from higher class?

Rape happen everywhere in the world and its a very complex problem. I personally think that there cannot be just one solution for such grave problem. If we are talking about education, also talk about counselling, stress management. Look at the work culture in India, the working hours are so long that sometimes people are very frustrated and irritated. Either we are over hard-working or we waste too much time. I have seen both.

Do you think this kind of frustration comes from peer pressure the pressure to earn, to buy a house or even to get married?

I will take a minute to explain the cycle in my way. Consider a married man working in a corporate setup, he has the pressure to take care of his career and evaluate risks, he has the pressure of making sure that he is earning well for his wife and children, provide them with a comfortable home (look at the prices of even one bedroom apartments these days!). Its harder for bachelors, because amongst my peer group, a girl will want to marry a guy having his OWN car and OWN house because they feel that the risk is lesser. Compatibility and caliber becomes secondary. Though I am a feminist, I openly accept that a man in today’s world is more pressurised. A woman on the other hand is pressurised by the choices she makes. My ideology is solely based on my experience and the class of society that I lived in.  When a person strives to earn so hard and live upto the expectations of the society, what kind of social life does he have? Some CEOs or a highly placed employees say that they have an excellent social life but I would say, ask their wives. Very few of them would say that they are completely happy. I feel that they should take a break from work often and go travel somewhere.

 Do you think that these short stints of travelling actually help?

Very much. Travelling helps you to understand and bond with people. I think everyone can spare one day from work. There is this mentality in India that traveling abroad is very expensive. It is not like that. I spent very less money on my solo trips. It’s the way you travel that matters. Traveling helps you to overcome random fears. Some people feel awkward to sit and eat in a restaurant by themselves. Especially girls, I have spoken to some and they say it feels odd. Why? Are they scared of being judged?

You have friends from other nations right? From what all nations do you have friends?

I have five great friends from different countries and sometimes different continents. a Nigerian, Lebanesse, Mexican, Iranian & Pakisthani

So what was it like in Indo-Pak match, you had a fight with the Pakistani guy?

You have no idea, we were in the campus hall, it was very lively and enthusiastic and we kept on pulling each others leg.

So you celebrated the win with him?

 No, of course not (Laughs)

 Is the enthusiasm same as in India?

Of course! Perhaps it is even more, because people are away from their country! Indians amongst themselves may find fault with their country, but you will never find an Indian bitching about their country to a foreign national here, somehow we stand united, and thats how it should it be.

What do you miss the most about your Indian Friends?

On the day of world cup I missed my friend in India the most. I remember the time when I was in doon sitting with my friends in CCD, even though we had no money to buy more stuff we continued sitting there and watched the full coverage of World Cup.

What is you goal ahead?

I don’t know myself, I would like to gain a lot of experience from here, I have invested a lot in coming here, I want to reap the benefit fully. When I was a kid, my dad used to earn in dollars. He had seven unique 1$ coins which he kept those on my desk and said “the day you will earn more than me, doing what you love, I will accept that you are smarter than me.” As I grew up he told me that money is not important, what you love doing is more important.

 Reaping the benefit means getting the money back?

 Money is bi product in my life, I want success.

 How do you measure success?

I measure success by knowledge, satisfaction and the attitude you gain. I don’t want to earn millions and still not be happy in my life, that means I am not successful. I would like to come back to India and open my own law firm and thats my dream, which will certainly come true. If you want to be successful and satisfied, you need to be your own boss, the table has to shift.

Whats your opinion about so many start ups budding up? Do you think its good or just a bubble that will burst soon?

Definitely not. The reason why developed nations are willing to spend in India is due to it’s talent pool of young people.  We are young mind, young people. There is a reverse brain drain now, lots of people from US want to come back to India and have their own start up. People have realised that the corporate rut is not worth it. Start-ups will revolutionise the market.

Any plans for marriage?

No, I am not equipped for it as of now, neither is my partner. Right now it is not in my mind.

How do you want your wedding to be?

I don’t want a wedding, I want a marriage.

That means?

My opinion on ‘weddings’ are very poor. I will only have a big wedding, if I am able to afford it, without taking even a single penny from my parents. Usually in India the trend is that parents spend their earning in their daughter’s marriage. I am bit different in that case, my dad gave me two options, he said I have a sum, and I can either spend it on your wedding or on your Masters education. What I chose is the result of us Face-timing! On my wedding day, I will not wear jewelry made of gold, diamonds etc., not because it is expensive, but because my denial will save one person’s lung, life and a tree! I don’t believe in compulsory exchange of gifts between families. Its nothing but reformed dowry. It’s a different story when you do it with genuine love and affection.

Why so?

My parents are not of that type. They will not take any interest or initiative in planing a wedding. My dad told me “if you invite me to your wedding, I will come and eat gulab jamun”. He is more interested in eating sweets. Also, I don’t think that I am patient enough to sit and smile at 1000 people whom I don’t even know.

What is creativity according to you?

Being yourself!

That means?

We typecast only singers, painters etc as creative, need not be. A programmer sitting in front of a computer all day can be creative as well. There is no boundary for creativity.

What are the creative things you have done so far ?

 I am very creative, may be because I am a Libran. I have been involved in sports, I am a Tanjore painter and a trained Bhartnatyam dancer.

So why have you not chosen the field of painting and dancing instead of legal studies?

My mother would have loved it, If I would have chosen those fields. I always feel that the minute your hobbies become your means of livelihood, it loses its charm. Its certainly not that way, but I feel so. I can paint when I am in a mood, if it is my sole work, I have to paint for my livelihood. What if I am not in a mood to paint and I don’t have money as well?

 Do you like selling your art for money?

 I hate it! I hate it! I don’t do it anymore. In fact there are many expensive paintings,I have gifted to people because i was thankful to them in my life. Its a very personal gift. For me my artwork is priceless.

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RANDOM QUESTIONS

 Do you believe in supernatural powers?

I am hypocritical when it comes to existence of god. I pray overtime when there is an exam or something. In lucknow, I went to temples only to have laddoos. I am a very convenient and irrational believer of god.

 Do you procrastinate?

A lot! This is the biggest problem I have. Sometime I feel I need to go to psychiatrist, regarding my procrastination problems. I dont know why I do so.

 Are you pessimistic?

No I am over optimistic. There is no limit when it comes to it. I have no balance, If I love somebody, I love them to the core. If I hate them then thats the end.. Unlike typical Liberians, there is no balance.

 Do you believe in astrology?

 My astrologer has said great things about me, so I conveniently believe in him and his astrology.

 Any old age fear?

I have excellent plans for my old age. I want to see all the countries and write a book about me before I die. Not scared, looking forward for the Grey.

Do you believe in Karma?

YES! In fact I believe in fast track karma. Karma happens to me in matter of hours. It is a pure science- a chaos theory.

 Best place you have visited as traveller?

Best memories I have ever had are in Dehradun. As a traveller its not only the place but memories, so for me its doon! Best travels are my motorbiking trips with my friends. I miss my friends a lot. When it was raining here in Austin, I was reminded of my friends sitting in dhabas eating bun butter and chai!

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5th STANDARD SCRAPBOOK QUESTIONS

Favourite colour : Blue

Favourite hobby : Netflix at the moment

Subject you have hated : Chemistry

Mom or Dad? : (Laughs and asked us not to tell this to her mom) Dad. Sometimes my partner acts like my dad, It may sound creepy but its like that!

Last time when you have bed-wetted?:  OMG! it was in 8th standard, in fact 9th

Best achievement : Me bag-packing alone, I bag packed in 5 countries, namely England, Scotland, France , Switzerland, Italy.

Favourite movie : I have many, swades (Hindi), Irruver (tamil)

Favorite Actor: SRK

Actor you Hate: Emraan Hashmi (Beacsue my partner loves him!)

Favourite actress : Trisha, Deepika Padukone

Actress you hate: Sonam Kapoor, she is obsessed with herself

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